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Open Thread 145.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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1,263 Responses to Open Thread 145.25

  1. Le Maistre Chat says:

    In 1930s America, Murder, Incorporated was an organized crime business specializing in homicide for other mobs, as well as general enforcement for New York Jewish boss Louis “Lepke” Buchalter. Founded by two other New York Jewish mobsters, Meyer Lansky and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, it was largely composed of Italian-American as well as Jewish gangsters from the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, East New York, and Ocean Hill. Mob bosses all over the United States could call up Murder, Inc. to hire a hitman. The killers were paid a regular salary as retainer as well as an average fee of $1,000 to $5,000 per killing. Their families also received monetary benefits

    What a (morally) bad business model.

    • broblawsky says:

      So this is interesting: $3000 in 1935 US dollars is ~$56000 in 2019 dollars. Meanwhile, the average price of a hit in Australia in 2002 is ~$12700, or ~$13,300 in 2020 US dollars. Law enforcement has gotten substantially better at its job, which should have made prices go up even further, but instead they’ve actually declined substantially in real terms since the 1930s. Is that because Murder Inc kept prices high by acting as a union for its members? Or did some other factor depress prices?

      • eyeballfrog says:

        Perhaps demand has gone down?

      • Protagoras says:

        I think that the improvement in law enforcement has eliminated skilled, professional hitmen. So the modern average is for incompetent part-timers, and so not comparable.

        • John Schilling says:

          If the Australian “hitmen” in question are comparable to their American counterparts, then definitely this. “Murder Inc” was an extreme outlier; criminals who specialized in killing strangers for money have always been unusual and are now extremely rare; usually the job is given to a thug whose specialty is scaring strangers for money, and often they botch the killing part.

          Would be interesting to know the rates for non-Murder-Inc contract killings in the 1930s; that would be a better basis for comparison.

  2. ana53294 says:

    Article (Google search result to avoid paywall) on how companies use the environmental excuse for their penny pinching.

    We have a no takeaway policy because we’re trying to cut down on plastic use.

    […] The more I thought about it, the more the suspicion formed that the restaurant was using a classic eco-excuse, that greenwashing trick of pretending to be green to justify a spot of irksome cost-saving.

    I would have forgotten about this had I not been interviewing a man a short time later about hot-desking.

    He made a living from helping companies to ditch dedicated desks and he wanted to discuss an article I had written that complained about how this penny-pinching ploy cast people out into the noisy, chaotic wasteland of shared workspaces.

    In an effort to explain politely that I was an idiot, he listed a familiar set of arguments for the hot desk. People met more of their colleagues. This improved collaboration and ultimately productivity. Then he told me there was another vital point that I needed to understand: “Carbon emissions.”

    One of the things I like about penny-pinchers like Lidl and Ryanair is that they don’t pretend they do it for the environment. Lidl always charged for plastic bags; they never said it was about the environment. Ryanair’s refusal to print tickets for free, to give meals or drinks during flights, and other things they do to increase flight efficiency, by cutting weight and increasing the number of passengers they carry, is about money, although they probably do help the environment (no more plastic glasses, printed tickets, more passenger miles per litre of fuel, etc.).

    • The version of this that always amuses me is the sign in a hotel, generously offering to not change your towels and sheets every day — as a way of protecting the environment.

      I don’t want them to change my towels and sheets every day — I don’t at home, after all. But it’s something that saves them money being offered as evidence of how public spirited they are.

  3. johan_larson says:

    The US Space Force may not have much, but they do have a Twitter account:

    https://twitter.com/SpaceForceDoD

    • Deiseach says:

      This pleases me because it’s Proper Futurism. All the SF I ever read promised me that in the far-flung days of the 21st century we would have a Space Force as well as flying cars and colonies on other planets.

      We may never get the flying cars but at least we have a Space Force and finally I feel like I am living in the proper kind of 21st century that I was promised! 😀

      • John Schilling says:

        A space force that wears woodland camo uniforms. Jokes about invading Endor aside, uniforms promote institutional identity, and if you have your Space Force wear exactly the same uniforms as the Air Force, you are blatantly signalling that your “space force” is really just a branch of the Air Force without even the separation that sort of exists between the USN and USMC.

        Also, I’m guessing that there will be no provision for enlisting or commissioning directly into the USSF, and “space force” officers will be rotated into Air Force roles (and vice versa) whenever it is convenient to the service.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Give them a little while. It took two years for the US Air Force to get its first uniforms distinct from the Army, and another year or two before airmen were actually wearing that new uniform.

        • johan_larson says:

          I guess the question is what color would be appropriate. The navy has dark blue, the air force has medium blue, meaning the only remaining blue range is light blue, which might look odd. Earth tones like green and brown aren’t really appropriate. White would be a cleaning nightmare. Black would be very appropriate, but the twentieth century happened.

          So what does that leave? Gray maybe?

          • John Schilling says:

            Gray digital camo, to blend with the cubicle walls that will be their primary operating environment for years to come. The dress uniforms can be black, so long as we call it something like “space force gray”; seems to work for the Navy

        • cassander says:

          This is why we need to get them capes ASAP. Also why we can waste no time in re-titling General Raymond as Sky Marshal Raymond.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            In the world of tomorrow, will a Sky Captain be an O-3 like the Air Force or an O-6 like all those SF settings that cut & paste the Navy into space?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            It’s captains all the way up, from ensign captain, to lieutenant captain, to sky captain, to major captain, to commander captain, to colonel captain, until you hit the marshall rank range.

            And now “Captain” looks misspelled to me. 🙁

          • Nornagest says:

            In the world of tomorrow, will a Sky Captain be an O-3 like the Air Force or an O-6 like all those SF settings that cut & paste the Navy into space?

            And in any case, what’s the pay grade of an Earth Captain, a Water Captain, a Fire Captain and a Void Captain?

          • The Nybbler says:

            The Void Captain gets nothing, naturally.

          • Randy M says:

            Sounds like a job that literally sucks.

        • bullseye says:

          The Air Force also has no logical reason to wear woodland camo. From what I’ve read, the idea is to have the entire military wearing similar uniforms to remind them they’re all on the same team.

          • Another Throw says:

            I thought it was because the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines all fielded new uniforms at around the same time. (I don’t know about the Coast Guard. IIRC, the other two uniformed services use dress uniforms only so are not at issue.) Then three of those services all went back to congress looking for more money to replace their ghastly abominations all at around the same time. Congress was kind of pissed off about it and required any new uniform to be used by all the services.

            I don’t know off hand whether the Marines actually did manage to stick to MARPAT “like a hobo on a ham sandwitch,” I believe the quote was.

          • John Schilling says:

            Has anybody told the Navy and the Marines? Because they seem to be sticking with their own service-specific uniforms for the indefinite future.

          • bean says:

            @bullseye

            Not really. Any drive for standardization among the services is primarily a money thing. From the 80s until around 2000, everyone was wearing BDUs. The Marines started the stampede for unique uniforms with MARPATs, which at least have the virtue of looking good, and were justified as making Marines feel special. The other services started to do the same. Somehow, the Air Force has recently ended up switching to the Army’s uniform from its own uniform. Not sure what the story there was. The Navy has recently replaced the rather absurd blue NWUs with a green-pattern camouflage uniform, which at least doesn’t look idiotic. I wish they’d stop pretending to be a land service, and go with something like the RN’s No 4s, which look good and apparently work very well. They can borrow MARPATs or whatever for anyone who actually needs camo.

