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Open Thread 142.5

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965 Responses to Open Thread 142.5

  1. My current screwy idea for another non-fiction book is WoW Economics, using World of Warcraft as the context for teaching a range of economic ideas. The obvious part is the economics of the auction house, what determines the prices at which items sell. But there are a lot of less obvious lessons, ranging from the ability of the human mind to see patterns that are not there—every player at some point concludes that Blizzard’s random number generator must be broken, because of the string of good or bad results he is getting in what should be a random series, which raises the question of whether there is a business cycle—to the economics of what classes benefit most from pairing together to do quests.

    I will probably start with a series of blog posts and, when I run of out ideas, see if there is a book’s worth.

    Comments? Does anyone know how many people have played WoW, hence are my potential readership?

    • Erusian says:

      This is already somewhat explored. In the early 2000’s, during the height of the MMO craze, a lot of articles were produced. A few MMOs even hired on economists to help manage their in-game economies. You might still be able to meet success by just being a better writer. WoW’s playerbase has been shrinking for a while but it’s a household name, so that might get you some readership.

      Also, keep in mind no MMO was a closed system. Even before cash incentives were directly involved, people were using them that way. WoW had a mini-cryptocurrency boom using WoW gold (which likewise eventually led to heavy Chinese gold farming, and even involved illegal Russian money like today).

      You might also want to look into Star Wars Galaxies. It was a pre-WoW MMO. It eventually radically changed its gameplay to get on the WoW bandwagon but originally it was trying to set up a living economy. There were a few combat classes but there were also a lot of professional ones. For example, high level armor had to be crafted by people who’d chosen to be an armorer instead of a gunslinger. Players could make towns and then offer incentives for people to settle there and derive revenue in various ways from them. (And the houses were of various qualities and had to be crafted by architects…) Etc. This only lasted a few years but it might be of interest.

      • Incurian says:

        The old SWG economy was pretty fascinating and complex (from a player perspective, I have no idea if an economist would find it so). RIP. If it turns out to be an interesting lead, I have some contacts in the SWG emulation community.

      • My objective is not to use economics to understand WoW, although that might be a side effect. It is to use WoW to understand economics, an entirely different project.

        • Erusian says:

          In that case (and since you would be dealing with intellectual property anyway), why not go for a modern popular franchise? Star Wars is even more famous and has ample opportunities. Negotiations over freight rates, who shot first…

    • Lambert says:

      MMO economics is a thing that’s been written about before. An account from an actual econ prof might well be the kind of thing folks find interesting. Of course, the real way to internalise those lessons is to get filthy rich on some MMO or other.
      http://www.alicemaz.com seems to be down in a weird way* right now, but she’s got a good account of using microecon techniques to corner the economy of a minecraft server.

      *ports 80 and 443 are up. GET / returned a 400, but only after a long delay.

      EDIT: relevant to footnote: https://twitter.com/alicemazzy/status/1196065322660483072

    • Clutzy says:

      I played WOW extensively before and after the auction house system was introduced. IMO its barely worth the time to discuss it. WOW’s economy is not all that interesting because most things of value are not purchasable.

      • The auction house was there at the beginning of Classic (as was I). I don’t remember whether it was there when WoW first appeared, although I was there pretty much then too. Are you saying that initially there was no auction house, they introduced it, but retconned it into Classic at the beginning?

        • Clutzy says:

          The AH was initially introduced in patch 0.10, which was a beta patch. I was an initial tester, having been a ladder climbing D2 player and friend of various obvious Blizzard spoof accounts on the D2 blizzard forums.

          However, I don’t think the auction house as an actual system really existed before 1.9 when all capital cities had access to auction houses. Prior to that its volume seemed to be restricted to only the top percentages of players that were looking to optimize. After that it appeared (at least on my server) to open up and have a better supply of reasonably priced materials. Early on you would sometimes be a blacksmith looking for iron, and there would be 1 stack for a bazillion gold. After, leveling your non-gathering professions became reasonable.

      • Civilis says:

        Things that are not (directly) purchasable can still be the foundation of excellent economic lessons. Economics isn’t just about purchasing things; there’s an obvious economic lesson in the tank / DPS / healer role balance, for example, and the OP mentions the whole player interpretation of the RNG.

        I’ve never played WoW, but most of the basic economic lessons should come across to anyone with MMO experience since the concepts are similar (and when they’re different, it’s instructive to compare the two to see why one did it differently).

      • FormerRanger says:

        While most things are not purchasable directly, when one plays WoW one sees a lot of advertising spam from people who will let you into raids for cash (virtual or real). Many of them therefore give you a shot at getting high-end boss drops, etc. Sometimes they are explicit about that, and what you will get.

        • What sort of servers have you played on?

          I don’t remember having ever seen either of those, although I did see a comment somewhere online, not in WoW, about the opportunity to make virtual gold by selling your services to lower level people helping them do things. My wife, who plays much more than I do and is still in the non-classic version as well as the classic version (I’m not), says she has seen it for instances, not raids, at low levels, but thinks she has seen (not in classic) high level offers to help you get something, such as a special mount, for virtual gold, but not for real money.

          I have always played on an RP, not PVP, server.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            Currently playing on retail.

            The gold-selling spammers occasionally pop up, but Blizzard is pretty good about taking them out these days, and I think the advent of a legitimate way to buy gold really hurt them, now they have to compete on price.

            There’s a ton of spam for selling carries (they bring you in, complete the content with minimal or no help from you, you get rewards), either to the latest raid or to completion of a high-level Mythic+ dungeon. Blizzard cracks down pretty hard on selling that for real-world currency, so they’re all at least advertising for gold. I know a few people in high-performing guilds, and they’re at least still claiming to do it for gold in situations where they wouldn’t really have a reason to lie.

            It seems like a pretty standard practice these days: you spend a bunch of gold to get all the consumables and buyable gear you can, clear the content as quickly as possible, gear up with repeated clears, and then sell carries to less skilled players to restock the vault. You can buy gametime with gold now, so if you were going to be playing anyway you can save your $15 a month by paying with gold instead, for a slight real-world benefit.

          • FormerRanger says:

            I think you said or implied above that you hadn’t played WoW “retail” (stupid name) recently. I see this behavior all the time on my realm, which I won’t name due to identification paranoia on my part. What moonfirestorm says is exactly what I see. I don’t know what its level of approval by Blizzard is, but it’s common enough to be very annoying in (especially) capital cities.

          • I have not played “retail” for some time, probably a year or so, and for quite a while before that my play was mostly limited to one weekly raid. I got back in when Classic was released, an idea I had been in favor of for a long time.

            Which does suggest an economic point from WoW that I had not considered for my hypothetical book–time inconsistency. If, as my experience suggests, WoW has gotten worse, not better, over time, is that because the designers are making a mistake, or is there some mechanism by which each change is an improvement, yet the net effect a worsening? Looking through my old blog posts about WoW, I noticed one relevant one.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            If, as my experience suggests, WoW has gotten worse, not better, over time, is that because the designers are making a mistake, or is there some mechanism by which each change is an improvement, yet the net effect a worsening?

            I think a lot of that is a ratchet effect: if they get something right that becomes the new baseline, and if they ever dip back below that it’s evidence the game is getting worse.

            Like look, I have a lot of problems with the current state of WoW, to the point of having quit for about a year over how boring the class design was. But comparing BfA to Classic, Classic’s design is horrible. BFA has boring four-button rotations, some of Classic’s classes have one button rotations. BFA has limited itemization variety, Classic just has individual items you’re going to get. If it wasn’t an already-existing game that people had a ton of fond memories with, no one would even look at it if it came out today.

            I buy that they scraped the fat of modern expansions down a little too far and revealed the bones of the “grind, grind, grind forever” system that keeps people playing. Azerite in particular was a big problem for me there: it was one thing to steadily unlock new powers with your artifact, but re-unlocking the same powers over and over again on higher ilvl gear was just so obviously a time waster.

            The diminishing returns on secondary stats and removal of tier sets is similar, where it’s starting to feel very Diablo 3-esque “make damage numbers go up” when compared to previous expansions that would feel different from tier to tier as crit/haste/mastery numbers went up and set bonuses would emphasize parts of your rotation. If I were to put one word on modern class/item design, it’s lazy: they don’t want to have to design new stuff for every raid, they just want to ship new bosses and increase some numbers.

            But at the same time, they are building stuff far above what the most praised expansions built. I think if you had a time machine that went back and put most of BFA’s systems into BC, the player base would be amazed and excited, and not significantly more upset than they were about the actual BC changes.

    • ManyCookies says:

      If you’re not committed to WoW in particular, I think Old School Runescape would make for a better case study. The important items are all tradeable, there’s an auction-house (actually somewhat recent), pricing’s at least somewhat intelligent, there’s some interesting inflation/monetary policy stuff with gold sinks.

      I hear EVE’s got a pretty robust economy, though I’ve never played.

      • I am committed to WoW, since it is the only MMO I know well enough to write such a book about.

        What I am proposing is not a case study. It’s using the reader’s experience in WoW to teach economics.

        I already mentioned one example which has nothing to do with understanding WoW but something to do with understanding economics. Observing that the player misinterprets a series of random results as a pattern doesn’t tell us anything about WoW (unless we believe it really isn’t random, which is not my conjecture). But it tells us something interesting about human beings that is relevant to an economic issue—whether there is a business cycle, or whether the cyclic part is a pattern imposed on essentially random data by our overactive pattern recognition software.

    • broblawsky says:

      Wow had over 100 million accounts as of 2014; by now, I’d guess the number is closer to 125-150 million. Current subscriber numbers are probably around 2 million, though; the game is past its prime.

      Most people have absorbed a little knowledge about the game mechanics by osmosis, but if you’re talking about current college students, you might have more luck with a newer game. Fortnite, maybe? I’m not sure what you’re planning to teach.

    • Atlas says:

      There’s a series of books that use pop culture to demonstrate philosophy. Perhaps you’d find them a useful comparison/reference point.

      The economics of MMOs was a significant plot point in Neal Stephenson’s novel Reamde , and despite that I believe the book sold fairly well.

      My anecdotal impression as a Zoomer is that World of Warcraft was/is extremely popular with people, say, 5-15 years older than me. Indeed, it may have been the defining video game of a certain cultural period. However, I don’t think that WoW, and MMOs more broadly, are as popular with people my age and younger.

      • Wency says:

        However, I don’t think that WoW, and MMOs more broadly, are as popular with people my age and younger.

        This is a good point. Back around 2006-2007, I knew solid non-gamers who picked up WoW. Moms, businessmen — the sort of people who maybe played Super Mario Bros. and Tecmo Bowl as a kid but hadn’t touched a video game other than Windows Solitaire for 10 years. That’s when WoW was really a cultural phenomenon, when the WoW episode of South Park aired and everyone understood it, etc.

        I’d bet most of those people have forgotten most of the details of the game, they just remember “I played a Troll Hunter, shot bad guys with my bow”.

        WoW feels like a dated a reference now. It would be like using “How I Met Your Mother” to teach economics. Sure, WoW still has plenty of subs, just as someone somewhere is binging HIMYM as I type this, but its cultural moment is long past. Even people who were really into the game seem to realize it’s winding down, as evidenced by the fact that WoW Classic is the most exciting idea it’s had for years.

        That said, I’d probably take a look at David’s writing, at least if it’s a series of blog posts, but I wouldn’t open a book on the topic.

    • beleester says:

      The one catch with using an MMO for economic modeling is that online games are “source and sink” systems – you can generate money and items infinitely from killing monsters and doing quests, and any money you spend at an NPC shop disappears from circulation rather than being transferred to another player. MMOs often have to do a bit of work to ensure that these sources and sinks are balanced to prevent hyperinflation in the player-run side of the economy. You can still use it as a teaching tool, but it does complicate the picture a bit – the value of an item is more measured in the time it takes to acquire it than its rarity.

      Fun story: Kingdom of Loathing had a famous incident where a glitch in the game allowed players to get trillions of meat (the game’s currency), which was exploited massively before it got patched. Rather than roll back the server to remove the ill-gotten gains, they held an event that encouraged players to spend absurd amounts of money, with a leaderboard for the biggest donors. It mostly worked, although there are rumors that there are still a few players with huge caches of bugmeat.

      • I’m not planning to use it as a model of a real economy but as a context in which to explore economic ideas.

      • mitv150 says:

        I don’t spend a ton of time with MMOs for comparison, but the in-game economy of “Path of Exile” (which is not a true MMO) does not “source and sink” in that manner. Almost nobody gives currency to NPCs. Instead, currency is used in item crafting. This seems to naturally regulate the economy – if there is excess currency in the economy, the high end players will use lots of it to craft items that are closer and closer to perfect. This removes the currency from the game without really effecting the play of 90% of users.

        • moonfirestorm says:

          While I think Path of Exile has a very good solution to that problem, it does have the same problem.

          You still have an infinite source: you can farm monsters all day long and with infinite time get infinite currency.

          You just have a sink of “use currency on items to get better items” instead of “buy item from vendor”. This tends to be a more durable sink, because the things you “buy” by using currency are more generally useful (versus a game like WoW where it’s very easy to decide “I don’t need anything sold by a vendor right now”)

          But Path of Exile still has a long-term inflation problem (look at prices in Standard), it just grows more slowly and is hidden by the vast majority of the player base playing leagues, which reset the economy every 3 months.

          @DavidFriedman: if you do write this book, you should definitely look at Path of Exile’s economy.

          One of the other interesting differences is that it doesn’t let you automatically list items, you have to group up and trade with other players to actually make a transaction. This essentially sets lower bounds for prices through transaction costs: it’s rare that a single item gets listed for below a certain price because most players won’t take the time out of their playing to make that trade.

          Because players aren’t required to sell items they list, it also opens up the opportunity for price fixing: if you buy every instance of a rarely-dropping (but not necessarily valuable) item and relist it for a much higher price, you can mislead other players as to how much the item is worth.

          • mitv150 says:

            The above seems accurate. Standard is also a bit skewed because all of the characters from the other leagues get dumped there.

            This strikes me as an interesting statement:
            You still have an infinite source: you can farm monsters all day long and with infinite time get infinite currency.

            Isn’t this also true in the real world? Given infinite time, you can create infinite value.

            I’m not 100% sure what that means for video game economies, but it is something to be considered.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            Isn’t this also true in the real world? Given infinite time, you can create infinite value.

            Hrm, that’s a good point.

            I guess the big difference in my head is that in PoE the time value of your labor is…. well, constant’s not the right word, because it will randomly fluctuate. But you can put in a unit of work and get a unit of reward (where that reward may be random, but it’s statistically non-random), repeat as many times as you want. Compare to the real world, where you typically can’t work 20 hours one week and 40 the next week.

            Huh, I guess video game farming is a gig economy with infinite demand?

          • @DavidFriedman: if you do write this book, you should definitely look at Path of Exile’s economy.

            I think that you, like many other commenters, misunderstand my project. The idea isn’t to use economics to understand MMO’s, interesting although that might be. It isn’t even to improve economic theory through research on MMO’s, although that might be a productive project.

            It’s to use an MMO to teach economics, the same sort of economics that I have taught in other contexts.

            Obviously people here are free to talk about whatever they find interesting, and the economics of MMO’s in general is an interesting topic, but it isn’t the one I was raising.

          • FormerRanger says:

            It would be interesting to see some of your ideas for teaching economics using WoW. I can certainly see supply and demand as a good thing to focus on, or pricing, or possibly theories of value. There are relevant examples in WoW for those.

            (Slightly OT: I’ve always assumed that people who are putting up auction house items for insane prices are laundering money in some way. Is that the case? If not, what’s the true reason, other than “typo”?)

          • I’ve always assumed that people who are putting up auction house items for insane prices are laundering money in some way. Is that the case? If not, what’s the true reason, other than “typo”?

            I don’t know. One possibility is that they figure there are buyers with a lot of money, who might carelessly pay ten gold for something normally available for two because searching and waiting is too much trouble.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            I’ve always assumed that people who are putting up auction house items for insane prices are laundering money in some way. Is that the case? If not, what’s the true reason, other than “typo”?

            Depends a lot on what items, and what you mean by insane prices.

            – If they’re putting up completely worthless items for insanely high prices, the AH can be used to transfer money between Alliance and Horde, or to deliver a gold-buying customer’s money to him (customer lists the item, gold seller buys it). This is fairly high-cost though, as the AH is taking a pretty sizable cut of the transaction, and it’s about as far away from anonymous as you can get in the latter case.

            – If they’re putting up rare but potentially useful items, they may actually be worth that much. Green-quality equipment with interesting models for transmogrification often sell for absurd amounts, because they’re global drops with incredibly low drop rates, so it’s tough to target-farm the one you want.

            – If they’re putting up rare, useless, but occasionally important items, they may be trying to either corner the market or fix the price. If the item is rarely obtained and rarely posted, it may be worth regularly listing at a high price and buying out your competitors in the event that they post it.

            – Similarly to above, you can use an overpriced auction to “anchor” the price in people’s heads. If there are no 430 Vers BoE cloaks on the market, list your first one for 150k. Someone will probably undercut you, but he’ll undercut you at 120k rather than the 50k it’s worth (because he probably doesn’t have better price data than “what are other people trying to sell this for”), and you can then undercut him at 118k: there might be a price war, but it likely won’t move too far from the original anchor. At some point in this process a buyer may be convinced that the cloak is actually worth 100k, and you profit way more than the 300 gold in deposits you spent relisting the cloak.

    • Chalid says:

      Comparative advantage in party composition.

      Investment in capital – buying a flying mount makes you a more efficient herb-gatherer or miner or whatever.

      Crafting – stuff with long cooldowns to produce will command a premium over the cost of their ingredients, while stuff that doesn’t have a long cooldown generally will not.

      There’s clearly a lot of economics at play in the auction house, but are you actually going to be able to get data on it? It is probably the case that a new dungeon opening leads to increased demand for flasks which then leads to increased prices for herbs or what have you, but it’s hard to see how you would get the data to demonstrate it. Ditto for WoW-gold/USD exchange rates.

      • I am not currently planning to collect data on the auction house, although there may be examples of effects such as predicted changes being anticipated in prices that are clear enough to use.

      • moonfirestorm says:

        There’s clearly a lot of economics at play in the auction house, but are you actually going to be able to get data on it?

        The Undermine Journal has got you covered, although they only go back a year or two. Unclear if that’s just how much they store or if that’s how long the site has been in existence.

        For token prices, wowtokenprices.com has multiple years, and even lets you compare regions.

    • ec429 says:

      Datum: though I don’t play WoW, I would totally read those blog posts, but I probably wouldn’t buy the book because I have an irrational aversion towards paying for bits (I’m trying to train myself out of this but it’s slow going).

    • Polycarp says:

      I will certainly read anything you post about WOW and Econ. Just before reading your post I was out killing whelps in Wetlands (Classic), trying to come up with some small flame sacs. No luck tonight.

    • Ant says:

      The blog Mafeco (in french, unfortunately) ran a few entry on this subject. They were fun to read and informative (especially since they took the time to explain why the WoW economy differ from the real one, what would happen in the real world and what are the playerbase bias in economy/finance).
      So I wish you good luck on this project.

    • Murphy says:

      every player at some point concludes that Blizzard’s random number generator must be broken, because of the string of good or bad results he is getting in what should be a random series

      Actually this one has a lot more under the hood than many realise.

      A great deal of the time game devs put their thumb on the scales to create an experience.

      They know that players get the best experiences from being on the edge, from feeling like they *just* made it through.

      So many popular games secretly put a thumb on the scales. They silently make you extra bullet resistant when you’re at 10% health or lower. Your last few rounds of ammo do more damage. Ammo doesn’t get spawned until you’re down to your last few rounds.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLXLlJ7FhJU

      Often the RNG genuinely is unfair but often it’s unfair in favor of the player like tweaking probability such that when a player is farming for a particular drop, if they go much beyond the average point where they’d expect to see an item they may silently increase the odds of it dropping because otherwise players get frustrated and decide something is broken.

      • Corey says:

        I’ve noticed this in my most intense gaming experience, Mario Kart on Wii.

        If I’m hopelessly behind (e.g. on the tracks where one can fall off), power-ups will give me the bullet/rocket thingy that automatically drives you really fast.

        • moonfirestorm says:

          I believe that’s related to your position rather than how far behind you are: players in first place get a different set of items from item boxes than players in, say, 6th place.

          I’m not sure I’d call rubber-band mechanics in competitive games quite the same. It’s not about making the winning player feel like they just barely won, it’s about making the losing players not just give up on the round, letting them exert some influence on how it turns out.

          Blue shell is a great example of this: even if you’re in 8th and so far behind that you’re not realistically catching up by the end of the race, you can still make the guy that’s in first end up finishing second because you blue shelled him from the other side of the track.

          • Ninety-Three says:

            In most Mario Kart games it was based on your numbered position: first place has a worse distribution of powerups than second place, has a worse distribution than third, and so on. In recent games (I’m not sure if the Wii title makes this cutoff), they realized that this creates some bad dynamics in neck and neck races. If you’re jockeying with another player for first place, better to be one meter behind him and getting the better powerups. Now it’s based on distance from first place.

      • moonfirestorm says:

        If they go much beyond the average point where they’d expect to see an item they may silently increase the odds of it dropping because otherwise players get frustrated and decide something is broken.

        Diablo 3 had a great example of this: the “pity timer” would guarantee I believe 1 legendary an hour, when players were getting sick of the low drop rates.

        Later they managed to get the drop rates high enough that this didn’t really matter. I assume it’s still in the game, but you’d have to be playing quite poorly for it to matter.

        • Clutzy says:

          Diablo 3 at launch had possibly the worst economy of any game I can remember. It had all the bad aspects of WOW’s economy plus all the bad aspects of D2’s economy, with none of the good parts of either!

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Does anyone know how many people have played WoW, hence are my potential readership?

      I never played WoW (technically a couple days of the free trial, which for an MMO I think counts as “not playing”), but I’ve played enough MMOs to understand the general principles and I am definitely in your potential readership. I can’t speak to the general population, but I’m pretty sure this comments section will be filled with people of a similar inclination.

      • Corey says:

        Idea: Make some companion machinima to illustrate examples, both for general clarity and to make it accessible to Ninety-Three’s demographic.

  2. Lambert says:

    4) Have fun with self-reporting biases.
    Yes, doctor, I broke the law exactly 46 times before I was caught.

  3. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Microorganism has a complex hierarchy of behavior Humans have more complex behavior when doing science.

    Jennings was studying S. roeselii, a member of a widespread genus of freshwater protist. These single cells are notable for their relatively large size and unique trumpet-shaped bodies. Their surfaces and trumpet “bells” are lined with hairlike projections called cilia, used to swim and to generate a vortex in the surrounding fluid, which sweeps food into their “mouths.” At the other end of their bodies, they secrete a holdfast, which attaches them to detritus to stay stationary while feeding.

    With a microscope, a pipette and a steady hand, Jennings meticulously documented the behavior of S. roeselii when exposed to an environmental irritant in the form of carmine powder.

    Jennings observed an ordered series of behaviors. He noted that, typically, S. roeselii would repeatedly bend its body to avoid the powder. If irritation persisted, it would reverse the movement of its cilia to expel particles away from its mouth. If this too failed, it would then contract, swiftly pulling itself down onto its holdfast like a barnacle retreating into its shell. Finally, if all prior efforts failed, S. roeselii would detach its holdfast and swim away.

    But it didn’t repiicate.

    However, the effort at replication was bollixed.

    …this bothered Gunawardena, so he tracked down the 1967 study. To his astonishment, he found that the authors, who were unable to find S. roeselii, had used a different species to replicate Jennings’ experiment—Stentor coeruleus, which prefers to swim instead of attaching to feed.

    So he wanted try replicating the experiment, but that kind of observation had gone out of fashion. So he took on replication without it being funded.

    It took tracking down the organism, and finding an irritant that worked.

    The behavior tuned out to be more complex than was reported in the first study. There were individual variations among the microorganisms, and careful mathematical analysis showed that the

    The analyses showed that there is almost a perfectly even chance that any individual S. roeselii will choose to contract or detach, a clue that is particularly tantalizing to scientists who study how cells process information at the molecular level. The decision between the two behaviors is consistent, with each organism independently flipping an unbiased coin, regardless of previous actions, the authors said.

    “It’s somehow basing its decisions, at the molecular level, on a fair coin toss,” Gunawardena said. “I can’t think of any known mechanism that would allow them to implement this. It’s incredibly fascinating and something Jennings never observed because we needed quantitative measurements to reveal it.”

    I think the moral of the story is check carefully and we probably meed even better instruments and mathematical analysis.

    I wonder whether some errors in replication like using a different species could be checked by computer.

    • quanta413 says:

      I wonder whether some errors in replication like using a different species could be checked by computer.

      I think people have used computers for filtering through the literature to find possible connections or errors. But my impression is you have to hand-check any “hits”. It’s not completely automatable. It’s likely doable although changing the species studied is big enough that it’s hard to believe it was an accident by the second experimenters. It seems more likely they just assumed there “should” be no difference.

  4. DinoNerd says:

    There’s a lively subthread on the previous OT (141.25) started by Paul Zrimsek, with

    There’s a conventional saying about US politics which dates at least from the very first days of the culture wars, and may be older still: “People may vote for someone they don’t like, but they will never vote for someone who doesn’t like them.”

    It’s too low in the thread to allow direct replies, let alone sub-threading, and 141.25 won’t be getting many more readers. So since I want to see more of it, and maybe respond, I’m reposting it here.

    • DinoNerd says:

      FWIW, this seems reasonable to me, except for those people who are disliked-by-category by (the candidates of) both parties.

      It certainly absolutely rules my own political choices – as an immigrant in the US, one side regards me as the root of all evil. As a Canadian immigrant, I trivially pass as American, and am not the intended target in any case, so people don’t actually hate/attack me individually, but I sure can’t tell that from the rhetoric.

      There are other reasons for the same side to hate me by category, but since they aren’t a matter of public record, I’m not going to mention them.

      Also, I have a long memory. If popular GOP candidates were bashing turnip eaters 30 years ago, and I ate turnips at the time, I’ll oppose current GOP candidates who don’t even remember the turnip controversy. I’d probably do that even if the party explicitly rejected their anti-turnip rhetoric, and apologized to those affected by it.

      It’s unfortunate that from where I sit, the other party is frequently well over into loony tunes territory. The normal response to that would be to vote for the saner candidate. But I’d rather have a nut who doesn’t hate me, than a sensible person who does, or for that matter one who is committed to policies injurious to me because their team (or its loonies) collectively hate me.

      • DinoNerd says:

        And yes, EchoChaos, anti-white-male rhetoric from my side of the fence should logically have the same effect. Ditto anti-lower-class-white rhetoric. I’m not sure how many politicians (as compared to random blue tribe loonies) are producing the former, but I’ve certainly seen the latter.

        • EchoChaos says:

          It’s pretty rare that actual politicians use truly nasty language, although it’s unfortunately becoming more common, but as mentioned, it can still be damaging if a party is seen as accepting it.

          I will note that there are some patterns you haven’t mentioned that can be interesting. Mitt Romney was not terribly against illegal or legal immigration in his rhetoric on the campaign trail or his policy history, while Trump was obviously very vehement, but Trump did better among Hispanics than Romney.

          So the narrowness of the rhetoric can matter depending on the audience.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            “Hispanic” is a heterogeneous group.

            Descendants of Mexican Braceros and Cuban asylees are both Hispanic.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            That is absolutely my point, yes.

            @DinoNerd was implying that anti-immigrant rhetoric was turning off Hispanics, I pointed out that in fact Hispanics voted more for Trump, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric was harsher, so it’s a fuzzed effect.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Mitt Romney was not terribly against illegal or legal immigration in his rhetoric on the campaign trail or his policy history, while Trump was obviously very vehement, but Trump did better among Hispanics than Romney.

            How much do Hispanic Americans support de facto open borders?

            If one listens to left-wing rhetoric, one would think that every single one of them has an undocumented abuela on the run from Orange Man’s evil SS ICE agents. Is this an anywhere accurate picture? Usually opposition to new immigration is higher among the last wave of immigrants.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @viVI_IViv

            How much do Hispanic Americans support de facto open borders?

            Well, @DinoNerd is a recent immigrant and cares quite a lot about it, so it is certainly not universal.

            My understanding is that English-only Hispanics are pretty much identical to the rest of white America, usually, but not always, working class. I know many of them and they’re basically just somewhat swarthy white Americans culturally.

            English/Spanish bilingual Hispanics tend to lean left, but not terribly strongly, and Spanish-only Hispanics are VERY heavily left-wing. Whether this is because of immigration or something else I don’t know.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            English-only Hispanics

            Isn’t this an oxymoron? I thought the definition of Hispanic was Spanish speaking people from Latin America. Even if your parents were Hispanic, if you only speak English, I don’t think you count as Hispanic. Or if you come from an English speaking Latin American country. This link to Wikipedia implies otherwise, but I don’t think that is right.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            No dumber than half the terms we use, but you’re right that it’s a bit unclear.

            What I mean, of course, is mestizos who speak only English. Most common in Arizona and New Mexico due to the border crossing them after the Mexican-American War, but found everywhere in the US.

          • Ketil says:

            Trump was obviously very vehement, but Trump did better among Hispanics than Romney.

            From a practical viewpoint, if legal immigrants are low-skilled labor, they stand to lose the most from illegal immigration (being an increased supply of low-skilled labor likely willing to work for even less).

          • Clutzy says:

            My understanding is that most immigrants are “pull the ladder up behind my family” immigrants. That is, they are pro-immigration, so long as the rules favor their children, wife, cousins, etc. Based on native (emphasis on lower case N) American standards, most immigrants are incredibly racist.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            Mitt Romney was not terribly against illegal or legal immigration in his rhetoric on the campaign trail or his policy history, while Trump was obviously very vehement, but Trump did better among Hispanics than Romney.

            The first vocal out Trump supporter I met after the anti-Trump-ism of the 2016 election turned hot and nasty, was 1st generation Mexican immigrant. “He wants to keep out the people I carried my family away from. I don’t want them here, I don’t know where I could go from here to get away from them if they are here. You don’t want them here, or you are stupid and crazy”.

      • The Nybbler says:

        As a Canadian immigrant, I trivially pass as American, and am not the intended target in any case, so people don’t actually hate/attack me individually, but I sure can’t tell that from the rhetoric.

        I’ve seen a whole lot of negative rhetoric about Mexican and South American immigrants (and Muslims of course), and not a peep about Canadian immigrants. So I think you probably can tell from the rhetoric.

        • GearRatio says:

          This, really. I know me a bunch-o-anti-immigrant-folks, and nobody cares about Canadian immigration. It’s assumed you will bring skills to the table, abide by laws, know english and keep your yard clean. Even more importantly, it’s assumed you immigrated legally, not illegally; very, very few people are anti-legal immigration, although they might be if it was vastly expanded (I.E. open borders).

          I think what you might be doing here is believing a cartoon version of the opposition, something like “I hate everybody who isn’t a real American and I do this irrationally because I’m a bad person“.

          Most people I know who are anti-immigration are anti-immigration because they think it’s destroyed the possibility of making money at construction-like jobs and raised crime. They might be wrong, but that’s still a much different standpoint than the one that hates a legal immigrant Canadian just for being Canadian.

          • Chalid says:

            very, very few people are anti-legal immigration

            it’s not quite the same thing, but my first hit looking for data shows about a quarter of Americans wanting reductions in legal immigration, which is hardly very very few.

          • GearRatio says:

            I mean, it’s not really the same thing at all – people who don’t want illegal immigration don’t want ANY – they think it should be eradicated. Me thinking I should lose some weight is a different thing from me thinking I should be rendered massless by a disintegration ray.

            Dinonerd’s post generates a context where being “anti-immigrant” means thinking are “the root of all evil”. That’s the context to which I’m replying, not one where “being anti legal immigration” means “anyone who doesn’t think we are at the optimum amount of immigrants, and there should be as few as one less”.

            I think all this is clear from the context, but to disambiguate, here’s my argument restated more clearly:

            1. Dinonerd is intentionally or unintentionally oversimplifying all anti-immigrant people to simple xenophobes; xenophobes exist, but this isn’t the whole picture.

            2. Dinonerd seems to be trying to put himself (a legal immigrant to the US from Canada, statistically overwhelmingly likely to be white and english-fluent) in the same adversity bucket as illegal immigrants (Brown, statistically overwhelmingly likely to be Mexican). I think this is silly, and I think your post showing that a quarter of Americans want “reductions” in legal immigration when the prevalent anti-illegal immigration rhetoric is to stop illegal immigration entirely or to the utmost possible reinforces this difference.

          • Chalid says:

            “I am anti-alcohol” does not literally mean that I want there to be literally zero use of alcohol, I just oppose a certain type of drinking culture and want a lot less of it.

            not one where “being anti legal immigration” means “anyone who doesn’t think we are at the optimum amount of immigrants, and there should be as few as one less”.

            No come on, anyone who wanted one less would have answered “about the same” to the question. Just by the nature of polling, that’s 24% who want significant cuts.

            Here’s Gallup with 13% saying legal immigration is a “bad thing for this country today” (2% were “mixed” or “no opinion”). That’s probably pretty close to the number that would have preferred that DinoNerd not come to the country. And it’s still a pretty significant number – e.g. it’s probably more than the number of people who want true open borders, and lots of people seem to feel threatened by that position.

            (Just a marker that I’m not posting any more in this subthread due to being busy for the next 24+ hours)

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Anti-alcohol means my in-laws, who have banned everyone from brining alcohol from their house, except for boxed white zinfandel wine, because Jesus is okay with that one. They also tried to make my wedding a dry wedding.

            I have never really seen “anti-alcohol” being used to describe a 10%, 20%, or even 50% drop in drinking. That would make ME anti-alcohol because I reduced my alcohol consumption this year, and I have 8 different kinds of whiskey in the liquor cabinet.

            If you want to use “anti-immigrant” for people who want reductions in immigration, we really need to come up with a term who basically want no immigration at all. But I don’t think it’s worthwhile. No one uses “anti-communist” to mean “we should have 10% fewer communists,” and everyone understands it to mean “the correct number of communists is not materially different from 0.”

          • GearRatio says:

            not one where “being anti legal immigration” means “anyone who doesn’t think we are at the optimum amount of immigrants, and there should be as few as one less”.

            No come on, anyone who wanted one less would have answered “about the same” to the question. Just by the nature of polling, that’s 24% who want significant cuts.

            So you edited out the part that, again, tells that I was responding to a guy who saying “anti immigrant means you think I’m “the root of all evil”. That is different than thinking we are at suboptimal levels of immigration. If you are going to use sneaky edits to ignore what I’m saying to make me argue points I’m not making, I’m not 100% I want to engage with you.

            If Dinonerd was saying “hey, there’s a small minority of people who will answer on a poll that they think the net effects of illegal immigration are negative after being primed by a dozen questions about whether illegal immigration is bad, and I think this is enough of a problem that I don’t want to vote republican”, then fine.

            But that’s not what he’s saying – saying he’s subject to the overall negative feelings and rhetoric about immigration, I.E. that he’s catching the same flack that illegal mexican immigrants are, or would be if he wasn’t white. And that’s silly, since the rhetoric is much more against illegal immigration than legal and racism is much more prevalent and intense an effect than anti-canadianism.

            He’s in a different, much gentler bucket. Your numbers show that – the best you can do is find 13% of people polled during the most controversial legal immigration year of the past 20 and being primed with the central american refugee thing earlier in the poll who will say they find legal immigration to be a net negative. You may not like that 13%, and you may disagree with them, but that 13% non-optimal is insanely different from the 77% in the same poll who find illegal immigration to be a “critical” or “important” threat to the safety of the country.

            That’s not getting into the nature and flavor of popular anti-immigrant rhetoric, which is largely anti-illegal immigrant, with the remainder being largely anti-refugee, and a small percentage I can’t find any examples of perhaps being about white Canadians.

            So, again, I think Dinonerd’s efforts to cast himself as being in the same bucket as largely-mexican illegal immigrants to be silly. I think your own numbers show that (again, 13% net bad against 77% important threat or worse). If he/you want to think that 13% is wrong, I agree with you; I think in general that legal immigration is good, just as you do. But otherwise it’s a lot like me saying I’m real worried about witches getting burned because I work sweeping restaurants – yes, we both have brooms. No, there’s no evidence that my plight is comparable.

          • brad says:

            If you want to use “anti-immigrant” for people who want reductions in immigration, we really need to come up with a term who basically want no immigration at all. But I don’t think it’s worthwhile. No one uses “anti-communist” to mean “we should have 10% fewer communists,” and everyone understands it to mean “the correct number of communists is not materially different from 0.”

            Welcome to the mirror image of debates about “open borders”.

          • Chalid says:

            @GearRatio

            You are reading way, way, way more into my posts than is there. You said there were very, very few people who oppose legal immigration, which made me curious about the numbers might be, which then motivated me to do a bit of research. I’m pretty satisfied that the range I’ll quote in the future, if it ever comes up, is 13% to 24%.

            I did not claim that this invalidated the remaining 90% of your post or anything. All that stuff you are implying I deceptively edited out or whatever, I genuinely intended to say nothing about it. I am happy to admit that your points about DinoNerd’s psychology are largely not affected by my posts.

            @ADBG

            No one uses “anti-communist” to mean “we should have 10% fewer communists,” and everyone understands it to mean “the correct number of communists is not materially different from 0.”

            I’d say anti-tax groups mostly want somewhat lower taxes but don’t literally want zero tax, and people in anti-war groups would mostly concede that wars are justified in some situations. If I said I was anti-car you’d understand that I probably mean something relating to increased mass transit and gas taxes and getting rid of parking minimums and so on, and did not favor total abolition of the vehicle. Policies which limit new construction in cities are called “anti-development” even though they still permit new development, just with some constraints like height limits. There are lots of contexts in which “anti” is about movement from the baseline or even just about opposing or maintaining a rearguard action against the “pro” side.

            And yes, sometimes anti- means zero – an anti-corruption task force is aiming at zero corruption or as close to that as it can get. But to me immigration feels analogous to the “development” example above. It certainly feels safe to me to say that the Gallup respondents agreeing that “legal immigration is a bad thing for this country” are anti legal immigration. Of course, arguing about this sort of definition is probably futile.

        • DinoNerd says:

          I’m thinking of the rhetoric that just says “immigrants”.

          The observation that specifically anti-Canadian rhetoric is rare, whereas over-the-top claims about Mexicans have made the news, and anti-Muslim policies have actually been enacted, strongly suggests that I am not the primary target.

          OTOH, as long as there is some rhetoric against immigrants per se, all immigrants are at an elevated risk of becoming a target. And measures designed to limit “bad” immigrants could easily wind up affecting all immigrants, if only to successfully get them past judicial scrutiny.

          I could also observe that I am a legal immigrant. I’d say at least half the rhetoric against “immigrants” in general is in fact using that word to mean “illegal immigrants” – but I still react as if the words meant what they actually say, even though measures designed to limit illegal immigration are rather less likely to affect me.

          Looney tunes who decide to murder some random people who look like (illegal?) (Muslim?) immigrants to them are a hazard even for the native born, never mind legal immigrants. (As it happens, there was an incident of that kind a few miles from where I live, within the past couple of years, so it’s kind of topical… even though the population is so high here that my odds of being affected by a similar incident are negligible.)

          But more important perhaps than rational considerations of risk is my instant emotional reaction to what you say.

          If your rhetoric (or that of prominent members of your party) is anti-immigrant in general, I react as in the original quote – you are someone who “doesn’t like me” and I’m not going to support you, however much I may agree with your other positions.

          • EchoChaos says:

            While this sounds like motivated reasoning to me, I will note that it makes me substantially more likely to oppose any immigration.

            If the attitude of English-speaking, culturally compatible immigrants is “anyone who dares restrict immigration is my personal enemy”, then accepting immigrants is a fools gamble.

          • Theodoric says:

            OTOH, as long as there is some rhetoric against immigrants per se, all immigrants are at an elevated risk of becoming a target. And measures designed to limit “bad” immigrants could easily wind up affecting all immigrants, if only to successfully get them past judicial scrutiny.

            Would you consider any position on immigration that falls short of open borders to be “anti immigrant”? Are we obligated to maintain the current levels of immigration forever in order to not be “anti immigrant”?

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Theoderic

            Would you consider any position on immigration that falls short of open borders to be “anti immigrant”?

            Hell no. Positions like “I think there should be fewer immigrants”; “I want legal immigration to be based more/less on family ties, or skills, or age, or need”; or even “looking at the data at hand, I find that immigrants have contributed less, on average, than non-immigrants” are the positions of opponents, not enemies. I can disagree with them in a reasonable manner, and probably come to some kind of compromise where we each give up something we want, and gain something else.

            My problem is with people who label a category as “evil”, or something that easily translates to “evil”. The boundaries are a bit fuzzy – on a bad day, “immigrants come to the US to sponge off the welfare system, with no intention of working” will be bad enough to trigger that reaction, or possibly even “immigrants come here to steal American jobs”. On a good day, I’m hopefully a little less reactive.

            Note also that a person who has a problem with “immigrants who … <something nasty>” doesn’t register with me the same way as someone who is saying “immigrants … <same nasty thing>”, though if the thing in question can be done by non-immigrants, I’d be happier if they said “people who … <same nasty thing>”

          • Noah says:

            @EchoChaos

            I don’t know the statistics, but just to add a competing anecdote:

            Much of my family are high-skill immigrants from a non-English speaking country and decidedly do not have DinoNerd’s attitude. Also, see his comment below about rhetoric vs. policy debates.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The observation that specifically anti-Canadian rhetoric is rare, whereas over-the-top claims about Mexicans have made the news, and anti-Muslim policies have actually been enacted, strongly suggests that I am not the primary target.

            Okay, then clearly you can tell the difference from the rhetoric.

            OTOH, as long as there is some rhetoric against immigrants per se, all immigrants are at an elevated risk of becoming a target. And measures designed to limit “bad” immigrants could easily wind up affecting all immigrants, if only to successfully get them past judicial scrutiny.

            This is true, but it’s a far cry from “one side regards me as the root of all evil”. “One side might harm me as collateral damage when they go after their enemies” is still concerning, but it’s a different thing.

          • FormerRanger says:

            I’m thinking of the rhetoric that just says “immigrants”.

            The problem with rhetoric (on both sides) that just says “immigrants” is that attitudes toward legal immigration versus illegal immigration are hugely different. The pro-any-sort-of-immigration side of the argument has deliberately conflated “legal” and “illegal” immigration, because most Americans are are largely okay with legal immigration, but not okay with illegal immigration. Blurring the distinction (and using other neutral terms like “migrants”) benefits the side that wants more or less unlimited immigration.

          • mitv150 says:

            The pro-any-sort-of-immigration side of the argument has deliberately conflated “legal” and “illegal” immigration, because most Americans are are largely okay with legal immigration, but not okay with illegal immigration. Blurring the distinction (and using other neutral terms like “migrants”) benefits the side that wants more or less unlimited immigration.

            This seems accurate to me. On the anti-illegal-immigration side, there is very little conflation of these two. Folks that argue against illegal immigration typically take excessive care to delineate that they are not speaking about all immigration. When those arguments are then addressed and characterized by their opponents, the “illegal” part is frequently dropped.

            My sense is that any “anti-immigrant rhetoric” as opposed to “anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric” is a deliberate mischaracterization from the pro illegal immigrant side. I’d be interested to see concrete examples that are contrary.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think one issue here is that there are, simultaneuously:

            a. Rational and careful discussions of immigration policy from all sides, which can be found with some effort.

            b. Low-effort outrage-bait discussions of immigration policy from all sides, which is easy to find because it’s clickbaity.

            This sets up a perfect situation for confirmation bias–I see the other side’s low-effort outrage bait and my own side’s high-effort careful discussions, and conclude that the other side are all knuckle-dragging fascists.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            In theory being against illegal immigration solely is illogical unless: 1. you’d support making all immigration legal [open borders] 2. You think the current legal immigration framework is ideal or close enough to it.

            I doubt many people know off-hand current levels and requirements to immigrate.

            The same sort of applies to being pro or anti immigration in general.

            In practice people do have these opinions for the same reason people can support changes to tax rates without knowing what the current rates are.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            In theory being against illegal immigration solely is illogical unless: 1. you’d support making all immigration legal [open borders] 2. You think the current legal immigration framework is ideal or close enough to it.

            I disagree.

            Illegal immigrants had to break the law to get here. That implies a selection filter in favor of people who are more willing to break the law.

            Without knowing the details of the current immigration regime, it’s reasonable not insane to assume that the regime at least tries to select immigration levels which are beneficial to the country, and to select for immigrants which will be beneficial to the country. Losing control over immigration levels and the selection of immigrants is bad.

            Having undocumented people in the country is its own problem. You’re more likely to be pushed to the underground economy, you’re more likely to flee the scene of an accident, and you’re more likely to accept working conditions which are way worse than the documented would accept thereby applying downward pressure on the labor market.

          • mitv150 says:

            In theory being against illegal immigration solely is illogical unless: 1. you’d support making all immigration legal [open borders] 2. You think the current legal immigration framework is ideal or close enough to it.

            Not at all. Assume arguendo that the current legal immigration is hopelessly wrong. For a person that believes in rule of law, the logical answer is:

            Vastly curtail illegal immigration and reform legal immigration. Fixing the legal system is vastly harder when there is such a significant illegal pathway.

          • John Schilling says:

            In theory being against illegal immigration solely is illogical unless: 1. you’d support making all immigration legal [open borders] 2. You think the current legal immigration framework is ideal or close enough to it.

            Why is it even theoretically illogical to believe that A: the current legal immigration framework is less than ideal but also that B: damaging the norm of obeying the law, creating a legal underclass, and subsidizing the market for e.g. forged documents, is even worse?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @jermo sapiens

            Pretty much exactly this. Lots of people are against illegal immigration for a reason that basically maps to “our immigration numbers are reasonable or even need to be higher, but our current selection process is good or needs to be stronger, therefore people who bypass it are not good immigrants”.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @The Nybbler

            Okay, then clearly you can tell the difference from the rhetoric.

            Hmm, I think we have some kind of linguistic difficulty here. The specific rhetoric that’s anti (all) immigrants, rather than anti-brown immigrants etc. convinces my emotions that the speakers don’t like me, and will influence others not to like me/to act to harm me even if the word “immigrant” in their private dialect really means “brown illegal immigrant” or whatever subset the general term produces in their mind.

            This is true, but it’s a far cry from “one side regards me as the root of all evil”.

            Oh, I’m the root of all evil in several other ways as well ;-(

            But more seriously, that was somewhat over the top rhetoric on my part.

            OTOH, after listening to some posters, I think they honestly believe all Democrat voters hate white males – probably because of similar rhetoric, plus the extra sensitivity some of us (I’d have thought all) get when the terms used directly refer to them.

            I’d hoped the immigrant thing would be a comparatively non-inflammatory example – as well as not revealing too many personal details about me. It’s not the only reason I find myself permanently stuck on the Democrat side in this country ;-(

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Alright, I was leaving this one alone, but now I have to call bull.

            Roughly the same emotional valences animate the anti- immigration sentiment in the US and the “take control of our borders” sentiment in the Brexit debate in the U.K. (note, I’m specifically talking sentiment about immigration in both places, not other Brexit things).

            Essentially ALL of that EU movement of people is legal.

            @EchoChaos I am most especially not buying this argument from you, as you have pre-registered a preference for demographic make up that specifically forecloses the idea that legal migration in any large numbers would be tolerable.

            Furthermore, if we had a mass influx of French immigrants to the US, the same valences would start to operate there as well. Hell, the same ones operate when it’s just the yuppies moving in.

          • mitv150 says:

            When immigration is mostly legal, I have a say over the nature and character of that immigration via my vote.

            My understanding of the “take control of our borders” sentiment is that people feel that unelected EU leaders are controlling immigration policy and thus they have no say over the nature and character of the immigration, regardless of its legality.

            A significant part of the issue is about the nature and character of the immigration, not only the legal vs illegal distinction. It appears to many that illegal immigration has a negative character, as pointed out up thread. It is quite possible for legal immigration to have similarly negative characteristics – e.g., non-assimilation.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            As I’ve registered before, I AM against most immigration. I am merely pushing back against @RalMirrorAd’s statement.

            And if what we get for demographically similar immigration is stuff like @DinoNerd, that makes me more likely to be against ALL immigration.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            When immigration is mostly legal, I have a say over the nature and character of that immigration via my vote.

            In other words, the legal-illegal distinction isn’t doing the work that actually matters to you. “I don’t want those people here” is the actual operant sentiment.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And if what we get for demographically similar immigration is stuff like @DinoNerd, that makes me more likely to be against ALL immigration.

            As I already said, whether it’s Frogs (the French kind), Carpetbaggers, Yuppies, “gentrification”, etc., the sentiment is essentially working the same way.

          • mitv150 says:

            “I don’t want those people here” is the actual operant sentiment.

            To the extent that “those people” in your construction operates to mean “racial others,” as is quite common, than no. Such an inference would be inaccurate.

            If it instead means that I believe a sovereign state has the absolute right to determine who takes up permanent residence, and “those people” simply refers to any and all people that don’t qualify, than sure.

            And the illegal nature of the immigration is still doing plenty of work, as the sovereign state cannot effectively make their determination with significant illegal immigration.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            A few people responded to me but it’s hard to track them if I’m typing up here and the responses are all down there:

            1. The ‘immigration standards can be lowered but unlawful migration would still fall below that’ argument is reasonable.
            2. The selection argument that lawbreakers are self-selected for bad behavior is somewhat disagreeable since that’s true of anything defined as a crime however trivial the crime is.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            To the extent that “those people” in your construction operates to mean “racial others,” as is quite common, than no. That’s not what I wrote and your inference is inaccurate.

            Read the things I actually wrote again.

          • FormerRanger says:

            @HeelBearCub. The cases are not comparable. The UK objections to legal immigration are indeed about loss of control to the EU. In the US the objections are much more about illegal immigration and non-enforcement of existing immigration laws by our own courts and government.

            If immigration laws were reformed in the US and laws against illegal immigration were enforced, there would be much less objection to legal immigration, which would probably be continued at near its current level.

            If Brexit happens and the UK takes control of its immigration policy, there would probably be much less immigration of any kind (at least this has been promised by the Tories).

          • Essentially ALL of that EU movement of people is legal.

            In the context of open borders within the EU.

            There is nothing inconsistent with someone saying he has nothing against legal immigration when the immigrants are filtered in a way he more or less approves of and against open borders, whether legal or illegal.

            It’s true that the EU context doesn’t involve the additional issues of people willing to break the law, having reasons to avoid the legal system, etc., so someone might—I expect some people do—oppose illegal immigration to the U.K. from outside the EU but be in favor of staying in the EU. But someone could also be opposed to both on similar grounds.

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos says…If the attitude of English-speaking, culturally compatible immigrants is…”

            I wrote up a much longer piece on the topic, but I chickened out on posting it, and so I’ll just do a highlight:

            …This last year during coffee break I overheard a conversation that for me exemplifies the character of Russians:

            Sixty-something ex-Soviet Russian: “You believed that guys bullshit?”

            Forty-something second generation Fillipino-American: “Well yeah, I try to keep a positive attitude”

            Russian: “What? NEVER think positive!  ALWAYS think negative! Otherwise they screw YOU!”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            when the immigrants are filtered in a way he more or less approves

            Again, what is actually doing the work to gain the approval of said person?

            It’s not the “legality” of their entry, it’s the filtering according to their preferred criteria. The claim that was being made up above is that the the objection is merely about legality, but this is engaging in a kind of subterfuge. “Only legal” also implies some kind of filter, and that is the real objective.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            It’s not the “legality” of their entry, it’s the filtering according to their preferred criteria.

            You should not assume you know what’s behind people’s preferences. That way it’s just far too easy to assume evil motives behind everything your opponent does.

            There are plenty of reasons to be concerned over the legality of one’s entry into the country.

            If a stranger were to come in your house uninvited, would you ask them to leave immediately or would you instead try to become their friend?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You should not assume you know what’s behind people’s preferences. That way it’s just far too easy to assume evil motives behind everything your opponent does.

            Again, read the things I actually wrote.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            In other words, the legal-illegal distinction isn’t doing the work that actually matters to you. “I don’t want those people here” is the actual operant sentiment.

            Is this your comment?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Is this your comment?

            Is this where you assume my motives in writing that comment?

            Or is it where you read the other comments, the ones both before and after it, which expand on the meaning of that one.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            the legal-illegal distinction isn’t doing the work that actually matters to you

            Silly me I read that as suggesting that you were claiming what it is that matters to @mitv150 who previously said:

            When immigration is mostly legal, I have a say over the nature and character of that immigration via my vote.

            Clearly, @mitv150 is using a smokescreen to hide his super-racist and evil intentions. Thankfully, you are here to protect us from @mitv150’s bad thoughts that he is too afraid to even articulate, or as you said above:

            The claim that was being made up above is that the the objection is merely about legality, but this is engaging in a kind of subterfuge.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Clearly, @mitv150 is using a smokescreen to hide his super-racist and evil intentions.

            As I have said before … pointless.

          • FormerRanger says:

            It’s not the “legality” of their entry, it’s the filtering according to their preferred criteria.

            Any system other than open borders has criteria for entry, just as any system of laws has criteria for who is put before a court. The question is, what system of immigration would be acceptable to a majority of Americans? (Or to British people, if you are thinking of them.) Polls show that illegal immigration is not so supported, but legal immigration is (though with a minority in favor of little or no immigration at all — so “criteria” doesn’t impact their views).

            Waving “no criteria!” like a banner doesn’t seem to say much except “I support open borders.”

          • Dacyn says:

            @HeelBearCub: I think you are right that the sentiment implicit in mitv150’s comment is something like “the legal/illegal distinction is only a proxy for other things like skilled/unskilled, will/won’t assimilate, will/won’t follow the law”, but phrasing it as “I don’t want those people here” is bound to generate more heat than light, even if it’s literally true that there’s certain people that mitv150 doesn’t want to immigrate.

          • albatross11 says:

            I’m pretty pro-immigration, but I also think it’s nuts that we have a long-term 10M or so population of people here illegally.

            I’d prefer to see our immigration policy focus on who is likely to make things better for the US as a whole, leavened with some level of taking refugees for humanitarian reasons. But it’s hard to imagine a sensible immigration policy that allows huge numbers of people to come and stay and work illegally.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            it’s literally true that there’s certain people that mitv150 doesn’t want to immigrate

            Is there anyone here for which that statement isnt true?

            I would expect even open borders advocate to want to filter out ISIS fighters and neo-nazis.

          • Jiro says:

            The specific rhetoric that’s anti (all) immigrants, rather than anti-brown immigrants etc. convinces my emotions that the speakers don’t like me

            What specific rhetoric?

            It’s my observation that rhetoric that talks about “immigrants” this way comes from the left trying to blur the distinction between illegal and illegal immigrants so that they can all be let in, not from the right.

          • The specific rhetoric that’s anti (all) immigrants, rather than anti-brown immigrants etc. convinces my emotions that the speakers don’t like me

            To reinforce Jiro’s comment, can you quote examples of such rhetoric?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Any system other than open borders has criteria for entry

            Yes, exactly.

            You can’t talk about “legal” entry without implicitly talking about the criteria for entry. Specifying legal entry means that there is a filter in place, thus anyone who claims that they only care about “legal” entry is implying something that isn’t true.

            And we only have to look at the UK to see what that looks like in practice. It’s not the legality of the entry that matters, it’s the control of the size and composition of that immigration that matters.

            In other words, if people proposed a solution to the illegal problem that vastly increased and stream lined legal entry from Mexico, Central and South America, we would suddenly see that the illegality of the entry isn’t what is actually being opposed, but rather the entry itself.

            There are any number of reasons why you might oppose this kind of increase in number of legal immigrants. Large numbers of people in both parties would object. This isn’t an argument about those underlying motivations.

            @albatross11:
            I agree that having a long term population of illegal residents is corrosive in a number of ways. It would be far better if we had a system that successfully mitigated against that situation from occurring/reoccurring. Personally, I think that things like mandating EVerify are going to have to be part of that solution (as well acknowledging that osmsotic effects across international borders are facts of life).

          • Dacyn says:

            @jermo sapiens: That sounds like too much paperwork 😛 (ETA: “that” = “a system to keep out terrorists and neo-Nazis when we don’t need one for anyone else”) and I think some open borders advocates would claim those people have a right to move here even if we may not like it. But yes, the statement does apply to most people.

            @HeelBearCub: Some may support streamlined entry on the grounds that the people who would choose not to illegally immigrate are better to have in the country than the ones who would choose to, so if we can’t get one without the other, might as well have both.

          • ec429 says:

            @HeelBearCub, I think you’re missing everyone else’s points in this thread while accusing them of missing yours. (I don’t mean to impute bad faith here; just that you’re having a different conversation to everyone else).

            If someone (in the US) wants “only legal immigration according to the current US immigration laws”, then saying “but you’d hate unrestricted legal immigration” is completely irrelevant and does not entitle you to deduce ulterior motives. Yes, those people want a filter. And it’s the filter that their democratic processes have settled on, and if you think that filter’s wrong then the burden of proof is on you. You can make all the philosophical arguments you like why open borders are the logical default position and that it’s any deviation from that that bears the burden of proof… and at the end of that you’ll have convinced precisely no-one who didn’t already agree with you.

            (And the filter isn’t motivated by or a structural expression of racial prejudice, so if you can stop loudly implying that, you might get a more sympathetic hearing.)

            Roughly the same emotional valences animate the anti- immigration sentiment in the US and the “take control of our borders” sentiment in the Brexit debate in the U.K. (note, I’m specifically talking sentiment about immigration in both places, not other Brexit things).

            Essentially ALL of that EU movement of people is legal.

            The immigration sub-debate of Brexit is more complicated than outsiders realise (especially if they get their perspective from Remain-sympathising media). While there is a Tommy-Robinson strain of ugly nativism, it’s in the statistical noise; the main kinds of ‘anti-immigrant’ sentiment around are (a) the idea that we should be prioritising the Commonwealth over continental (and especially Eastern) Europe (you’ll sometimes see references to the debt we owe the former for coming to our aid in WWII) rather than the opposite way around, and (b) suspicion of Muslims after the Rotherham grooming scandal. (You might say, but what has the latter to do with Brexit? Logically, nothing; but it may nonetheless have been a proximate cause, emotionally, of the Leave vote.)

            Oh, and for completeness, (c) the institutional anti-Semitism of the Labour party (since they got taken over by communist hardliners) might qualify depending on your definition of ‘immigrant’.

          • albatross11 says:

            My impression is that a lot of immigration-restrictionist types in the US are both:

            a. Upset with the number of illegal immigrants.

            b. Upset with the current legal immigration policies.

            Some subset of (a) and (b) amount to racial / ethnic animus. I think it’s not so easy to know how much, even within a single person. I think the us/them circuitry in the human brain is very powerful and seizes on all kinds of differences.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @ec249:

            And the filter isn’t motivated by or a structural expression of racial prejudice, so if you can stop loudly implying that, you might get a more sympathetic hearing

            I’m implying, in fact I have basically outright said, it’s motivated by not wanting people who aren’t “us” (see: prioritizing the Commonwealth over the Continent). The well off affluent WASP Northern Boston folks move in, and the poor Irish Catholic “Southies” don’t like it because their neighborhood isn’t the same anymore and they have been pushed out because they can’t afford it. That’s just one of a myriad examples of this.

            Yes, those people want a filter.

            The people I was responding to were stating that the filter they wanted was “willing to follow immigration law” because it selected for those who are law abiding. This is, as people are proving over and over, not the actual motivation. They want control over numbers and kinds.

            Remember, this is all in context of people trying to convince DinoNerd that anti-immigration sentiment doesn’t apply to him because … reasons. That reason isn’t “because it was legal”, but rather, “You and yours aren’t showing up in enough numbers to make me worried about whether this place is serving me and mine.”

          • Dacyn says:

            @HeelBearCub:
            I mean, it is also in the context of RalMirrorAd saying “being against illegal immigration solely is illogical unless [caveats]” which is an assertion that can be evaluated on its own merits. I get that DinoNerd may feel threatened even though, as even he says, he is not the primary target.

            If people in fact don’t want fewer Canadians, then I would say that in fact the anti-immigration rhetoric isn’t meant to apply to him after all. (Arguably he may be collateral damage.) Even if wanting fewer Mexicans but not fewer Canadians is inconsistent by your standards.

            And it’s not so much about numbers as it is about cultural compatibility: even if there were lots of Canadians coming, they still may be more acceptable than Mexicans.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Dacyn:
            The thing you are hiding with caveats is “unless you agree with the limits as they are”. That’s not a caveat, it’s the whole point. The illegality is there to provide a mechanism to enforcing the actual limits that you want. If it was just about enforcing some sort of order to the process, we’d be treating it like a speeding ticket not deporting lifelong residents.

            And it’s not so much about numbers as it is about cultural compatibility: even if there were lots of Canadians coming, they still may be more acceptable than Mexicans.

            You say that like it’s somehow a refutation of what I have been saying.

          • Dacyn says:

            @HeelBearCub: “Agree with the limits as they are” is much stronger than “think that the limits as they are are providing some positive value”. I expect most people fall into the latter category but not the former.

            My statement about cultural compatibility vs numbers is meant as a refutation of this statement of yours:

            [Anti-immigrant sentiment:] You and yours aren’t showing up in enough numbers to make me worried about whether this place is serving me and mine. [emphasis added]

            Now maybe you didn’t mean it like that, and instead meant “enough numbers and not enough cultural compatibility”. But I think it’s worth pointing out rhetorical overreaches.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “Cultural compatibility” can be looked at as a force multiplier.

            A few Irish immigrants shows up in your neighborhood in the suburban Midwest, no one cares. If all of a sudden the Irish economy tanks and entire neighborhoods are now majority new Irish immigrants? Watch people get bent out of shape (and I am talking today, not 1850).

            And it doesn’t have to be Irish from Ireland. That could just as well be from Boston. Small differences get compounded by numbers.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        as an immigrant in the US, one side regards me as the root of all evil

        I disagree. Alot of people are opposed to immigration without hating immigrants. Or more specifically, alot of people are opposed to the current rate of immigration without hating immigrants. Obviously the pro-immigration side prefers characterizing their opponents as immigrant-haters, because that tars them as mentally defective bigots whose opinions should not be taken seriously.

      • Jiro says:

        as an immigrant in the US, one side regards me as the root of all evil.

        Is this actually true?

        Remember that if you’re going to avoid a side that calls you evil, the opposing side has a great incentive to portray that side as thinking you are evil.

        The number of people who think you are evil for being an immigrant is negligible, but one side has a habit of portraying the other side as opposing “immigrants” rather than illegal immigrants, let alone categories of illegal immigrants. You presumably immigrated legally, and you’re a native English speaker. Nobody thinks you’re evil.

        This is not even considering the distinction between opposing some quantity of immigration and opposing immigration. If I don’t like it when the mall is crowded by shoppers, do I dislike mall shoppers?

    • blipnickels says:

      I think this is a good rule-of-thumb for candidates and a bad rule-of-thumb for parties.

      For individual candidates, I think you have to go off value alignment. The actual act of passing and implementing policy changes is terribly complicated (anything with a vast bureaucracy is) and the modern state does so much that the average citizen has no real way to judge which candidate is better and their primary method of gaining insight into politics are shock/anger merchants. We here might like to think we understand the complexities of these policies but I think we’re mostly fooling ourselves and there’s no way the average American without our strange obsession with these things is going to be able to determine that. So you go off whether they like or dislike your identity groups and how much they resemble you.

      Will Obama close Guantonomo? Will Trump end illegal immigration? Will Bernie pass single payer? Who knows? But at least this guy says nice things about people like me and that’s about the best predictor the average person has.

      But at the party level, I can’t help but notice that all the powerful, influential groups (big corporations, AARP, various foreign lobbyists) are scrupulously bipartisan while those that are primarily affiliated with one party or another (Sierra Club, NRA, Unions) might get a lot of attention but they rarely get their policy preferences enacted or protected. The NRA might appear powerful but gun control is still a major issue and the NRA loses from time to time; everyone agrees that Social Security has issues but it’s not even under discussion and that’s the power of the AARP.

      I think there’s a lot of social movements stuck in this kind of trap; they want a social change but their members can’t imagine voting for the other party and so the party ignores them and their demands. First, the worst they can do is not vote, which is bad but not nearly as bad as switching their vote for the other party. Second, the party can fix this by just propagandizing them to hate the other party more.

      I think something like this is happening with the Christian Right as we speak. I remember in the 90’s-00’s the religious right was powerful, at least on the Republican side, and I suspect they had that ‘beyond controversy’ power back in the 50’s. But now they’re so terrified of the Left they’ll vote for Trump basically no matter what he does and as such Trump has basically done nothing for them except appoint some judges and there’s no plans that he or the Republicans will pass any of the religious liberty bills the Drehrer et al are so concerned about. And it’s been weird to watch that community in the space of about 15 years lose so much power and influence. I could probably make a similar case for Unions or the African American community on the left: highly loyal Democratic voting blocks with few policy victories to reward their loyalty.

      That got a little rambly but the bottom line, for DinoNerd and myself, is that political parties don’t reward loyalty, they exploit it, and it’s therefore critical to retain some capacity to vote for the other party, even if they dislike you, for self-interest if nothing else.

      • DinoNerd says:

        You have a good point. I’m still too much affected by my emotions here to even think of tactical voting, but it’s easy to make a case that the Trump victory was, in part, the result of taken-for-granted Democratic party faithful voters abandoning that party in droves.

      • ec429 says:

        it’s therefore critical to retain some capacity to vote for the other party, even if they dislike you, for self-interest if nothing else.

        Mostly a good post, but I have to take objection to the phrase “the other party”, because Duvergerised duopolies suck. I’m currently supporting an upstart right-wing party here in the UK, and part of my reasoning (or is it rationalisation?) is that having such competition will prevent the centre-right party from taking for granted every voter who’s turned off by socialism, thus forcing them to earn our votes rather than merely (accurately, but irrelevantly) screaming about how awful the left-wing party are.
        (Of course, the same logic is also why said centre-right party is doing everything it can to crush and destroy us.)

        • blipnickels says:

          Hmmm. I think the sensibility of this approach depends on your opinion of the Liberal Democrat’s viability.

          To a large extent, I think FPTP voting systems strongly favor dual parties and while third parties aren’t impossible, they’re prohibitively difficult. The UK, though, has two pretty viable third parties (the Liberal Democrats and the SNP) and maybe a third soon. So I’d be pretty bullish on a conservative alternative to the Tories; after all, if the left can have Labour and the Lib Dems, that’s strong evidence the right can also have multiple parties.

          But when I went to do some basic research on the Lib Dems, it turns out they’ve only been around since ’88. That’s young in political terms and I’m not sure it’s long-term viable; from what I’m hearing over the pond the Lib Dems could be replacing Labour pretty soon.

          So basically, I think there’s a lot more evidence that multiple parties are viable in the UK but I don’t know enough about the Lib Dems, who would be the best example. Looking over at how Labour and the Lib Dems have interacted over the past 30 years, do you think it’s been successful? Is that the kind of thing you’d want to see on the right?

          • ec429 says:

            The LDs’ history is kinda complicated, they were the Liberals (before that the Whigs, making them as old as — and the original opponent of — the Tories), then they lost enough ground that they formed an alliance with the SDP, which was messy and didn’t go great, so they reformed as a new party, the LDs.
            After they started to make electoral gains, they basically fulfilled the “make-’em-earn-it” strategy when Blairism/New Labour came in, bringing Labour policies closer to what LDs wanted for twenty years. (Then Corbyn happened, which is probably the result of the ’70s becoming too distant a memory that many young people are ready to flirt with full-on Socialism again, plus the LDs thoroughly turning off the Eurosceptic element of the working classes — while Labour are fairly pro-EU too, Corbyn personally isn’t which means at least some Leavers are willing to vote Labour.)
            If we — by which I mean the Brexit Party — succeed in doing the same to the Tories, it’ll have been worthwhile; we already deposed May (the Tory backroom, usually referred to as the ‘men in grey suits’, saw at the MEP elections that if they didn’t act soon, the electorate would start taking us seriously; Boris is their attempt to avert that prospect) but there’s hope for more. (And of course we only got the referendum in the first place because UKIP had the Tories seriously spooked.)

            The Lib Dems would certainly like to think they’ll be replacing Labour — and they’d like other people to think it, too, hence all their (usually misleading if not mendacious) “can’t win here” bar charts — but it’s not a realistic prospect; for the tribal voters in what we usually if somewhat inaccurately call The North, the LDs are too close to the Tories. The LDs are best understood as our equivalent of the (US) Democrats: a party of the big cities, especially the ones stuffed with well-educated elites. The US actually doesn’t really have an equivalent of Labour; AIUI the working classes there tend to vote Republican or stay home, with no equivalent of the old mining communities who burn Thatcher in effigy on Guy Fawkes’ Night.

            What I don’t have a good explanation for, though, is why the UK is so much better at third parties than other FPTPs (particularly the US) seem to be. One popular hypothesis is our campaign spending limits (each candidate in a General Election is only allowed to spend about 12 pence per constituent on their entire local campaign), which means if you can locally concentrate your (volunteer) activists on your most promising targets (the LDs in particular are past masters at this) you stand a chance against the big party machines.

            I hope I managed to answer your questions somewhere in that long ramble 🙂

          • Nornagest says:

            The US actually doesn’t really have an equivalent of Labour; AIUI the working classes there tend to vote Republican or stay home, with no equivalent of the old mining communities who burn Thatcher in effigy on Guy Fawkes’ Night.

            Industrial labor and the trades were one of the Democrats’ main constituencies from at least the New Deal coalition well into the modern period — see our very own Plumber for example, though their base has always been more complicated than that. Labor’s relative importance to the Dems has declined in pace with its general decline in the US, but it’s only in the last few years that they’ve actually started getting peeled off in substantial numbers.

            There’s probably lots of reasons for this, but the biggest pieces that I can see are, first, the Dem leadership’s pivot to racial and sexual identity politics, and secondly — and probably relatedly — a tendency for them to take labor for granted. For union workers of a certain generation, Reagan’s the American Thatcher, but Democratic leaders since then haven’t been much less eager to push the Washington consensus. Depending on how you weight free trade relative to domestic union policy, they might actually have been moreso.

            It took Trump to actually capitalize on this, but I think the groundwork’s been there for a while.

          • FormerRanger says:

            What I don’t have a good explanation for, though, is why the UK is so much better at third parties than other FPTPs (particularly the US) seem to be.

            It would seem to me that the current utter failure of coming to closure on Brexit is a screaming red flag (with blinky-lights) that third (and fourth and fifth) parties in a FPTP system can lead to unresolvable deadlock.

            Maybe that will change this week, but I have my doubts.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            US is a presidential system with direct voting for the chief executive. The UK is not, meaning that, say, the SNP can actually have bargaining power in the formation of a government.

            Not sure how it works at the regional level in the UK, but every level in the US has direct election of the executive function. That necessarily puts even more weight on pre-election coalition building, encouraging two parties.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            @HeelBearCub- If by ”regional governments” you mean those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland then Scotland and Wales have a similar system to that of Westminster, where the executive is chosen by the members of the Assembly/Parliament- though the legislators aren’t elected in the same way as Westminster MPs.

            Northern Ireland has a complicated system designed to ensure that both Nationalist and Unionist parties are represented in the executive, but again the executive isn’t directly elected.

            The only directly elected executive positions I can think of in the UK are some mayors (most notably London and Greater Manchester) and the Police and Crime Commissioners. The introduction of the latter was unpopular, and turnout for their elections is often very low.

          • Lambert says:

            What’s even happened to Stormont?
            Last I heard they were so busy arguing with each other that Westminster snuck in abortion reform or something?