            I don’t know about the Coast Guard. IIRC, the other two uniformed services use dress uniforms only so are not at issue.

            The Coast Guard has its own blue working uniform, which the NOAA and PHS both borrow.

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            the number 4s are nice, but we need to find the monsters that keep convincing military services that berets are acceptable headgear.

            the USN has any number of nice looking uniforms, and that’s the trouble. There are… a dozen or so of them? that’s not counting male/female differences which seem more prominent with the navy. It’s absurd and costly and the navy leadership has bigger problems to deal with than playing dressup. I don’t go quite as far as this man does but I will say that:

            (A) the basic principle that far too much time, effort, and money goes into uniforms is correct and we need to stop this nonsense.

            (B) each service should have 2 basic uniforms, service and dress. You can vary the camo pattern and cloth weight to meet various climates, you can vary it by rank, and some MOSes will need specialist gear, but two is the goal. Sexual differences should be minimized, and no soldier that isn’t Scottish should ever wear a skirt.

            (C) Soldiers should dress like soldiers and dress uniforms should only be worn on ceremonial occasions. And no, congressional testimony does not count.

            (D) Once the new system is set up, we need legislation mandating that any future changes to uniforms that are not tactically relevant must be funded entirely through gofundme.

          • bean says:

            I think that goes a bit too far. First, tradition is important to military units. We know this, and uniforms are a part of that tradition. Second, two uniforms isn’t enough. Camo in offices just looks stupid. Let’s go with dress/service/working uniforms. Sure, we’ll cut down some on when you need to wear dress uniforms to roughly match modern suit etiquette, but they have their place. We can look at standardizing working uniforms to some extent based on function (there really isn’t a need for everybody to have their own camo) but those will always be looser.

            Broadly with you on berets, definitely with you on unisex uniforms.

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            camo in offices is silly, but it’s not intrinsically sillier that bright primary color uniforms. I’d be absolutely fine if we could go back to the pre-ww2 tradition of soldiers on desk jobs in DC wearing civilian clothes, but that will never happen, so in lieu of that, I just want to cut things down to manageable levels.

    • bullseye says:

      So, the army has soldiers, the air force has airmen, so what will the space force have? They haven’t decided yet. The obvious answer would be spacemen, but that would suggest that they’re actually in space; also I feel like they’re going to go for a word that isn’t gendered.

      Relatedly, they haven’t decided what the names of the ranks will be. I figure they’ll use the same rank names as the air force, except for the ranks that include the word “airman”.

      • B_Epstein says:

        Spacers?

      • johan_larson says:

        It probably makes sense for the Space Force to distance itself from the Air Force, if only because they will tend to be conflated if they don’t. That suggests they need to invent completely new ranks or borrow from either the army or the navy. Of the two, I’d probably go with the army ranks, since some of the middle and senior enlisted ranks of the navy sound kind of silly. “Master Chief Petty Officer”? “Rear Admiral Lower Half”? Really?

        • The Nybbler says:

          “Rear Admiral Lower Half”? Really?

          This does not mean an Admiral’s butt, but rather indicates the Navy wanted a whole bunch of ranks in the Admiralty and ran out of creative names like “Brigiadier” and “Marshall” (which the land forces got to first). “Rear Admiral” meant (historically) the Admiral that commanded the ships in the rear of the squadron, and “lower half” just means they’re one rank step lower than a plain old “Rear Admiral” (sometimes called “Upper Half”, which again does not mean their torso and head)

          • John Schilling says:

            “Commodore” is a perfectly good and creative name for the O-7 rank in naval service. The United States Navy seems to alternate between that and “Rear Admiral Lower Half” every second generation, for complicated and nigh-inscrutable reasons.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          https://www.federalpay.org/military/army/ranks

          You think the army ranks are any better?

          “Specialist”, “First Sergeant”, “Sergeant Major”

          E-1 being a “Private”, with E-3 being a “Private first class”, yet O-8 “Major General”, O-9 “Lieutenant General”, and O-10 “General”?

  4. Purplehermann says:

    How large is the American “grey tribe” ? (Just looking for a general estimate)

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      From earlier in the thread: https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/01/15/open-thread-145-25/#comment-842465

      About one-in-ten Americans (11%) describe themselves as libertarian and know what the term means.

      • brad says:

        Scott’s narrative on “Grey Tribe” was a lot more than libertarian and some of the other characteristics were a lot more obscure. I mean filk?!? I had to look that up, and I have at least one post in rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Okay, then the OPs question may not be answerable.

          About a third of the population won’t identify tribally at all, as the concept of “tribes” is outside of their personal Overton window. So this also comes down to whether tribal membership is based on self-claim, others (who are tribally inclined) lumping you into a tribe whether you identify or not, or some other criteria.

          Regardless, any claims as to numbers are going to be argued about quite a bit.

          Yeah, I only know of filk thanks to an author’s note by C.J. Cherryh (and I used to participate in an email group for Raymond Feist’s novels). I think Scott likely meant these as examples, and not keystones.

    • Plumber says:

      @Purplehermann says:

      “How large is the American “grey tribe” ? (Just looking for a general estimate)”

      Alright, from our host’s list of “tribe” attributes in his I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup post (with numbers and line seperations added by me):

      The Red Tribe is most classically typified by:

      1) conservative political beliefs, 

      2) strong evangelical religious beliefs,

      3) creationism,

      4) opposing gay marriage,

      5) owning guns, 

      6) eating steak, 

      7) drinking Coca-Cola, 

      8) driving SUVs, 

      9) watching lots of TV, 

      10) enjoying American football, 

      11) getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, 

      12) marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, 

      and 

      13) listening to country music

      For individuals meeting all of @Scott Alexander’s “typified” Red-Tribe traits, as a rough guess I’d say 15% of Americans, so millions of people, and for those with at least half of the traits? 

      I’d say that easily the majority of Americans have at least half of Scott’s “Red-Tribe” traits.

      The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by 

      1) liberal political beliefs, 

      2) vague agnosticism, 

      3) supporting gay rights, 

      4) thinking guns are barbaric, 

      5) eating arugula, 

      6) drinking fancy bottled water, 

      7) driving Priuses, 

      8) reading lots of books, 

      9) being highly educated, 

      10) mocking American football, 

      11) feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, 

      12) getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, 

      13) marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, 

      and

      14) listening to “everything except country”

      For individuals meeting all of @Scott Alexander’s “typified” Blue-Tribe traits, as a rough guess I’d say 5% of Americans, so millions of people, and for those with at least half of the traits? 

      I’d say that nearly the majority of Americans have at least half of Scott’s “Blue-Tribe” traits.

      There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by 

      1) libertarian political beliefs, 

      2) Dawkins-style atheism, 

      3) vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, 

      4) eating paleo, 

      5) drinking Soylent, 

      6) calling in rides on Uber, 

      7) reading lots of blogs, 

      8) calling American football “sportsball”,

      9) getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, 

      and 

      10) listening to filk

       – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time

      For individuals meeting all of @Scott Alexander’s “typified” Grey-Tribe traits, as a rough guess I’d say about 20 friends of @Scott Alexander, and for those with at least half of the traits? 

      Still uncommon, maybe a million people  have at least half of Scott’s “Grey-Tribe” traits?

      Frankly other than our host confessing his social isolation I’m not sure what good his concept of “tribes” is, from later posts it seems a confused jumble of socal class, regional differences, and partisan affiliation.

  5. Suppose you qualify for a subsidized student loan but don’t need it. Is there any reason not to take the loan anyway, use it to pay for educational expenses then take the money you would have used to pay those expenses, invest it conservatively, and then achieve one of two outcomes:

    1. If Warren or Bernie cancels the debt, walk away with all the money.

    2. If not, take it and pay it back six months after graduation in full,(there are no early payment penalties) pocketing any interest accrued.

    • Well... says:

      then take the money you would have used to pay those expenses

      So for this to make any sense, you have already be committed to going to school. Or, I guess, to investing a sum money equal to whatever those school expenses would be.

    • The Nybbler says:

      1) You have to have the discipline to do this.

      2) Even conservative investments could lose money.

      I doubt many students are actually in that position, though, except the scions of the very wealthy.

      • The scions of the very wealthy wouldn’t qualify for subsidized loans.

        • The Nybbler says:

          They can declare themselves independent students, though this has tax consequences for their parents.

          • I’m not seeing how it only applies to the children of the wealthy.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Who has the money to pay for college without getting loans? Only the children of the wealthy (who might have to engage in shenanigans to get subsidized loans… but shenanigans are not entirely unknown among that set).

          • John Schilling says:

            Who has the money to pay for college without getting loans?

            Children of the middle class who go to in-state schools and don’t go into fields that expect people to pay for their own postgraduate education.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            To add to what John said, particularly if they have a prepaid college program. In my state when your kid is born you can lock in current college tuition rates and pay a small amount per month until they’re 18.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I was such, but

            1) If I’d gotten loans, my parents wouldn’t have ponied up the money for me to invest

            and

            2) In-state tuition was roughly $2100 ($4280 in 2019 dollars); it was $10,770 in 2019. I think this kind of increase is pretty typical. So it’s quite a bit harder for a middle class family to pay.

          • Well... says:

            Who has the money to pay for college without getting loans?

            Children of the middle class

            I was thinking non-traditional students — i.e. adults who’ve been in the workforce and decide to go back to school.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Well…

            I had to reduce my hours from 40 to 35 per week. The sub and ubsub student loans helped make up for this reduction in hours as well as the increase in expenses, though even then I was still using credit cards too.

            Perhaps some people can go to school while working and have enough to cover it without loans. But if this is the case, why do they feel they need to go to school anyway, and why would they qualify for subsidized loans (assets count in qualification for subsidized loans)?

            I can only see this as applicable to a non-working spouse, but then would they even qualify for subsidized loans without not actually needing the loan money to pay for college and college expenses?

          • John Schilling says:

            I was thinking non-traditional students — i.e. adults who’ve been in the workforce and decide to go back to school.

            In that case, a fair number of people get their employers to pay for their continued education. The most obvious example being the military, but it’s not rare in the civilian sector.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          These loopholes are in the process of being plugged, but until then: https://www.propublica.org/article/university-of-illinois-financial-aid-fafsa-parents-guardianship-children-students

          Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid

          First, parents turn over guardianship of their teenagers to a friend or relative. Then the student declares financial independence to qualify for tuition aid and scholarships.

      • cassander says:

        I doubt there are a lot of people for whom the choice is no loans or lot of loans, but there definitely might be some people who are evaluating how much debt to take on, who could take the debt now instead of spending earned/other money.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Where are you getting this other money?

      If it’s from a job, then you’d probably be better off quitting the job and spending the extra time taking a larger load of classes (graduating earlier, or with a dual degree or double major), studying more, or volunteering in your major. If, as The Nybbler says, you have the discipline to do so.

      If its from your parents or some other similar source, then you probably don’t qualify for subsidized student loans. (And wouldn’t your parents be investing this money anyway, likely in a tax-sheltered 401(k) or IRA?)

    • broblawsky says:

      I’m pretty sure that you don’t actually get the money yourself when you get student loans – it gets disbursed to your school.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        The extra funds not immediately used for tuition get “refunded” to your bank account.

        • Evan Þ says:

          This’s quite intentional; it’s designed for students to buy course supplies like textbooks and laptops, as well as basic living expenses.

  6. Statismagician says:

    Has anybody got a source for US mortality data including country of birth? It’s just occurred to me that tracking raw life expectancy in a country that had a more than 14% immigrant population wasn’t actually all that meaningful in a statistical sense, for which eternal shame upon me. Alas, I don’t work at the place with the billion-record database of health care admin data anymore.

  7. AlexOfUrals says:

    Why isn’t there more (any?) environmental activism against junk mail? How helpful is banning plastic straws compared to banning a sizeable stack of paper from being delivered to every mailbox in the country every week?

    • DeWitt says:

      Different audiences. The preferred audience for banning plastic straws are perfectly decent people. Educate them on the ILLS and DANGERS of plastic straws, and they’ll not mind a ban so much.

      The people sending junk mail likely know what they are doing and aren’t going to stop anyway. A long lost cause if there ever was one.

      • AlexOfUrals says:

        But looks like most of the Americans use plastic straws, and only very limited number of them are interested in sending junk mail, everyone else don’t need any convincing they’ll be happy to see it banned. Although those interested represent many large corporations – are you saying it’s basically lobbyism? Even so, there’s strong movements against many things backed up by lobbies – factory farming, oil industry, personal data collection to name the few.

        • DeWitt says:

          You’re giving me an answer to a different question here. I couldn’t say why it is or isn’t banned, but most activism is aimed at the large mass of people, not a small minority of them. Drinking from plastic straws(or smoking, or what have you) is something many more people are involved in than sending junk mail. Why it’s not banned is a separate matter from what the activists care about.

        • cassander says:

          The people who send junk mail profit by it and care a lot. The people who use plastic straws care very little. Hence, the first group is more politically powerful.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            Which is why I’ve decided to care VERY STRONGLY about plastic straws to compensate!

            (but in all seriousness, paper straws are !#$% ineffective *&^%$# garbage and I hate everything about them and everything they represent*.)

            *To me, they represent the triumph of visible self-flagellation over actual impact analysis.

          • cassander says:

            You’re preaching to the choir. I will absolutely vote on this issue, and there are literally dozens of us who care about the issue that much!

          • The Nybbler says:

            Plastic straws aren’t such a big deal, but plastic bags are. Getting groceries is going to suck even more now. Thanks environmentalists; when I’m dropping all my stuff on the way to the car, I’ll think about you.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Hey Nybbler. They still sell (10 cents) plastic bags. And these are far heavier duty than the easily ripable plastic bags of yore.

            Or you can shell out some money for heavy duty synthetic cloth bags with pretty pictures on them (or the cheaper ones without the pretty pictures).

            Now everyone has got an excuse to carry around a pretty bag without being considered effete. 😀
            https://www.zazzle.com/art+reusable+bags
            https://loqi.com/collections/bag-collections

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m never going to remember to carry the reusable bags with me. Even if I remember to put them in the car, I’ll forget to bring them into the store. And paying 10c per bag will make me feel like I’m being cheated and it’s my own fault (for forgetting the bags), so I won’t do it.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Well I guess this is why you can’t have nice (pretty) things.

            The few times I *now* forget to take the bags from the car to the store I just repack the cart and unpack the cart into the bags at the car.

            The few times I forget to take the bags from home back to the car, I pay the ten cents.

          • Eternaltraveler says:

            They still sell (10 cents) plastic bags

            I buy those heavy duty 10 cent bags that will last 10 times longer in the environment every time and then immediately throw them away. This is what most people do.