          • Plumber says:

            @ec429 > “…The US actually doesn’t really have an equivalent of Labour; AIUI the working classes there tend to vote Republican or stay home, with no equivalent of the old mining communities who burn Thatcher in effigy on Guy Fawkes’ Night”

            There’s a sprinkling of pro-union Democrats left, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown comes to mind, but the closest equivalent to a major “Labor Party” in the U.S.A. left is West Virginia’s Democratic Party and their historic ties to the United Mine Workers.

            @Northwest > “…industrial labor and the trades were one of the Democrats’ main constituencies from at least the New Deal coalition well into the modern period..”

            “…Dem leadership’s pivot to racial and sexual identity politics, and secondly — and probably relatedly — a tendency for them to take labor for granted. For union workers of a certain generation, Reagan’s the American Thatcher, but Democratic leaders since then haven’t been much less eager to push the Washington consensus. Depending on how you weight free trade relative to domestic union policy, they might actually have been moreso.

            It took Trump to actually capitalize on this, but I think the groundwork’s been there for a while”

            This is precisely correct. 

            The Dems earned union support with the 1935 Wagner Act which made unionizing jobs easier, Republicans earned hostility with the 1948 Taft-Hartley Act which made it harder “cutting the legs off the labor movement”.

            The cleavage with Democrats started with the 1972 Presidential election and the AFL-CIO for the first time refusing to endorse George McGovern because he was insufficiently anti-communist (remember union leaders were largely the anti-communists left after unions purged themselves of CP members in the late ’40’s in an effort to be ‘mainstream’, which largely worked for a couple of decades). The Democrats returned the ‘favor’ by not passing pro-union legislation that was proposed in 1974 or during the Carter administration, which may have arrested the post 1955 decline in union density. 2009 and ’10 was the next best chance for legislation to stop the decline but Democrats had ‘other priorities’.

            Most of the current Democratic Presidential candidates have said pro-union rhetoric, especially Biden and Sanders, but Biden has had a long career when he could have done more, and Sanders supports the “Green New Deal” which most of the AFL-CIO is against; my union likes the hints of more nuclear power plants, but piping for gas and oil delivery is our bread and butter so that’s a non-starter for us.

            A couple of Republican Senators have said nice things about unions (along with churches for “fostering community”), but by and large what keeps unions in the pocket of the indifferent Democratic Party is active Republican hostility to unions .

            This goes against polls I’ve seen but, in my personal conversations with fellow union members we older guys are still mostly Democrats, those who were in their 20’s ten to twenty years ago increasingly leaned Republican (I simply haven’t spoken much with twenty-somethings this last decade). Of the thirty-somethings I’ve worked with this last decade, a very slight majority are Democrats and a forty-something told me he cast his first vote ever for a Republican when he voted for Trump in 2016.

            While union membership still increases the likelihood that someone of a given demographic category will vote for a Democrat, my guess is that without a change in status quo this is the last generation that will be true of.

          • ec429 says:

            @FormerRanger:

            It would seem to me that the current utter failure of coming to closure on Brexit is a screaming red flag (with blinky-lights) that third (and fourth and fifth) parties in a FPTP system can lead to unresolvable deadlock.

            I dunno, it seems to me like that deadlock resulted from a large number of MPs getting elected on 2017 on the back of promises they had no intention of keeping, mixed in with a Speaker who re-wrote the procedural rules on a whim. Remember, both before and after the 2017 election, the Tories had a majority, so third parties can’t have been the problem.

            @Nornagest, @Plumber: thanks for those interesting explications. Interesting that you see Reagan as a Thatcher equivalent; I wonder if that’s because Reagan gets more hatred than I’m aware of, or if you folks across the pond just don’t realise how much vitriol Thatcher gets. Datum: when she died in 2013, there were street parties. Although that could just be down to the rise in political performatism — I can’t be sure if the same would have happened had she died in 2004 like Reagan.

            @HeelBearCub: that seems like a pretty good theory to me. Regarding lower levels of government, local councils are elected by something similar to the Westminster system — one councillor per ward, majority party forms the administration; if there’s none (NOC: No Overall Control) a coalition or minority administration is the result. Minor parties usually start out by getting councillors, then gaining control of a council or two, before they grow enough to win Westminster seats.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @ec429:
            Just to be clear, this isn’t my theory. I’m just parroting my understanding of what I believe is the bog-standard theory on the effects of FPTP presidential systems as compared to parliamentary systems.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Plumber:

            @Northwest > “…industrial labor

            Nornagest is Californian, actually. You could try to persuade him to become Northwest, but outside of Seattle and Redmond it’s not great for programmers. 😛

          • Plumber says:

            @Le Maistre Chat >

            Northwest

            Dagnabbit!

            Auto-correct!

            From Hell’s heart I stab at three!

            E.T.A. Aaaargh!

            Thee!

            Stab at thee!

            Sheesh!

          • Nornagest says:

            I wonder if that’s because Reagan gets more hatred than I’m aware of, or if you folks across the pond just don’t realise how much vitriol Thatcher gets. Datum: when she died in 2013, there were street parties.

            I think you’re right that Thatcher got more vitriol per capita, but there was a band calling itself Reagan Youth. I’m inclined to put it down to the difference in scale — the 1980 GOP was a bigger tent than the 1979 Tories, and same for the DNC vs. Labour. The vitriol was there, but diluted.

            Doesn’t work quite the same way today, but American politics today are more driven by national narratives than they were forty years ago.

          • FormerRanger says:

            @ec429 the Tories had a majority Yes, but a narrow one complicated by the multi-party system, and then recomplicated by May’s failure to grow it. Narrow majorities in multi-party FPTP systems are pretty much the worst of all possible worlds.

            Instead, some countries with multi-party systems have versions of ranked choice to produce a “clear” winner, and others have proportional or party list voting, or runoffs, or (worst) guaranteed seats granted on religious or ethnic grounds. These don’t always work either, of course. (Arrow’s Theorem…)

            That is not to say that FPTP with two parties produces fair outcomes in all cases. The US, ostensibly divided into “red” and “blue” states/parties, gerrymanders political minorities out of getting any representation. In reality, most states are “purple,” to use the media terminology, just not 52-48% purple, but rather 60-40% or even 75-25%. For example my state, Massachusetts, is about 20-25% Republican but has no Republican Representatives and few Republicans in the state legislature. Part of the problem in MA is that Republicans are distributed throughout the state rather than “clumped.” Even neutral district drawing doesn’t produce a Republican district very easily.

            Similar tales can be told of states with minorities of Democrats, although many categories of Democrats are clumped, African-Americans in most urban states, for example. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that partisan redistricting (=gerrymandering) is legal, I expect all bets to be off after 2020 (when the census requires reallocation of Congressional seats).

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      This seems logical. People work for people to represent their interests, so they wouldn’t vote for someone who isn’t going to, or at least will vote for someone who is the least unfit and unwilling to represent them.

    • onyomi says:

      I’m reminded of Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment and Romney’s “47%” comment, which I think were rightly perceived in both cases to have been quite damaging. Before that was Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” comment and probably many more others can think of earlier on. In a certain way might actually be a good thing? Because in this supposedly hyperpartisan era if you still get punished at the ballot box for basically insulting half the voters then that means there are still some people (the hated swing voter?) who either dislike such incivility and/or don’t already associate so strongly with the other tribe as to perceive all such sleights as not aimed at them.

      Related, this is one of the theories I have about why Bill Clinton always seemed so persuasive, to me, and I think many others, even though I probably didn’t like his policies all that much then and almost certainly wouldn’t now: Bill Clinton, if memory serves, almost invariably buttered up his audience, present and implied, even if what followed amounted to an implication that they were idiots. Phrases like “the American people, in their infinite wisdom, have chosen to vote for x, which may not have been my preference, but…” rolled off his tongue.

      To channel Scott Adams, this seems a much bigger winner in terms of “persuasion” than rhetoric like “why are you voting against your own best interests (you rubes)?”

      Also somewhat related: living in an autonomous region with leadership completely lacking in Clinton or Trump-esque schmooze-ability and charisma (the HKSAR) during a time of major social unrest has made me see a lot more value in that seemingly superficial or merely deceptive capacity than I once did.

      • grendelkhan says:

        I’m reminded of Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment

        To me, the initially-baffling part was that this comment was pretty much precisely analogous to Trump’s “they’re bringing rapists” bit, and yet the response was diametrically opposed, though they’re similar motte-and-bailey statements. (Bailey: Republicans are deplorable/Mexicans are rapists; motte: deplorable people are supporting Trump/most Mexicans are good people, but we need to be cautious.)

        Trump Teflon’d his way out of that to the point that his fans reclaimed ‘deplorable’, and his base never wavered from the motte on the ‘Mexicans’ thing. It’s objectively impressive.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          this comment was pretty much precisely analogous to Trump’s “they’re bringing rapists” bit

          Nope, it wasn’t. “They’re bringing rapists” tars unauthorized immigrants. “Basket of deplorables” tarred voters.

          • grendelkhan says:

            Yeah, this is exactly what I was talking about.

            Clinton: You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. […] Now, some of those folks – they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America. But the “other” basket – the other basket – and I know because I look at this crowd I see friends from all over America here: I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas and — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that “other” basket of people are people who feel the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures; and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but — he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

            Clinton apologized the next day for saying ‘half’.

            Trump: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

            It’s plenty analogous in that there’s a larger group (all Trump voters, all Mexican immigrants) and a smaller group (bigots voting for Trump, illegally-immigrating criminals); the asymmetry is when Clinton speaks, it’s about all Trump voters; when Trump speaks, it’s about illegally immigrating criminals. And that’s the point.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            Ah, I see your point. Yeah I agree, same rhetorical device, but applied to different groups with predictably different results.

            Yikes, I’d forgotten how bad the second half of that Clinton quote was. “He seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end.” — she’s basically giving Trump’s stump speech for him!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And I thought we praised the wisdom of King Canute here.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I think I’m missing the reference here…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @TheVoiceOfTheVoid:
            King Canute and the Tide

            I’m simply saying that Trump basically promised he could stop the tide on command. Clinton is describing the appeal, recognizing that the tide is indeed an issue, and saying that simply commanding the tide won’t work.

          • BBA says:

            “People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you.”

            Canute could have been remembered as having stopped the tide. Trump almost certainly will be. History, after all, is written by the winners, specifically of the Texas State Board of Education elections.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Some politicians take the Canute thing more literally than others:

            Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

          • Aapje says:

            @grendelkhan

            Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

            Note that Clinton doesn’t say ‘help.’ She seemingly has difficulty enough simply empathizing with them.

            @HeelBearCub

            Telling people that the tides will sweep them away and you will stand on the shore crying real or crocodile tears as they disappear below the waves is never going to endear one to the people one gave up on.

            They might even suspect one of being an accelerationist…

        • Ant says:

          Because it’s not the same thing.
          There are acceptable target for generalization of bad behavior and unacceptable ones:
          Acceptable:
          _Party, ideology, movement, sect.

          Unacceptable:
          _Country of origin, Religion, Skin color.

          • Aapje says:

            Unacceptable:
            _Country of origin, Religion, Skin color.

            Unless the country is Western, the religion is Christian and/or the skin color is white…

    • brad says:

      I buy this too. DinoNerd used immigrants, and that spawned a whole thing, but for me it’s all the rhetorical around liberal coastal elitists and similar. It’s hard for me to imagine ever supporting someone that throws that kind of thing around. Further, given all the people willing to openly say that they voted, at least in part, for the direct purpose of sticking a finger in my eye it’s hard to see ever wanting to help them in any way.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think in that case you’re right: they really do hate you, assuming you’re in that category. They don’t expect anything from you and didn’t _before_ they started poking fingers. It’s pure conflict theory.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          I don’t mind the liberal costal elite, I think they are obviously value-add to our nation. You can’t run the nation without the extremely powerful and effective institutions in place Silicon Valley, New York City, and Washington DC.

          What I do mind is when they try to shove their belief system down the throats of the entire nation because they think they know better than everyone else.

          Similarly, I don’t mind the religious conservative or the Heartland folk who also offer a lot to help out the nation, but I also don’t want them ramming their belief system down everyone’s throats, either.

          Me not voting Democrat has nothing to do with the liberal costal elite generally, and everything to do with the batshit crazy Progressive movement specifically. Those folks hate me, and will think nothing of using my family as lambs for their crazy 21st Red Guard sacrificial altar. No WAY am I voting for a Democrat.

          • Plumber says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy,

            So um…

            …how did YOU get the secret DNC decoder ring?

            (Drats! He’s on to us! Scram!)

            Okay, judging by my “Facebook friends” of the last year one anti-Democrat, and three anti-Republicans are predicting that soon THOSE PEOPLE will start a civil (or uncivil?) war, I’m still not stockpiling ammo or running to the border.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        DinoNerd used immigrants, and that spawned a whole thing, but for me it’s all the rhetorical around liberal coastal elitists and similar. It’s hard for me to imagine ever supporting someone that throws that kind of thing around.

        Can you at least fathom that the rhetoric around “white men” and religious people, and republican voters, etc…, coming from Hollywood, academia, the NY times, etc (i.e. the liberal coastal elite) has created a similar reaction in a typical Trump voter?

        • EchoChaos says:

          @DinoNerd already noted that in preemptive response to me in his initial thread, yes.

          It is interesting that liberal white men never assume that rhetoric at white men is aimed at them. Which is likely accurate, just interesting.

        • brad says:

          Can you at least fathom that the rhetoric around “white men” and religious people, and republican voters, etc

          I think “Hollywood, academia, the NY times, etc.” is a cop out. They are as big a portion of the “liberal coastal elite” as white nationalists are of Trump voters. But sure I expect hate for hate (that said, see below for a distinction between hate and making fun, condescension, etc.)

          • acymetric says:

            Thank you. This may be a bad example, because maybe I’m just living in a cave, but someone elsewhere mentioned “White Fragility”. I had never heart of the book, or author, and now that I have I don’t have any intention of reading it. I travel in pretty far left blue circles. If I did some kind of poll, I would guess few enough people that I have personal contact with would have heard of it that it would round down to zero.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @brad

            Pretty unbalanced, given that Trump has explicitly repudiated white supremacists and nationalists and the left seeks the approval of Hollywood, academia and the New York Times.

          • acymetric says:

            @EchoChaos

            Umm…citations needed for that second claim.

          • The Nybbler says:

            So the major source of audiovisual entertainment in the nation, one of the nation’s most respected newspapers, and the entire research and higher education edifice are no larger or more significant than The Daily Stormer, Richard Spencer, David Duke, and the remnants of the Klan? That’s absolutely absurd. Who else is “liberal coastal elite” besides those you’ve mentioned? Tech execs? Same views. Finance? No smoking gun, but signs point that way.

          • DarkTigger says:

            @acymetric
            Seriously you hadn’t? Even here in Germany every online newspaper from center-left onwards was talking about it last year, and regularly citing from sources like the NYT and the Guardian.
            Not to mention the twitteria, who absolutley adore it’s “insights”. (Which in fluctuate between interessting and bullshit)

          • brad says:

            The Nybbler, Above you seem agree with my implicit claim to be a part of the “liberal coastal elite” and so reasonably feel attacked. Now you are saying it’s a tiny group of people. Which is it?

            @echochaos
            Who appointed you to speak for “the left”? And what does “the left” have to do with “liberal coast elites”? What’s it called again, outgroup homogeneity bias?

          • Plumber says:

            @acymetric,

            For what little it’s worth I have no memory of seeing or hearing any mentions of a book called “White Fragility” until this thread.

            My “media bubble” is a little bit of PBS and local commercial television a month, some KCBS newsradio before and after the traffic reports a little bit of The New York Times and/or The San Francisco Chronicle, some Washington Post and vox.com most weeks, and a bit of The Atlantic most months, though not completely all of any of that.

            From time-to-time I’ll pick up the Leftover American Affairs, Democracy, Jacobian, The Nation and the Rightier American Conservative, National Affairs, and National Review.

            Probably one of those has mentioned “White Fragility”, but it escaped my notice.

            Among my wife’s social circle the default assumption is Democrat but I don’t talk to her friends much, and I don’t think she does much either.

            I frankly don’t have friends I have coworkers, of the ten that I’ve had the most conversations with the last year 5 are Democrats, 3 are Republicans, and I don’t know what the other four are, other than during the Kavanaugh hearings (when folks partisan leanings became clear) we don’t talk politics that much at work, I had a better idea of my co-workers leanings previously but there’s been a few retirements, quits, and new hires since then.

            After joining Facebook this year among my friends of 15 to 35 years ago about 5 are Democrats or further Left, one subtle Republican, and one outspoken Republican but frankly I find politics via Facebook tiresome.

            As for my personal politics, while sober I’m a moderate to liberal Democrat (depending on the issue), probably close to most Dems my age (51).

            The more tired I am and with a lot of coffee I get closer to Pol Pot.

            The more alcohol the more libertarian and/or “trad” conservative.

            All bets are off with “Irish coffee’s”

          • brad says:

            I think the hate-readers (come on, you know it’s accurate) overestimate the prominence of the articles they seek out. I read the Times fairly regularly, but not cover to cover. I doubt much of anyone does. If you are reading a curated selection of Times articles that push your specific hobby horse buttons, but they come from a period of years, you aren’t getting the same experience as someone that reads that paper regularly. Especially if you are concentrating on op-eds.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The Nybbler, Above you seem agree with my implicit claim to be a part of the “liberal coastal elite” and so reasonably feel attacked. Now you are saying it’s a tiny group of people. Which is it?

            I’m not claiming the “liberal coastal elite” are a tiny group of people. I don’t know for sure about your own membership but I think you said you used to be a NYC lawyer and are now in NYC tech, so you at least have a reasonable claim. (I’d have a claim myself, if I were liberal)

            But I don’t think “Hollywood, academia, the NY times, etc” (where “etc” is the rest of those putting out that sort of rhetoric — and you’ll certainly find it at e.g. Google) is a small part of the “liberal coastal elite”; they’re a large part of it, and they’re even more influential than their numbers would suggest.

      • Poppin Fresh says:

        This is a common reaction: “how dare you vote for Trump, now we’re gonna hate you and make fun of you, how do you like that” – you guys hated us and made fun of us long before Trump. We’re reciprocating that hatred.

        I remember after 9/11 I was in eighth grade and my peers and I were all in a very patriotic mood. We wanted to fight. There was one kid who saw it differently, who said something along the lines of “why are us rednecks getting all worked up because a bunch of New Yorkers got killed? Would they care if a bunch of us got killed?” At the time I joined the mob of kids who threatened to beat him up. I don’t know where he is today, but if I could meet him again I’d apologize, offer to buy him a beer.

        • John Schilling says:

          This is a common reaction: “how dare you vote for Trump, now we’re gonna hate you and make fun of you, how do you like that” – you guys hated us and made fun of us long before Trump.

          Who are “you guys”? Because I didn’t hate and rarely made fun of Republicans before Trump, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only member of a large swath of centrists and outliers who saw the GOP as a useful ally in the past and are disgusted by what it has become in the present.

          We’re reciprocating that hatred.

          But you elected Trump, whose sloppy targeting isn’t focused just on the people who made fun of you in the past, and is greatly amplifying the hatred.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            But you elected Trump, whose sloppy targeting isn’t focused just on the people who made fun of you in the past, and is greatly amplifying the hatred.

            And if Trump hadnt been elected, you would have elected Hillary.

            Consider Trump to be a warning. The message was (IMHO) If the elites do not change course the working class is denigrated and attacked as it has been in the past, there are tens of millions of Americans willing to vote for a clown like Trump to be president.

            Amplifying the hatred is obviously unfortunate, but it is preferable to being crushed under the boot of progressivism for ever. This struggle is existential, so I wouldnt expect too much compromising from the side being crushed.

          • Clutzy says:

            I did not vote for Trump. But I’ve said many times I think President Cruz or Rand Paul would have faced 99% of the same vitriol as Trump. There were serious pieces in places like The Atlantic that said, basically, “ignore Trump, Rubio is the real extremist risk to the Republic.”

            I think on this, no serious evaluation of 2008 and 2012 would leave someone coming away thinking that the reaction to Trump is because Trump is unique. Rather, the reaction to Trump is the norm to be expected for a Republican Presidential candidate.

          • Rather, the reaction to Trump is the norm to be expected for a Republican Presidential candidate.

            There is some truth to that. I remember after Trump was elected someone prominent on the left commenting that they had said the same things about previous Republican candidates, that they hadn’t been true then, were true now, which made it hard to persuade people that they were true now.

            But I think Trump is different, because he provides a lot more ammunition for those attitudes than previous Republican candidates, which makes them persuasive to more people.

          • Poppin Fresh says:

            Who are “you guys”?

            The “liberal coastal elitists and similar” that brad mentions.

            But you elected Trump, whose sloppy targeting isn’t focused just on the people who made fun of you in the past, and is greatly amplifying the hatred.

            I know, this is why I support Yang now. I have no regrets about my Trump vote. They were planning on treating us like “Germans after 1945.” We might as well fight like Germans in 1945.

            https://balkin.blogspot.com/2016/05/abandoning-defensive-crouch-liberal.html

          • Corey says:

            There were serious pieces in places like The Atlantic that said, basically, “ignore Trump, Rubio is the real extremist risk to the Republic.”

            Can’t speak for the entire left, of course, but I think we expected Trump’s Republican-ness to be tempered both by incompetence and lack of principles. Obviously he’s not a religious zealot, and is not shy about pursuing personal gain, so e.g. you could convince yourself that you could get him to sign a Medicare-for-all bill were you to rename it “Trumpcare”.

            Lots of people are afraid of the inevitable advent of a capable person who adopts Trump’s style. (Yes I know anti-intellectualism is part of the appeal, but it’s easier to fake that than the other way around).

          • Clutzy says:

            But I think Trump is different, because he provides a lot more ammunition for those attitudes than previous Republican candidates, which makes them persuasive to more people.

            Maybe, quite frankly I cannot tell. From my POV the level of “ammunition” that has been weaponized against Trump is often of such low grade absolute nonsense (see the IG report, kids in cages) that its hard for me to tell if he’s providing a lot of extra meat, or if the media is just extra voracious. I’m still fairly convinced that no whistleblower report would have been made if Obama/Hillary/Biden made that same phone call (and I think they did, would have, and will), but I think you are also right that President Cruz would have been much more careful.

            OTOH, the competency of a Cruz presidency because of his legal skills and knowledge of who are good people to promote (one of Trump’s longstanding problems is he has to go through many people for each position before finding one that will vibe well with him) would generate outrage in many other ways. He may well have built the wall, convicted Biden in Ukraine, convicted some high level FBI officials, purged most of the high level executive branch of those engaging in resistance, etc. Also Cruz probably shuts down the government a few extra times, which obviously would make some heads spin.

            So, I respect the theory that Trump is like gasoline while a normal republican is mere diesel fuel, but I’m not CONFIDENT in that theory.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Obviously he’s not a religious zealot, and is not shy about pursuing personal gain, so e.g. you could convince yourself that you could get him to sign a Medicare-for-all bill were you to rename it “Trumpcare”.

            I definitely think this was an opportunity the Democrats missed. Trump’s base doesn’t give a fig about Big Government or the deficit; they chose him for CW reasons. Democrats chose to die on the CW hill rather than triangulate with a Republican President to get single-payer health care in exchange for stronger immigration enforcement.

          • John Schilling says:

            So, I respect the theory that Trump is like gasoline while a normal republican is mere diesel fuel, but I’m not CONFIDENT in that theory.

            Trump is gasoline, a normal Republican is mere diesel fuel, and while there are lots of matches around there’s also a diesel engine that powers the machinery for getting stuff done.

          • John Schilling says:

            And if Trump hadnt been elected, you would have elected Hillary.

            Go ahead and believe that if it makes you feel more comfortable.

            Consider Trump to be a warning. The message was (IMHO) If the elites do not change course the working class is denigrated and attacked as it has been in the past, there are tens of millions of Americans willing to vote for a clown like Trump to be president.

            Yes, they understand that. Everybody understands that. But they also understand that there are millions more who voted for the negative-charisma Clinton over Trump, and they’re pretty sure their next candidate won’t be as thoroughly unlikeable and untrustworthy as Hillary, and they’re not going to go with appeasement.

          • Aapje says:

            @John Schilling

            Are you claiming that if Trump hadn’t been the candidate for the GOP, Clinton wouldn’t have been chosen in the DEM primaries?

          • DeWitt says:

            He’s claiming that if Trump weren’t the Republican candidate, the Democrats would’ve still lost the actual election.

          • BBA says:

            At this point Trump deserves another term and we libs deserve to eat crow.

            None of the predictions of doom and gloom came to pass. The last three years have been madness on the internet and the TV news, but exquisitely normal in real life. Oh, Trump breaks all the norms of Washington officialdom, but nobody outside the Beltway ever cared about those norms. There’s a moral panic around white nationalists rivaling the old ones around Satanic cults, but actual white nationalists are pathetic laughingstocks, much like actual Satanic cults.

            Something clicked for me when I read that John Bolton of all people was decrying Trump’s overt criminality in Ukraine… yeah, pressuring foreign officials to investigate a political rival isn’t so hot, but it pales in comparison to invading a foreign country and killing hundreds of thousands of people for absolutely no reason at all besides winning the next election. But nobody even dreamed of impeaching Bush or prosecuting anyone in his administration for that. And now the Dems are poised to nominate Biden, who not only supported the Iraq war but whose shady activities in Ukraine are at the center of the impeachment. That’s the one thing that people are going to remember about the impeachment by the time the next election rolls around – Biden’s a crook. The trap is set and we’re walking right into it.

            Bravo, Trumpists. Bra-fucking-vo. You may never get your wall, but you have completely and thoroughly owned every single lib in a way that we’ll never be able to live down, and that’s worth more than any wall could ever be.

          • acymetric says:

            @BBA

            You’re probably being a little to defeatist here. First: not all libs would even want a Biden presidency (I wouldn’t).

            Second: There were two concerns about Trump. That he would be a terrible representative of the USA towards other countries/allies (he has been) and that he would make all the worst choices in a crisis (or he would take a difficult situation and turn it into one). Luckily we haven’t had a crisis yet, but that doesn’t mean the Trump presidency gets a stamp of approval.

          • Aapje says:

            @BBA

            You don’t get it. Biden and his son are human beings who deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and consideration.

            The people who were tortured and killed are not part of the elite, so they aren’t really humans. They are pawns that can be used as weapons in the game of thrones. Their ‘humanity’ (LOL) only matters if it can get votes from other pawns, not because they intrinsically have worth.

            /sarcasm

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Trump may not be a great representative, but predictions of utter terror have not panned out. We’ve had some tense situations (though not crises) in North Korea, Syria, and the Persian Gulf with no wars as of yet. If Trump were really the hot-headed firebrand everyone thought he was, we would probably be involved in three wars by now.

            Similarly, Trump’s administration has largely respected SC and court rulings against him on things like the refugee ban. He has utterly flouted Congressional investigations into his administration, but he hasn’t simply tried to assert himself as Sole Emperor of the United States.

            To the extent that he’s badgered the Fed, it’s probably been value-add in the short-term, because the Fed needed to ease off its contractionary policies.

          • BBA says:

            @acymetric

            So far Trump has shown a hell of a lot more continuity with the Washington consensus than his rhetoric would reveal. He claims to rip up NAFTA, then replaces it with USMCA, which he crows about as a yuuuge victory even though it’s nearly identical to NAFTA. Every other foreign policy “crisis” looks the same. There’s always the risk that something serious will go down in the summer of 2024 when the remaining “deep state” has finally been rooted out, but it’s not like mainstream foreign policy has been that successful in handling crises either.

            Obama’s foreign policy was built around repairing our relationships with our allies after the Bush era left them in shambles. So we started listening to mainland Europe. France wanted NATO to intervene in Libya, we signed off on it… you know the rest.

            @Aapje

            Trump is every bit as pro-war and pro-torture as Bush and Obama were. He might have blurted out something else at a rally, but actions speak louder than words.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’ve had people telling me that we’re gonna invade Iran real soon now since at least 2003.

            I’m starting to think there’s no wolf, you know?

          • albatross11 says:

            BBA:

            Trump was overtly pro-torture in the debates–this distinguished him from all the other Republican candidates (except Rand Paul). They were in favor of enhanced interrogation and splashing a little water in their faces and other euphemisms for torturing prisoners that let their supporters pretend they weren’t proposing something monstrous.

            Trump hasn’t actually started any new wars yet, but also hasn’t really pulled out in any general way, probably because he doesn’t care all that much and hasn’t thought through how to approach the problem.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Bob Woodward’s interviews with insiders showed that Trump was eager to pull out of a bunch of hot spots, and basically his entire staff telling him it was a bad idea which would lead to more shit down the line.

            You know that trope that we are There to steal the Oil? Trump wanted it to be true: if we aren’t stealing the Oil, why are we There? Let’s get Oil or get out.

            (They could not tell him that, but I think there has been enough turnover since then that recently Trump bragged about his surrender in Syria still being so well-managed that we protected the Oil.)

            He really seems to hate just dumping troops and money into a place if there is not some tangible result, like the Oil.

          • Aapje says:

            @BBA

            Your link shows no actions, but ‘considerations.’ This can be:
            – a plan that is close to execution, which is leaked to serve an agenda of either a supporter or a detractor
            – one of these type of plans that the government continuously makes, just to have a plan laying around when things escalate rapidly, so they don’t have to improvise; which is leaked to serve an agenda
            – a threat to Iran, with or without a real intent to follow through
            – a false story intended to put pressure on the government one way or the other

            Note that leaking things like this is a political tool. You shouldn’t just believe that these stories are objective statements by disinterested officials to disinterested media, who all merely seek to notify the American people of what is going to happen.

            Your link also attributes this to the ‘administration,’ which is another source of vagueness. Is this something that comes from Trump himself or from people who act against Trump’s desires? Note that the American deep state has a severe dislike of Iran, so it is highly plausible that this story came from the deep state.

            Dominic Cummings, who was the adviser to the British Secretary of State Michael Gove, noted that the media would attribute decisions to Gove, while Gove had made no decision at all and was unaware of ‘his’ decision, until he saw it on TV. So the British deep state was acting autonomously.

            I’ve seen fairly obvious autonomous deep state behavior in The Netherlands too, including bureaucrats outright deceiving their secretary of state, often in ways that seem to benefit those bureaucrats.

        • brad says:

          This is a common reaction: “how dare you vote for Trump, now we’re gonna hate you and make fun of you, how do you like that” – you guys hated us and made fun of us long before Trump.

          It was making fun of, it wasn’t hate. It was arrogance, it was condescension, it was callous ignorance, but it wasn’t hate. More like how Americans think of the French than how Americans think of ISIS. Now it’s hate.

          • Aapje says:

            The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
            ~ Elie Wiesel

            It’s not surprising that people interpret indifference as hate, when we are not supposed to get upset over indifference. Note that in a political context, people often seek to maximize the burdens on those whose interests they are completely indifferent about, in the very common situation when their own interests conflict with the interests of those they are indifferent about.

            When people harm you and don’t seem to care, it sure looks like something that one might call hatred.

          • DinoNerd says:

            When people harm you and don’t seem to care, it sure looks like something that one might call hatred.

            That would imply that most business decision makers hate everyone affected by their negative externalities.

            Or for a slightly stronger (but still bad) case, the bankers whose risk taking (and lobbying to be allowed to take more risks) created the 2008 crash, obviously hate the home-buying public.

            [In case the tone didn’t come through, the above is intended as a reductio ad absurdum.]

          • Randy M says:

            Due to time limitations, willful indifference will probably have about the same effect as active hatred for most people.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DinoNerd

            I feel like if a CEO had indifference to a protected group to the point where he was causing their society to literally fall apart, we would rightfully consider that just as bad as the KKK.

            “I genuinely don’t care about the black society I’m destroying” is equally immoral in my mind to “I hate blacks and want to destroy their society which is why I am doing so”.

          • “I genuinely don’t care about the black society I’m destroying” is equally immoral in my mind to “I hate blacks and want to destroy their society which is why I am doing so”.

            The two attitudes have quite different implications for how he will act. The first implies that he will only harm the black society if he in some way benefits by doing so. The second implies that he will do it even if it makes him worse off, as long as it doesn’t make him too much worse off.

          • brad says:

            I don’t want to sound all tough guy because it may be that people like me will never be in power again. But I think hatred and indifference have very different policy implications.

          • Jaskologist says:

            No, it wasn’t indifference, it was actual hostility. To put it succinctly, Obama’s decision to attack a bunch of nuns who take care of old poor people was more offensive than Trump’s entire twitter feed.

            To put it less succinctly, read what Obama’s own director of faith outreach has to say:

            The administration chose “the path of most resistance” in the contraception fight as a deliberate, cynical political strategy: “A senior political advisor repeatedly thought that the bishops’ complaints would bolster a useful campaign narrative: that supporters of their view, including Republican Mitt Romney, held anachronistic views about women and family planning.’”


            Wear describes increasingly tense negotiations that climax when a senior staffer at “one of our country’s leading LGBT rights groups” is asked what kind of religious leader would be deemed acceptable to replace Giglio. The reply was, “Honestly, if it is a Christian, we will find something on him, and make him famous.”

            In 2009, our diversity demanded we accept that there will be voices we disagree with in public spaces. In 2013, diversity required us to expel all dissent.

            There’s an Atlantic interview as well.

          • Aapje says:

            @DinoNerd

            I wasn’t arguing that indifference is hatred, but that indifference is often interpreted as hatred, because in our culture, we typically see harm that people don’t care about when it is pointed out to them, as hatred of those who are harmed.

            Indifference often causes harm, because many selfish actions have externalities that harm others.

            For example, imagine that I toss a hypothetical cigarette without looking and it lands on a homeless person. This gets pointed out to me by a person walking behind me. If I respond with: “who cares?,” many people would regard this as hatred of homeless people or others in general, even though I am actually being totally indifferent to the well-being of this person.

            The common standard for ‘indifferent’ human behavior is actually a level of concern for others, which is below the level that we normally have for friends, colleagues and family, but above the level of a sociopath.

  5. proyas says:

    Why do we care so much about the motivations for crimes?

    If three innocent people are shot to death at once, why should we care if it was done in the name of religion, race, revenge, money, or because the murderer was having a psychotic episode? Three people are dead just the same.

    • EchoChaos says:

      How reasonable we think it is and how likely it is to recur.

      If someone is killing because he is a Presbyterian and wants to get back at all the Anglicans for their oppression of his people, Anglicans might be concerned about Presbyterians in the future.

      If he’s just a random Scot who has gone off his rocker, Anglicans have less to worry about.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Well, from a systems point of view it’s obvious. You never want to solve just the problem, you want at the very least to address the class the problem belongs to, and maybe go beyond it, and try to touch, for example, the early problem-discovery process.

      (Speaking of, is there a place where system-lore is studied as such? I’ve mostly learned it in my craft (programming, in my case), and occasional disparate books)

    • DragonMilk says:

      Not sure how an innocent person is killed in revenge, but I’ll try. A man is dead. Another man is arrested.

      1. Jimmy is a male nurse who’s walking to his car. Johnny is a drug addict who got released from the ER recently. He recognizes Jimmy and shoots him after Jimmy insists he doesn’t have morphine in his pocket, it’s just not how it works. Johnny is found with Jimmy’s wallet.
      2. Charles hears voices, and works as a janitor. The voices tell him that this Chris character is pure evil and must be killed. Chris is a workaholic jerk, who has no patience and yells at all his subordinates while sucking up to management. The voices tell him that if Chris yells at him today, that is proof that he must be shot. During his work day, Charles puts a sign up informing all that the bathroom is being cleaned. Sure enough, Chris walks up and yells, hollering that he is a busy man and the bathroom should not be closed. So Charles shoots him.
      3. Adam’s brother Arnold is a serial rapist, but Adam is unaware of it. Andy’s daughter is raped by Arnold in his car. She has a good memory, and managed to remember the license plate number. Andy is a detective, and is easily able to track down the vehicle to…Adam. Arnold has been using his brother’s car to commit his crimes. Andy finds an opening and shoots Andy, then turns himself in.

      Should the sentence be the same for the killers in all three cases?

      • Two McMillion says:

        Yes- the death penalty.

        • Aftagley says:

          Is this a joke, or some kind of weird theory on justice I’m not familiar with?