            Carrying my own bags everywhere is a pain in the ass. I will not do it. Nor will I participate in any other self flagellation ritual we’re supposed to perform so the environmental gods will show favor to us. It’s too bad groceries cost a dollar more now, but most supermarkets have razor thin margins so it makes sense that they would lobby so heavily for this extra dollar.

          • Clutzy says:

            Yea, the bag thing is among the worst legal development I’ve seen in my lifetime when it comes to causing hassles. Makes checking out like 50% longer. And its not like a learning curve, tellers havent adjusted in the 3+ years since we implemented it.

            Plus, from what I understand, given how consumer habits work, the new bags are as bad for the environment (also they cause a lot of disease if you don’t use them in a way that is worse for the environment) .

          • Eternaltraveler says:

            And its not like a learning curve, tellers havent adjusted in the 3+ years since we implemented it.

            Very true. I show up with a shopping cart full of groceries and before they scan one item up they ask me how many bags I want. I want however many bags it takes to hold all of my groceries which I unfortunately won’t know until we stuff the groceries into the bags and see how many it takes. Nor is it worth the cognitive real estate to develop good estimates of what this may be every time, especially since the person helping you bag tends to put radically different quantities of groceries in each bag each time. The worst are the ones who treat the bags like a precious resource and overstuff them so they break open on the way up the stairs into your house.

      • Secretly French says:

        The people sending junk mail likely know what they are doing and aren’t going to stop anyway. A long lost cause if there ever was one.

        Right so this is literally how crime and punishment works: you just make it illegal to send unsolicited mail. Bam. Maybe it won’t end, but it will diminish and negative externalities can be offset by the fines or whatever.

        • John Schilling says:

          Right so this is literally how crime and punishment works: you just make it illegal to send unsolicited mail.

          But that’s not how representative democracy works. You don’t just pass a law, you have to, well, you know. And, particularly at that “stuck in committee” part, what matters is the integrated commitment of the people who support and oppose the law. There may be a hundred million people who would like to see junk mail banned and a hundred hundred who oppose it, but the average commitment of people in the latter group is literally a hundred thousand times stronger – it’s the core of their very lucrative business model, compared to a minor annoyance for the recipients.

          They’ll pay good money, and lots of it, to make sure you all are distracted by e.g. a campaign to ban plastic straws instead. And you’ll, what? Seriously, having determined right here and now that a law banning junk mail would be a good thing, what are you going to actually do to make it happen?

    • Statismagician says:

      Junk mail is sent not by people, but by marketing departments. These last aren’t susceptible to emotional appeals, and you haven’t got their mailing address anyway.

    • ana53294 says:

      Bitcoin should be even more controversial, and it isn’t. There are reports it consumes ~0.5% of the energy of the world per year, or about Switzerland’s expenses. Shows you how much enviromentalism is about signalling and lowering the quality of our lives (get rid of cars, flights, meat), than it is about actually preventing actual harm to the environment by a mostly useless activity.

      • teneditica says:

        It’s ridiculous to base estimates of the carbon emissions Bitcoin is responsible for on the energy estimates. You can mine bitcoin anywhere you want, including in places that have the potential for renewable energies that would otherwise not get used.

        • John Schilling says:

          And plastic straws can be disposed of in a responsible manner that poses no environmental risk, yet here we are.

        • You can theoretically do a lot of things. What matters is what actually happens in the real world.

        • ana53294 says:

          Actual carbon emissions of Bitcoin production are still ridiculous, though.

          And Bitcoin, unlike a plastic straws, are much less useful. They don’t help disabled people drink. They are even less useful than using plastic straws to avoid removing lipstick, considering it’s mostly used by criminals.

          Besides, even clean energy is not 100% clean. At some point of drilling wells for geothermal, producing and laying cable for offshore, or making a nuclear station, the parts that go into making these things, produced CO2. So anything that increases energy use, even clean energy use, will in the end increase CO2.

          There aren’t that many places that regularly produce a surplus of clean energy. Yes, Germany does it, but the energy is too unstable to reliably run a server farm. Countries just don’t increase energy production over what they could potentially use.

          And even if Bitcoin farming is done in a country with very clean energy, like Iceland’s geothermal energy, it would still be pushing out other, actually useful uses of energy, such as alluminium production, which, when done in Iceland, would reduce CO2 production in comparison with producing it in a country with dirtier energy.

          • John Schilling says:

            Most of the world’s Bitcoin mining is done in China, which generates >75% of its electric power by burning coal.

          • Lodore says:

            And Bitcoin, unlike a plastic straws, are much less useful. They don’t help disabled people drink. They are even less useful than using plastic straws to avoid removing lipstick, considering it’s mostly used by criminals.

            I believe, and can rationally defend, the view that governments have no business regulating my consumption of chemicals that have a lower risk profile than many legal substances. I buy these chemicals on the darknet using Bitcoin.

            My point? I don’t think it’s remotely obvious that Bitcoin have no value, and that citing use by ‘criminals’ is merely point-and-shriek behaviour.

          • albatross11 says:

            Lodore:

            +1

            Look, everyone mining bitcoin and doing any other arguably-unproductive thing with energy is paying for that energy on a market. If the price of energy is too low to force its users to consider the full costs of their actions, there’s a pretty obvious solution. This solution is actually general and doesn’t involve either activists or Congress trying to decide which new technologies should live or die.

          • broblawsky says:

            Can we at least agree that a carbon tax would help address this question?

          • As usual, everyone in the thread takes it as given that CO2 production has a net negative externality.

            Warming generally has positive effects when and where it is cold, negative effects when and where it is hot. Effects on weather are very uncertain — at least one expert concluded that hurricanes would probably become a little stronger and substantially less common. The only two unambiguous effects I can think of are sea level rise, negative but small, and CO2 fertilization, positive and large.

            Suppose, however, that you really do want to reduce CO2. Bitcoin mining has one unambiguous superiority to almost all other uses of energy. You can do it anywhere–transport costs for bitcoin are essentially zero. So if there are places (or, more plausibly, times) where renewables are in excess supply and you let prices reflect that, bitcoin miners have an incentive to do their mining with that cheap power.

          • AlexanderTheGrand says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Can you link to a source that argues against that claim in aggregate? Before seeing any data, I would assume that while there is that calculus, on the whole the positive effects aren’t even close to the same scale as the negative.

          • broblawsky says:

            Arguing that dumping additional energy into a very complicated system will have net-positive effects on the welfare of the fragile creatures within that system is an extraordinary claim, and demands extraordinary proof. At the very least, the precautionary principle says that relying on warming to have net-positive effects is a bad idea.

          • Arguing that dumping additional energy into a very complicated system will have net-positive effects on the welfare of the fragile creatures within that system is an extraordinary claim, and demands extraordinary proof.

            Would you say the same thing for removing energy from the system?

          • The Nybbler says:

            The precautionary principle is a general argument for stasis and should be discarded with great prejudice. If humanity had followed it in prehistory we’d just be another extinct species of savannah-dwelling ape.

          • broblawsky says:

            Would you say the same thing for removing energy from the system?

            Less of this, please. I’d appreciate it if you’d try to debate honestly instead of attempting to set rhetorical traps for your opponents.

          • @broblawsky, it’s a rhetorical trap, but not a dishonest one, like “have you stopped beating your wife?” It’s intended to determine which of these is your claim:

            1. Greater levels of energy is inherently bad, in which case global cooling would be beneficial.

            2. Both global cooling and global warming would be harmful, due to people and nature’s adaption to this temperature level.