          • The Nybbler says:

            They’ve all committed a crime which could carry the death penalty in some states. Johnny committed felony murder (murder in the course of an armed robbery), Andy definitely committed premeditated murder, and Charles arguably did.

          • Dacyn says:

            I would expect Charles to be able to plead insanity though…

          • The Nybbler says:

            Charles could try an insanity plea, but he would likely fail. His only insanity is in being deluded into thinking someone is telling him that Chris is pure evil and should be killed. Even if there was someone telling him that, following those instructions would be premeditated murder. This follows from @AlphaGamma’s point elsethread. Some states do have laxer requirements for an insanity defense however.

          • Dacyn says:

            I suppose it would depend on further details in the story. I had assumed he was schizophrenic or something, but I see now this is not necessarily the case.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      By asserting victims were innocent you already assume motivation for the crime (and that victims did not have it coming). Most people aren’t legal absolutists and would like to know how sympathetic they should be to a particular criminal.

      • meh says:

        I feel like this mistake is often made, where people assume there is some truth known outside of the law, that they can use to explain how the law works… is there a name for this? (I hope so, since I assume my explanation is confusing)

    • John Schilling says:

      Three people are dead just the same.

      From a consequentialist perspective, we also care about the three people who may or may not die tomorrow. We also care about the three people who maybe rot in prison when that isn’t doing anyone any good. Some motives (armed robbery to pay for drugs or bling) are much more likely to recur tomorrow than others (catching your wife in bed with another man). And some motives are more likely to be deterred by rational apprehension of future consequences than others. So when we’re deciding who to lock up and for how long, motive matters.

      From a deontological perspective, pretty much everybody who has come up with a successful set of rules for dealing with homicide, finds that it works much better if you take motive into account. Most importantly, because if you don’t do that, too many people will see your rules as being blatantly unfair at the edges, and either engage in vigilante justice to even the score or turn a blind eye to sympathetic “murder”, or both. And then you don’t have rules any more.

      From a virtuous perspective, some killings (shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die) make a man into a monster that we aren’t willing to tolerate in our society, while others (shooting that first guy in Reno) make a man a hero that we ought to praise. Most are somewhere in between, but exactly where, matters.

      And, intuitively, it seems appropriate to care why people do the things they do as we go about deciding what to do about it.

      When all four major ethical frameworks point to the same answer, that’s a pretty solid answer.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I don’t know why we make these distinctions, but my motivations are basically Burkean conservatism.

      Traditionally, we make a legal distinction between:
      – accident
      – spur-of-the-moment impulse
      – planned/premeditated murder.

      Slightly less traditionally (i.e. slightly later in historical time) we also make a distinction for
      – incapable of understanding what they were doing (e.g. insanity)

      I figure that legal principles which have lasted this long probably serve a useful purpose, and shouldn’t be abandoned unless they are found to be causing significant problems – and even then, change should be deliberate rather than radical.

      OTOH, throwing in a “hate crimes” charge on top of the murder charge is much newer, more controversial, and less obviously beneficial. Ditto for charges like “terrorism”. I don’t know whether that’s good, bad, or indifferent.

      Also traditional, but far less common in recent eras, is varying the penalty based on who was killed, and sometimes on who was the killer. In many cultures, the wealth and power of the victim mattered, up to and including certain people being allowed to kill certain others with impunity. (Masters killing their slaves, Samurai killing peasants, etc.) More common, perhaps, was a monetary penalty varying with the status of the person killed. The US officially has only a few vestiges of this, in particular, higher penalties for killing law enforcement officers. Even though this is traditional, I’m happy to see it as reduced as it currently is, or even eliminated.

    • kupe says:

      You could also ask why do we care about the age of a perpetrator? If a twelve year old or a forty-two year old kill someone, then someone is dead just the same.

    • Dacyn says:

      For me it is a terminal value to punish people for selfishly motivated behavior (including myself if applicable). So it is relevant why someone did something, if it helps estimate how much of it was selfishly motivated. Of course, I realize many people don’t share my value as a terminal value even if they share it as an instrumental value. Also, I suppose this doesn’t answer the question of “why do we care” in the sense of why do I have this terminal value…

      • HowardHolmes says:

        for selfishly motivated behavior

        Is there another kind?

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          What’s the proximal motivation?

          Self-sacrificial behavior is almost never proximally selfish.

        • Dacyn says:

          If I can empathize with someone, I can tell whether their motivations are the kind I would want to punish or not. I find that the best way of describing what the distinction is to other people is to use the word “selfish”. You are an exception to that rule, I guess.

          ETA: I suppose it’s worth pointing out that the distinction I am drawing is somewhat nuanced, e.g. I wouldn’t (necessarily) call someone being assertive in asking for a raise “selfish”, even if they are the only person who will benefit from that action. This is why I can’t describe it easily, but my impression is most people get the right idea when I say “selfish”.

      • Walter says:

        How do you, like, eat breakfast? Presumably you do so because you are hungry, so that’s selfishly motivated, so now you have to punish yourself?

        Like, I get that that’s not what you mean, but I guess I’m missing out on what you DO mean. What is it your terminal value to punish, if the short version of selfish (decided by self to help self) doesn’t get it?

        • Dacyn says:

          Yeah, maybe breakfast is an even simpler example than the example about raises I gave above. By “selfishness” I mean the attitude that, when confronted with a tradeoff between others’ interests and one’s own, says “screw it! I don’t care about what effects this has on other people, I’m going to do it because it helps me”. (This is different from taking such effects into account and deciding they aren’t worth deferring to in some particular case.)

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Because we want to apply (informal) game theory to reason about crimes, which requires us to understand the payoff functions of the potential criminals, so we can engineer the global payoff matrix in order to make crime less rewarding.

    • broblawsky says:

      A basic justification for punishing “hate crimes” is that, in addition to whatever other criminal activity they constitute, they also constitute a form of intimidation against a certain group of people. It’s generally held that threats are not protected speech and are, in and of themselves, a criminal activity; ergo, punishing hate crimes more severely is necessary, in that they are two crimes in one.

    • Etoile says:

      In the context of a shooting in the US, it’s important because it touches on several adjacent political issues. These include (but are not necessarily limited to):
      -Gun rights – is this three-person shooting just another drop in favor of anti-gun activists?
      -Questions related to immigration, assimilation, Islam in particular. If radical Islam is a significant contributor to terrorism, including shootings or suicide bombings, should the US be allies with countries who support such things; open its doors to immigrants from there; etc.
      -Questions related to the right wing. If the shootings are right-wing hate crimes all the time, should we be doing something to suppress right wing ideology in general which inspires these people – including restrictions on free speech, deplatforming and the like? If they’re NOT predominantly right wing, there’s less grounds for that.

    • LesHapablap says:

      We care about the motivations of crimes because motivation makes a massive difference to the trauma inflicted on the victims and the survivors.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      If the guilt of the offender isn’t obvious motive then having a motive is useful.

      If you’re talking about ideologically motivated killings where guilt is easily established, it boils down to arguments over which ideologies are more dangerous. So people end up taking score whenever someone gets killed.

    • Murphy says:

      or because the murderer was having a psychotic episode

      Culpability matters.

      If you have an epileptic fit and collapse on top of a toddler, killing them, you made no choice to kill anyone. The universe shat on you and the dead person.

      A 3 year old who thinks his dads gun is a toy and shoots another toddler, killing them, is not the same threat to society as a 30 year old who abducts prostitutes and murders them.

      Similarly, someone who has a psychotic episode and murders someone thinking they’re fighting off a monster that’s going to kill everyone isn’t *choosing* to harm anyone. If you can get them on antipsychotics and make the voices go away then the kind of person who’d try to protect everyone by throwing themselves at a terrifying monster is probably the sort of person you’d actually want in your society once you’ve got their perceptions sorted out.

      Similarly a sleepwaking teenager who wakes up to a nightmare about shooting burglers invading her home to find that she’s shot her family has no intent to murder anyone and isn’t the same kind of threat to society.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        I’m reminded of the case of Kahler v Kansas currently being argued before the Supreme Court. Kansas law restricts the insanity defense only to cases where the defendant could not form the required mens rea, not to those where they couldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong.

        So in your example of the psychotic episode, while someone who believes a person is a terrifying non-human monster and kills them would be able to plead insanity, someone who killed a person knowing that they were human but believing that an angel had ordered them to would not.

        • acymetric says:

          What about the slightly in-between case where someone believes another person is a terrifying human (not an in-human monster) who is an imminent threat to themselves or others around them?

        • Mark Atwood says:

          a person is a terrifying non-human monster and kills them would be able to plead insanity, someone who killed a person knowing that they were human but believing that an angel had ordered them to would not.

          I can fully get behind this.

          It’s workable, fair, and just… even if angels are real.

          • John Schilling says:

            What if you believe that the person is a terrifying non-human monster because an angel told you so?

            Meh, I’m probably going to go with, if you’re going to uncritically trust an “angel” about anything, then you should take it on faith that whatever comes next was part of the angelic plan and not fight it. If the angel doesn’t show up to testify in your defense, either the angel isn’t real, or the angel shouldn’t be trusted, or the trustworthy angel thinks this guy spending the rest of his life in prison is a suitably angelic outcome.

        • Walter says:

          I feel like crazy doesn’t work in as coherent of a way as this. Like, when I read the still drinking guy’s account of his madness he has a dozen narratives a minute going on.

          I guess I don’t think there is a coherent mind processing wrong facts, I think the processing itself is corrupted.

    • Well... says:

      Determining a motive is also useful when trying to figure out who committed a crime.

  6. DragonMilk says:

    So it seems like “Imposter Syndrome” is being talked about more frequently lately. I’d like to address the flip side – what are your favorite stories of actual imposters? Basically friendly people who likely told the company they were competent at X, bureaucratic HR/management doesn’t know any better, and co-workers aren’t sure why he’s there, but definitely it couldn’t possibly be for X.

    For example, a friendly chap at my second job was either analytics or modeling…I showed him how to do a vlookup table in Excel. I told him that it’s actually a slow and fragile function, and better to use offset-match. I’ve had others where I replaced manual copy and paste work with a macro.

    • kupe says:

      It seems difficult to determine if something is really imposter syndrome. I know a couple of people who are objectively bad at their jobs, but they’ll proclaim “I think I’m bad at my job! This must be this nasty imposter syndome!”

      I recently got a job where I think I’m an imposter (but who knows, right?). The hiring manager got promoted mid interview process which caused some things to get lost in translation. I’ve been hurriedly learning how to do the work I’m paid for :’)

      • Reasoner says:

        There is actually data showing that credentials correlate with interview performance surprisingly poorly (at least in software dev).

        • DragonMilk says:

          It’s things like these that make me tempted to start an HR firm for quant guys. Get paid by firms needing analytic positions filled, pitch being we’ll look over these guys before you do to look past credentials and into competency.

        • kupe says:

          That doesn’t surprise me. From my experience, credentials also don’t correlate with performance so well, and that relationship seems quite dependent on precisely what credentials they have.

    • Ouroborobot says:

      It’s funny you mention this. My day job is senior data engineer / architect working in analytics, and my lack of excel skills have been something of a point of comedy in the past. Relational or NoSQL databases? Data lakes? ETL patterns and pipelines? Machine learning? Probably got you covered. Offset match? Yeah, hang on while I google that.

      • cassander says:

        Don’t use offset match, offset is volatile, very slow if you have a lot of them.

        • DragonMilk says:

          I use manual calculation. Index match if it’s for someone who uses automatic, but offset-match is more flexibility.

          People will insert columns etc and it’s a pain to update the number every time.

      • DragonMilk says:

        At least you know how to google! That’s fine.

        Certain folk seem…quite inefficient at googling.

        • Ouroborobot says:

          In my experience an awareness of what you don’t know combined with strong innate curiosity and persistence will lead to better work than what 80-90% of people seem to put out.

        • cassander says:

          it’s a remarkably hard skill to teach people.

          • DragonMilk says:

            Do you think good googlers make good managers?

          • cassander says:

            @DragonMilk

            I’m a googler and I’m a pretty good manager. But self flattery aside, yes, think they do, all else being equal. There are plenty of googlers who can lose the forest for the trees (and we’re all guilty of this sometimes), but in general it demonstrates initiative, an unwillingness to accept a lousy status quo, and a drive for problem solving that I think are important in managers. It’s easy to be complacent as a manager, good managers are the ones who are driven to improve things.

    • MorningGaul says:

      The most incompetent dev I met was actually really great at interviews, and had a few certifications under his belt. But he was unable to do anything right, and did nothing most of his time, to the point he wasn’t handed any relevant work by the time I joined the project.

      Still, he was kept on the project, as it was still a dev that was billed to the customer, and the rest of the team picked up the slack. This lasted for a year, until he was let go. At the time, it was the longest contract he held in his 7 years of experience.

      When I left this project, I was recruited for a job (product owner) at which I was obviously incompetent, but it was understood both by myself and my boss, and it was more a gamble than an imposture. Which didnt pay off.

    • silver_swift says:

      My experience is that most people that are actual imposters (as opposed to people that just aren’t very good at their jobs) are also complete assholes to anyone they don’t directly report to.

      I had this experience with a few people I worked with. They’re extroverted and are able to present an aura of confidence. That, plus a long list of impressive sounding projects they worked on, gets them the job. Then they start “investigating” whatever the problem is they’re hired to solve (asking everyone around them to drop everything they’re doing to help, while personally doing basically nothing). After that comes a few months of lack of (or very marginal) progress obfuscated by saying the problem is really difficult and the rest of the company isn’t cooperating with them.

      They keep this up until management wises up (or the rest of develpment makes enough of a fuss) and kicks them out. After which they presumably find a different company to repeat the process.

      Bottom line: At least in my experience imposters are pretty easy to spot. If the rest of the team doesn’t hate your gut, that’s a pretty good indication you’re not actually an imposter (that doesn’t tell you anything about your actual skill, obviously, but the people that work with you probably are aware of what you can do and they’re ok with that).

      • DragonMilk says:

        Sounds like those are bad imposters then!

        I consider the friendly type to be smooth and in it for the long con at the worker-bee level. Be nice to everyone, have stories to tell, somewhat humble and thank people for helping…but altogether ill-equipped for the actual job.

      • kupe says:

        From what I can tell, the key thing separating imposters from those with imposter syndrome is the latter are still striving to be something better. Real imposters are somewhat happy to go through this cycle of being exposed then starting anew, whereas those with imposter syndrome have a large amount of guilt and anxiety around failures.

        • acymetric says:

          I think the actual difference is that people with imposter syndrome are actually good at what they do, they just feel like they aren’t. It isn’t imposter syndrom if you’re actually bad at what you think you’re bad at…that’s just “being bad at something”.

          • kupe says:

            True, but that’s difficult to tell from the inside though. People with imposter syndrome will interpret success as a near thing, or a lucky break. Everyone has some amount of trials or failures, imposter or not. I’m wondering how someone who suspects themselves of being an imposter can make that differentiation.

    • Corey says:

      A somewhat related experience with odd knowledge gaps:

      My employer recently got on a kick of technical capability assessments for career development. Because of the usual odd mix of experiences, I had e.g.:

      – Led database design of a major project: check
      – Mentored others in database design: check
      – Fundamentals of database design: ehh…

    • Well... says:

      My first roommate in college told everyone he was on the basketball team. He’d come back to the dorm reporting having just hung out with NBA stars, etc. I never saw him play, but he was able to spin a basketball on his finger for a long time, as I’d expect from someone who’s spent most of his life with a basketball in his hands. He was tall, but not outrageously tall like most basketball players.

      He was a really nice guy and seemed to come from a well-to-do family. His parents would come visit him and they’d even bring me gifts, sight unseen, and I was just the guy’s roommate — it’s not like we were friends who hung out anywhere.

      Then one day he was gone. We found out he wasn’t really on the basketball team, to some large degree wasn’t who he claimed to be, and (I forget, it’s been a while) maybe wasn’t even really supposed to be there at all.

    • Solra Bizna says:

      Walter O’Brien played the “ultragenius computer wizard” role well enough to convince CBS to make a television series based on his “life”, yet failed to demonstrate anything more than basic computer literacy in a Reddit AMA.

      • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

        I remember watching the pilot, where they somehow managed to destroy all backups for airport control tower software, then had one of the planes descend and chased after it on a sports car to download their version of software on wifi (Or perhaps even through a wire, I’m not sure).

        Fearing that actual series might end up more sensible and ruin the experience, I decided not to watch it.

        • Solra Bizna says:

          It was dangling an Ethernet cable out one of the landing gear bays.

          Because airplanes supposedly fly fast enough to ruin WiFi with the Doppler effect.

          (…spoiler: they don’t.)

        • LesHapablap says:

          What’s the name of this series? I have to see this.

          Why would an airplane have backup ATC software?

          They were able to coordinate an airplane to fly at 20ft above a speeding car and throw out an ethernet cable in 120 knot winds, but they couldn’t coordinate the airplane to just land on a runway?

          • sharper13 says:

            The TV series was Scorpion.

            It wasn’t bad, as long as you completely ignored the technical side of everything’s feasibility. Pretty classic TV team thriller plot-lines. Almost a modern A-Team, with lots more physics and electronics mumbo-jumbo.

  7. An Fírinne says:

    Ive been experimenting a bit with biohacking and I was wondering if there was any seasoned biohackers here who can point me in the right direction. Thank you in advance.

    • metacelsus says:

      I’m not a “biohacker” but I do a lot of molecular biology lab work (I’m a grad student). What do you want to know?

  8. Alex Zavoluk says:

    Does anyone have a recommendation for books that would be interesting or useful to a child/school psychologist, and are scientifically grounded?

    • Etoile says:

      Two books whose premises/approaches to child-rearing I like and am working through right now myself:
      -1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, by Thomas W. Phelan
      -The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience, by Martin P. Seligman

      • sami says:

        I will second the 1-2-3 magic suggestion, although I’ve never read it. I learned about the method from a friend, and had no idea it was a book until recently, but it works amazingly well.

  9. johan_larson says:

    You are a physician. Your patient, a normal and healthy man of 35, drank heavily last night. Heavily in this case means a full bottle of wine and the equivalent in shots of whiskey. Now, at 7 am the next morning, he is in a bad state. What can you do to make him as alert, energetic, and clearheaded as possible by 9 am?

    Let’s assume you have access to extensive facilities, including a well-stocked hospital pharmacy, and no particular budgetary limitations.

    (And no, I’m not asking for a “friend”.)

    • MorningGaul says:

      I’ve heard of students using dialysis equipement to get back on their feet, but cannot guarantee it’s not an urban legend.

    • Lambert says:

      Some kind of GABA antagonist.
      It is an effective antidote to ethanol. The reason it’s not used theraputically is because people would then just get drunk again and need more antidote. Eventually, their blood would become so alcoholic that it starts working like a disinfectant and they’d suddenly die.

    • fibio says:

      Write him a sick note and keep him away from more alcohol until 9am tomorrow.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      This person had 12 drinks. If they started drinking at 9 PM yesterday, the alcohol isn’t really their problem if they have any tolerance, as by 9 AM it will be gone from their system.

      Assuming they are otherwise healthy, their chief issues are probably that they are dehydrated and have a dehydration headache. The may have digestive irritation, depending.

      So, if the idea is to get them perky as fast as possible, my guess is that giving them IV fluids and adding a non steroidal anti-inflammatory to the drip would do most of the work. Potentially an anti-nausea drug and an antacid. Shower. Food and caffeine (if they are a regular user) once everything settles down.

      Whenever I got a massive drunk on in my youth, going ahead and just vomiting if my body demanded it and then two stadium cups of water and 440 mg of Naproxen before I crashed pretty much did most of the work mentioned above. Right as rain the next day.

      • DarkTigger says:

        No caffein. I can’t tell you exactly why, but caffein makes the nausea a lot worse.
        In my experience caffein should be avoided for at least several ours after the first meal, in case of a hangover.

        • EchoChaos says:

          It’s funny, when you say “I can’t tell you” it sounds as if you’re hiding some dark secret.

          “The illuminati will kill me if I let it out, but caffeine will definitely make your hangover worse because of what they put in our water… AAAAHHH!!”

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Sorry, the “once everything settles down” was hiding some assumptions there. I agree that the you need to assess the digestion irritation.

          At least for me, a caffeine withdrawal headache on top of the the hangover was worse than any extra nausea, but I wasn’t particularly effected by nausea in hangover.

          Not sure if IV caffeine is actually even a thing, but that might solve most of the issue anyway.

          • DarkTigger says:

            Okay, suffering from both hangover and caffein withdrawl might make things worse. For me (and most people I experienced hangover) drinking caffein containing drinks, is a good why to going from feeling unwell to puking immediately.

          • johan_larson says:

            Hmm. Could there be a market for caffeine in pre-packaged syringes, ready for IV injection? You, know, for the really dedicated caffeine junkies who are too chicken to use speed.

    • Garrett says:

      You are a physician.

      Disclaimer: no, I’m not. But I’ll pretend to be one here for entertainment purposes.

      “Treatment” to focus on 3 things: standard hangover management, underlying cause management (why was he drinking?) and ethically-dubious “energetic” treatment.

      Initiate IV. Or two. The clock’s ticking.
      Draw stat labs. Probably want:
      CMP – rule out liver failure and other stuff going on.
      CBC – rule out anemia, other complications. Compensate with transfusion to “normal” levels.
      TSH/T3/T4 – rule out possible thyroid issue leading to depression leading to drinking. Start levothyroxine treatment if needed.
      ESR – rule out fatigue from auto-immune disorders.
      Antinuclear antibody test – rule out lupus or similar.
      Blood drug screening – withdrawl sucks and we have the good stuff.
      Blood STD tests – syphilis will make your day go worse.
      Blood vitamin tests for everything available. Correct as needed.
      Blood tests for minerals: everything available. Correct as needed.
      Blood tests for heavy metals: everything available. Chelate if needed.

      Also perform EKG to rule out anything funky, esp. long QT.

      Treatment:
      Notwithstanding anything which needs to be corrected or which is contraindicated, start with a banana bag and concurrently add ondansetron for nausea. Add fluids as-needed. If liver function is fine, lactated ringer’s. If liver function is problematic and you hate pharmacy, traditional ringer’s.
      If pt. is a severe alcoholic in withdrawl, consider extended release alprazolam or similar.
      If pt. has a history of depression leading to drinking, consider appropriate ketamine infusion.

      Provide pt. with shower and clean clothes.

      At about 8:30 am provide ~10mg Adderall orally. If they need to be alert longer, consider a larger dose of extended-release Adderall.

      • johan_larson says:

        Glad to hear from someone with professional skills, Garrett.

        Any idea how much all this fun would cost, if billed at standard rates? It’s two hours of pro time, plus all those lab tests and pharmacy fees. I shudder to think what a shower costs after the billing department gets through with it.

        • Garrett says:

          “Billed at” One million dollars!

          I hate you. No, I really, really hate you. Do you have any idea how hard it is to extract pricing data from … anybody? Medicare’s web site is terrible enough to use, only to get a zip file of documents including a spread sheet with limited useful text and fixed-width numerical prices. It’s like someone decided that APL processing was a *good* idea and was the wave of the future.

          Some of what are usually ordered as “panel” tests are individual codes so I broke out the ones I thought most important before the lookup-copy-paste-transfer broke me. Also, as you might imagine, a whole bunch of these are silly – a multivitamin tablet is a lot cheaper than running every vitamin test available. It’s a lot easier to describe tests than to enumerate them all. I’m starting to have more sympathy for medical billers and coders.

          In any case, here’s what I’ve found:
          CPT: 80053 CMP: $11.74
          CPT: 85025 CBC/diff: $8.63
          CPT: 84443 TSH: $18.67
          CPT: 84481 Free T3 $18.82
          CPT: 84439 Free T4, direct $10.02
          CPT: 85652 ESR $3.00
          CPT: 86038 ANA $13.43
          CPT: 80307 Drug screen $64.65
          CPT: 86592 Syphilis $4.75
          CPT: 86780 Different syphilis $17.71
          CPT: 87491 Chlamydia $38.99
          CPT: 87591 Gonorrhea $38.99
          CPT: 84590 Vit A $12.90
          CPT: 84425 Vit B1 $23.59
          CPT: 84252 Vit B2 $22.49
          CPT: 84591 Vit B3 $17.06
          CPT: 84591 Vit B5 $17.06
          CPT: 84207 Vit B6 $31.22
          CPT: 84591 Vit B7 $17.06
          CPT: 82607 Vit B12 $16.75
          CPT: 82180 Vit C $10.98
          CPT: 82306 Vit D $32.89
          CPT: 84446 Vit E $15.75
          CPT: 84597 Vit K1 $15.24
          CPT: 84630 Zinc $12.65
          CPT: 83540 Iron $7.19
          CPT: 83550 Iron binding $9.71
          CPT: 82728 Ferratin $15.15
          CPT: 82746 Folic Acid $16.34
          CPT: 84100 Phosphorus $5.27
          CPT: 82495 Chromium $22.53
          CPT: 82525 Copper $13.79
          CPT: 83785 Manganese $27.33
          CPT: 83018 Molybdenum $24.41
          CPT: 83655 Lead $13.45
          CPT: 82175 Arsenic $21.08
          CPT: 82300 Cadmium $25.72
          CPT: 83825 Mercury $18.06
          CPT: G0403 EKG $18.90
          CPT: G0384 ER visit level V $ ???

          I can’t find an ER service fee schedule, but I’ll work on the highest realistic cost I can find online of $3,000. The meds/fluids/whatever are cheap and probably should be in the facility fee, but I’ll tack on $50 to cover, unless major problems are found. Which brings us to a total of about: $3783.97. Which is a lot less than I was expecting. Actual service charges will vary. I don’t know nearly enough about how pricing works to provide a better estimate.

          • johan_larson says:

            Wow. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty, Garrett. If you ever need an alibi, you know who to call.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Antinuclear antibody test – rule out lupus or similar.

        Obligatory “It’s never lupus.”

    • The Nybbler says:

      A pot of coffee and a cigarette or two. (OK, I’m not a doctor but maybe I play one on TV. Doctor Gregory House, to be specific. I also prescribe him some amphetamines, but I divert them for myself. Yeah, I know House used opioids; maybe he trades them)

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Pot of coffee by itself is a hoooooorrrrible idea.

        Even if they are having no gastrointestinal distress, they are already dehydrated. This will just increase that, making them feel even worse.

    • Reasoner says:

      When I get drunk, I just drink loads and loads of water before bed. Seems to work pretty well for preventing hangovers.

      • Lambert says:

        The wide-necked 1l nalgene bottle I got for hiking does very well for that kind of thing.
        I can get 700ml of water down my throat and 300ml down the front of my shirt in only a few seconds.

      • johan_larson says:

        Yes, my layman’s prescription for this guy would be:
        – drink two large glasses of water
        – take a couple of caplets of ibuprofin for the headache
        – have breakfast, with coffee or tea
        – go for a 1 hour walk

        It wouldn’t get this guy to 100%, but he’d feel a bit better.

    • Kuiperdolin says:

      More alcohol!

    • Statismagician says:

      PRATFO was a popular treatment before malpractice suits became as common as they are, I’ve been told.

  10. sami says:

    A little while ago I read an article in the Financial Times about recent victories by (cis)women in mixed gender endurance races, including running and swimming. One athlete was breastfeeding her infant during rest breaks, and won the days-long foot race by hours. (Apologies that I am not able to link the article now.). Admittedly these are tiny sports with a small pool of athletes, so maybe these successes are not representative of a general sex-linked endurance ability, but it made me wonder if there will be a shift towards including endurance competitions of one sort or another in high school and college athletics, instead of segregating sports by sex. Given that the inclusion of trans women in women’s sports in the NCAA, some high schools, and elsewhere has raised questions about fairness and how to determine who counts as a woman, is it likely that women’s sports will shift gradually toward fields where ciswomen have a natural advantage? Or will we use some sort of algorithm to determine who competes against whom, in categories analogous to boxing weight classes? Or something else? My knowledge of sports in general is minimal, so I’m curious to hear what other people think.

    • paulharvey165 says:

      The running race referred to in the article was most likely Big’s Backyard Ultra, won this year by Maggie Guterl. It’s a fascinating race created by a fascinating character, and it’s definitely worth reading about. Courtney Duwalter came in second last year. Of all the races out there it’s the most winnable by women because it’s purely about endurance, with speed relegated to a minor factor at best.

      https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a29537534/bigs-backyard-ultra-2019/

      Other essential reading:

      https://deadspin.com/the-brutality-of-the-barkley-marathons-1794174086

      https://deadspin.com/ultrarunner-courtney-dauwalter-takes-on-the-worlds-most-1830136537

    • bean says:

      I’m not sure that the fields where ciswomen have an advantage are big enough to absorb a meaningful number of athletes displaced from more traditional sports. Ultramarathons, particularly days-long ones, are not likely to become a major event in high schools for obvious reasons. Not to mention that not all athletes are equally gifted in all areas, so someone who’s (say) a good sprinter simply won’t be able to make the transition.

    • AG says:

      I would be interested to see if men would do well at women’s gymnastics events. Does its bi-modal development of which gender does which gymnastics activities actually reflect gender advantages? It seems unlikely, given that men do those kind of acrobatics fine in circus and freerunning contexts. We’ve also seen that women don’t have any particular athletic advantages in ice-skating, so that likely extends to dance in general. Have women ever offered high level competition in lion and/or dragon dancing?

      It it a strict requirement that ice skating/ice dancing pairs have to be cross-gender? Can someone moneyball the sport by pairing two men? (The usual advantage of women is in being lighter for lifts, but does a similarly short and light man have any athletic advantages over a similarly sized woman?)

      • mendax says:

        It it a strict requirement that ice skating/ice dancing pairs have to be cross-gender? Can someone moneyball the sport by pairing two men?

        There was a movie about such an attempt.

      • DarkTigger says:

        There are more advantages then beeing lighter to lift. Certain figures are easier to pull of when you are lighter and smaller (because there is less centrifugal -, or kinetic force pulling on you).

        • AG says:

          For ice dancing, at least, I’ve seen some teams do reversed-gender lifts that looked extremely cool, and probably got artistic points for them, but I don’t know if they got any additional technical points than if they had done it the usual way.

  11. Sandpaper26 says:

    Quite a long time ago, possibly in middle school, I read a fantasy novel whose plot I will relate as best I can remember. The primary storyline follows a young-ish heroine, possibly one of the royalty, who slayed a dragon and brought its head back to the castle (this is about halfway through the book — there’s a lot of build up I don’t remember at all). Upon doing so, she is celebrated by all as a savior of sorts. The story then jumps forward a bit of time, and by this point she is definitely either the monarch or a person of some power, but she feels immense guilt at having slain the dragon, and she believes she can hear its head talking to her. I don’t remember how the story ends, except I distinctly recall a scene toward the end where they finally get rid of the dragon head and it rolls down stairs or a hill.
    Because this seems like the type of group who might know, I want to ask: does anyone know the title of this book? Or any ideas of where I might look next? It’s very Beowulf-esque but I have mind-images of a more English than Norse setting. It’s difficult for me to have a book I remember enjoying so much be so unavailable to my memory.

    • Two McMillion says:

      Sounds like The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley, though you’ve possibly get a few details mangled.

      • Sandpaper26 says:

        That’s it! You’re right, more than a few details mangled. Interesting how I remembered the guilt as having been borne out of killing the dragon and not out of her internal dilemma as to whether to use its power.

        You’ve been immensely helpful, thank you.

  12. albatross11 says:

    Maybe you’ve noticed the dysfunction of major US media outlets over the last few years. Some of them seem to have switched over to pure clickbait; others seem to have become captured by ideologues who don’t mind lying and expending their papers’ reputation in a good cause. Almost all have closed bureaus and cut staff and have a lot of unpaid interns writing stories of a kind formerly written by full-time reporters. Even just reading the articles for typos lets you know that they’re spending less time/effort on their stories.

    This tweet discusses a major newspaper chain, formerly quite influential in the world, whose market cap is now about the price of a McMansion in a somewhat expensive suburb of DC.

    When you’re trying to understand why so many news sources have gotten so bad, it’s important to know: they’re dying. (They’ve been dying for many years now, in fact.) Their current owners are willing to spend their reputation for today’s revenue, because there’s probably no tomorrow for them anyway. Their reporters are often unpaid or barely-paid young people who are getting most of their compensation in the power to use an established voice to send messages they want to send. There’s not much future in their field, but maybe some of them can make enough of a name for themselves to find some other media job in the future.

    This raises a bunch of problems, because:

    a. The traditional media organizations still have a pretty important place in our society–laws and institutions give them deference, people treat them as being accurate sources of information (largely for rational astrology reasons), etc.

    b. At some level, media organizations are a lot of the internal communications of a country/society with itself. As those are increasingly subvertable (you can buy a media platform with a still-intact name for not all that much money), and increasingly dysfunctional, they create a lot of dysfunction in our society, IMO including a lot of the polarization and hostility we see now.

    c. We have no idea how to accomplish the valuable things that media organizations have accomplished in the past. How do we get someone showing up to every city council meeting and reporting on it? How do we get someone paying close attention to what’s going on in the world and telling us about it? This could surely be done better than it was done in the past, but someone needs to do it. And that someone needs to be relatively hard to threaten/sue into silence, and to have enough of a platform to be heard.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      To make matters worse, the usual fix for an industry that produces positive externalities would be subsidies, but when independence from the government is an essential ingredient you’re kinda screwed.

      • DeWitt says:

        I agree that the existence of free private media is a good thing, but most Western nations seem to have non-terrible state media just fine.

        • Mark Atwood says:

          Jimmy Savile couldn’t be outed until the BBC had real effective competition with real mindshare.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            Savile was outed by a documentary in 2012, a year or so after he died – which seems to have been the actual trigger for his outing. I don’t think it had anything to do with competition between the BBC and other media. 2012 certainly doesn’t jump out as a year in which the BBC’s competition became significant. There had been real competitors to the BBC (in written and tv news) for decades by that point.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          I expect a non-terrible state media monopoly to be a lot harder than non-terrible state media.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Just from consuming a relatively large amount of both private and publically produced news sources… in practice, not.

            The press is to some degree the polite, legal and overt branch of intelligence. You cant make policy if you do not know what the heck is happening.
            This means it gets paid for when the market fails to deliver, and ministers care a lot more about it being accurate than about it being nice to them.. as long as you have a government which is still focused on doing a good job of governing.

            Quality state news organs appear to be shockingly easy to create – on the scale of national budgets, hiring the cream of the journalistic profession with a mandate to go forth and report is barely a budget post. It also is distressingly easy to destroy, once you get someone.. less idealistic.. in office. If a country currently has one, that is a sign things are looking up, because it means the government is at least trying to do a good job, and once it starts kow-towing to power, well.. shit show incoming.

      • Machine Interface says:

        Works relatively* fine in France. Newspapers are heavily subsidied, the most popular radio channels are state-owned, yet they seem to maintain enough independence to be often harshly critical of the government and cover a wide range of subjects.

        (*: newspapers are still slowly dying, but the subsidies help them maintain their quality while trying to find new ways to gain money)

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Just from today, The Washington Post has been doing FOIA requests for years on the Afghanistan war. The government could drag its feet and if it wasn’t someone getting paid to keep track of this request it would have probably have died on the vine.

    • BBA says:

      Let me be the one to point out that traditionally newspapers got the bulk of their revenue from classified advertising. Just reporting the news has never been profitable on its own.

      It was Craigslist that took all the profits away from newspapers. Craig Newmark has tried to make up for this by endowing a journalism school, but expanding the ranks of unemployed self-proclaimed “journalists” isn’t what anyone needs right now.

      • albatross11 says:

        First decrease the demand, then increase the supply. Maybe he just *really* has it in for journalists….

        • AG says:

          I don’t know that this situation could have been avoided by the newspapers, though. Craigslist’s advantage is that anyone can use it anywhere. Even if newspapers had been on the ball to develop their own online advertisement systems, that would have resulted in a different system for each newspaper, and the convenience of Craigslist is still intact. The other modern paradigms for who controls advertising, search engines and social media, have the same problem.

          So it’s another case of an industry getting borked by globalisation’s tendency towards consolidation.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      They’ll probably end up becoming subsidiaries of one of the big six or owned by a large benefactor. There will be very severe conflicts of interest for the newspaper and certain issues, but perhaps less of a need to produce clickbait.

    • DeWitt says:

      For C, at least, the answer seems to be some equivalent of ‘important person or some employee of theirs posts about what they do on Twitter.’ The upside is you cut out the middleman professional who will write a story about this. The downside is you cut out the middleman professional who will write a story about this.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I mean, it’s not as if important people would ever lie, not even by omission.

        • DeWitt says:

          That is the downside part of what I said, yes. The upside is that journalists, surely, would never lie, not even by omission.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Uh huh.

            So which is better? An “important person” being the sole source of reporting about their actions? Or that “important person” being one of many sources of reporting?

          • DeWitt says:

            There are still plenty of other people who will be happy to tell you all about their competitors’ colleagues’ doings.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Remember, the prompt was:

            How do we get someone showing up to every city council meeting and reporting on it?

            So … yeah.

          • DeWitt says:

            That is valid, yeah. The flipside, again, is that while a hundred people are now free to lie about themselves, it’s harder for one person to (convincingly) lie about a hundred others.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            it’s harder for one person to (convincingly) lie about a hundred others.

            Bruh. This is easier than ever.

            The diminishing of journalism as a profession does mean that one particular avenue for this is now more limited. But that’s all.

    • Well... says:

      Maybe you’ve noticed the dysfunction of major US media outlets over the last few years. Some of them seem to have switched over to pure clickbait; others seem to have become captured by ideologues who don’t mind lying and expending their papers’ reputation in a good cause.

      No, I would say the newsmedia (which seems to be what you meant by “media outlets”) is in better shape now than ever. Not because it’s so great now, but because its past was much, much worse. Today, news outlets are tempered by constant and instantaneous fact-checking from people on the internet as well as a generally greater degree of savviness among consumers — i.e. people have a better understanding now of how the sausage gets made, and are less taken in by the pompous facade.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        But are they actually more accurate or is it simply that the damage they could potentially do if is much less than a hypothetical where people took them at face value 100% of the time?

        • Well... says:

          I’d guess they’re more accurate, though it probably depends what you mean by “accurate”.

          You can look up articles from major newspapers that were written 100+ years ago and see how wild they were. And back then, fact-checking was a lot more difficult to carry out and less likely to happen.

          • You don’t have to go that far back. About fifty years ago, Time quoted my father as saying “We are all Keynesians now,” newsworthy since he was the most prominent academic critic of Keynes.

            What he actually said was “In one sense we are all Keynesians now, in another sense none of us are Keynesians.”

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I read this a lot, but in reality, access to informations about what is happening in the world has never been better. Traditional media are struggling precisely because their oligopoly on that has been broken.

      • BBA says:

        Access to disinformation has outpaced access to information. Propagandists, hostile foreign actors, and assorted cranks and kooks have always been with us but now they drown out “objective” media entirely. To counter it, we’ve built ideological bubbles around ourselves. The president routinely dismisses any negative coverage as [banned phrase] while his opponents are poised to accuse any dissenter of being a bot from a Russian troll farm. These are annoying tactics to encounter, but they’re rational responses to the collapse of “trustworthy” media, and the realization that it was never so trustworthy to begin with.

        This puts us on a dangerous path. Apparently the Chinese government was caught completely off-guard by the results of the Hong Kong election, as its internal intelligence-gathering operations were telling the same story as public propaganda channels and vastly understating public support for the protests. And why wouldn’t they? Everyone “knows” that stories running counter to the party line are foreign propaganda meant to undermine the party. Suggesting those stories are true is a sign of disloyalty, and of course you’re loyal, aren’t you, comrade?

        I don’t know the answer, but lately the only thing I’ve read that I 100% believe is:
        מנא מנא תקל ופרסין.

        You know, the writing on the wall.

    • Reasoner says:

      Can anyone think of a business model which incentivizes telling the truth? If only to do advertise one’s reputation. For example, I could start a newspaper which is supposed to make people think I’m especially sober, levelheaded, and accurate at predicting future trends, then use the reputation I get from it to sell shares in a mutual fund.

      • albatross11 says:

        Sports reporting, financial reporting, insurance underwriting, offering betting odds on anything, weather forecasting, investment (not investment advice, but actually investing your own money), building stuff that will visibly fail if you got your model of the world wrong, logging testable predictions in public and going back and checking them and computing a Brier score.

        • acymetric says:

          I’m not sure about any of those examples. Investment and insurance underwriting do incentive telling the truth to someone but not necessarily all interested parties. Betting odds is more about predicting people’s behavior than truth telling. The rest are more about sensationalizing news/facts than reporting them truthfully (so long as they remain truth adjacent often enough not to be overtaken by another source).

  13. johnstewart says:

    I believe I’ve seen discussions previously in which some regard Charles A. Murray as someone displaying intellectual honesty, who has been railroaded by the culture wars and politically correctness because he has discussed the influence of race on intelligence.

    His interview with Sam Harris some months back seemed to show him a good light… although I’ll say I don’t think Sam pushed him hard.

    Shaun on youtube has recently published a pretty comprehensive review of the book, responses, and arguments; it’s pretty bad for Murray, IMHO. I thought others here may be interested:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBc7qBS1Ujo

    (I’ve not quite finished it; it’s over two and a half hours long)

    • broblawsky says:

      I think the Bell Curve is pretty fatally flawed, and Murray can’t claim to have intellectual integrity until he honestly addresses his critics. As long as he dismisses them, no one is under any ethical obligation to engage with his ideas.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      Another Youtube User by the name of Alternative Hypothesis (as in I guess the opposite of the null) made a response[s] to this video albiet it’s being done in small pieces.

      I’ll summarize the relevant counterarguments, because i find videos that talk about the phrenology boogieman in the context of intelligence research to be almost unwatchable, so if you find the response videos unwatchable this should make it easier:

      1. G is more predictive of group variance than individual variance, and Murray states this himself
      2. There’s no evidence for a consensus amongst intelligence researchers for a 0% heritable BWIQG, except perhaps during the 1970s, the median answer currently is somewhere around 50% though there’s lots of dispersion of answers.
      3. Skulls – Samuel George Morton’s skull collection was re-measured and Morton’s measurements were confirmed, other skull collections can’t be re-checked but it’s not unreasonable to assume that gould simply lied about theother collections given his own motivations. Even if older researchers fabricated their data you still have the problem of, for example, contemporary MRI scans that suggest the same thing. [About skull size at least].
      4. Skull/Brain size and intelligence continued and continues to be measured in several studies, the mismearure of man / WW2 did not abolish this research. Correlations of the two vary depending on how the measurement is taken but are never zero.
      5. The German government did not officially endorse the use of G loaded IQ tests in part because it didn’t show their own citizens as being much smarter than their hated neighbors and also showed them being outperformed by an unpopular minority group. (This isn’t talked about in the video but the military may have used de-facto IQ tests for reasons of expediency, as far as building an officer corps quickly, the US military did something similar)
      6. In the context of cultural bias, BWIQG is largest on test questions which were identified by critics of the tests as being the most culturally loaded and vice versa. See also spearman’s hypothesis.
      7. Intelligence research papers replicate at a higher rate than psychology papers and compared to other research in general have a much higher statisitcal power. The latter can be explained partly by the fact that intelligence research is under much heavier scrutiny so more time is spent repeatedly validating old results than doing more speculative research.

    • Clutzy says:

      I know nothing of this Shaun fellow, however, a Bayseian analysis tends towards labeling him as a pseudo-intellectual troll. This is because one who focuses on Murray and The Bell Curve’s race/IQ claims to the tune of a 3 hour youtube video is statistically likely (>99%) to be engaging in intellectual dishonesty. I say this because of a few reasons:

      1) Murray’s claims in TBC are uncontroversial and supported by the literature.

      2) His claims are modest and don’t even touch on a causal claim. He simply points to the gap and says it will cause us to have to make tough decisions, if the gap doesn’t close.

      3) Its only a small part of one chapter of TBC. Easily less than 5% of the book. Someone who wanted to engage on the topic honestly would engage with a different source.

      • broblawsky says:

        1) Murray’s claims in TBC are uncontroversial and supported by the literature.

        Hard disagree, at least on the racial IQ gap stuff. Murray’s decision to dismiss the Flynn effect – a term he himself coined – is highly controversial, in and of itself. The Flynn effect operates over a small enough timescale that it cannot be reasonably considered genetic, and recent research conclusively shows that, contrary to Murray’s dismissal, socioeconomic impacts on intelligence far outweigh the genetic effects – race-linked or otherwise – that he believes explain so much about American society. Until Murray honestly addresses these issues, he’s a valid target for criticism.

        2) His claims are modest and don’t even touch on a causal claim. He simply points to the gap and says it will cause us to have to make tough decisions, if the gap doesn’t close.

        The Bell Curve is what made Murray significant; it’s the root of his popularity. And Murray has used that popularity to make truly repellent policy prescriptions – for example:
        a) Even more extreme punishment of criminal activity and tolerance of vigilantism;
        b) Ending welfare support for single mothers;
        c) From the same source, prescribing American-style mass incarceration for the UK.

        3) Its only a small part of one chapter of TBC. Easily less than 5% of the book. Someone who wanted to engage on the topic honestly would engage with a different source.

        It’s the chapter everyone cares about, and it’s the one that made Murray prominent. Coming Apart is nowhere near as significant.

        • albatross11 says:

          broblowsky:

          Have you read _The Bell Curve_ yourself?

        • The Flynn effect operates over a small enough timescale that it cannot be reasonably considered genetic, and recent research conclusively shows that, contrary to Murray’s dismissal, socioeconomic impacts on intelligence far outweigh the genetic effects – race-linked or otherwise – that he believes explain so much about American society.

          It’s unclear what point the link is supposed to be making, what is supposed to be being compared to what. Flynn has said that the Black-White IQ score gap can be entirely explained by environmental factors if “the average environment for Blacks in 1995 matches the quality of the average environment for Whites in 1945.” Is this the point you’re trying to make?

          The Bell Curve is what made Murray significant; it’s the root of his popularity. And Murray has used that popularity to make truly repellent policy prescriptions – for example:
          a) Even more extreme punishment of criminal activity and tolerance of vigilantism;
          b) Ending welfare support for single mothers;
          c) From the same source, prescribing American-style mass incarceration for the UK.

          These ideas are pretty unobjectionable for most on the Right and historically for many on the Left as well, particularly when you look at what they do as opposed to what they say.

          • broblawsky says:

            It’s unclear what point the link is supposed to be making, what is supposed to be being compared to what. Flynn has said that the Black-White IQ score gap can be entirely explained by environmental factors if “the average environment for Blacks in 1995 matches the quality of the average environment for Whites in 1945.” Is this the point you’re trying to make?

            Essentially, yes, as long as “environment” includes a wide range of socioeconomic factors. If socioeconomic/environmental factors are on the same order of magnitude or greater than what Murray considers “genetic” factors, then it’s extremely sloppy science for Murray and his supporters to assume that their “genetic” factors are statistically significant at all.

            These ideas are pretty unobjectionable for most on the Right and historically for many on the Left as well, particularly when you look at what they do as opposed to what they say.

            Even most people on the right today think that US-style mass incarceration has gone too far – look at the FIRST STEP Act. And I suspect that most right-wing people would agree that punishing children for having single mothers is immoral.

          • Even most people on the right today think that US-style mass incarceration has gone too far

            Maybe for a few cases, but not the bulk of it. Majorities still say that local courts are too lenient:

            https://gssdataexplorer.norc.org/documents/899/download

            most right-wing people would agree that punishing children for having single mothers is immoral.

            Most right-wing people would take issue with the framing as if not giving somebody something is “punishing” them. They’d also point out that you get more of what you subsidize.

        • It’s the chapter everyone cares about, and it’s the one that made Murray prominent. Coming Apart is nowhere near as significant.

          Because his critics focused on it, as the part of the book easiest to attack. Why try critiquing someone’s facts and arguments when you have the alternative of calling him a racist?

          • broblawsky says:

            Because his critics focused on it, as the part of the book easiest to attack. Why try critiquing someone’s facts and arguments when you have the alternative of calling him a racist?

            It isn’t prejudice, it’s embarassingly sloppy science. I’m not sure why anyone thinks these parts of the Bell Curve are worth defending, frankly. Murray and his supporters have put psychometrics back decades.

            Edit: Also, when have I called Murray a racist? I just think he’s an incompetent scientist using the medium of pop science to push ineffective and/or unethical policies.

          • The question of whether the black/white IQ difference was genetic wasn’t the point of the book, wasn’t central to the book’s argument, and wasn’t something the book made strong claims about.

          • broblawsky says:

            Murray’s more recent behavior – see his appearance on Harris’ podcast – suggests otherwise.

          • Cliff says:

            Murray’s more recent behavior – see his appearance on Harris’ podcast – suggests otherwise.

            What does it suggest?

          • broblawsky says:

            That he believes that the black-white IQ gap is mostly genetic, at least according to other people in this thread (I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to that episode).

          • That he believes that the black-white IQ gap is mostly genetic, at least according to other people in this thread

            And you believe it isn’t, a belief I don’t think you have yet offered any evidence for.

            Holding a belief about something there isn’t strong evidence for or against isn’t intellectually dishonest, it’s something all of us do. Claiming to have strong evidence for the belief when you don’t (and know you don’t) is dishonest. Your original claim was that Murray was dishonest, and this doesn’t support it, since he seems to have been careful, in TBC and elsewhere, not to claim to have strong evidence for that belief.

        • Clutzy says:

          I don’t think your engaging with my critique. If someone wanted to discuss Murray himself, sure, it would make sense to dedicate a significant amount of time to TBC. If someone wants to discuss and engage in a critique of biological explanations for race differences, picking Murray as your opponent is a fundamentally unserious choice. He’s not an expert, doesn’t claim to be an expert, doesn’t engage with the subject other than to say stuff like, “we relied on the best data we had at the time.”

          • albatross11 says:

            I think Murray is at least IQ expert adjacent–he’s done research in a lot of IQ-related areas. In his interview with Sam Harris, he made an argument for why he believes that the black/white IQ gap is mostly genetic in origin. This was speculative, and he said so–he was describing his own belief about this still-uncertain question. It’s certainly reasonable to argue with his reasoning.

            Most of the arguments I’ve seen the other way seem to amount to pointing out that there are enough confounders that it is very difficult to determine the answer for certain. Which seems right to me, but those people usually don’t condemn folks who claim that there is 0 genetic component to the IQ difference, even though they are also speculating ahead of the evidence.

          • broblawsky says:

            Most of the arguments I’ve seen the other way seem to amount to pointing out that there are enough confounders that it is very difficult to determine the answer for certain. Which seems right to me, but those people usually don’t condemn folks who claim that there is 0 genetic component to the IQ difference, even though they are also speculating ahead of the evidence.

            That’s my opinion as well. I actually do think there’s at least some genetic component to IQ; I just think that assuming that those genetic factors correlate well with our socially constructed concepts of race is evidence of being, at best, unserious about psychometrics.

          • broblawsky says:

            I don’t think your engaging with my critique. If someone wanted to discuss Murray himself, sure, it would make sense to dedicate a significant amount of time to TBC. If someone wants to discuss and engage in a critique of biological explanations for race differences, picking Murray as your opponent is a fundamentally unserious choice. He’s not an expert, doesn’t claim to be an expert, doesn’t engage with the subject other than to say stuff like, “we relied on the best data we had at the time.”

            I didn’t read any of that out of the post I responded to, I’m afraid. All three of the primary points you made were in defense of Murray; to my eye, they presented him as a serious intelligence researcher doing conventional psychometric research. If I misunderstood your position, I apologize.

            That being said, I don’t think it’s unfair to treat Murray and the Bell Curve as being proxies for the “race is a significant influence on intelligence” crowd. Murray’s claims are considered normal in that field; look at how many people stepped up to defend him in this thread. He may not be the best researcher in his field (far from it), but he’s one of the most prominent and best-known voices.

          • albatross11 says:

            broblawsky:

            It seems pretty certain that IQ is substantially genetic, thanks to a whole bunch of adoption studies. If you’re adopted, your adult IQ is much more strongly correlated to that of the biological siblings you have never met than it is to the adoptive siblings you grew up with.

            The question of how much of the correlation between race and IQ is genetic is, as far as I understand things, an open research question. It has been a few years since I read _The Bell Curve_, but my memory is that they state this, and make it clear that they don’t know what fraction is genetic.

            In his interview with Harris, Murray speculates that the race/IQ correlation (at least between blacks and whites) is largely genetic, and he makes some argument for why he believes that is likely. He may be right or wrong about that–I personally think there are enough confounders that it’s hard to have much confidence either way–but I don’t think it’s any more irresponsible for him to speculate this direction than for others to speculate that the race/IQ correlation is entirely or almost entirely environmental.

            As best I can tell, as an interested amateur (but not that interested–if I had lots more time, there are several subjects I’d study in depth before I got around to psychometrics), Herrenstein and Murray’s comments about race and IQ in that chapter of _The Bell Curve_ were both consistent with the available data and also with the existing consensus in psychometrics. What is it that you think was so embarrassingly wrong about the chapter on race and IQ?

          • I just think that assuming that those genetic factors correlate well with our socially constructed concepts of race is evidence of being, at best, unserious about psychometrics.

            Why? Our standard racial categories basically amount to having significant amount of African ancestry, mostly from the parts of Africa that slaves came from, having largely East Asian ancestry, and having mostly European ancestry. The populations in question spent quite a long time in different environments and have easily observable genetic differences–that’s how we recognize them.

            So there is no a priori reason to reject the conjecture that they differ in genetic IQ. If we observe a difference in the average IQ of races as conventionally defined, there could be other explanations, but why do you reject that one?

            Describing it as “assuming” assumes your conclusion–that there is no good reason to think that genetic IQ correlates, even though we observe that IQ itself does, and that a variety of easily observable heritable physical characteristics do.

          • Corey says:

            why do you reject that one?

            Canned response: Africans are more genetically diverse overall than the difference between those other categories, or between them and Africans. Which makes sense since humanity originated there.

            I honestly don’t know the canned response to that, but if anyone does it’s this crowd.

          • Anthony says:

            Corey – Africans as a whole, and even sub-Saharan Africans, are more diverse than non-Africans (maybe). However, the source population for most African-Americans is not.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            Easy canned response is that it’s possible to have a consistent intergroup variation that is smaller in magnitude than intragroup variation. Look at the shape of the distributions in this visualization tool with d < 0.5; it's clear that the difference between the averages is small but extant despite the wide spead of each group.

          • broblawsky says:

            The question of how much of the correlation between race and IQ is genetic is, as far as I understand things, an open research question. It has been a few years since I read _The Bell Curve_, but my memory is that they state this, and make it clear that they don’t know what fraction is genetic.

            Murray certainly equivocates to that effect. He also spends a solid 12 pages (299-301 in my edition) attacking every contemporary argument in favor of environmental influences being more significant than genetic differences, without every applying any criticism to theories that claim that genetic differences being predominant. His bias in favor of genetic explanations is obvious.

            In his interview with Harris, Murray speculates that the race/IQ correlation (at least between blacks and whites) is largely genetic, and he makes some argument for why he believes that is likely. He may be right or wrong about that–I personally think there are enough confounders that it’s hard to have much confidence either way–but I don’t think it’s any more irresponsible for him to speculate this direction than for others to speculate that the race/IQ correlation is entirely or almost entirely environmental.

            It’s irresponsible when you use your platform to dismiss good science being done by real psychometric researchers. Here’s the most egregious version, his dismissal of the Flynn Effect (p. 308):

            Does a 15-point IQ difference between grandparents and their grandchildren mean that the grandchildren are 15 points smarter? Some experts do not believe that the rise is wholly, perhaps not even partly, a rise in intelligence but in the narrower skills involved in intelligence test taking per se.

            A reasonable assertion to make – but once you’ve made it, you can’t continue to use IQ as a measure of intelligence. And rest assured: IQ is the only really useful test of intelligence Murray cites. “For me but not for thee” is not something you’re allowed to do in scientific debate.

            As best I can tell, as an interested amateur (but not that interested–if I had lots more time, there are several subjects I’d study in depth before I got around to psychometrics), Herrenstein and Murray’s comments about race and IQ in that chapter of _The Bell Curve_ were both consistent with the available data and also with the existing consensus in psychometrics. What is it that you think was so embarrassingly wrong about the chapter on race and IQ?

            Those 12 pages Murray spends attacking studies on environmental influences on IQ are embarrassing. His hitjob on the Scarr/Weinberg transracial adoption study, in p. 309 of my copy, suggests that he might not be capable of basic statistics. The Scarr/Weinberg study shows that pre-adoption influences on IQ (including, but not limited to genetics) make up less than half (or around 10-15%, once corrected for the Flynn effect) of the age 17 IQ differences between cohorts. Flynn ignores this completely, completely failing to do any analysis of the Scarr/Weinburg results. Every section of this part of the book is similarly bad.

          • broblawsky says:

            Canned response: Africans are more genetically diverse overall than the difference between those other categories, or between them and Africans. Which makes sense since humanity originated there.

            I honestly don’t know the canned response to that, but if anyone does it’s this crowd.

            Here’s a good source for that.

          • broblawsky says:

            Why? Our standard racial categories basically amount to having significant amount of African ancestry, mostly from the parts of Africa that slaves came from, having largely East Asian ancestry, and having mostly European ancestry. The populations in question spent quite a long time in different environments and have easily observable genetic differences–that’s how we recognize them.

            So there is no a priori reason to reject the conjecture that they differ in genetic IQ. If we observe a difference in the average IQ of races as conventionally defined, there could be other explanations, but why do you reject that one?

            Describing it as “assuming” assumes your conclusion–that there is no good reason to think that genetic IQ correlates, even though we observe that IQ itself does, and that a variety of easily observable heritable physical characteristics do.

            Genetic studies have long since moved past race. Here’s a few choice pieces:

            Greater genetic differences between individuals of the same racial group than between individuals of different groups.

            The majority of genetic variations are found in all populations; within-population differences make up 93-95% of all genetic differences.

            Using race as a shortcut for genetics might be useful for laymen like you or I, but it’s dangerously sloppy and unethical for anyone making policy prescriptions or doing real science. Murray needs to do better if he’s going to make policy recommendations. His failure to do so is dangerous and anti-scientific.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Canned response: Africans are more genetically diverse overall than the difference between those other categories, or between them and Africans. Which makes sense since humanity originated there.

            How is that a response? Could you possibly pin down a definition of these word in which it was a response? Probably not really, but you could probably fool yourself. Would the definition you confabulate to fabricate an argument match the definition you would fabricate if you just wanted to make sense of this as an isolated claim?

            The Out of Africa population went through a bottleneck, so it has lower neutral diversity. The subsaharan African populations did not go through a bottleneck, so they each (contra Anthony) have greater neutral diversity than the aggregate OoA population, let alone any individual OoA population.

            But we don’t care about neutral diversity. That’s why it’s neutral. (Thus Void’s comment is irrelevant. Also, nonsense in that he assumes small d, when the whole point is to explain large d.)

          • Greater genetic differences between individuals of the same racial group than between individuals of different groups.

            I didn’t follow the link, since I don’t see what that claim has to do with the argument. If the average IQ of one group is ten points lower than another, it’s still ten points lower even if variation within each group is large.

            The place all this matters is in conclusions from group statistics, such as income or education. The standard assumption in discussing such things is that differences in racial averages have to be due to some sort of discrimination. That depends on the unstated and unsupported assumption that there are no innate differences in the distribution of relevant characteristics by race.

            How would that argument be changed by statistics on intragroup variation?

          • Clutzy says:

            I didn’t read any of that out of the post I responded to, I’m afraid. All three of the primary points you made were in defense of Murray; to my eye, they presented him as a serious intelligence researcher doing conventional psychometric research. If I misunderstood your position, I apologize.

            Uhh, point 3 of my OP pretty clearly disowns TBC as a serious tome about the topic. Its a chapter that essentially does a middling job of summarizing the field at the time of the book. Some of his points have gotten stronger since (such as rebuttals along the lines of the Flynn effect), others have gotten weaker, such as the the AFQT being a particularly good test.

          • broblawsky says:

            I didn’t follow the link, since I don’t see what that claim has to do with the argument. If the average IQ of one group is ten points lower than another, it’s still ten points lower even if variation within each group is large.

            The place all this matters is in conclusions from group statistics, such as income or education. The standard assumption in discussing such things is that differences in racial averages have to be due to some sort of discrimination. That depends on the unstated and unsupported assumption that there are no innate differences in the distribution of relevant characteristics by race.

            How would that argument be changed by statistics on intragroup variation?

            The other link, which you didn’t quote, indicates that race accounts for about 5% of all genetic differences between individuals. It’d be asking that 5% to do a lot of work to account for meaningful IQ differences across groups as well as all other ethnic differences, don’t you think? Not to mention that it would contradict the highly polygenic and omnigenic models of IQ, which are currently the best genetic model of IQ, AFAIK.

            The point I’m trying to make is that modern genetics has moved beyond consideration of race as being a significant genetic factor, especially in intelligence studies. People who assert that racial differences in IQ can be explained primarily by genetics are clearly neither well read in genetics, nor are they serious psychometrics experts.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            That’s a bit misleading, because 95% of human structures are also the same. All humans nominally have two arms, two legs, ten fingers, men have penises, all women vaginas and breasts, etc, etc.

            All humans are more intelligent than all other species, so it seems to me that the variation within the human population relative to all other species is “amazing genius to absolute supergenius”. It is pretty plausible to me that the narrow IQ range of “genius to supergenius” from a genetic sense could fit in that 5%.

          • broblawsky says:

            That’s a bit misleading, because 95% of human structures are also the same. All humans nominally have two arms, two legs, ten fingers, men have penises, all women vaginas and breasts, etc, etc.

            All humans are more intelligent than all other species, so it seems to me that the variation within the human population relative to all other species is “amazing genius to absolute supergenius”. It is pretty plausible to me that the narrow IQ range of “genius to supergenius” from a genetic sense could fit in that 5%.

            It might be plausible to you, but modern genetic science says that it’s unlikely. The polygenic/omnigenic model works massively better for explaining genetic influences on intelligence than earlier, single-gene models that might have been plausibly race-linked. Single-gene or low-polygenic models could conceivably cram all of those important “intelligence genes” into that 5% of inter-racial differences, but highly polygenic models definitely can’t, and they explain genetic influences on intelligence far more effectively. Sometimes, we have to be willing to discard our intuitions when the scientific method discovers new data.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            I am aware that intelligence is polygenic and has to be. Which is why when we see major defects in a single building block of that chain, we see not just low IQ, but also major dysfunctions.

            But we would expect people with larger genetic variation to be more average in all polygenic traits because they are less likely to get the multiple genes in combination that are required for high polygenic scores.

            To use a mathematical example, if Asian populaces are missing “low” and “medium” in gene 15 of the 30 (numbers pulled from my fourth point of contact) that are used for IQ, they would have higher IQs on average even if all other 29 are identical.

            If the “human average” is say 80, then loss of genetic diversity on some building blocks along the way would be what increases IQ in less diverse subpopulations because they always have those higher baseline parts of the polygenic building blocks.

          • Corey says:

            How is that a response? Could you possibly pin down a definition of these word in which it was a response? Probably not really, but you could probably fool yourself. Would the definition you confabulate to fabricate an argument match the definition you would fabricate if you just wanted to make sense of this as an isolated claim?

            I don’t know if old-school Less Wrong jargon would be better understood or not:

            Our lay notions of race do not carve reality at the joints.

          • The Nybbler says:

            There is no reason to believe that multi-gene traits can’t be race linked. The breeder’s equation doesn’t even contain a term for the coding.

            And our lay notions of race don’t carve reality exactly at the joints… but they’re not terrible approximations.

          • albatross11 says:

            Note that Africans as a whole are very diverse, but the subset of Africans who were brought to the Americas as slaves (who make up nearly all the ancestors of America’s black population today) were not all that genetically diverse–they were taken from a relatively small region of Africa.

            [ETA]
            I think when we talk about blacks, whites, and American Indians, our broad racial categories are a pretty good match for reality–there’s a pretty strong correlation between what race we call you and your DNA. For hispanics and Asians, they’re a huge mishmash and it’s kind-of amazing that they work as well as they do at predicting anything. East Asians are pretty distinct from everyone else genetically, but the standard US thing of combining everyone from Mongolians to Japanese to Chinese to Malaysians to Bangladeshis to Indians all in the same category is not cutting nature anywhere close to a joint.

          • Clutzy says:

            Also, its odd to talk about human evolution like evolution of other species. In many respects we are like dogs and cats and have domesticated ourselves and, often at various times, engaged in practices very similar to selective breeding, to ourselves.

          • albatross11 says:

            broblawsky:

            I disagree with your characterization of Murray’s arguments.

            First, he’s writing a chapter about race and IQ–a subject which is both radioactive as hell and also really critical for understanding the world we observe. It doesn’t make any sense to condemn Murray[1] for using common racial categories in a discussion about race and IQ–those racial categories are what their readers care about! If we’re asking the question “why are black students averaging so much worse on SAT scores than white students,” or “what will be the effect of lowering SAT entrance requirements for blacks relative to whites at top universities?”, common definition of black is exactly what we want. The data on which the book was based also collected self-reported race but didn’t have DNA tests, so it’s not even clear what other data he could have drawn from for most of his analysis in the book. (I don’t think anyone was doing DNA tests routinely back then.)

            Second, it doesn’t seem dishonest or embarrassing to say you don’t know how much of the race/IQ difference is genetic, and then to point out the weaknesses you see in evidence for a non-genetic explanation. He may be right or wrong in his criticisms of those explanations, but there’s nothing embarrassing I can see in making them.

            Third, there are substantial genetic differences between blacks and whites on average–enough so that DNA tests basically always can predict self-reported race, forensic anthropologists can tell the race of a dead body by its skeleton with pretty high accuracy, and mainstream medical sources sometimes make different recommendations for patient care based on race. Those differences might explain the IQ differences, or they might not–I think that’s an open research question. But it’s not silly or embarassing or unscientific to think that they might explain some or all of it.

            Fourth, I think the Flynn effect has been studied far more now than when TBC was written, and it’s still an open research question how much of it (if any) is increasing intelligence, and how much other stuff (like familiarity with the test format). So I don’t see what’s irresponsible or embarrassing about expressing doubt that the Flynn effect represents real gains in intelligence, especially when TBC was written.

            [1] I’m saying “Murray” and “he” where I should be saying “Herrenstein and Murray” and “they”. Sorry.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Corey,

            That assertion is neither implied by the premises¹ nor implies anything interesting.² It is also false.³

            ² Sure, the American government defines an Asian race including East Indians and Chinese, that really does not carve reality at its joints. Asian-Americans have high test scores. Does the fact that this is a stupid category tell you anything about the cause of these high test scores? Yes, they’re not caused by the same genes. But does it say anything about whether they are caused by different genes?

            ¹ You are, at best, equivocating between two notions of diversity. The meme “Africans have high genetic diversity” comes from neutral diversity. That tells you nothing about whether African is a good category. As I said, every African group has high neutral diversity. Anything you conclude about Africans from high neutral diversity you have to conclude about Yoruba because they have higher neutral diversity than the entire Out of Africa population. Do you deny that Yoruba carves genetic reality at its joints?

            ³ You might expect that because humans evolved in Africa there is some kind of lineage diversity in Africa. Can you measure some kind of genetic diversity that tells you about lineage diversity? I don’t think so, because it is swamped by neutral diversity. Anyhow, you can just look at the family tree. And, yes, there are exotic Africans, like pygmies and bushmen. If your racial category of African includes pygmies and bushmen, should carve them off. But there are very few pygmies and bushmen, so hardly changes anything. And once you carve them off, the remaining Africans don’t have high linear diversity. This is due to the Bantu expansion, 4k years ago. So the argument that the birthplace of humans should have complicated population structure has false conclusion, so was logically false. But this is historically contingent and maybe it did have complicated population structure 4k years ago.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Note that while Pygmies and Khoisan are not significant outside of anthropology and human rights, there are larger African sub-groups that carve off from the main West African/Bantu Expansion population in relevant ways. Basketball and international modeling agencies have taken notice of the “Nilotic” sub-group of Black Africans.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Nilotic peoples are just as closely related to Bantu peoples as the Yoruba are.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Douglas Knight: I didn’t know that, though it doesn’t surprise me. It may take only a few genes to get a polygenic trait like skin tone or height that makes people visibly distinct.

          • The other link, which you didn’t quote, indicates that race accounts for about 5% of all genetic differences between individuals. It’d be asking that 5% to do a lot of work to account for meaningful IQ differences across groups as well as all other ethnic differences, don’t you think?

            I don’t follow the argument. When we are looking at an average across a racial group, we are averaging out all the intragroup diversity, so intergroup diversity is what is left.

            Suppose we were looking not at people but at dice. One die is slightly weighted–it produces an average result, over many rolls, 5% higher than the other. Roll each a thousand times. The intragroup diversity is much higher than the intergroup diversity, since the group is a roughly random assortment of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. But the average will be 5% higher for the weighted die.

            I also don’t see the relevance of intelligence being polygenic. Different populations evolved in different environments, where different mixes of characteristics resulted in reproductive success. If population A evolved in an environment where the payoff to intelligence was lower or the costs higher than the environment of population B, selective pressure will tend to make its genetic intelligence lower, whether the trait is polygenic or not.

            Isn’t that obvious?

          • broblawsky says:

            First, he’s writing a chapter about race and IQ–a subject which is both radioactive as hell and also really critical for understanding the world we observe. It doesn’t make any sense to condemn Murray[1] for using common racial categories in a discussion about race and IQ–those racial categories are what their readers care about! If we’re asking the question “why are black students averaging so much worse on SAT scores than white students,” or “what will be the effect of lowering SAT entrance requirements for blacks relative to whites at top universities?”, common definition of black is exactly what we want. The data on which the book was based also collected self-reported race but didn’t have DNA tests, so it’s not even clear what other data he could have drawn from for most of his analysis in the book. (I don’t think anyone was doing DNA tests routinely back then.)

            If Murray et al weren’t confident that a genetic explanation was a reasonable explanation for race differences in intelligence, they shouldn’t have made the assertion that it was a reasonable explanation. Which Murray does, over and over again, in Chapters 13 and 14 of the Bell Curve. It’s scientifically irresponsible to say that a certain factor is an explanation for a phenomenon when you don’t actually have the ability to test whether that factor had an impact, which Murray didn’t at the time. Now that we we have the ability to test the impact of genetics on intelligence, at least to a limited degree, it’s doubly irresponsible for Murray to be making these assertions.

            Second, it doesn’t seem dishonest or embarrassing to say you don’t know how much of the race/IQ difference is genetic, and then to point out the weaknesses you see in evidence for a non-genetic explanation. He may be right or wrong in his criticisms of those explanations, but there’s nothing embarrassing I can see in making them.

            All scientists have a responsibility to try to falsify their own hypotheses, not just those of other people. Murray never tries to criticize or even substantially analyze any of the genetic explanations of intelligence he cites in The Bell Curve; he accepts them as writ. This kind of scientific double-standard is unacceptable.

            Third, there are substantial genetic differences between blacks and whites on average–enough so that DNA tests basically always can predict self-reported race, forensic anthropologists can tell the race of a dead body by its skeleton with pretty high accuracy, and mainstream medical sources sometimes make different recommendations for patient care based on race. Those differences might explain the IQ differences, or they might not–I think that’s an open research question. But it’s not silly or embarassing or unscientific to think that they might explain some or all of it.

            It’s definitely unscientific now to think that they might explain all of it, or even a majority; we can definitively say that today. I don’t think it’s irresponsible or unscientific to say that genetic factors make up some fraction of the impact of heredity on IQ, and that some small fraction of those factors might conceivably be race-linked, but saying that a majority of the black-white IQ gap is genetic is unsupported by the literature, and therefore deeply unscientific and irresponsible on Murray’s part. His prominent position as a science popularizer comes with extra responsibility to make sure he isn’t mischaracterizing the scientific consensus.