          • B_Epstein says:

            @broblawsky Global warming having huge net externalities is insufficient to accept carbon tax as a good idea. Not at all. Any tax at a level high enough to make a substantial difference (say, change a +2 degree trajectory to +1.5) is likely to also cause substantial changes to the world economy and its growth. Those are overwhelmingly likely to be negative and quite likely to be on the order of magnitude of the damages of the global warming itself (at least, the difference in damages between 1.5 and 2 degrees). In fact, IIRC, a number of analyses working with the “consensus” IPCC data found that the damages from the tax are likely to be higher than the projected differences in damages from the climate. They may well be wrong, but I’d say you have to provide at least some support for that claim.

          • broblawsky says:

            it’s a rhetorical trap, but not a dishonest one, like “have you stopped beating your wife?”

            I’m still not interested in having a conversation with someone who’s trying to trap me rather than express their ideas and have an honest exchange of views. I’m not here so you can score points off of me.

            Global warming having huge net externalities is insufficient to accept carbon tax as a good idea. Not at all. Any tax at a level high enough to make a substantial difference (say, change a +2 degree trajectory to +1.5) is likely to also cause substantial changes to the world economy and its growth. Those are overwhelmingly likely to be negative and quite likely to be on the order of magnitude of the damages of the global warming itself (at least, the difference in damages between 1.5 and 2 degrees). In fact, IIRC, a number of analyses working with the “consensus” IPCC data found that the damages from the tax are likely to be higher than the projected differences in damages from the climate. They may well be wrong, but I’d say you have to provide at least some support for that claim.

            I was unable to find any specific study that you’re referring to, so I have to ask: does that assume that the money gained from the carbon tax isn’t invested productively? Because if it’s assuming the money is just being thrown into a big pit, that study seems like a rather dishonest analysis.

            Regardless, the specific question I was trying to address isn’t the question of whether carbon taxes are net-positive for society, but rather that carbon taxes could help address the negative externalities of undesirable economic activities like Bitcoin mining without requiring a flat-out legislative ban.

          • B_Epstein says:

            @broblawski
            Here is one. It uses the climate change economic model of Nordhaus, who recently got a Nobel prize for it. I don’t pretend to understand much beyond the very basics, but the cited numbers are directly from the IPCC report. I doubt they made econ 101 mistakes to argue against a carbon tax.

          • One thing worth noticing about Nordhaus’ results as summarized in the Murphy piece just linked to is how small the costs of the various alternatives are. A benefit of three trillion dollars from following the optimal policy instead of doing nothing sounds like a lot of money — until you realize that it is spread out over the entire globe and a century or so.

            The U.S. government alone spends roughly that amount every year.

          • Dacyn says:

            @broblawsky: I’m kind of baffled as to why you think Alexander Turok is trying to “score points off of [you]”, though I suppose that’s your business.

          • Arguing that dumping additional energy into a very complicated system will have net-positive effects on the welfare of the fragile creatures within that system is an extraordinary claim, and demands extraordinary proof.

            The fragile creatures in question currently live successfully across a range of climates much larger than the projected changes over the next century from AGW. Their ancestors coped with larger climate changes than those projected, although probably slower, with no technology more advanced than fur and fire.

            If you take the precautionary principle seriously, which nobody does, it forbids action to prevent AGW. After all, we are in an interglacial period that has lasted for quite a while, and it is at least possible that AGW is all that is preventing the next glaciation. Hence it is at least possible that doing things to slow AGW will put half a mile of ice over London and Chicago and drop sea level by several hundred feet, leaving every port in the world high and dry. That’s a rather larger catastrophe than anything as plausibly conjectured in the other direction.

            So according to the precautionary principle …

      • +1

        Environmentalism is mostly about signalling ones’ respect for some groups(the men in white coats) and lack of respect for other groups.(Middle and lower-middle class white people.) Thus, California is considering banning gas-powered lawn mowers, no one is considering banning cryptocurrency, which is associated with techies, a group which environmentalists show at least some respect for. Only the socialists are talking about banning private jets, because how else are billionaires supposed to get to Switzerland where they can signal to other billionaires how much they care about the environment?

      • Milo Minderbinder says:

        Is bitcoin/other cryptocurrency mining more environmentally destructive than mining for other valuable commodities (e.g., gold/silver/platinum/etc.)? There isn’t some central bitcoin company polluting to mine new bitcoins, it’s all dispersed. A lot of the coverage I see of cryptocurrency these days all mentions the massive energy expenditure.

      • Noah says:

        This seems like a problem that will solve itself in a few years (with respect to bitcoin specifically), as mining bitcoins becomes that much less efficient over time, unless the costs of computation fall or price of bitcoin rises fast enough to compensate.

        Given how long laws take to pass, it doesn’t seem worth it.

    • mfm32 says:

      Junk mail is a very important business for the USPS. It was ~50% of mail volume in 2012 and contributed $19B of revenue in 2015, probably around 25% of total revenue that year. I would guess its share of USPS’s overall business has only increased since then given the secular decline of first class mail.

      Banning junk mail likely represents an existential threat for the USPS. Losing half of your volume and a quarter of your revenue could be a mortal blow on its own. Forcing the remaining first class and other volume to shoulder the entire fixed cost base of the Postal Service could trigger a cascading spiral as increased costs (translating into higher prices or more subsidies) accelerate the decline of first class and other mail. In addition to the fiscal and social consequences of a USPS collapse, there would be substantial political repercussions, as the Postal Service represents 600,000 relatively attractive government jobs spread across the country. It’s a critical jobs program in many areas, representing one of the top employers in some states.

      So you might not see lobbying or activism against junk mail because it would be ineffective, given the political and other objectives that the USPS serves and the consequences of banning junk mail on the USPS.

      • herbert herberson says:

        I worked for the post office a few months a couple years back and can confirm that, at least internally, everyone is very conscious of this. They didn’t even really like to call it “junk mail” at my training/office, and the phrase “BBM pays your wage” was uttered more than once.

      • albatross11 says:

        And yet junk mail just makes the world a far worse place in pretty much every way. The impact on landfills isn’t actually very important–the world has plenty of places where we can dig new holes and bury waste, and paper can mostly be recycled anyway. But in terms of attention and annoyance and hassle, it’s just another category of spam, and that stuff is a net loss for mankind everywhere it exists.

        • smocc says:

          Except for the one good thing it does, which is allows otherwise self-interested companies to subsidize a free communications service for everyone else.

        • Randy M says:

          Right, this makes me respect the post office less, not junk mail more.

          @smocc–Maybe the solution is to sell ad space on stamps. Just make them bigger.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I’d at least like to see plastic junk mail banned. E.g. the bogus membership cards included in my daily delivery of rubbish advertising products from companies that regard my time as existing solely as something for them to use to acquire money. I sent a serious nastygram to my credit union a month ago after one of their partners sent me a plastic card of this kind – they promised to rebuke the partner, and also not to share my contact information with any more of their partners.

      As a Canadian, I don’t worry about the paper itself – that will either have come from farmed trees, or possibly recycling of previous paper. The carbon cost of (air) delivery to the appropriate city may be noticeable, but the cost of delivery within cities is dwarfed by the cost of one or more members of each household driving an individual car to work every day.