            Fourth, I think the Flynn effect has been studied far more now than when TBC was written, and it’s still an open research question how much of it (if any) is increasing intelligence, and how much other stuff (like familiarity with the test format). So I don’t see what’s irresponsible or embarrassing about expressing doubt that the Flynn effect represents real gains in intelligence, especially when TBC was written.

            If you think that the Flynn effect represents only increased test-taking ability, that’s a reasonable assertion. However, it calls into question the validity of IQ testing as a measurement of intelligence; differences between populations can then always be dismissed as differences in test-taking ability. You can’t dismiss the validity of a measurement technique when it disagrees with your beliefs and then accept it as valid when its results accord with your beliefs – it’s intellectually dishonest.

          • It might be plausible to you, but modern genetic science says that it’s unlikely. The polygenic/omnigenic model works massively better for explaining genetic influences on intelligence than earlier, single-gene models that might have been plausibly race-linked.

            I read your link (the abstract of the paper). I cannot see that offers any evidence at all on the questions we are discussing. None of the arguments you are attacking depend on a single gene model of intelligence, which is all that article appears to offer evidence against. Why would you think only a single gene model can be race linked?

            I assume you agree that skin color is race linked. Does that depend on its depending on a single gene (I have no idea if it does)? How about body build?

            Let me go back to the intergroup/intragroup variance question, to see if I can figure out why you thought it was relevant–you didn’t say, when I argued that it wasn’t.

            If the question is “should the evidence on racial IQ be a major factor in deciding who to hire,” the fact that intragroup variance is much larger than intergroup variance is evidence that it should not. But none of the arguments, here or more generally, are about whether it is rational to discriminate against blacks on the basis of IQ evidence. That would only make sense if you had no better evidence of ability, and you practically always do.

            What the argument is about is whether average outcome differences, such as income, by race, must be due to environmental influences, usually assumed to be racism, or whether part or all can be explained by innate heritable differences. The size of intragroup variance is irrelevant to that question–all that matters is whether intergroup variance is large enough to explain part or all of the differences.

            Do you agree? If so, why did you think the relative variances were relevant, and to what? If you do not agree, why?

          • broblawsky says:

            I read your link (the abstract of the paper). I cannot see that offers any evidence at all on the questions we are discussing. None of the arguments you are attacking depend on a single gene model of intelligence, which is all that article appears to offer evidence against. Why would you think only a single gene model can be race linked?

            I assume you agree that skin color is race linked. Does that depend on its depending on a single gene (I have no idea if it does)? How about body build?

            Let me go back to the intergroup/intragroup variance question, to see if I can figure out why you thought it was relevant–you didn’t say, when I argued that it wasn’t.

            If the question is “should the evidence on racial IQ be a major factor in deciding who to hire,” the fact that intragroup variance is much larger than intergroup variance is evidence that it should not. But none of the arguments, here or more generally, are about whether it is rational to discriminate against blacks on the basis of IQ evidence. That would only make sense if you had no better evidence of ability, and you practically always do.

            What the argument is about is whether average outcome differences, such as income, by race, must be due to environmental influences, usually assumed to be racism, or whether part or all can be explained by innate heritable differences. The size of intragroup variance is irrelevant to that question–all that matters is whether intergroup variance is large enough to explain part or all of the differences.

            Do you agree? If so, why did you think the relative variances were relevant, and to what? If you do not agree, why?

            Responding to the question of whether I think intergroup genetic variance could, potentially, explain part of the difference in IQ test performance between those two groups? Yes, obviously, it’s impossible to rule out, and there’s some (but not a lot) of support for that point of view in the literature. However, I do not believe that the intergroup genetic variance contributes significantly to intergroup IQ differences.

            For example: let us assume that:
            a) 80% of the variation in IQ between individuals is a product of genetic differences. This is extremely generous on my part, but I’m trying to prove a point.
            b) Genetic influences on IQ are polygenic, and that each individual single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) contributes a certain value to IQ.
            c) Interracial genetic differences make up about 5% of the total genetic difference between individuals, as already demonstrated in the literature.

            Given these assumptions, in order for intergroup genetic differences to make up the majority of the difference in IQ between groups, as Murray claims, IQ-influencing SNPs would have to show up in that 5% of intergroup genetic difference at least 12.5 times as often as in the rest of the genome. That’s extremely unlikely, and moreover, it would’ve been fairly trivial to detect using genome-wide association studies (GWAS). To the best of my knowledge, GWAS have discovered no such correlation. If, instead, IQ-influencing SNPs are distributed evenly among race-linked and non-race-linked sections of the genome, then race-linked genetic variances in IQ contribute just 4% of the intergroup difference in IQ.

            If you made the assertion that 4% of the intergroup difference in IQ was due to purely genetic factors, I would consider that to be within the scientific consensus. However, Murray has made the assertion that the majority of the black-white IQ gap can be explained by purely genetic factors. That assertion is not supported by the scientific consensus, and if Murray had made that assertion in 1994, it would have been merely irresponsible. For him to make it in 2019 is evidence of either ignorance or dishonesty.

          • uau says:

            Given these assumptions, in order for intergroup genetic differences to make up the majority of the difference in IQ between groups, as Murray claims, IQ-influencing SNPs would have to show up in that 5% of intergroup genetic difference at least 12.5 times as often as in the rest of the genome.

            This is, in short, total bullshit. You have failed to understand what the paper you linked to means. It does not say that there would exist some 5% of the total genome that is “linked to race” and the rest would have zero correlation with race. Your calculation giving “12.5 times” is entirely erroneous.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Might as well link this, which is from 1996, but makes a number of points similar to the ones broblawsky is making.

            Of note, on the difference between “heritable” and “genetically determined”:

            For example, the number of fingers on a human hand or toes on a human foot is genetically determined: the genes code for five fingers and toes in almost everyone, and five fingers and toes develop in any normal environment. But the heritability of number of fingers and toes in humans is almost certainly very low. That’s because most of the variation in numbers of toes is environmentally caused, often by problems in fetal development.

            Conversely, a characteristic can be highly heritable even if it is not genetically determined. Some years ago when only women wore earrings, the heritability of having an earring was high because differences in whether a person had an earring were “due” to a genetic (chromosomal) difference.

          • Given these assumptions, in order for intergroup genetic differences to make up the majority of the difference in IQ between groups, as Murray claims, IQ-influencing SNPs would have to show up in that 5% of intergroup genetic difference at least 12.5 times as often as in the rest of the genome.

            Your argument seems to imply that differences in skin color, or in the facial characteristics that we loosely refer to as “slanted eyes,” must also be almost entirely determined by non-genetic causes.

            You would not expect intergroup genetic differences to be randomly distributed if, as seems likely, they are a result of adaptation of different ancestral populations to different environments.

            The rest of your argument seems to be that you don’t know of any research that has found the relevant correlation–but you don’t mention knowing of any research that looked for it.

          • Corey says:

            If the question is “should the evidence on racial IQ be a major factor in deciding who to hire,” the fact that intragroup variance is much larger than intergroup variance is evidence that it should not. But none of the arguments, here or more generally, are about whether it is rational to discriminate against blacks on the basis of IQ evidence.

            You might be being just a bit naive about this.

          • albatross11 says:

            broblawsky:

            I think you’re massively moving your goalposts here.

            If Murray et al weren’t confident that a genetic explanation was a reasonable explanation for race differences in intelligence, they shouldn’t have made the assertion that it was a reasonable explanation. Which Murray does, over and over again, in Chapters 13 and 14 of the Bell Curve.

            I reread most of Chapter 13 yesterday to referesh my memory. I think he was making the case that genetic differences were a plausible explanation for at least some of the gap. I don’t see what’s intellectually dishonest about that–he’s looking at the literature and the data and saying what he thinks is likely true, making a case for why he believes that, while being clear that the jury is still out.

            It’s scientifically irresponsible to say that a certain factor is an explanation for a phenomenon when you don’t actually have the ability to test whether that factor had an impact, which Murray didn’t at the time.

            I think you have a very unusual definition of “scientifically irresponsible.” I do not see anything in Chapter 13 that seems irresponsible–it looks like a high-quality popular science book treatment of a complicated and contentious issue. If it’s not okay for Murray to make the case for his consistent-with-the-evidence beliefs unless he can prove them, then basically every popular science and social science book ever is bad in exactly the same way. Also, nobody ever seems to hold the other side of this debate to that standard–when someone says that the race/IQ correlation has little or no genetic basis, nobody seems to rush in and condemn them for running ahead of the evidence. Why, it’s almost as though people are upset with the conclusion, rather than the reasoning.

            All scientists have a responsibility to try to falsify their own hypotheses, not just those of other people. Murray never tries to criticize or even substantially analyze any of the genetic explanations of intelligence he cites in The Bell Curve; he accepts them as writ. This kind of scientific double-standard is unacceptable.

            This is just wrong. He brings up the Flynn effect, the Minnesota transracial adoption study, and the study of illegitimate children left behind in Germany by black soldiers. He acknowledges that evidence, provides references to it, but then argues that it isn’t convincing to him. This is exactly what we’d want anyone making such a case to do–bring up the best evidence of the other side and then respond to it. Maybe his responses are wrong, maybe his reasoning is flawed, but if you call that irresponsible, you have to call basically all science writing everywhere irresponsible that does anything except report meta-analyses of huge randomized control studies. Everywhere else, we’re still analyzing conflicting studies and trying to put together a sensible model of the world, and what Murray did there seems like about what can be reasonably expected.

            It’s definitely unscientific now to think that they might explain all of it, or even a majority; we can definitively say that today. I don’t think it’s irresponsible or unscientific to say that genetic factors make up some fraction of the impact of heredity on IQ, and that some small fraction of those factors might conceivably be race-linked, but saying that a majority of the black-white IQ gap is genetic is unsupported by the literature, and therefore deeply unscientific and irresponsible on Murray’s part. His prominent position as a science popularizer comes with extra responsibility to make sure he isn’t mischaracterizing the scientific consensus.

            Can you explain why you are so confident of this conclusion. It seems to me that the environmental confounds make it very difficult to untangle the genetic vs environmental causes of the IQ gap, but I don’t see why your confident assertion that it’s unscientific to think that genetic differences might explain all of it, or even a majority. (Of course, Murray never claims 100% genetics–instead he makes a case for significant genetic contribution without specifying a number.)

            If you think that the Flynn effect represents only increased test-taking ability, that’s a reasonable assertion. However, it calls into question the validity of IQ testing as a measurement of intelligence; differences between populations can then always be dismissed as differences in test-taking ability. You can’t dismiss the validity of a measurement technique when it disagrees with your beliefs and then accept it as valid when its results accord with your beliefs – it’s intellectually dishonest.

            And yet, there are a ton of active researchers in the area of IQ, every one of whom knows about the Flynn effect. Are they all intellectually dishonest?

            This whole line of reasoning of yours seems to me like a massive isolated demand for rigor–demanding that Murray, when reasoning toward a conclusion you find offensive, adhere to standards we never hold any other science or social science writers to.

          • You might be being just a bit naive about this.

            Naive about what we are arguing over? I don’t think so. I have not noticed anybody in this discussion arguing that one should not employ blacks because they are all stupid.

            I can believe that there are people out there with that attitude, but it makes no sense to offer an argument against them when arguing with us.

        • Cliff says:

          recent research conclusively shows that, contrary to Murray’s dismissal, socioeconomic impacts on intelligence far outweigh the genetic effects

          You’ve linked to two books by James Flynn. Can you elaborate on this very strong and controversial claim? My understanding is that genetic influences are acknowledged to account for greater than 50% of the variation in IQ, and probably significantly more.

          • broblawsky says:

            Heredity accounts for somewhere between 40 and 80 percent of contributions to IQ, but genetics and heredity aren’t the same thing. Heredity factors can include culture, parenting, nutrition (especially pre-natal nutrition), environmental toxin exposure, etc. Transracial adoption studies show that pre-adoption influences (of which genetics is only one) have a limited influence on IQ.

          • albatross11 says:

            Just a nitpick: How much of the variance in IQ is due to genes is very much a function of the variability of the environment. In modern first-world countries, basically everyone gets enough to eat and gets all their shots and lives in places with safe water and good sewers and goes to school for many years. In many very poor countries, some notable fraction of kids are malnourished, never see a book in their childhood, have their growth stunted by being sick all the time in childhood, etc. IQ in first-world countries is going to be a lot more strongly heritable than in third-world countries, because in first-world countries, we’ve flattened out a lot of the environmental differences.

          • albatross11 says:

            broblawsky:

            As I understand it, the best heredity estimates come from twin adoption studies–you have identical and fraternal twins, separated at birth and adopted and raised in different homes. Those let you isolate genes from upbringing, nutrition, environmental toxins, etc., since you can compare the correlation between IQ scores of identical twins with the one between fraternal twins.

            There are also adoption studies that don’t focus on twins (because there aren’t all that many twins up for adoption). Those may be confounded by prenatal environment, but won’t be confounded by parenting or childhood environment.

            And then, there’s a mess of social science results where people report some effect without bothering to think about genetic confounds, and thus discover all kinds of spurious stuff like a correlation between number of books in the house you grew up in and adult IQ.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            but genetics and heredity aren’t the same thing

            Can you find me a single technical source that claims that? Every source I have ever seen agrees with wikipedia that heritability is purely about genetics.

            (When you cite a quantified statistic, I assume you mean heritability. If there is something else called heredity, could you provide a citation for that?)

          • Cliff says:

            genetics and heredity aren’t the same thing. Heredity factors can include culture, parenting, nutrition (especially pre-natal nutrition), environmental toxin exposure, etc.

            You can’t be serious?

            he·red·i·ty
            /həˈredədē/
            Learn to pronounce
            noun
            noun: heredity

            1.
            the passing on of physical or mental characteristics genetically from one generation to another

          • Dacyn says:

            I think this is just a jargon issue, broblawsky is probably using “heredity” to mean “traits correlated between parents and children”. (Is there a jargon terminology for that?)

          • albatross11 says:

            Cliff:

            I think people get mixed up about whether they’re talking about genetic or other heritability all the time, including in academic papers. Now, geneticists talk about narrow-sense heritability and they mean genes. But if you just do observational studies of how my socioeconomic status/educational attainment/number of books in the house affects that of my kids, you’re getting some effects of my genes being passed through the environment to my kids.

            As an extreme case, suppose I have some weird genetic disorder that causes me to fly off into a rage every now and then. I have a kid who doesn’t get the gene, but he still gets the upbringing effect of having a dad who flies off into a rage every now and then.

            If having a stimulating childhood environment is important for developing your brain, then we’d expect smart parents to provide a stimulating environment *and* genes for higher IQ. OTOH, my impression is that there’s not a huge amount of evidence for this–I think adoptive parents’ effect on your IQ falls off quite a bit as you leave home and make your own environment.

            My understanding is that this is why twin studies are so valuable in understanding human heritability–you get a natural experiment that separates out direct effects of genes from knock-on effects of genes.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Albatross:

            I think people get mixed up about whether they’re talking about genetic or other heritability all the time, including in academic papers.

            Why do you believe this about academic papers? Can you give me a single citation of a biologist or psychologist making this error?

            When academics say heritability, they mean genes. There may be confounding by environment, but that’s part of measurement error, not confusion.

            Dacyn,
            when Broblowsky quotes figures of 40-80%, he doesn’t get to define “heritability.” It means whatever his sources mean.

          • broblawsky says:

            In the case of the Scarr/Weinburg study and most of the other transracial adoption studies I’ve read, the authors do not make an effort to disentangle genetics/narrow-sense heredity from a broader range of heredity issues including pre-natal environment and nutrition. When I say heredity, I mean it in the broader sense. I apologize if I caused any confusion by doing so.

          • a broader range of heredity issues including pre-natal environment and nutrition

            Pre-natal environment is a problem for deducing heritability from adoption studies. What else is there in your broader range? I can’t think of anything.

          • broblawsky says:

            If we’re talking about adoption studies? Environmental toxin exposure and nutrition immediately post-birth are significant issues. Lead exposure, obviously, is the big one. Breast-feeding might be a significant factor; there are studies suggesting that it might contribute as much as 4 IQ points in and of itself. Physical abuse and neglect could potentially have an impact as well.

          • If we’re talking about adoption studies?

            The identical twin studies, as I understand it, were with twins adopted at birth, which eliminates most of the candidates other than pre-natal.

        • uau says:

          contrary to Murray’s dismissal, socioeconomic impacts on intelligence far outweigh the genetic effects – race-linked or otherwise – that he believes explain so much about American society

          As others have already pointed out, the above isn’t true.

          There are also ways to estimate the role of genetic vs other factors, which I wrote about a while ago here. That is evidence against any kind of general “bad living conditions” being the major cause of the IQ gap.

      • EMP says:

        Your analysis is correct, good judgment on your part:

        This is a clip of Shaun admitting to his own lack of charitability and dishonesty and laughing at it in a personal stream of his. For the confirmation, the times of 0:29 to 1:27

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z5CHFUvn1U

        This is also the video that RalMirrorAd was referring to as a rebuttal as well.

      • Ketil says:

        What is the steelman version of the argument that there aren’t substantial differences between groups of different origin in the US? There seems to be a lot of opposition, but few people seem willing to conduct any credible study to disprove it, and instead resort to arguing about whether a concept of ‘race’ is legitimate or ill-founded, talk about high levels of in-group diversity, and so on. None of this appears to me to shed any light or provide any factual information.

        Likewise, what is the steelman argument that such group differences isn’t caused by genetic heredity? Again: if it’s an environmental factor, why not isolate it and eliminate it?

        And finally, is there an argument that differences in IQ isn’t responsible for socioeconomic outcomes? It seems highly suspect to me when IQ is highly correlated with SES within groups, and that low SES groups with high average IQ seem to rapidly increase their SES, but again, is there a steelman argument?

        I suspect a much stronger case could be made against conclusions based on comparing IQ between nations, there’s the unlikely low score for Botswana mentioned here, and I seem to remember some European nation (Greece?) going from very low to “normal” IQ in a couple of generations. But again, I haven’t seen much beyond general criticisms on moral grounds.

        For an analogous situation, farmed salmon clearly has much less genetic diversity than the various wild populations, yet when farmed and wild salmon are placed in the same cage, the wild salmon grows at a rate of about 0.3 of the farmed one. Also, we are unable to point to any specific genes that cause this, and to confidently identify a salmon as wild or farmed, one needs to look at a fair number of markers (~50, I think). I don’t think any of this is disputed, but is it controversial?

        • albatross11 says:

          The best counterargument to the genetic explanation for group IQ differences I know involves the fact that even when we try to match black and white kids on similar traits (intact family, parental income and SES), there are still a ton of differences. Those come out in stuff that can’t really be genetic[1]–rates of unwed birth and crime are higher among blacks than whites, and I’m pretty sure this is true at all socioeconomic levels. But also things like what music, books, movies, and TV shows you watch, how people treat you every day of your life, and lots of statistical stuff like geographical distribution, family wealth, connections that can get you jobs, etc.

          There are presumably deep cultural reasons for some of these differences. Thomas Sowell has documented ways that descendants of immigrants carry some influence of their ancestral culture for many generations in their new country–stuff like people of German descent clustering in certain occupations, even though it’s been several generations since anyone in the family spoke German or thought of themselves as German.

          What that tells us is that even when we try to match everything and look for a genetic basis for group IQ differences, we’re very likely to have a bunch of confounders we can’t adjust for, and we’ll likely get an incorrect answer.

          Combine that with the Flynn effect, which shows that raw IQ scores can vary a lot by culture and environment, and there’s a plausible case to be made that these cultural/environmental confounders might actually explain all or most of the gap. That’s not certain, but it’s plausible given the available evidence.

          [1] It can have a genetic component, but the main explanation must be cultural, because it has changed way faster than genetic change could have taken place.

    • Plumber says:

      @johnstewart says:

      “I believe I’ve seen discussions previously in which some regard Charles A. Murray…”

      I’m not going to watch a two-and-half hour video (though I may listen to it while driving if it’s loud and clear), but I did read The Bell Curve back in the ’90’s and something in it on the lines of “If you’re reading this who likely came from a high school in an upper middle-class suburb” which wasn’t true “or a large high school that draws from many different neighborhoods“, which was true but the implication that only “U.M.C.” neighborhood folks would read such a work really ticked me off, I didn’t grow up in one, and I didn’t live in one when I read the book.

      Suffice it to say that alone made the premises seem doubtful to me.

      • Corey says:

        I had something like that happen with college. Background: I went to THE Ohio State University 1991-1998, and had grown up a hillbilly, poor even by rural-southeast-Ohio standards.

        One of the reasons I’m not as panicked as most here about left-wing PC at colleges is that I remember how PC it was and how similar the issues were.

        I noticed the PC then because much of it could be summed up as trying to teach people what it’s like to be poor, and the irony stuck out. Though even at the time I realized there was a wide swath of students who could benefit from such a perspective. Even at a state U and even back in the 90s, there were quite a few students who had never been outside of an upper-middle-class bubble.

        • acymetric says:

          THE Ohio State University

          Ugh. 😉

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          …there were quite a few students who had never been outside of an upper-middle-class bubble.

          Meeting people from outside that bubble has definitely been a formative experience for me in college. It gave me a much better handle on what “privilege” means as used by social justice. I’m still not 100% on board with all of the ways the term or concept is used, but I’m much more convinced than I was in high school that it’s pointing at a real thing.

          • woah77 says:

            I am 100% convinced privilege is a real thing, but also 100% convinced the people most determined to call it out are the people who shouldn’t be given the time of day. The assumptions made about those who are privileged (or what grants those privileges) considerably undermine the usefulness of the concept. As has been pointed out around here before, reactionary policies to a perceived problem are almost unilaterally worse than carefully planned ones, and I see those calling it out being paired with attitudes that remind me of how Soviet Russia established the Kulaks.

            There is absolutely something to be said for meeting people outside your bubble, partially because it helps one avoid the typical mind fallacy. But those who are most assertive about privilege also often engage in Feminist Standpoint Theory, which I find to be fractally wrong.

          • lvlln says:

            I’m still not 100% on board with all of the ways the term or concept is used, but I’m much more convinced than I was in high school that it’s pointing at a real thing.

            I would say that there exists a real thing worth pointing at, but the term and concept of “privilege” as it’s used in the mainstream right now isn’t pointing at it.

  14. jermo sapiens says:

    This is a web page that claims to provide a “fascism test”. Full disclosure, I took it and my score is 37, which makes me a “fascist fellow-traveler” according to that web page. I think it’s a bit ridiculous, but I’m curious to see what people score on here and your thoughts on the questions used to gauge someone’s “fascism level”.

    Generally I feel the term “fascist/fascism” is one of the most abused in the current political lexicon, and it seems to stand in mostly for “people I really hate”. I try to use a definition of fascism that relies on the history of the Fascist party of Mussolini, but I understand that how the word is used today should also be reflected. So generally I consider fascism to be a political philosophy which is authoritarian, totalitarian, and which subordinates individual rights to the needs of the state. In that respect I would consider myself to be very low on the fascism scale so I was surprised by the results.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Fascism shares a lot of views with other political philosophies; if you test on all of them (rather than the things which make Fascists uniquely fascist) you’ll get a high agreements score. (I got 30%).

      “The political challenges of today are so serious that they can no longer be solved within the traditional paradigms of political thought.” : Agreement here is no doubt “fascist”, but any novel political philosophy worth its salt will claim this.

      “Democracy is dangerous to competent statecraft because it forces every political decision to be lowered to a level of stupidity that the masses can understand.” : Agreement would be “fascist”, but plenty of monarchists would agree too.

    • Nick says:

      What is with this test? I hard disagreed with nearly every “fascist-sounding” thing and still scored a 39%. I tried retaking it to get the lowest percentage I could and still got a 14%. I think I’m going to just mentally subtract 14% from everyone’s scores.

      ETA: Can anyone get a lower percentage than 14%?

      • Ouroborobot says:

        Yeah, I don’t know what this is measuring but it sure isn’t a tendency toward fascism, unless it’s “fascism” as defined by a 21-year old undergrad with a tenuous grasp of political theory. This strikes me as having about the same merit as a buzzfeed quiz.

      • kupe says:

        I hard disagreed with nearly every “fascist-sounding” thing

        Only a facist deal in absolutes 😉

        I managed to get down to %10, but I could be misinterpreting a question which is stopping me from getting it down further.

      • HarmlessFrog says:

        What is with this test? I hard disagreed with nearly every “fascist-sounding” thing and still scored a 39%. I tried retaking it to get the lowest percentage I could and still got a 14%. I think I’m going to just mentally subtract 14% from everyone’s scores.

        ETA: Can anyone get a lower percentage than 14%?

        Honest responses give me a 56% “crypto-fascist”.

        Trying very hard to be anti-fascist gives me 7% “non-fascist”.

        Trying very hard to be fascist gives me 93% “bona fide fascist”, retrying gave me 96%.

        This suggests that I incorrectly interpreted 2 of the 28 questions – at least in the minds of the authors of the test. I can’t be bothered to figure out which two, this test is too annoying to take. I suspect one of them is about democracy.

        The heuristic I used is a combination of populism, statism, anti-capitalism, racism, pragmatic amoralism and militarism. Seems to work pretty well.

        Just for kicks, I clicked through leaving every answer in the middle. The result was 50% “crypto-fascist”.

        • Protagoras says:

          Ah. I was wondering how my score was so high (35); I left some sliders in the middle because they seemed too badly worded for me to be able to give a meaningful answer. If those added points to my score, mystery solved.

    • broblawsky says:

      I got a 23%, and I thought the test was pretty fair and well-designed. Do you have any idea which questions you answered that might have bumped up your score? Maybe you disagreed with the “the state should do whatever is necessary to resolve problems” statement, but some of the others bumped up your score, possibly some of the more ethnonationalism-focused questions. Fundamentally, fascism isn’t just about authoritarianism, but about ethnonationalism and ethnic hierarchy. There are authoritarian systems that are less nationalist and more globalist, and I imagine that you’d get a lower score in terms of agreement with those.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        Yeah I liked the questions also, but there are some obvious limitations when you can only answer with an agreement slider. I’m thinking anytime I mildly agreed with criticisms of democracy or that the government has roles to play in society, I contributed to my fascism score increasing. Im not an ethnonationalist, nor do I believe in an ethnic hierarchy, and I did not answer positively on any questions like that, so I dont think that’s why I got a 37.

        • broblawsky says:

          Yeah, criticism of democracy seems like a good way to up your F-score as well. I think it’s important for all of us to be aware of the ways in which we’re susceptible to authoritarian ideas, so that we can prevent others from exploiting our biases. That’s useful for people from any aspect of the political spectrum. I just wish the test gave a slightly better breakdown of which areas our F-score came from.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            I doubt even this since ‘Authoritarian Impulses’ are partly a framing thing. Would this test increase your F-score if you supported banning hate speech? People that *do* suppose it wouldn’t consider it authoritarian [because while they perceive hate speech almost everywhere they partially define it as an incitement to violence, so arresting or assaulting people who engage in it is an act of self-defense]

            Is decentralized and passive aggressive use of violence or state power to achieve desired ends authoritarian? is it more or less authoritarian than a laissez faire society with a latent warrior culture?

    • metacelsus says:

      I got 31, which is pretty close to your 37, but the test says I’m “not fascist.”

      While your political outlook may share a few (or even quite a few) of fascism’s fundamental doctrines, it is overall safe to say that your political orientation is *not* a fascist one.

    • gettin_schwifty says:

      32, Not Fascist. The test groups a lot of unlike things together, so I lump it in with Myers-Briggs as “interesting or fun but not so important.” If nothing else, you’re on the border of fellow-traveler and not fascist.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I got 30. I think it just measures anything you didn’t fully agree or disagree “properly”. There were a lot of statements I didn’t go fully because I felt they need to be qualified, and a few I didn’t care or know about so I just left them on neutral (eg I have no experience with military organisations).

      Makes me realize I don’t really know what fascism is about. Not feel like I need to know either – I don’t trust my resistance to biases that much.

    • DinoNerd says:

      Interesting.

      It was almost always obvious which answer was intended to be the fascist one, and on one occassion I changed my answer based on implications of similar statements made in the past, rather than what was literally said in the question. But I know a lot of history, including the context of fascism-vs-communism, and for that matter the progress-oriented mindset of the time period, that judged worth based on which side of “inevitable social progress” something was on. (More like Europe = more “civilized” = better, but with some additional details.)

      I wound up at 26%, aka “not fascist”.

      FWIW, I agree with you on the basic definition of fascism – but the quiz did say it was based on the expressed opinions of historically important fascists, which is kind of different. (Any politician tries to present themself as supporting many positions which are generally regarded as good by everyone in their society.)

      I think the most important thing missing from our definition, but prominent on the site, is the idea that normal political and legal means are inadequate – thus toss out democracy, rule of law, etc. – or at least limit/modify them.

      Next most important might be the idea that war is the true test of a nation’s character, value, etc. (FWIW, I’d expect more of that from fascists who got their countries into disasterous wars, and less from fascist leaders like Franco, who kept out of war and lived to a reasonably ripe old age.)

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I think the most important thing missing from our definition, but prominent on the site, is the idea that normal political and legal means are inadequate – thus toss out democracy, rule of law, etc. – or at least limit/modify them.

        True. I recall answering that the current political paradigms are inadequate (mildly agree). That most certainly increased my score. But if I could answer with words instead of various levels of agreement, I could have explained that even though I think current paradigms are lacking, they shouldnt be replaced with fascism.

    • EchoChaos says:

      I got 35%, which is high, but surprises me a bit that I’m lower than a bunch of people here.

    • Plumber says:

      I got:

      “You are 38% Fascist, which makes you a Fascist Fellow-Traveler.

      In your case, it would appear that your political outlook shares more than a few of the core doctrines of fascism. Since fascism is really a mix of communism, socialism, conservatism, and liberalism, with a few innovations of its own thrown in, it is scarcely surprising that most people’s political outlook will have quite a few similarities with the doctrines of fascism. Even after adjusting for these parameters, however, it would seem that the commonalities between your political outlook and fascism are not merely incidental, but arise from certain overall themes, concerns, and solutions which your personal outlook has in common with fascism. While you are most likely *not* a fascist, the overlap between your preferred society and that of fascism is simply too significant to be pure chance. In all likelihood, you are what one might call a ‘Fascist Fellow Traveler’: Someone who sees value in some of the immediate societal changes that fascism would bring about, but *not* someone who is an actual fascist. Your ultimate political goal lies elsewhere…

      Eh…

      …me and F.D.R.

      I can live with it.

    • DragonMilk says:

      38% for me…a fellow traveler?

      And so I concur that it’s a joke of a test. Might as well take a test that shows what % sinful you are!

      …sinful traveler, you do not set out to sin, but do so all the time anyway when it’s convenient for you

    • Erusian says:

      28%.

      I think Fascism is best understood as a form of right wing non-Marxist socialism. It buys Marx’s thesis about conflict theory but replaces class conflict with conflict between some other groups. It tends to be authoritarian, communitarian, and transcendental in a Hegelian sense. However, instead of the good of the working class it instead seeks the good of… something. A race, a state, whatever. That is the basic core of their philosophy: history is driven by conflict between {groups} and the fascist state is a seizure of power by {our group} to eliminate {other groups} and bring about our glorious {our group} future.

      For example, Hitler’s philosophy can be summarized as: The natural state of the world is that races compete for resources, most fundamentally things like farmland, mines, etc. These wars are a natural and inevitable and indeed inescapable part of human existence. However, Jews are not capable of competing on this front: their racial characteristics are such that they are bad at combat or honest diplomacy or anything like that. They’re not even good at honest lab They primarily possess low cunning and skill at making decadent art and financial manipulation.

      Since they cannot win in an open fight, they instead trick other races into believing in things like ‘peaceful cooperation’ or ‘free trade’ or ‘capitalism’ or ‘Communism’ or any number of ideologies. But these are really smokescreens that conceal what’s actually going on. Jews use institutions (like the stock market, for example) to dominate other race’s resources without even having to conquer them. The racial competition is still actually going on and the Jews are winning by convincing you to like movies and money and peace. You see, Jews control (secretly or not) Hollywood/German cinema/the stock market/the Communist Party/etc. And they use these to both control society and extract resources from it in a parasitic fashion.

      Hitler’s Hegelian undergoing was to return the world to this state of racial war by eliminating the Jews (the source of the lie) and engaging in open racial competition. Which the Germans, as the superior race, would win.

    • Iago the Yerfdog says:

      31% for what it’s worth. Not a Fascist!

      One thing I didn’t appreciate was lumping in “true/false for X” and “good/bad for X.” The latter is a perfectly cogent notion, and obviously true even if you believe there’s also an absolute good/bad, but the former is not, unless what you really mean is “true/false about X.”

      I hate answering questions like that.

      • Garrett says:

        I agree. I found a number of the questions being unclear about whether they were making a normative or descriptive claim.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I got 29.

      I think that fascism is a word that should be tabooed in serious discussions, except when referering to self-identified fascist and or to fascist regime in Italy.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I think that fascism is a word that should be tabooed in serious discussions, except when referering to self-identified fascist and or to fascist regime in Italy.

        Very much in agreement with this.

      • broblawsky says:

        Maybe once there aren’t any actual fascists left.

      • Iago the Yerfdog says:

        Also in agreement with this suggestion.

      • albatross11 says:

        I’m fine with calling someone a fascist if they’re actually a fascist, just not so impressed when someone calls everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton a fascist. There’s a similar tactic commonly used with “racist.” On the right, you get some of people calling others “socialist” or “islamist” with the same logic. Historically, it was “communist-sympathizer.”

        All of those can be real claims in an intelligent discussion, but 99% of the time, they’re smears intended to shut down thinking and get people to react emotionally or tribally, instead.

    • Two McMillion says:

      32%. A little weird. I wish I knew which questions were driving the score.

      • Two McMillion says:

        Tried again, going for “as fascist as possible”, and got 84%.

        • Two McMillion says:

          Tried again, going for “as not fascist as possible”, got 14%.

          • HarmlessFrog says:

            What heuristic did you use?

          • souleater says:

            I did the same thing, and also got 14%

            I basically used the heuristic of

            individualism over government
            Local culture over state control
            Market Economy over Command Economy
            All cultures are equal are wonderful

          • Two McMillion says:

            My personal opinion of what’s fascist and not. Apparently it does not completely agree with the test makers.

    • LadyJane says:

      I got 10%.

      I can see why most people would get somewhere in the 30% range, though. A typical conservative will inevitably give some fascist answers when it comes to things like traditional values (e.g. the government has an obligation not to disrupt cultural traditions) and ethno-nationalism (e.g. the worth of a culture/nation/people is defined by their accomplishments). A typical leftist will inevitably give some fascist answers when it comes to economics (for instance, I can’t imagine your average progressive or left-liberal agreeing that the free market is the most efficient economic system).

      The test seems to consider classical liberal/free-market libertarian viewpoints to be the most antithetical to fascism. However, a good number of American libertarians are actually quite conservative on social and cultural issues, even if they don’t believe the government should be forcing people to adhere to socially conservative norms. Since the test largely asks about values and preferences rather than policy stances, a lot of conservative libertarians and paleo-libertarians will end up giving the same fascist answers as normal conservatives.

      In other words, the test seems to be designed for cosmopolitan libertarians like myself, at least insofar as cosmopolitanism and libertarianism are the ideologies it considers maximally anti-fascist.

      • Plumber says:

        @LadyJane says:

        “I got 10%.. ..”

        I’m not surprised.

        Despite yours and my “fascist tendencies” scores being the most divergent so far, I suspect that we may vote very much alike, just with different motivations.

        I should probably be more ashamed of my score but I console myself with that the U.S.A. probably got the closest to being run on fascist lines when it was actively fighting Fascism.

        • I should probably be more ashamed of my score but I console myself with that the U.S.A. probably got the closest to being run on fascist lines when it was actively fighting Fascism.

          Not surprising. The first New Deal was essentially a fascist approach to the economy and FDR had, like many other people, been an admirer of Mussolini.

          One can imagine an alternate history where England and its allies didn’t object to the Italian acts in Abyssinia, Italy remained in the WWI alliance, WWII either didn’t happen or had Italy on the allied side, and “fascism” never became a strongly negative term in western discourse. A lot of people still find the economic approach attractive, separated from the label.

          • Iago the Yerfdog says:

            My understanding is that the differences between fascism and social democracies as political economies are almost all on the political side rather than the economic side: the latter keep most of the existing democratic political structure, the former gets rid of it in favor of giving as much power as possible to the Glorious Leader. Naturally, this allows the Glorious Leader to go to whatever excesses he likes.

            The really fatal flaw in fascism, though, is that the Glorious Leader ends up being the Jesus nut of the regime, and when he dies (or screws up terribly) you get an immediate crisis of legitimacy. Meanwhile, when the leader of a social democratic regime’s term is up, you elect a new one and move on.

          • albatross11 says:

            Note the meaning of the term Jesus nut. (The piece holding the helicopter rotor on–if it fails, guess who you’ll be talking to next?)

          • Iago the Yerfdog says:

            @albatros11

            Thanks. I seriously considered putting a link to the definition but ended up not.

      • Ketil says:

        e.g. the government has an obligation not to disrupt cultural traditions

        Huh. I think the fascist very much wanted to disrupt certain cultural traditions they happened not to like. But then I am 34% fascist, so what do I know?

        Maybe I’m most displeased with the descriptive results, calling everybody with slightly nuanced opinions on some questions “Fascist Fellow-Travellers” seems a little uncharitable.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      I scored 45% but honestly half of the questions were ambiguous whenever answers are prescriptive or descritive (It’s how it is and it sucks, vs It’s an ideal to live by) and another half was assuming facts not in evidence.

      • HarmlessFrog says:

        I scored 45% but honestly half of the questions were ambiguous whenever answers are prescriptive or descritive (It’s how it is and it sucks, vs It’s an ideal to live by) and another half was assuming facts not in evidence.

        Yeah, and many of the questions seem to be written from the perspective of fascism as the modern caricature of it, not the historical ideology.

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      I got a 15% (“Not Fascist”), answering the questions honestly. I suspect you get some number of fascist points for not disagreeing strongly enough with “fascist” questions, or for failing to fully agree with “antifascist” questions. Don’t feel like going through the entire thing again, but I’m curious what the flavor text for ~30% is if anyone wants to post it.
      If you’re wondering, for 15% you get:

      While your political outlook may share a few (or even quite a few) of fascism’s fundamental doctrines, it is overall safe to say that your political orientation is *not* a fascist one. Now, you may find this result unsurprising, but in reality, most people have at least some points of agreement with fascism since fascism is really a mix of communism, socialism, conservatism, and liberalism, with a few innovations of its own thrown in. Hence, adjusting for these factors, even though your fascism percentage might seem quite high, there is really nothing surprising about these agreements, when viewed in their proper historical context, so rest assured: Your political beliefs are definitely not fascist.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Oh, for fun!
      “You are 39% Fascist, which makes you a Fascist Fellow-Traveler.”
      That seems pretty average around here.

    • Machine Interface says:

      49%. Worth noting that I didn’t move the cursor at all on 80% of the questions, finding them largely meaningless.

      • HarmlessFrog says:

        49%. Worth noting that I didn’t move the cursor at all on 80% of the questions, finding them largely meaningless.

        To get anywhere below 50%, you have to, on average, be against the putative fascist position. As I noted above, being indifferent to everything makes you a crypto-fascist. The default result of the test is crypto-fascism. I can’t tell whether to be amused, or exasperated at the poor test design.

    • ec429 says:

      Generally I feel the term “fascist/fascism” is one of the most abused in the current political lexicon, and it seems to stand in mostly for “people I really hate”.

      Per Orwell, this is not a new phenomenon: “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’.”

      A useful way of characterising Fascism is that it considers the leader to be the embodiment of the will of the nation/people, and believes that this justifies totalitarian rule. It is instructive to make the comparison to the Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat”; historically speaking Fascism is a Marxist heresy, differing from Marxism not mainly in its aims but in the means by which they were to be achieved.

      • mdet says:

        I feel like I’d say the opposite, that fascism & Marxism seem to use similar means for opposite aims. Both will use government ownership of the means of production, and both anticipate an international conflict for redistribution of resources, but Hitler wanted to unite Germans of every class against non-Germans, while Marx wanted to unite laborers of every nationality against non-laborers.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Hitler wanted to unite Germans of every class against non-Germans

          Depending on your definition of “German”.

          • mdet says:

            “Nationalism vs Internationalism” made for a cleaner dichotomy than “Aryan Supremacy vs Internationalism”, and “Aryan” feels like a dirty word anyway thanks to that man.

            But yeah, you right.

          • Lambert says:

            ‘Aryan’ is a perfectly good word, if you want to describe Iranians, Pakistanis, Persians and Indians.

          • Dacyn says:

            If by “perfectly good” you mean “technically correct but liable to be misinterpreted”.

        • ec429 says:

          I guess we’re evaluating “aims and means” in different ways. In a how-do-we-gain-power sense, “government ownership” was the aim of both, with Marxism’s means being “class struggle / class consciousness” and Fascism’s means being “nationalist fervour”. In a how-do-we-justify-our-policies-in-our-propaganda sense, government ownership is the means (policy-to-be-justified), with Marxism’s aims being “the classless society / socialist paradise” and Fascism’s aims being “greater Germany / Italy / wherever”.

          I’ve explained this really badly; I hope it makes sense.

    • cassander says:

      If you hit neutral on everything, you get 50% fascist. The scoring for this weird.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      I got 31%, like several others here. These tests are kind of fun to take, but they mean nothing.

      I am pretty anti-authoritative, so I think I should have a lower score, but like MI, I just left many items in the middle because I had no idea what they were talking about. They clearly had their own special agenda about some things and so several items I had zero opinion about.

    • sharper13 says:

      Before reading others results, I got 21% “Not Fascist” using my honest opinions and answering every question. I suspect a couple of “nuanced” answers where I didn’t push the slider over completely probably contributed. I’m not sure of what their balance is between various aspects of fascism, but the test didn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility. Like many others, I’d’ve expected an even lower score in some ways.

    • johan_larson says:

      I got 31%, which is Not Fascist. Yay?

      There were quite a few statements that I disagreed with, but didn’t quite disagree with strongly enough to drag the slider all the way to the end. I suspect my score would be lower if I had treated every question as a binary choice.

      It seems like a reasonable enough test of fascist beliefs, although I have no idea whether the calibration is right. And of course any fascist with any sense at all would probably self-censor in any situation more formal than a just-for-laughs internet poll.

  15. Nick says:

    Deiseach and Matt M are due back as of yesterday. Let’s welcome Deiseach back with a discussion of our favorite Christmas songs, since the season begins, as we all know, in late November and ends at midnight the 26th. I don’t know how to welcome Matt back, but maybe you all have some ideas.

    My favorite is Carol of the Bells. Very different from most Christmas music, which feels like a bit cheap, and the killjoy Internet informs me it was originally written for spring, but what can I say? It’s just good.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Can I ask something selfish as well? I’m in the middle of The Bell Curve, and so far it glosses a bit too fast over international IQ tests. @Deiseach, I was told you might enlighten me on how the rather horror-ish differences I’ve seen (50 points between country averages) are due to masuring errors.

      Ontopic, I offer a local carol.

      • Nick says:

        She’s written about it a few times if memory serves; a quick search with author:Deiseach "IQ" Ireland turns up this and this.

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        they are so bad they are self-refuting. 60 IQ is “Not Functional”. Botswana – which is where those results are from, is very much a functional country. Gdp per capita of just short of 20k, literally the strongest research establishment on the entire continent of Africa, ect, ect. In other words, the researcher administering those tests managed to trip some cultural trip wire that caused the locals to just answer “b” to every damn question, and should, when reviewing their results have tossed them in the trash as obvious nonsense and tried again.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          In other words, the researcher administering those tests managed to trip some cultural trip wire that caused the locals to just answer “b” to every damn question,

          Was that actually what happened? or are you speaking figuratively?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Not tracked down the primary sources so figuratively, but 60 is about the score you get for just filling in a multiple choice iq test without even reading it. So I very strongly suspect that the experimenter somehow managed to inspire his test takers to do that really, really often.

            General experimental design: Your survey or quiz should include questions to check if you are being trolled. The questions “mark box b”. “I am an alien lizard person from Sirius b, A for yes, B for no, C for fuck you paleface, and “leave this question blank if you can read this” are a very good idea

          • Two McMillion says:

            General experimental design: Your survey or quiz should include questions to check if you are being trolled. The questions “mark box b”. “I am an alien lizard person from Sirius b, A for yes, B for no, C for fuck you paleface, and “leave this question blank if you can read this” are a very good idea

            Joke’s on them, I troll every answer EXCEPT those questions.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          they are so bad they are self-refuting. 60 IQ is “Not Functional”. Botswana – which is where those results are from, is very much a functional country. Gdp per capita of just short of 20k, literally the strongest research establishment on the entire continent of Africa, ect, ect.

          Yeah, something doesn’t add up on the most basic level.
          IQ may be replicable and predict outcomes better than anything else in psychology, but it can’t be perfect with results like that.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Late thought: How old are these results? The Flynn Effect is incontrovertibly environmental. Could they have inherited such good institutions when the British left that their average rapidly shot up 2 SD from the colonial average?

          • albatross11 says:

            I don’t remember a lot of discussion about international IQ results in TBC, but it’s been a few years since I (re)read it. It’s certainly not anywhere near the main point of the book.

            FWIW, I think when you measure IQ in first-world native English speakers who’ve spent many years in school and such, you’re probably getting something meaningful–that’s the kind of population these tests were designed for and tested/normed against, as I understand it. I suspect that when you try it in a completely different environment, like a very poor country in sub-Saharan Africa, the results are probably not easy to interpret or compare with the first-world results.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            FWIW, I think when you measure IQ in first-world native English speakers who’ve spent many years in school

            I thought that the people who tout IQ tests specifically say that this caveat is supposed to be contraindicated, that IQ tests can’t be effected by any of those things, and indeed predict those outcomes rather than result from them.

            I think your caveat about schooling, if true, would invalidate the concept of IQ tests altogether. But this isn’t an area I am particularly well versed in.

          • albatross11 says:

            I am not an expert, but from what I’ve read, giving an IQ test in a language that isn’t the subject’s native language is known to depress scores. (Though there are tests that don’t have any language requirements.) And there’s also evidence that more years of school actually slightly increase IQ (I think like 1 point per year or something) later in life.

            But I imagine one big impact is much simpler–are you used to taking paper-and-pencil tests? Have you ever seen a multiple-choice test form like this? Do you know how to fill in the bubbles/check the boxes appropriately? If not, your score is going to reflect your lack of experience/knowledge about the mechanism used for testing your intelligence, rather than your intelligence. It’s like if someone decides to test my hand-eye coordination by giving me some task to do that everyone in their culture does all the time and nobody in the US ever does–I’m going to seem very uncoordinated to them, way more than I should given my actual level of coordination.

            ETA: I don’t think this invalidates anything. The tests were designed and normed for people who’d been to school and knew what a paper-and-pencil test was, which is essentially everyone in first-world countries and is definitely not everyone in desperately poor third-world countries.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @albatross11:
            But, if IQ scores can’t be accurately measured in some population other than first world, native speakers with many years of schooling, then IQ can’t possibly have any explanatory power for the differing outcomes between them, right?

            As to “years of schooling”, I would hope that “previous exposure to bubble tests” wouldn’t imply “years and years” of schooling. I think I took all of 3 bubble tests before college. Once in elementary (the CAT), the PSAT and the SAT. I think I took an IQ test in 3rd grade, but I don’t think it was a bubble test, as it had stuff about drawing shapes, IIRC.

            Edit: Did you have something about bubble tests that you edited out? Anyway, anyone who actually took an IQ test, even in Africa, probably had been performing written tests.

            I frankly agree with you that trying to norm IQ tests across cultures is probably exceedingly difficult. But then, drawing conclusions based on those measures would also seem to be fraught.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think I took all of 3 bubble tests before college. Once in elementary (the CAT), the PSAT and the SAT.

            This is a generational thing, I think. I’m a bit younger than you if I recall, and I took one or two state-mandated standardized tests a year from mid-elementary through high school — my first in second grade, I think, though I don’t think I took another after that until fourth or fifth. And they were very common during my college applications — the PSAT and SAT, yes, but also the ASVAB, the ACT, the APs and a bunch of scholarship tests. A few of my high school classes also used Scantron for regular tests and/or quizzes, but only a few.

            I expect it’s only gotten more common since then, which might have something to do with the Flynn effect. (Though the one actual, professionally administered IQ test I’ve taken wasn’t multiple choice.)

          • albatross11 says:

            HBC:

            I agree with you–I am extremely skeptical of attempts to measure IQs in sub-Saharan African countries and use that to say much about the potential of the people in those countries compared to that rich or even middle-income countries. It just seems like the confounders here are so enormous that they’re likely to swamp any actual signal.

            Now, maybe there’s some research or evidence showing that this is somehow meaningful and valid–I’m no expert. But it’s really hard to imagine how you’d untangle the hugely different environments.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @HeelBearCub

            But, if IQ scores can’t be accurately measured in some population other than first world, native speakers with many years of schooling, then IQ can’t possibly have any explanatory power for the differing outcomes between them, right?

            I don’t think that follows. We may not be able to accurately measure the general intelligence factor in developing nations, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a general intelligence factor. Perhaps a different kind of test for IQ would give meaningful results across populations, and it just hasn’t been developed yet. Or perhaps there is no such test possible and g / IQ is an incoherent concept outside the first world. But difficulty measuring something doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no effect, just that it’s hard to measure.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I thought that the people who tout IQ tests specifically say that this caveat is supposed to be contraindicated, that IQ tests can’t be effected by any of those things, and indeed predict those outcomes rather than result from them.

            No. They say that ‘g’ is not affected by those things. IQ tests certainly are, but IQ tests don’t only measure ‘g’.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @TheVoiceOfTheVoid:
            You are misreading my post. I am saying if current measures of IQ are affected by the factors albatross notes, then that same current measure can’t be turned around to then explain those differences.

            If it is pointed out that an average measured IQ of 60 in Botswana would have the entire country basically needing to all be in group homes lest they injure themselves while attempting the difficult task of breathing, you can’t then say “But that’s just because it’s hard to administer these tests across cultures and socioeconomic conditions”. Not and also maintain that IQ is what explains the poor performance of these nations and groups.

          • But, if IQ scores can’t be accurately measured in some population other than first world, native speakers with many years of schooling, then IQ can’t possibly have any explanatory power for the differing outcomes between them, right?

            You are overstating the case with “can’t possibly.”

            Suppose we observe that the descendants of immigrants from country A, who have grown up in a first world country, score lower on IQ tests than the descendants of immigrants from country B, who have also grown up in the same first world country. That would offer some evidence that average IQ was lower in country A than in country B.

            It might turn out that, for some reason, the smartest people in country B immigrated, and the least smart people in country A did. That possibility makes it evidence, not proof.

          • Corey says:

            I imagine one big impact is much simpler–are you used to taking paper-and-pencil tests? Have you ever seen a multiple-choice test form like this? Do you know how to fill in the bubbles/check the boxes appropriately? If not, your score is going to reflect your lack of experience/knowledge about the mechanism used for testing your intelligence, rather than your intelligence. It’s like if someone decides to test my hand-eye coordination by giving me some task to do that everyone in their culture does all the time and nobody in the US ever does–I’m going to seem very uncoordinated to them, way more than I should given my actual level of coordination.

            ETA: I don’t think this invalidates anything.

            Sometimes people can compensate for this (of course I have no idea if the study under discussion did so).

            My daughter is the disabled kind of autistic, and got IQ tested as gatekeeping for early schooling. At the time she was minimally verbal, and certainly couldn’t follow directions well enough to do a standardized test as we would envision it (she was also about 3 years old to be fair).

            They gave a test that involved selecting pictures from flipboards (we couldn’t pay much attention so we would not subtly signal anything to skew the results). This returned 80 IIRC. They also gave a test that involved spoken words, that returned 50. The differential probably supported the diagnosis.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I agree, if our current measurements are suspect, we can’t use them to explain the difference and close the case. However, we can still reasonably hypothesize that IQ might explain the difference, so I think that “can’t possibly have any explanatory power” is too strong a claim. If you just meant that we can’t simultaneously believe the current scores are erroneous and use them as proof, I don’t think we disagree.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That would offer some evidence that average IQ was lower in country A than in country B.

            If we observe similar confounding factors, it’s evidence in the same way correlation is evidence of causation.

          • albatross11 says:

            To clarify:

            a. Intelligence is what we care about. That’s what we’re trying to measure, and also what we think may vary across groups in ways that partly explains differences in group outcomes, national outcomes, etc. [ETA] Realistically, it’s pretty obvious that no simple paper-and-pencil test can capture everything we mean by intelligence, so we need to accept up front that we’re doing our best but won’t have a perfect measure.

            b. IQ is a score we get from a particular kind of test designed to measure intelligence. These tests are designed, tested, and normed (raw scores mapped to standard IQ scores) based on test subjects who I think are almost always in wealthy countries where they’ve got access to schooling and sanitation and all the rest. We have a lot of data showing that IQ scores predict performance in school and on the job, including on tasks you wouldn’t guess were especially mentally demanding. People who take several different IQ tests at different times in their lives get very strongly correlated scores, as you’d expect.

            c. g is a mathematical construct we can make by recognizing that your performance on (more-or-less) any mentally demanding tasks positively correlates with your performance on all the other mentally demanding tasks. If we assume there is some underlying factor that would explain this, we can do some math and come up with one such factor–that’s g.

            d. Many people believe that g is capturing some real, fundamental thing–that there’s an underlying general intellectual ability which varies among people, and this very complicated statistical procedure is how we measure it.

            e. Other people believe that g is just a statistical construct that happens to be useful for predicting things about peoples’ performance–like the coma or apgar scales, or a credit score or GPA.

            f. Intelligence isn’t IQ–instead IQ is a test that’s trying to measure intelligence, and that’s been tested in particular settings and found to do a pretty good job. But IQ scores can vary independent of intelligence. For example, if I take an IQ test in Spanish, I will probably score lower than one I take in English.

            g. The Flynn effect basically says that raw scores on questions in an IQ test go up each year, which requires renorming the tests (that is, working out a new mapping between raw scores and reported standard IQ scores) every few years. The cause of the Flynn effect is, as I understand it, an open research question. It’s not even clear whether this represents people getting smarter overall, or just people getting better at test-taking.

            h. Basically all the research people do about intelligence uses IQ scores, because that’s what we know how to measure. So when people talk about heritability of intelligence, or the intelligence-decreasing impact of lead exposure in childhood, they’re talking about IQ.

            i. IQ is substantially heritable. When researchers look at kids who were adopted at a young age, they find that their adult IQ scores correlate much more strongly with their biological siblings’ scores than with their adoptive siblings’ scores. Interestingly, the correlation is lower when they’re younger, and their parents’ home is having more influence.

          • j. There are measures of g that don’t depend on a written test at all. As best I remember, one of them depended on some behavioral characteristic of infants—response time or something similar. These give results that correlate with patterns observed in IQ tests.

            Someone who knows more about this may be able to either fill in my rather vague memory or contradict it.

          • albatross11 says:

            David Friedman:

            Ravens progressive matrices are a kind of visual puzzle without words used in an IQ test–I think the whole test is just a series of these visual puzzles.

            There are also subtests on other types of IQ test that are pretty-much culture- or language-independent. For example, I show a picture of some paper being folded in a complicated pattern and a hole being punched in it, and ask you to decide what the holes in the unfolded version will look like.

          • albatross11 says:

            Le Maistre Chat:

            So, it’s interesting to ask if some of the Flynn effect *could* be genetic. I doubt it, but it’s at least conceivable, for a couple reasons:

            a. We know there are genes that raise IQ, and that intelligence is generally good for people to have. So it’s worth asking why they haven’t all become universal.

            b. One natural answer is that they have some offsetting downside–either they’re making a tradeoff, or they have some effect on some other part of the body that’s negative and unrelated to intelligence.

            The easy example here is head circumference. There is a small positive correlation between how big your head is and your IQ[1]. Babies whose heads are too big tend to die with their mother in childbirth, taking out both themselves and any future siblings. Modern medicine lets us deal with this via C-section instead. In a world with routine C-sections, head size is too small and should get bigger. That’s a tradeoff evolution couldn’t make because it got stuck in the birth canal.

            Lots of other things might conceivably be correlated with IQ and are easy to correct now, but hard in the past–I think nearsightedness is correlated with IQ (not sure that’s genetic, though). If there are genes that raise your IQ but make measles or smallpox or cholera a little harder on you, in a world with modern medicine and good sanitation, that’s probably still a good tradeoff, whereas it wasn’t in the past. Genes that make you smarter but raise your risk of asthma or other respiratory problems, or lower your resistance to TB, once again are a good tradeoff now.

            So, you can imagine that as we’ve gotten proper sanitation and vaccines and modern medicine going, those genes are no longer getting filtered out so much, and so they’re increasing in prevalence.

            Like I said, I doubt this is really happening, but it’s interesting to think about how we’d check for sure.

            [1] There’s also a large positive correlation between hat size and inclination to quote this result in public.

    • Plumber says:

      @Nick says:

      “Deiseach and Matt M are due back as of yesterday”

      Oh good.

      “Let’s welcome Deiseach back with a discussion of our favorite Christmas songs…”

      Gladly, Tidings of Comfort and Joy by far, religious and toe tapping, after that Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses because I was a teenager in the 1980’s who now misses old “New Wave”.

      “…I don’t know how to welcome Matt back, but maybe you all have some ideas”

      I’m guessing he’d some like tales of bureaucratic incompetence in San Francisco, but it would probably be unwise of me to share more so I’ll just bid welcome.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      I second Carol of the Bells. If you’re looking for something even more different, check out this version by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

      For my part, I’ll nominate “any Christmas Gregorian chant” which is also unusual, and sounds beautiful even if you can’t understand the words. Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETn67y1QoUE

      • gryffinp says:

        Since Trans-Siberian Orchestra has already been mentioned, I’d like to draw attention to a less-appreciated bit: The concept of their first album is a fairly disconnected series of vignettes strung together with the narrative that an Angel is looking for the True Meaning Of Christmas(tm). The climax of this plotline is told via a trilogy of songs, Ornament, Old City Bar, and This Christmas Day. Might not pass muster as a “carol” per se but as far as sappy Christmas stories go, it’s my favorite.

        • BlackboardBinaryBook says:

          Not Christmas, but their album Beethoven’s Last Night is one of my all-time favorites. I freaking love a good rock opera concept album.

          I got to see them live for the 2nd time about a month ago. Highly recommended.

      • Nick says:

        Every December a local place would advertise the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and that version would play in the commercial. I think I must have heard it a thousand times.

        • moonfirestorm says:

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the one Trans-Siberian Orchestra song everyone knows. Certainly if someone has any idea who TSO is, they’ll know that song.

          I took my dad to a TSO concert a few years back and as soon as the band came on stage I realized “oh, this is a European symphonic metal band that branched out into Christmas songs at some point”. The outfits and stage setting choices felt very Nightwish/Kamelot.

    • Well... says:

      “O Holy Night”, sung in the original French, by a good tenor, is the only good Christmas song. The rest can suck it. Wake me up when it’s December 26th.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I was going to recommend “Minuit Chretiens” and then I googled for the English version of it, and they all call it “O Holy Night”, which is weird because I thought “O Holy Night” was this (the French name of that song is “Sainte Nuit” translating directly to “Holy Night”). So yeah, we are in agreement.

    • rubberduck says:

      “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, perfectly balancing religious somberness with joy and wonder.

      • Alex Zavoluk says:

        Nitpick: That’s an advent song. But S_J made the same suggestion below, so maybe the difference isn’t one that people care about.

        • acymetric says:

          Advent songs are a subcategory of Christmas songs (and most people likely wouldn’t differentiate between them at all anyway).

    • S_J says:

      Let’s welcome Deiseach back with a discussion of our favorite Christmas songs, since the season begins, as we all know, in late November and ends at midnight the 26th. I don’t know how to welcome Matt back, but maybe you all have some ideas.

      I don’t know if Deiseach will agree with that timing…the residents of England/Ireland/Scotland don’t have a helpful late-November holiday to stave off Christmas season. That additional holiday is something for which Americans can be thankful.

      Anyways, I want to nominate Veni, Veni, Immanuel as a favorite Christmas song.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I was thinking more that she would object to Christmas supposedly ending right as it is actually just beginning.

        • S_J says:

          In support of that, we could cite the song Twelve Days of Christmas.

          I will admit to being disconcerted on the morning of December 26 one year, when I got in the car to travel to a secondary Christmas celebration…and could not find any Christmas music.

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      I’ve always liked John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (“So this is Christmas…”). Once in high school I arrangement a medley of it, Carol of the Bells, and Jingle Bells for an…interesting instrumentation (myself on viola, two cellos, a clarinet, and a glockenspiel. Quite glad we had the latter–the “bells” songs would have been quite lackluster without the bells!)

    • hls2003 says:

      It’s probably obvious, but I’ll nominate What Child Is This? for, at least, the Greensleeves melody.

      I’m a fan of Adeste Fideles in either Latin or English, Angels We Have Heard On High, O Holy Night, and Silent Night. I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day is good.
      Really the only well-known traditional carol I’m not so fond of is Joy To The World.

      On the slightly less well-known scale, the late great Jessye Norman’s This Christmastide is lovely.

      Sleigh Ride is an old choir favorite.

      • Dacyn says:

        On the slightly less well-known scale, the late great Jessye Norman’s This Christmastide is lovely.

        Yes, I had never heard of it before this year but we are singing in in my choir, it is the best piece in the program.

      • SamChevre says:

        My favorite new-ish Christmas hymn is Richard Wilbur’s A Stable Lamp Is Lighted.

        Of the traditional favorites, I like What Child Is This (the version with the ending of each verse different), Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, and the one indispensable one is O Come, All Ye Faithful.

        Also, the Gabrieli Consort’s recording of the Praetorius “Mass For Christmas Morning”–I’ve listened to that while cooking Christmas dinner for many years.

    • Theodoric says:

      Not that religious, but I like the old-school Chirstmas hymns best: Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, etc. Here’s a good one. 😉

      • johan_larson says:

        I’m not religious at all, but I tend to prefer the actually religious songs to the more generic winter holiday tunes. The holiday season without Jesus is kinda weaksauce.

    • HarmlessFrog says:

      Deiseach and Matt M are due back as of yesterday.

      May their stay in the gulag not be extended excessively. 🙂

    • Dacyn says:

      My favorite is Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, but to be contrarian I’ll use the Catholic Christmas season (i.e. Dec 25 to the Epiphany) instead of the secular one (which starts earlier than you are saying, maybe even in October), which means we are still in Advent. My favorite Advent song is O Come, Divine Messiah.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I jokingly refer to the American “New Thankhallowistmas” season as extending from the day after Labor Day to January 2nd.

      • SamChevre says:

        My favorite for Advent is the Anglican classic Lo He Comes with Clouds Descending — to Helmsley. It’s fun to hear, fun to sing, and mildly terrifying.

    • BBA says:

      “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones. If Die Hard is a Christmas movie then that’s a Christmas song.

    • Lambert says:

      God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
      Putting a carol in a minor key is a pretty ballsy thing to do. And I like a good tierce picarde.

      Gordon Goodwin and Blackadder’s takes on this hymn are both good.

      Edit: And Jethro Tull. Might keep adding to this post for a while.

      Alas, no Jacob Collier arrangement,

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with one of the more depressing versions of the lyrics, which I think captures a part of the secular malaise of Christmas. As integral to me as the frivolity of other secular songs and the rapture of the religious ones.

      Is Ave Maria a Christmas Song? I keep seeing it on people’s Christmas albums but it’s not on my radar as a seasonal thing. Also surprised to learn it’s based on the Lady of the Lake, because wow those German lyrics did not bring to mind Scotland.

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        In a society where Christmas and Easter are the only occasions to attend church for many people, I can see how a not-specifically-seasonal religious hymn could get associated with Christmas. I do also feel like the musical style fits the season somehow.

      • Evan Þ says:

        The Ave Maria’s partially based on the Magnificat which Mary sang while pregnant with Jesus, and Mary herself is firmly associated with the Christmas story. So, I guess you can count it as a Christmas song in the same technical way that Nestorius’s sermon on the Divine and human natures of Christ counted as a Christmas sermon.

      • AG says:

        Co-signed on Have Yourself. Judy Garland is the high bar, and I loathe all of the showboating R&B versions where the singers clearly have zero idea what the context of that song is.

    • beleester says:

      Carol of the Bells is indeed excellent. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen also has a very nice melody that I’ve heard some very good variations on.

      Also, since there’s another winter holiday happening at the same time, my favorite Hannukah song is probably Ma’oz Tzur – specifically the version by Benedetto Marcello, which is just gloriously choral. A close second is Banu Choshech, which is pretty simple but has lyrics that just make me want to shout.

    • Nick says:

      Hey @Scott Alexander, they are back, right?

      • HarmlessFrog says:

        They’re not back until they’ve been crossed out of the banlist. They have not been, so they’re still banned. Our host can be a tad flexible about the listed dates; my three months were more like five.

    • Jaskologist says:

      In that case, I’d like to use the occasion to reiterate my request that Conrad Honcho’s ban be removed. I still think it was unjust to ban without warning somebody who tried to follow the rules.

  16. grendelkhan says:

    Four months ago, I posted a story to the subreddit about cost disease in subway construction, citing Alon Levy’s proposal to leverage a relatively small grant to significantly reform the process. He was, at that point, reduced to hoping for a civic-minded billionaire. At the time, I mentioned Arnold Ventures. Scott, among other people, signal-boosted this.

    This past weekend, there was a Marginal Revolution post about the issue, and the co-chair of Arnold Ventures announced:

    “So why doesn’t the MTA embed accountants with every major project in the world and get to the bottom of this cost disease?” –@ATabarrok / Agree 100% that MTA should fund it. But since they won’t, we @Arnold_Ventures recently decided to do so. Stay tuned for details.

    Among other things, it’s fascinating to trace the line from Levy’s initial research back in 2011 or so through articles in the Times and widespread awareness to, hopefully, real solutions being found. And how the systems that were supposed to handle this–internal auditors, the GAO, funding sources not relying on charitable tycoons, the entire planning and engineering professions–failed so horribly. Maybe the research project will produce, in part, a real postmortem for this decades-long disaster.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Kevin Drum on the same, for people who like their charts in Drum form.

      ETA: Kevin Drum says that the main issue is just station design and construction method (not using cut and cover). Also, NYC being an outlier doesn’t particularly surprise me given its fairly unique topology and history.

      • Nick says:

        You mean topography? It’s not literally a Big Apple, man. 🙂

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Their topography effects their topology, as the large population and constrained geological footprint contribute to create many points of large disruptive potential in their various networks?

          Honestly, I don’t know which I intended to write originally. My spelling is atrocious and for all I know auto-correct put topology when I meant topography. Both actually work, kinda.

      • brad says:

        What drove those station design decisions? It was clear up front that the new second avenue subway stations were a) going to be beautiful and b) were going to extraordinarily expensive and c) that New Yorkers would be better off with six ugly stations than three beautiful ones. So why the poor decision making?

        • CatCube says:

          People really, really, believe that they can get all their beautiful stations, and stating that you should throw aesthetics over the side for cost doesn’t play well. Plus, people who can play the game to get the art for these things will scream bloody murder when they sense the possibility of their ricebowl getting broken.

          In Portland, when they built the orange line they were looking at leaving off the switch heaters and keeping the art, which is completely ass-backwards.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you complain about this sort of thing you’ll be told you’re one of those overly practical people with no soul, or something similar. You’ll be given flowery speeches about how beauty improves the human condition. And if you remark that people would rather pass through ugly stations than be stuck in pretty ones, you’ll only confirm their impression of you.

            As far as I can tell the only useful counter to this is to buy a Suburban and move out of town.

          • Garrett says:

            buy a Suburban pickup truck

          • The Nybbler says:

            How about a full-ton dually crew cab extended bed with cap? Next best thing to the Kenworth Navigator

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nybbler:

            How about a full-ton dually crew cab extended bed with cap? Next best thing to the Kenworth Navigator

            Oh my gosh. We got a half-ton super cab pickup with regular bed and cap for the move and I can’t imagine owning anything that guzzles more gas than that.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Maybe I’m jaded, but I can’t see them finding out anything we don’t already know — and that everyone who matters is fine with anyway.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      What makes you think the professions in charge failed horribly? They are probably optimized for different scenarios. The way the PDF describes station construction elsewhere is downright depressing, which actually matches pretty closely to descriptions from my friend who does international architecture. Non-anglosphere projects are cramped and in some cases can’t even meet code in the US because they are so ridiculously cramped

    • Reasoner says:

      Sounds like something you can plausibly take just a bit of credit for, nice work!

  17. Well... says:

    Continuing a discussion from the Links post (I left off approximately here), sort of about practical, non-polemical (anti-polemical, even) application of politically incorrect facts.

    @Clutzy:

    BLM and the media narrative around it are inherently strawmen. That is the nature of the movement because it is based on statistical illiteracy.

    Maybe so, but there’s a difference between saying “Your stats are wrong so you’re just tilting at windmills” and understanding how many black people feel in this country, maybe partly as a result of how the media have (wrongly) told them to feel but also as a result of how they’ve really, actually been treated by cops, or how other black people they know have been treated by cops. Responding to this type of experience in a way other than one completely informed by hard rationality isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re necessarily responding in bad faith either. If you have any black friends or family members who are sympathetic to BLM, hopefully you can ask them about it and see what I mean firsthand.

    @albatross11:

    But if we’re discussing the black/white performance gap in school, or why blacks are underrepresented in magnet schools or in STEM fields, the black/white IQ difference is pretty obviously relevant.

    It might be relevant, it might not. I’d say the general difference in IQ scores between races isn’t relevant, for example, to a discussion of whether a particular white person is smarter than a particular black person. How big a set of particular people do we have to be talking about before the global statistics become relevant? Also, what if you’re making some kind of proposal when it comes to, say, the black/white performance gap in school. Does your proposal integrate the global IQ statistics in some way? If not, then bringing it up probably serves no useful purpose, just acts as a red herring that people will get hung up on.

    The world we live in now is one in which respectable mainstream serious publications like the NYT or Washington Post will write a series of stories about how some city’s magnet schools have too few black students, and will claim that this is due to some kind of racism or discrimination by whites.

    I would argue that most people are always going to be statistically illiterate, and that the real problem there is the way we allow journalists to determine both the topics of conversation and the narratives within the conversations. If our “mainstream serious publications” were actually serious — and better yet, peer-reviewed as well (note, this doesn’t mean they have to be inaccessible!) — and not pseudo-scholarly tabloids created by English and Acting majors who put on a show where they pretend to be authorities, then we’d be much more likely to get good information in them.

    I agree with your four factual claims.

    • Randy M says:

      I’d say the general difference in IQ scores between races isn’t relevant, for example, to a discussion of whether a particular white person is smarter than a particular black person.

      It’s not about the number of people but how much other information you have about them.

    • Maybe so, but there’s a difference between saying “Your stats are wrong so you’re just tilting at windmills” and understanding how many black people feel in this country, maybe partly as a result of how the media have (wrongly) told them to feel but also as a result of how they’ve really, actually been treated by cops, or how other black people they know have been treated by cops. Responding to this type of experience in a way other than one completely informed by hard rationality isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re necessarily responding in bad faith either. If you have any black friends or family members who are sympathetic to BLM, hopefully you can ask them about it and see what I mean firsthand.

      I don’t think there’s any disputing of the facts here, the average BLM protestor isn’t acting in bad faith, they’re just misinformed. The question is how to respond to it, I think we should say so.

      • albatross11 says:

        Alexander Turok: +1

        The right way to address police misconduct and police shootings is almost certainly going to go through knowing as much as we can about what’s going on. Deciding some relevant facts aren’t worth printing or discussing is a good way of making dumb collective decisions that will make things worse off.