      But if we’re going to ban single use plastics – or better yet, most use of plastic where there are good alternatives available – we should ban all of it. There’s no point requiring me to use a paper bag to carry home products wrapped in 3 layers of plastic, and a bit of irony in requiring me to use paper straws if they are allowed to be sold packaged in plastic wrapping.

      I completely do not understand the priorities of my so called allies, environmentalists who focus on symbolic causes like this, but show every sign of being statistically innumerate.

    • Aapje says:

      @AlexOfUrals

      Why isn’t there more (any?) environmental activism against junk mail?

      There is in The Netherlands. Firstly, you have to understand that there is a self-regulation system of advertising in The Netherlands, where the rules are negotiated between the advertisers and the Dutch Consumer Association.

      These rules have for quite a time included the provision that advertisers have to obey no/no and no/yes stickers on or near the letterbox. The no/no sticker bans the delivery of unaddressed printed advertising, as well as free local papers. The no/yes sticker bans only the former.

      More recently, local governments have been reversing this, where instead of having to opt-out, you have to opt-in (yes/yes stickers). This resulted in several court cases, as this is expected to have a major impact on the number of houses where unaddressed printed advertising can be delivered, increasing costs for this kind of advertising a lot. The opt-in system has been upheld in all court cases. This is all very recent, with many local government waiting for the final decision, to prevent having to pay damages.

  8. Well... says:

    I have a first-grader who is interested in learning chess. I’ve taught her the names of the pieces, how they move, how they’re set up on the board initially, and what the basic objectives are. She’s retained maybe a third of all that. I’m not confident in my ability to teach her properly beyond that, and I don’t have the time to anyway.

    What I have in mind is some kind of app I can put on a tablet for her, or maybe even a standalone electronic device. Books might be acceptable too, though books that are meant to accompany a physical chessboard might be stretching her focus abilities too far.

    And I’d say my budget is around $25.

    Can anyone make some recommendations?

    • theredsheep says:

      I once bought a game of “solitaire chess” for my nephew. It’s a little set of puzzles where you set up a bunch of chess pieces on a mini-board, 4X4, in a specific configuration, and try to have the pieces capture each other in turn until there’s only one left. You have to capture with every move and every setup has only one correct solution that leaves you with only one piece remaining. Don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for, but it does help one cultivate an eye for the pieces’ movesets.

      Hmm, looked it up on Amazon, and it says 8 and up. Might be good for a bright 6yo? There’s an edition available for $17, though: https://www.amazon.com/ThinkFun-Brain-Fitness-Solitaire-Chess/dp/B07PPXRP1S/

    • Statismagician says:

      An app is the wrong choice. Find her someone she can play with, instead – personal connection is vital to getting people interested in abstract pursuits, in my experience. There will at least be plenty of high school students who know about chess and are willing to teach young children in exchange for $25 and a letter of recommendation; this is plenty for any first-grader who isn’t a Hungarian space-alien genius.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Electronic stuff is hit or miss. My son loves video games and loves chess, but has almost no interest in playing chess via computer. He’ll play all day with other people though.

        So, Well…, if you get her an app and she’s not interested in it, that doesn’t mean she’s not interested in chess.

        I’m sure there are other kids who are just the opposite, and don’t want to bother with people face to face and prefer playing with a computer.

        • Well... says:

          I know she’d be happy either way. Some of the main advantages of a virtual game would be not having to set up pieces or worry about accidentally knocking them over (or be knocked over by a sibling), being able to easily pause and resume where she left off, being able to see available moves highlighted, etc. Also, a (presumably) vetted learning program might be more effective than some unknown high schooler who maybe isn’t used to working with young kids.

    • Björn says:

      The Fritz & Chesster series is often recommended.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      My first grade son has been doing competitive chess for about a year and a half now.

      1) Have her join the chess club at school. They will certainly at least teach her how to play, and she’ll have other kids to play with. In my county, the chess clubs at the schools cost money ($125/year), because they’re not just run by one of the teachers. They have an actual chess coach come in and help the kids.

      2) Conrad Jr. also has a private chess coach, and he recommends they use an app called “Chess Kid.” It uses random, sanitized names with no communication between the players so you don’t have to worry about pervs on the internet (although I don’t that’s a big deal). This matches kids up on the internet to play with each other using a ranking system. Basically kid-friendly lichess. The app itself is free for matchmaking and basic vs. AI play, but then there’s advanced features you can unlock like more advanced AI opponents and chess puzzles. They charge $50/year for that simple stuff, but they get it because parents are suckers.

      3) The book series CJ’s chess coach has him on is called “Learn Chess the Right Way” by Susan Polgar. Instructions and puzzles.

      Hope that helps.

  9. What would a new religion look like?

    Before answering that question, I should specify what I mean by “religion”. There are three components:

    1. It has to have to some kind of supernatural force that is at the core of it. So no, liberalism, capitalism, communism, libertarianism, social justice, etc. are not religions. I don’t particularly care about how other people decide to define it, but for the purposes of this question, they aren’t. “Supernatural” is hard to define, but I’ll say it’s something that works outside of our universe and/or doesn’t adhere to the laws of physics.

    2. It needs some kind of rules. They can be moral or they can simply involve proper rituals. The important thing is that they constrain behavior in some way or compel us to do something we might not otherwise do.

    3. It needs to have a sense of reverence. This is hard to pin down clearly so I’ll have to trust you understand what I’m getting at.

    And by “new”, I mean something that isn’t just an offshoot of a previous religion. What counts as an offshoot should be stricter rather than looser. Having similar ideas is not enough to be an offshoot. Having the same symbols and gods is.

    With all that in mind, what would a new religion look like? It’s hard to imagine. People don’t take divine revelation seriously anymore, especially of an entirely new God. So if you want people to take it seriously, they would probably have to use some kind of philosophical/mathematical proof or supposed empirical evidence. It doesn’t have to be something everyone understands, it just needs plausibility. The problem is connecting this thing to a set of rules. It would have to be in our best interest to follow those rules. If you ever watch Star Trek, they have plenty of episodes dealing with this problem, with the solution being, of course, that they won’t follow this entity, regardless of its power. And any new religion should have some features that mesh well with the current culture. It would be pointless to have a prominent Snow God arise on the equator.

    Here’s an idea of what this might look like. Take the simulation hypothesis and from that you get that whatever created the simulation is our God. Use it to explain something like the Fermi Paradox or our incapability of finding a Theory of Everything. We can call this entity something like The Great Coder or just The Coder for short. Robin Hanson speculates that in the simulation world, we would want to be as “entertaining” as possible, to keep the simulation from being shut down. You could get a lot of mileage out of this possibility. Maybe the Coder wants us to be entertaining. Maybe he wants us to aspire to Greatness. Maybe he wants us to expand as far as possible. We don’t know. We could even speculate that the Coder interferes with our lives, and is trying to steer us in the right direction through multiple religious events. What I would do is have the goal be to somehow break out of the simulation. Once we reach the other side, then we will experience something that is basically heaven. What do you think? Do you think there is something more plausible?

    • SamChevre says:

      Just for clarification – was Islam a new religion by your standard, or an offshoot of pre-existing Christianity and Judaism?

      • By the standard I’m proposing, it’s an offshoot. They both believe that the Bible had some truth, that Jesus was an important teacher and as far as I know, Muslims believe themselves to be worshiping the same God. I want to avoid people saying something like “Christianity but with warp drives”, which isn’t that implausible but is too obvious.

        • Joseph Greenwood says:

          Is Christianity a new religion, or an offshoot of Judaism? Is Buddhism an offshoot of Hinduism? Is Hinduism one religion, or several religions?