      • albatross11 says:

        As an example of this, some time ago, during a discussion of some kerfluffle about a Starbucks employee who called the cops on a couple black guys who didn’t want to buy anything and wouldn’t leave when she told them to, someone (I forget who) claimed that calling the police on blacks was very dangerous–it was taking a large risk of them getting shot. Now, this isn’t true–it’s not even remotely close to being true. We can discuss why, but to do that, once again, leads us to hatefacts.

        The universe is really frustratingly consistent. Just as really holding to young-Earth creationism breaks geology and archaeology and paleontology and astronomy as well as biology, holding to conventionally-supported ignorance often just means that you keep tripping over places where your ignorance keeps you from understanding what’s going on.

        The first step to making the world a better place is, in nearly all cases, to understand what’s going on and what the world looks like. Ignorance is very rarely a civic virtue, and working to keep your fellow citizens ignorant is probably even *more* rarely a civic virtue.

    • albatross11 says:

      Well:

      I’d say the general difference in IQ scores between races isn’t relevant, for example, to a discussion of whether a particular white person is smarter than a particular black person.

      This is mostly true. If all you know about Alice and Bob is that Alice is a randomly selected 25 year old white American and Bob is a randomly selected 25 year old black American, IQ statistics tell you something. If Alice and Bob are students in your school, you can just give then a 30 minute paper-and-pencil test which is *way* better at telling you how smart each of them is. If you work with Alice and Bob, presumably you can judge the quality of their work and their company without worrying about IQ statistics.

      But my comment was specifically talking about news stories on black/white performance gaps in school. Race/IQ statistics are extremely relevant for that. Indeed, I would say that if you try to think about or discuss the black/white performance gap in education without knowing about those statistics, and their reflection in basically every standardized test ever, you are doomed to talk nonsense. It’s like trying to understand why Team A almost always beats Team B at basketball, but you won’t let yourself know that the average height of Team A’s players is three inches higher than Team B’s players.

      Why are there not very many blacks and lots of Asians in the NYC super-selective magnet schools? And why is that pattern replicated everywhere that has super-selective magnet schools, all over the US? It’s just one of those incomprehensible mysteries, I guess, or proof that pro-Asian, anti-black racists have infiltrated every school system in the nation. Or maybe the legacy of slavery, or Jim Crow, or redlining, or acting white, or….

      I mean, what else could it be? If only there were some branch of psychology that specialized in the measure of intellectual ability, with a century or more of collected data and scholarship on the matter, maybe we could get them to collect some kind of statistics that would help us settle what’s going on.

      This is one of those places where “hatefacts” you say shouldn’t be discussed in public turn out to matter quite a bit. The world makes a lot more sense when you know them than when you don’t. And there’s a large set of people proposing ignorance of those facts as a virtue.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        t’s just one of those incomprehensible mysteries, I guess, or proof that pro-Asian, anti-black racists have infiltrated every school system in the nation. Or maybe the legacy of slavery, or Jim Crow, or redlining, or acting white, or….

        The preferred explanation is “systemic racism”. Nobody is actually outwardly racist, but racism permeates “the system”. Dont ask how, or you will be called racist and an example of systemic racism.

        Systemic racism is never defined or observed, but we know it’s the right answer, otherwise it would suggest that some people we called racist were right about stuff, and that’s impossible.

        • Incurian says:

          Like dark matter.

        • Asclepius' Viper says:

          This post and its parent are wildly uncharitable. I wouldn’t have thought the concept “some problems arise due to complicated societal systems rather than any individual bad actors” was a controversial one, especially since Meditations On Moloch, one of the most popular posts on this blog, is dedicated to the concept.

          An assertion that “my opponents can’t even define their position, let alone defend it” does not make me inclined to accept one’s assessment of their argument, it makes me inclined to believe you haven’t made even the most marginal effort to follow their argument.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Fair enough.

            But this is not just some wild theorizing on my part about what my opponent’s position is. This is put in practice and it affects me personally.

            The Law Society of Ontario, of which I am a member, commissioned a report on the difficulties experienced by “racialized licensees’ (ie, black lawyers). The conclusions were that the lower representation of black lawyers in the legal profession were due to “systemic racism”, even though actual observable racism was very rare. Following the report, new rules were put in place, requiring myself and every other member of the law society to sign a statement affirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to attend diversity CLE classes (CLE = continued legal education).

            Systemic racism was never defined. Or if it was the definition was so vague that the concept was not falsifiable.

            Progressives found a problem (lower representation of blacks in law), conjured a guilty party out of thin air (systemic racism), and made everybody bend to their ideological whims as a result. This is like if So-cons found a problem (teenage boys are masturbating too much), conjured a guilty party out of thin air (the devil), and used that excuse to make everybody recite the rosary before going to bed.

            This behavior does not map to “some problems arise due to complicated societal systems rather than any individual bad actors”, which is the very charitable interpretation of “systemic racism” (or the motte). You dont get to impose your ideological view on everyone if that is your conclusion. Instead you need to do the hard work of understanding how the system produces these problems. This is not what is being done. What is being done is to declare by fiat that the solution is to recite the progressive incantation “diversity is our strength”.

            This is just one of many examples.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Progressives found a problem (lower representation of blacks in law), conjured a guilty party out of thin air (systemic racism), and made everybody bend to their ideological whims as a result. This is like if So-cons found a problem (teenage boys are masturbating too much), conjured a guilty party out of thin air (the devil), and used that excuse to make everybody recite the rosary before going to bed.

            There is always a state religion.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            There is always a state religion.

            Always. I’d go further and say everybody has a religion, even Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. And it turns out that whether your religion is theistic or not is not that salient.

          • albatross11 says:

            jermo:

            I think everyone has a set of unprovable beliefs on which they act, but I don’t think all such sets of beliefs constitute a religion.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I think everyone has a set of unprovable beliefs on which they act, but I don’t think all such sets of beliefs constitute a religion.

            I dont like redefining words outside of their ordinary meaning, so I will grant you that. Also, arguing around the definition of words is not super productive.

            But, there is a concept which captures alot of aspects of religion and also aspects of something like progressivism. For example, both provide a belief system which is used to prescribe behavior. It is useful to compare progressivism to religion, as it explains alot of the behavior of progressives. Unfortunately, there is no widely accepted word for this concept, so stretching the meaning of religion to include progressivism seems fair, but “secular religion” would be more precise, and I would welcome any new term to describe it.

          • albatross11 says:

            One qualm I have with “structural racism” or “white supremacy” as I’ve seen it used in various internet think pieces is that it seems unfalsifiable–a little like the God of the gaps[1]. It seems like any observation that leaves blacks worse off than whites can be (and often is) explained by systemic racism, often without any justification provided.

            When someone provides an explanation of (say) the black/white gap in education that ends with “structural racism,” that looks like God-of-the-gaps theory spackle to me. By contrast, if they start with “systemic racism” and then explain how long-term social forces and path dependency have led blacks to end up in worse schools or with worse study habits today, then they’re just making an argument and we should try to evaluate their claims to see whether they make sense. (For example, I’d say the black/white gap in household wealth probably has an explanation that fits into a structural racism kind of model.)

            [1] If you have a theory about physics in which all currently-unexplained things are explained by reference to divine intervention, there will never be evidence that contradicts your theory, because God can do anything He wants.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @jermo sapiens

            Progressives found a problem (lower representation of blacks in law), conjured a guilty party out of thin air (systemic racism), and made everybody bend to their ideological whims as a result.

            The claim that “systemic racism was conjured out of thin air” is also uncharitable – and a bit confusing. I know less about racism in Canada than the US or the UK, but if it’s anything like those two (or Australia), then organised racism as government policy was present within living memory and racist attitudes were endemic throughout society.

            Do you really think that there was no systemic racism in say the 1960s? And if you agree there was, that it has all gone by now?

            Is it really so crazy to think that maybe there are still enough people holding racist views to make a meaningful impact on the lives of non-white people?

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @albatross11

            That seems like a fair objection. The impression I sometimes get from threads on this topic is that people dismiss the whole concept of systemic racism as a possibility because they’ve seen some people use it in a ‘god of the gaps’ style.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Do you really think that there was no systemic racism in say the 1960s? And if you agree there was, that it has all gone by now?

            Yes, there was systemic racism in the 60s. And the systemic racism was composed of all the racist acts and policies that were prevalent at the time.

            Now there has been a tremendous effort to eradicate racist policies and to severely sanction racist acts. This is a very good thing, and it has been wildly successful. But we still dont get equality the way progressives would want (i.e. equality of results). So now “systemic racism” can no longer be credibly defined as actual acts of racism or racist policies, because these have been almost totally eradicated (I’m sure people still have racist thoughts, but few are brave enough to express them).

            So, racism is not totally gone, but it is as suppressed as it can be.

            The key to understanding what progressives (the one in the Law Society of Ontario, at least) think “systematic racism” is, is how they propose to fight it: to recite an incantation.

          • acymetric says:

            The constant strawmanning of liberal positions on racism (and, elsewhere in this OT, immigration) is pretty tiresome. @NostalgiaForInfinity pretty much nailed it with their last comment.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s not strawmanning, because people holding those positions exist. It’s not really reasonable to call it “weakmanning” either, because many people holding those positions are powerful.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            The constant strawmanning of liberal positions on racism (and, elsewhere in this OT, immigration) is pretty tiresome. @NostalgiaForInfinity pretty much nailed it with their last comment.

            FTR, I’m not claiming this is the position of any commenter here. This is a real world example of progressive policies. It’s not a strawman, it’s reality. You can say that you disagree with the Law Society of Ontario if you wish, and I’m sure most self-described progressives here probably do, but when it comes to fighting this in the real world, moderate progressives are hard to find and do nothing while conservatives get called nazis.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @jermo sapiens

            OK. I agree that incantations are likely to be entirely pointless. I disagree that successfully taboo-ing explicitly racist statements means that racism can’t still be present or relevant (to a significant degree).

            I also disagree that inept attempts to combat systemic racism – even ones that suggest the people behind those attempts have a cloudy idea of what it really even is – mean that it doesn’t exist or isn’t worth considering.

          • DarkTigger says:

            @NostalgicaForInfinity
            Compare your:

            The claim that “systemic racism was conjured out of thin air” is also uncharitable – and a bit confusing. I know less about racism in Canada than the US or the UK, but if it’s anything like those two (or Australia), then organised racism as government policy was present within living memory and racist attitudes were endemic throughout society.

            to Asclepius’ Viper:

            “some problems arise due to complicated societal systems rather than any individual bad actors”

            and explain to me, how you two are talking about the same concept.

          • acymetric says:

            @The Nybbler

            I did mean “weakman” as opposed to “strawman”. I don’t completely agree that this isn’t weakmanning, but I do see where you’re coming from. What I was ultimately trying to get at is:

            (@jermo sapiens)

            FTR, I’m not claiming this is the position of any commenter here. This is a real world example of progressive policies.

            Which is pervasive (not unique to jermo sapiens) here, and makes it impossible to have any discussion about the less extreme versions of these positions because any times it comes up it just circles around to “well yeah but these othere people espouse this more extreme version” and around and ’round we go.

            The end result is we ignore what people here who hold liberal positions are saying, focusing on the beliefs of people who aren’t “in the room” so to speak. Generally SSC is pretty good about avoiding this in other discussions, or reeling it back in at least, but these to topics seem exempt from that for some reason which makes them frustrating to participate in (or even just to read).

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I agree that incantations are likely to be entirely pointless.

            They’re pointless in addressing the problem they purport to address. But they’re not pointless for the people implementing them. They are used to bully people into appearing to comply with the progressive narrative.

            I disagree that successfully taboo-ing explicitly racist statements means that racism can’t still be present or relevant (to a significant degree).

            That’s fair. But that racism should be a real thing you can identify. Claiming it is just part of the air we breathe is not helpful and leads to incantations as discussed above.

            Also, what should we do as a society to further suppress racism? I’m not sure as a society we can sanction it any more severely than what we currently are, at least without massively diminishing returns. Should we jail racists? Maybe brand them with a R on their forehead. I seriously dont know.

            I also disagree that inept attempts to combat systemic racism – even ones that suggest the people behind those attempts have a cloudy idea of what it really even is – mean that it doesn’t exist or isn’t worth considering.

            I agree. But until I’ve been shown what systematic racism is in the real world, I’ll remain a skeptic. And then, when we do know what it is, we can tackle it effectively.

          • acymetric says:

            @Dark Tigger

            I won’t speak for @NostalgicaForInfinity , but my take:

            Systemic racism both involves explicitly racist people in the system (which definitely still exists today, though maybe not as openly/overtly as 50-100 years ago) and complicated societal/institutional systems that disfavor minority groups.

            I do agree that not all differences in outcomes and circumstances can traced to systemic or institutional racism (at least as I define the “system” or “institution”), but it is equally false to claim that it doesn’t exist at all, and probably false in a worse way.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Which is pervasive (not unique to jermo sapiens) here, and makes it impossible to have any discussion about the less extreme versions of these positions because any times it comes up it just circles around to “well yeah but these othere people espouse this more extreme version” and around and ’round we go.

            I’m happy discussing abstract positions of people here. But that should not preclude discussions of real world examples.

            If I was a “moderate” member of the Wesboro Baptist Church, I could say “yeah I dont support all the gay bashing, that’s extreme.” It wouldnt be an answer to someone claiming that my church supports and performs gay bashing.

          • acymetric says:

            I’m happy discussing abstract positions of people here. But that should not preclude discussions of real world examples.

            Is “abstract” the right way to describe actual, concrete positions and beliefs actually held and being presented by people directly involved in this discussion? Seems like the opposite of “abstract” to me (and yet again, a reflection of why this discussion is so frustrating to have here). If I describe your claim that systemic racism does not exist as “abstract” would you say that is accurate?

          • albatross11 says:

            We need another term.

            a. Strawman means I make up a weak argument for your position and defeat it.

            b. Weakman means I find a nutcase somewhere on the internet on your side and defeat him. (Sometimes also called “nutpicking.”)

            c. Steelman means I make the best case I can for your position.

            d. —–man means I find a powerful/influential figure on your side making a weak argument or crazy claim.

            What should we call this? How about NYTManning? That is, I find someone who gets into a top media outlet or other high-prestige venue arguing your side.

            The problem for everyone on the right is the existence of Trump. No intellectual movement can withstand being continually Trumpmanned.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @DarkTigger

            My summary there was more the objection to the idea that systemic racism was “conjured out of thin air” rather than a plausible inference from recent history.

            My interpretation of systemic racism would be a combination of the legacy of the obvious and explicit racism in recent history, and some amount of residual racism against non-white people (some of which is deliberate and explicit, some of which isn’t).
            Otherwise I generally agree with acymetric’s response to your question.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Is “abstract” the right way to describe actual, concrete positions and beliefs actually held and being presented by people directly involved in this discussion?

            What I meant to say is that we should discuss both the positions of people and the real world. I did not mean to denigrate anybody’s position.

            I think it’s ordinary usage to discuss ideas/positions as abstract, to the extent that the word abstract is opposed to real world events. If my understanding of that term is incorrect, I’ll be happy to correct it.

            In my mother tongue (French), I would have used “abstrait” and that would have been the correct usage. But sometimes direct translations between French and English have different connotations.

          • Corey says:

            Also, what should we do as a society to further suppress racism? I’m not sure as a society we can sanction it any more severely than what we currently are, at least without massively diminishing returns. Should we jail racists? Maybe brand them with a R on their forehead. I seriously dont know.

            Affirmative action. I think the idea that AA might bring us *closer* to meritocracy is foreign to this community (see: any discussion of women in tech).

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Affirmative action. I think the idea that AA might bring us *closer* to meritocracy is foreign to this community (see: any discussion of women in tech).

            AA has been happening for some time already. Do you have something different in mind?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Corey

            Affirmative action. I think the idea that AA might bring us *closer* to meritocracy is foreign to this community (see: any discussion of women in tech).

            “Foreign” suggests that the idea is unknown or has not been considered. I think it would be more accurate to say the idea has been rejected.

          • acymetric says:

            @jermo sapiens

            In my mother tongue (French), I would have used “abstrait” and that would have been the correct usage. But sometimes direct translations between French and English have different connotations.

            I did not realize English wasn’t your native language, I do think this was a connotation issue. Consider my objection to that retracted (or at least satisfied).

          • The Nybbler says:

            If the powerful and influential people on your side are making the argument (and it is not being as powerfully opposed by other powerful and influential people on the same side — a situation that would suggest an internal schism) then it isn’t “anything-manning” to point it out. It’s perfectly valid to do so. That applies to Trump as well as anyone else. If you’re strongly opposed to those positions you’re not on that side (e.g. the NeverTrump conservatives, or the so-called Intellectual Dark Web).

          • DarkTigger says:

            @asymetric

            Systemic racism both involves explicitly racist people in the system (which definitely still exists today, though maybe not as openly/overtly as 50-100 years ago) and complicated societal/institutional systems that disfavor minority groups.

            You know I agree with you in this. But this is very different from the “no bad actor” thing Asclepius’ Viper talks about, or the thing i.e. the author of “White Fragility” uses when she says that this kind of direct personal racism does not interrest her.

            You are just using the same word for two different concepts.

            Edit: repaired the editting

          • jermo sapiens says:

            My summary there was more the objection to the idea that systemic racism was “conjured out of thin air” rather than a plausible inference from recent history.

            Ok I concede that point. Systemic racism is a plausible inference from recent history. However, it behooves whomever blames systemic racism to define it clearly so that we may recognize it in the real world, and to make a better case for attribution than “plausible inference”. Otherwise, “conjured out of thin air” is not that far off the mark.

          • lvlln says:

            My summary there was more the objection to the idea that systemic racism was “conjured out of thin air” rather than a plausible inference from recent history.

            This seems fair, though I’d say calling it a plausible inference from recent history is smuggling in quite a bit. It is an inference from recent history, but its level of plausibility is an open question. It’s clearly not absurd, but I’d say it’s also clearly not anything stronger than that, and “not absurd” is a very low bar of plausibility to clear.

            But in my view, the fact that systemic racism keeps getting used as a “god of the gaps” conclusion every time some differential is observed reflects it sort of being “conjured out of thin air.” The idea that systemic racism could exist today due to the lingering effects of recent history (including the trace amounts of real overt racism that still happen today) is, again, not an absurd idea, but it’s the start of an idea, not a conclusion. It’s a hypothesis to be verified with further research that first, with great skepticism, checks if there’s any there there, and then surgically finds the specific areas where it manifests. That bears no resemblance to how the concept is used which, again, is basically a “god of the gaps” fully-general conclusion to jump to when gaps are observed but no known mechanism exists to explain it.

            If “systemic racism” were investigated on a case-by-case basis, with each individual organization that showed gaps being investigated for the particular ways in which that “systemic racism” manifest due to that specific organization’s unique history, with society-wide trends of “systemic racism” being asserted only on the basis of large collections of such individual-level data, then it would be a valuable concept and also bear no resemblance to the concept as it’s used in real life today.

          • John Schilling says:

            The claim that “systemic racism was conjured out of thin air” is also uncharitable – and a bit confusing. [in the Anglosphere] organised racism as government policy was present within living memory and racist attitudes were endemic throughout society.

            Correct, but organized racism as government and even private-organizational policy has been quite thoroughly eradicated within living memory, yet “structural racism” is almost always described as a thing that presently exists. So “structural racism”, in contemporary leftist usage, clearly doesn’t point to organized racism as current government policy.

            That’s needlessly confusing, and you all probably should have picked a different term for that. But I agree that it is also confusing, and inaccurate, to say that structural racism was “conjured out of thin air”.

            What I see, is actual racism – and particularly actual organized racist policies – greatly receding from the modern world, and people pointing at the thin air now where such explicit racism used to exist and saying “structural racism!”. They aren’t creating it out of thin air, it’s coming out of real solid racism that used to exist, but they are failing to recognize that it has gone away and left thin air in its wake.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @albatross11

            Leadermanning? Punditmanning?

            Many possibly reasonable ideas and policies have the problem that they’ve gotten powerful enough to have important people supporting them, and those leaders/influencers are either addicted to oversimplified soundbites (and matching policies), or are in fact simply using the movement (and its supporters) to pursue their own goals.

          • At a slight tangent, it seems to me that part of the issue is the question of whether people are looking for evidence and considering it, or simply rejecting anything that doesn’t fit their views. Two examples of such evidence:

            When my sister went to law school (Bolt, fifty some years ago), about ten percent of the class were women. One year, of the two top students in the three classes, five of the six were women. That’s pretty strong evidence that the low representation of women was due not to their lack of ability but to some filter that made it harder for women to go to law school, so that the ones who did were likely to be the most able. It doesn’t tell us what the filter was, but that the filter was something societal is confirmed by the fact that by now about half the students in law school are women—societal structures change faster than genetics.

            I am not certain, but I believe the measured IQ of American Indians is as high as or higher than that of American whites. If so, that is pretty strong evidence against some environmental explanations of the black/white IQ difference, since American Indians are on average poor. If higher, it’s some evidence for the genetic explanation, since American Indians are ultimately of East Asian ancestry, and the measured IQ of East Asians is higher than that of whites.

            I expect one could find other examples of such tests. Sowell, in Ethnic America, mentions that West Indian immigrants, who are both genetically and in appearance blacker than most African-Americans, do quite well, reaching average incomes in one generation. He offers that as evidence against both genetics and discrimination as explanations of the poor outcomes of African-Americans, in favor of an explanation involving African-American culture coming out of slavery.

            I think the claim that invisible racism is being pulled out of thin air is legitimate if the people arguing that as the explanation are making no serious effort to look for and believe evidence, not legitimate if they are looking for and finding evidence, whether or not what they find provides strong support for their view.

            And one of the things that makes me suspect it is legitimate in many, perhaps most, cases of the sort being discussed is that the people alleging invisible racism take it as certain, with I think no evidence at all, that the distribution of relevant abilities must be the same across races, and seem quite uninterested in considering evidence for or against that assumption.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @NostalgicaForInfinity

            The phrase that’s missing here is Systematic, the partner to systemic.

            Pre Civ-rights had plenty of laws, rules, and formal practices that could be pointed to as the cause of outcome inequality. Insofar as they are detectable they were abolished [if laws] or outlawed [i.e. company practices].

            The systemic that JS refers to is distinct from the above insofar as it is solely something one infers from an achievement gap. It’s not a variable you observe, alter, and re-observe to see the outcome (ala lead poisoning).

            So there’s no inconsistency in thinking that assumed sources of inequality went from being real [observable and falsifiable] to emphemeral [unobservable and unfalsifiable]

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            That’s pretty strong evidence that the low representation of women was due not to their lack of ability but to some filter that made it harder for women to go to law school

            There are other explanations, like:
            – Women being more diligent or otherwise better at law exams, for the same basic ability (there is substantial evidence that this is an issue in education for boys right now, where they do much more poorly in school than in the workplace). AFAIK, law school is pretty notorious for rote learning, which women tend to excel at much more than men (the format of tests seems to sometimes matter quite a lot in how each gender performs).
            – Law school being very attractive for very high ability women, while very high ability men seek something else out (like physics, economics, philosophy, taking drugs)
            – Law school being relatively less attractive to medium/low ability women, compared to something else (not that this doesn’t have to mean that law school is harder for women to get into, but it can also mean that nicer alternatives are more accessible for women than men)

            You jumped to conclusions by picking one of many explanations that fits the evidence. Note that I see scientists make this mistake a lot, where their ideology dictates that women/black people/etc are oppressed, so the scientists jump to the conclusion that discrimination of the group is the cause. Yet very often, actually testing all possible explanations points to a different cause.

            That’s the problem with strongly held ideology: it blinds even smart scientists, who take shortcuts because they already know what outcome is right (even if it actually isn’t).

            I think the claim that invisible racism is being pulled out of thin air is legitimate if the people arguing that as the explanation are making no serious effort to look for and believe evidence

            What I see is that they often glom onto mediocre science or experiments that supposedly shows racism/sexism/etc, yet when those papers get disproven or experiments don’t show racism/sexism (or show it against whites/men), this is not taken as evidence against systemic isms. Regularly, disproven papers or theories simply continu to get used as evidence.

            For the pay gap, you see the God of the Gaps in action very strongly. Although about 2/3rds of the gap has a known type of cause, most of the attention seems to be on the 1/3rd where the cause is unclear, where that cause is often assumed to be discrimination, based on ideology.

            When basic statistics or papers weakly to strongly suggest that men have exactly the kind of disparate outcomes that get taken as evidence for systemic discrimination when it happens to black people (like in the justice system), but this gets ignored because men are not supposed to be oppressed, it comes across to me like a mere rationalization exercise, where people work back from a conclusion.

            This kind of cherry picking and dishonesty is worse than just not looking, IMO. It pretty much guarantees that the evidence that people will accept and their interpretation is consistent with the ideology, because all that is not consistent is filtered out.

        • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

          I agree. But until I’ve been shown what systematic racism is in the real world, I’ll remain a skeptic. And then, when we do know what it is, we can tackle it effectively.

          An example might be non-white people being exposed to greater levels of lead and air pollution – in part due to historical discriminatory housing and transport policies. There’s evidence that both of these have negative effects on IQ (among other things). I’d consider this to be an example of systemic racism. It’s not an explicit decision by someone to disadvantage non-white people, but a complicated legacy of old government policy and explicit racism (plus perhaps a contemporary lack of in interest in remedying it).
          Efforts to reduce it could reduce the achievement gap.

          EDIT: I accidentally made this comment in response to a different thread. My bad.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            An example might be non-white people being exposed to greater levels of lead and air pollution – in part due to historical discriminatory housing and transport policies. There’s evidence that both of these have negative effects on IQ (among other things).

            No doubt black Americans have been hurt at a biological level by it being acceptable to put lead and air pollution in their communities. But A) is this still a live issue or something we cleaned up, leaving only older cohorts stuck with it? and B) how have Fresh Off the Boat Asian immigrants who probably have to live in poor areas avoid these IQ/et al consequences?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I agree 100% with what you said. And then you can tackle it by removing the pollution. It’s useful to have a category of things called “systemic racism” where you can put “greater lead pollution”, and other similar things. It’s not useful to blame a problem on the category of things without being specific.

            A hyperbolic example of that failure mode would be somebody claiming to understand the root cause of all cancers: bad things.

            Principled objector: What do you mean bad things, can you be more specific?

            Somebody: Whoa we have “bad things” denier on our hands. He is paid by the “bad things lobby” and is clearly pro-cancer!

          • acymetric says:

            A) is this still a live issue or something we cleaned up, leaving only older cohorts stuck with it?

            It is almost certainly partially live, although partially cleaned up. It was significantly more live recently enough to probably be significant even for people currently in their 20s and 30s, so depends on what you mean by “older cohorts”.

            B) how have Fresh Off the Boat Asian immigrants who probably have to live in poor areas avoid these IQ/et al consequences?

            Good question. Part of the answer would be to figure out which poor areas Asians are moving into. Poor previously white neighborhoods, or poor previously black neighborhoods?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @acymetric:

            probably be significant even for people currently in their 20s and 30s, so depends on what you mean by “older cohorts”.

            An age cohort could be anything that cleaves (social) reality at a joint, so if leaded gasoline/paint/burying the stuff was hurting African-American bodies up til 18 years ago, we’d say “cleaned up for minors, hurt cohorts as young as 18-29” or something like that.

            Part of the answer would be to figure out which poor areas Asians are moving into. Poor previously white neighborhoods, or poor previously black neighborhoods?

            On the West coast, poor Asian and white/previously-white neighborhoods. I’m guessing here that CA/OR/WA absorbed most of the poorest Asians, like refugees from Communism in the ’70s. Things could be very different in other states.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Lead is absolutely still a live issue influencing children today.

            Kevin Drum (easiest source for good accumulation of lead pollutant social effect information out there) on a recent study:

            [The study] measured violent crime in each area and found a strong relationship with [soil] lead levels. As you’d expect, the relationship weakened once he controlled for income, education, race, etc., but the relationship was still there:
            After controlling for pertinent census-tract-level variables (median household income, percent female head of household, percent of households living in poverty, percent of households with dependents under 18-years of age, percent of households receiving food stamps, percent of the population that is black, percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree, and percent of the male population 15-24 years of age), every 100-unit increase in mean topsoil lead content was associated with a 1.05 (95% CI: 1.03, 1.08) increased risk for violent crime events.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @HeelBearCub: Well what would it take, physically and politically, to clean up soil lead? 🙁

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Le Maistre Chat:
            I think the estimates I have seen is that to address lead cleanup nationwide in the US is on the order of magnitude of 100s of billions.

            Even if we posited that it was a trillion, spread out over ten years that’s 100 billion a year. It’s eminently doable. We have spent 6 trillion in the various ME/Asia wars since 2001 and that hasn’t come close to breaking the bank.

            ETA: I know Kevin did a post on the cost of this at some point this year, just can’t find it right off the bat.

          • albatross11 says:

            HBC:

            Yeah, my sense is that lead abatement is one of the better ways we could be spending public money. I’m not sure what fraction of that gets split between lead paint, lead in the dirt, lead pipes, and other sources, but I suspect that as a country, we’d make back far more than we spent.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @jermo sapiens

            I understand and agree. The rhetoric on this topic is obviously intense. But I also understand why people react so strongly to it: again, segregation and explicit white supremacy are within living memory. The alleged inherent inferiority of non-whites was used to justify those policies (and slavery before then). It is in no way surprising that people are sceptical of or actively hostile to claims that structural racism doesn’t explain racial disparities and they are instead due to genetic factors.

            @Le Masitre Chat

            A) As I understand it, lead is still an issue although has been trending downwards significantly since we stopped putting it in petrol / gasoline. Likewise I think air pollution has been trending downwards by most measures (until the last year or two).

            B) I would’ve thought it has affected them, but there are other confounding factors that you’d need to account for e.g. a strong culture of educational achievement, immigrants generally being unusually able or dedicated people. But I can’t say I know a lot about Asian immigration to the US.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            It is in no way surprising that people are sceptical of or actively hostile to claims that structural racism doesn’t explain racial disparities and they are instead due to genetic factors.

            Yeah, I totally get that. That said, to the extent that structural racism is used inappropriately (as in a God of the gaps argument), it’s not going to solve anything. If the problem is lead in the environment, you can fix the lead (and we should, estimate in these comments is $100 billion, that sounds like a fantastic deal, the cost of not doing it is probably much higher). But if “structural racism” is the beginning and end of the explanation, you cant do much about it.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            @jermo sapiens

            Yeah, I agree.

          • Aapje says:

            Diversity training and affirmative actions don’t filter lead out of the ground. 😛

            @HeelBearCub

            Isn’t the main danger lead pipes?

            Lead in the soil seems relatively safe, as long as the children’s playground is fine. Lead in paint seems to be mainly a risk when you go sand it off, not so much if you leave it be.

          • Nornagest says:

            I thought the main issue was organic lead compounds — lead paint, tetraethyl lead in gas, etc. Lead pipes aren’t great, but metallic lead doesn’t actually contaminate water much if there’s no impurities in the water breaking it down.

            (That’s what caused the Flint water crisis, IIRC — a switch to another water source that reacted poorly with the lead pipes that had been in use for decades without issue.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @aapje:
            Lead pipes, AFAIK, are a danger when the water passing through them has the proper characteristics to leach the lead from the pipe. Note that both the cause and the solution of the Flint, MI issue involved changing the water supply, not the pipes. Not that I would really want lead pipes, mind you, but the Flint water isn’t classified as contaminated now.

            Lead paint and contaminated soil both provide a pathway to ingesting the lead that doesn’t involve water solubility. In any case, Drum has referenced multiple soil-lead level studies that show correlations with negative outcomes, so it doesn’t really matter. We need to properly clean up all the sources. Sure, it’s preferable to go after the lowest hanging fruit first, but I’d like to pick everything on the tree anyway.

            ETA: Looks like I’m just piggybacking on what Nornagest said.

          • uau says:

            @Nornagest:
            Those problems were not caused by “impurities”, but water acidity levels and failure to add anticorrosion compounds to the water. The lead pipes were only relatively safe as long as water was specifically treated to avoid corroding them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @uau:
            I think it’s slightly more nuanced. The Ph levels of the water interacts with specific other elements of water treatment to determine whether the lead pipes will leach. Flint didn’t handle their switch in water source correctly, for sure. But given that water itself is Ph neutral, water acidity isn’t intrinsic.

          • LesHapablap says:

            I’ve been working with leaded gasoline consistently for the last 8 years. That means getting a little on my hands a few times a week, standing around airplanes burning leaded gas all the time, flying around in them. How can I tell if this is enough to have an effect on me? Blood tests? Testing the workplace environment?

          • Aapje says:

            @LesHapablap

            Lead can be measured in the blood. The cost should be $10 to $75.

          • Plumber says:

            @LesHapablap says:“I’ve been working with leaded gasoline consistently for the last 8 years. That means getting a little on my hands a few times a week, standing around airplanes burning leaded gas all the time, flying around in them. How can I tell if this is enough to have an effect on me? Blood tests? Testing the workplace environment?”

            I just had my annual blood test for lead last Friday (The City and County of San Francisco tests most building trades municipal government employees for this every year) I worked with a welder who had heightened lead levels that were found just after he repaired the metal roof of a 19th century windmill in Golden Gate Park, I imagine a call to OSHA may let you know about testing the work environment.

    • Clutzy says:

      I suppose I’ll reproduce part of my point about it as well. The part I guess I was passionate about.

      Most of society needs less policing and less aggressive policing. The exception to that rule is crime riddled areas, like certain parts of the city I live in. BLM’s policies would not only make those areas of the city less safe, but my portion as well, while also not dealing with the issue that cops drive around our streets in SUV-tanks and camp out around stop signs looking to bop people for driving normally. Or that they hang out around bars on Friday nights looking to give out public intox and underage drinking tickets to the college kids around here (meanwhile a college woman was raped and murdered 3 blocks away at an intersection every human in our area knows should be staffed by police 24/7, but of course is not).

      Just for context, I live in a city who’s leadership have obviously bought into the BLM narrative and appears to have shifted police priorities as a result.

      • Nornagest says:

        I think these are both symptoms of a single problem, which is that American police culture, for whatever reason, really sucks at building social capital for the institution — cops are perfectly nice people on the mat or at the range, but almost all my my positive interactions with uniformed police have come when I was working event security and therefore was on their side.

        For my pale middle-class ass, that means not having anything to do with uniformed police if I can help it. But if you live in the parts of town that are or were policed as a matter of course, or even have ties to lots of people that do, that’s not an option. So I’m pretty sympathetic to BLM’s frustrations even though I’m fairly sure most of its factual claims are misleading to outright false — I probably wouldn’t want to cut the cops any slack, too, in those shoes.

        The trouble is more that that narrative doesn’t do anything to fix the issue.

        • albatross11 says:

          To be fair, BLM looks a lot like a standard American moral panic. Those basically *always* get all the facts wrong and almost *never* fix the underlying problem.

        • mtl1882 says:

          I think these are both symptoms of a single problem, which is that American police culture, for whatever reason, really sucks at building social capital for the institution

          My initial reaction is that this problem is inherent—the institution is in some sense “adversarial” to the citizenry, not because anything is wrong with it, but because it possesses unique powers to interfere with you unpleasantly. It does a lot of good, obviously, but by nature, people are more likely to remember the freaked out feeling of being pulled over for speeding than other interactions. It makes sense to be wary of such power—which is different from being hostile and suspecting malice in every officer. It’s not like there was ever a time without a sizable portion of people who resented the police or local authorities—a lot of people flat out don’t like being told what to do, and a lot of people participate in low-level crime, or at least rule-breaking, and don’t want to get busted. And when groups of people challenge the established order, they naturally get into conflicts with police, and resent them for upholding the status quo—various protestors, unions, etc. And this tends to spiral.

          Then you have the element of moral high ground that law enforcement is supposed to claim, with naturally makes any inevitable human failings more grating, and people quick to jump to visions of corruption, especially where there is the power to cover it up. They are held to a higher standard than the people they are going after, reasonably. And someone who sees a relative arrested in a traumatic situation, even if justified, may well end up with a fear or hatred of police. It just all adds up to a situation in which people are likely to view police with some suspicion even without clear misconduct, which periodically becomes a flashpoint for a larger issue.