    • EchoChaos says:

      What would a new religion look like?

      Scientology.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        New Age mysticism leaps to mind for me, although it might count as an “offshoot” too.

    • bullseye says:

      UFO cults.

      Come to think of it, I don’t know of any religion, other than UFO cults and Scientology, that isn’t an offshoot of an older religion.

      • Right. In previous millennia, it wasn’t that hard to get people to accept completely different new religions. And even today, people with more “traditional religions” are more receptive. But followers of the Axial Age religions are more culturally resistant to new religions. They’ll do their own offshoots(Mormonism) or they’ll become more secular. UFO cults/Scientology seem genuinely different, but they haven’t really caught on, although that could possibly be that it’s too soon. There does really seem to be some kind of psychological wiring for religion, but once people go atheist, they don’t often go back. So I think as far as the future of religion is concerned, there are three options:

        Either I’m overstating how much people are wired for religion and/or it’s growing pains, in which case, we’ll just all become atheists.

        One of the older religions(or one of its offshoots) makes a comeback.

        Or something new comes along which is more satisfying.

        • EchoChaos says:

          In previous millennia, it wasn’t that hard to get people to accept completely different new religions

          Wasn’t it?

          There are, by your standards, only a few “completely different new religions” ever.

        • theredsheep says:

          Scientology started as a bald pseudoscience self-help method in the fifties or thereabouts; it later took on the trappings of religion to try and dodge taxes, win approval, and hide from the wrath of the FDA. It’s had its heyday, but it’s made a lot of enemies over the years, and it wasn’t the same after LRH died. Now it’s hemorrhaging members. The general consensus of CoS-watchers seems to be that eventually it’ll just stop being viable and David Miscavige (the current “pope”) will scurry off under a rock with as much money as he can stuff in a suitcase.

          Religions in general aren’t made of whole new cloth. Schismatics and syncretists have too many advantages over people making it all up from scratch.

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t know if it counts as a “new” religion rather than riffing on an old one, but the religion of Humanity from R. H. Benson’s Lord of The World could point in the direction:

      Yet these two, husband and wife after a fashion — for they had entered into that terminable contract now recognised explicitly by the State — these two were very far from sharing in the usual heavy dulness of mere materialists. The world, for them, beat with one ardent life blossoming in flower and beast and man, a torrent of beautiful vigour flowing from a deep source and irrigating all that moved or felt. Its romance was the more appreciable because it was comprehensible to the minds that sprang from it; there were mysteries in it, but mysteries that enticed rather than baffled, for they unfolded new glories with every discovery that man could make; even inanimate objects, the fossil, the electric current, the far-off stars, these were dust thrown off by the Spirit of the World — fragrant with His Presence and eloquent of His Nature. For example, the announcement made by Klein, the astronomer, twenty years before, that the inhabitation of certain planets had become a certified fact — how vastly this had altered men’s views of themselves. But the one condition of progress and the building of Jerusalem, on the planet that happened to be men’s dwelling place, was peace, not the sword which Christ brought or that which Mahomet wielded; but peace that arose from, not passed, understanding; the peace that sprang from a knowledge that man was all and was able to develop himself only by sympathy with his fellows. To Oliver and his wife, then, the last century seemed like a revelation; little by little the old superstitions had died, and the new light broadened; the Spirit of the World had roused Himself, the sun had dawned in the west; and now with horror and loathing they had seen the clouds gather once more in the quarter whence all superstition had had its birth.

      …There were no mediaeval horrors here; and the act of worship demanded was so little, too; it consisted of no more than bodily presence in the church or cathedral on the four new festivals of Maternity, Life, Sustenance and Paternity, celebrated on the first day of each quarter. Sunday worship was to be purely voluntary.

      She could not understand how any man could refuse this homage. These four things were facts — they were the manifestations of what she called the Spirit of the World — and if others called that Power God, yet surely these ought to be considered as His functions.

      For herself the new worship was a crowning sign of the triumph of Humanity. Her heart had yearned for some such thing as this—some public corporate profession of what all now believed. She had so resented the dulness of folk who were content with action and never considered its springs. Surely this instinct within her was a true one; she desired to stand with her fellows in some solemn place, consecrated not by priests but by the will of man; to have as her inspirers sweet singing and the peal of organs; to utter her sorrow with thousands beside her at her own feebleness of immolation before the Spirit of all; to sing aloud her praise of the glory of life, and to offer by sacrifice and incense an emblematic homage to That from which she drew her being, and to whom one day she must render it again. Ah! these Christians had understood human nature, she had told herself a hundred times: it was true that they had degraded it, darkened light, poisoned thought, misinterpreted instinct; but they had understood that man must worship — must worship or sink.

      For herself she intended to go at least once a week to the little old church half-a-mile away from her home, to kneel there before the sunlit sanctuary, to meditate on sweet mysteries, to present herself to That which she was yearning to love, and to drink, it might be, new draughts of life and power.

      …”My dear sir, worship involves a touch of mystery. You must remember that. It was the lack of that that made Empire Day fail in the last century. For myself, I think it is admirable. Of course much must depend on the manner in which it is presented. I see many details at present undecided — the colour of the curtains, and so forth. But the main plan is magnificent. It is simple, impressive, and, above all, it is unmistakable in its main lesson —-”

      “And that you take to be —?”

      “I take it that it is homage offered to Life,” said the other slowly. “Life under four aspects — Maternity corresponds to Christmas and the Christian fable; it is the feast of home, love, faithfulness. Life itself is approached in spring, teeming, young, passionate. Sustenance in midsummer, abundance, comfort, plenty, and the rest, corresponding somewhat to the Catholic Corpus Christi; and Paternity, the protective, generative, masterful idea, as winter draws on…. I understand it was a German thought.”

      Oliver nodded.

      “Yes,” he said. “And I suppose it will be the business of the speaker to explain all this.”

      “I take it so. It appears to me far more suggestive than the alternative plan —Citizenship, Labour, and so forth. These, after all, are subordinate to Life.”

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      There’s a documentary about just such an occurrence running on (and off) Broadway right now. If you have the opportunity, attend a showing of The Book of Mormon.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        Or you could read the book! It is not that long, and the Church of Jesus’s Christ of Latter-day Saints will send someone to give you one for free, no strings attached.

        But if Islam doesn’t count as a new religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially, “Mormons”) definitely don’t. We have some quirks relative to mainstream Christianity, but nothing that differentiates us as much as Muslims.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          That wasn’t exactly what I was getting at, but thanks for the offer 🙂

          Gigantic, massive spoiler for The Book of Mormon, do not decode if you ever want to see the musical because comedies should definitely not be spoiled: Va gur raq, gur Zbezba zvffvbanevrf jvaq hc univat nppvqragnyyl perngrq n arj eryvtvba. Fb zl pbzzrag jnfa’g nobhg Zbezbavfz orvat n arj eryvtvba, vg jnf nobhg gur cebprff bs perngvat n arj eryvtvba nf qrcvpgrq va gur cynl.

          Cannot recommend the show highly enough, though. I was dying laughing.

          Does anyone know what Mormons think of the play? It’s somewhat offensive, but I think in mostly a good natured way. Probably about as offensive to Mormonism as Dogma was to Catholicism, but I still thought Dogma was funny.

          • smocc says:

            Does anyone know what Mormons think of the play?

            Am a Latter-day Saint, but haven’t seen it. I have Latter-day Saint friends who have seen it and liked it, and friends who have seen it and didn’t like it, and friends who are offended by the whole concept and won’t ever see it.

            My personal take is that I don’t have time for it, in the same way I don’t have time for South Park. I’ve never thought that brand of humor is funny, and it’s certainly not going to add to my spiritual life, so I don’t really see the point. From what I can tell they’re not even making fun of what missionaries are really like; they just kind of made up a caricature and then made fun of that. Where’s the fun in that?

            When I’m in the mood for a quirky, humorous take on the life of missionaries I re-watch Nacho Libre. Jared Hess served as a missionary in Mexico and it shows, both in its underlying morals and in its goofy but loving depiction of rural Mexico.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Mormonism is polytheistic, whereas Islam is at least monotheistic.

          • That makes Mormonism very different from Judaism.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Old school Judaism, or that new stuff that came about after Moses (and again after Solomon)?

            Because the old school Israelites weren’t that monotheistic.

          • smocc says:

            I’m sure you know what you mean by this but it is an incredibly misleading statement and I hope you will stop repeating it in such a simplistic form. The word “polytheistic” conjures ancient religions like Greek polytheism or Hindusim, with many gods that each have domain over different, limited aspects of the world and whose interests may conflict and who often disagree and work against each other.

            Latter-day Saint theology has three beings who are so completely unified in purpose and intent that they may at times be referred to by a single title “God.” They worked in unity to create the entire universe. The Son is a distinct person from the Father but is so aligned with His Father’s will that he shares equally in His glory and power. The Son has said that He can’t do anything of Himself, that only that which he has seen The Father do.

            That is so far removed from any other polytheistic religion that using the same word used for it without at least some clarification starts to feel like it must be a deliberate oversimplification or slur.

          • Dacyn says:

            @smocc: The doctrine of eternal progression strikes me as more like polytheism than any theological differences regarding the Trinity.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What Dacyn said.

          • smocc says:

            @Dacyn Okay, but the concept is still so drastically different from what people think of as “polytheism” that to describe it that way without any clarification is irresponsible. The Greeks didn’t believe that they could become Olympians when they died.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The Greeks didn’t believe that they could become Olympians when they died.

            Maybe not on the level of Zeus, but divine honours were commonly paid to exceptional individuals in the Graeco-Roman world.

            But this all strikes me as a red herring. Whether or not Mormonism is similar to other polytheistic religions, the idea that God started out as a mortal just like us, with his own God, is at least as big a difference from Christianity as any Islamic doctrine is.

          • smocc says:

            Nor do Latter-day Saints think that they will become Olympians. Jesus prayed that his apostles would be One even as He and the Father are One. If Christ being God by virtue of being perfectly unified with His Father and sharing His glory isn’t the problem, what’s the difference with the Saints who are joint-heirs with Christ being God through the same reasons?

            It’s different than Nicene Christianity, but it’s far more different than ancient polytheistic religions.

            If I am testy about this it is because there absolutely are people out there using “Mormons are polytheistic” as a propagandistic slur, even if you yourselves are not doing it.

          • smocc says:

            As far as relative differences between Islam and Nicene Christianity and LDS Christianity go, sure LDS beliefs about eternal progression are perhaps a radical difference. But a Latter-day Saint could profess the Apostle’s Creed without reservation (except for the Catholic church part) whereas that doesn’t make any sense for a Muslim, I think. Which is a bigger difference? Eh.

            You will see Latter-day Saints often get sensitive about being excluded from “Christianity.” Maybe too sensitive, given how a big part of our claim is that all the other Christian sects are wrong. But misrepresentation, especially the deliberate misrepresentation that happens frequently, is frustrating.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I’m thinking that Gerald Gardner‘s Wicca qualified as a new religion by these standards, back when he first wrote about it. He got many of the ideas from others, and some of the symbols from archaeology, but while he claimed a historical background, that was clearly a mix of misunderstanding, wishful thinking, and outright lying.

      It features a Horned God and Goddess, whose names are secret (initiates only), required rituals (20 or perhaps 32 per year), nudity during those rituals, and a host of other practices. Its theological innovations include the idea that everything works in gendered pairings – a concept probably derived ultimately from Hegel’s dialectic. There’s also a strong hedonistic component: “All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals”.

      These days, every second neo-pagan subscribes to some of the above, along with a large swathe of New Agers. But that’s evidence of sucess, not of the ideas being derivative – later neo-pagans are derivatives of Gardnerianism/Wicca, not the reverse, and often use the same name (Wicca).

    • beleester says:

      Some form of mysticism or psychic powers based on understanding your subconscious instincts. In martial arts and other activities that rely on quick reactions, your gut instincts can sometimes be really surprising. Like, all that “stretch out with your feelings” stuff sounds hokey, but the first time you think “This guy is about to throw a kick” and react without knowing why, it basically feels like you’ve developed ESP.

      Now, this isn’t supernatural on its own, but it’s a fertile breeding ground for false beliefs. It’s easy to jump from “A kiai shout helps you to breathe properly when striking” to “A kiai shout channels your ki to increase power” to “A true master can use his ki to knock people out without touching them.” And martial arts training often comes with various rituals and beliefs that can also form the kernel of a religion – rituals to begin and end a class, ways of paying respect to a master, beliefs about using your skills for a higher purpose, etc.

      It’s not super reliable – that video shows one obvious flaw for martial arts in particular – but if you want to make people feel something supernatural without relying on divine revelation, playing off their unconscious instincts is a great way to do it.

    • John Schilling says:

      As others have pointed out, “new” is a bad qualifier because the usual way to create religions is to at least pretend to be drawing on some ancient tradition but claim that this has been forgotten / corrupted by everyone except your cult.

      “Supernatural” is also a bad qualifier, because “supernatural” is a word basically only applied to other people’s beliefs. To people who hold the belief, whatever it is, the force in question is part of nature, it’s just that everyone else is ignorant of that basic truth. You cite the simulation hypothesis, correctly I think, as a thing that could be the basis of a new religion. To those who believe, the simulators are a perfectly natural concept. To everyone else, they are literally above or outside of the natural universe – supernatural. Word just means, “stuff other people believe that we sensible
      people don’t”.

      With those caveats, Gaian environmentalism is not far from sliding over into a full-blown religion. I’ve seen enough people claiming a connection between global warming and e.g. earthquakes and volcanoes, enough people ascribing high levels of agency to ecological forces, to be fairly confident that what they believe falls into the category of “stuff we sensible people consider supernatural”, even as they insist otherwise.

      Rules, see the other thread about the plastic straws. Reverence, absolutely. It fits.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        I would like to push back a little against your definition of (and hence objection to) the word “supernatural”. To me, outside of a philosophical conversation on the nature of reality (where I would want to clarify terms), the term “supernatural” reads as “something that a materialist would disbelieve”. This is a serviceable definition that struggles only with boundary cases like the simulation hypothesis, where some materialists begin appending to or modifying standards materialist claims.

        Would my definition serve in the contexts where you have heard “supernatural”? Or do the people you interact with use it differently?

      • Dacyn says:

        My Catholic parents would be very surprised to learn that “supernatural” is a word “only applied to other people’s beliefs”.

  10. BBA says:

    I did a hasty job packing for this trip (I had a brief but intense illness in the days prior to my departure) and had to pick up a few items here in Norway that I left at home. In particular, I noticed that the deodorant for sale at a local store was mostly of the “roll-on” variety: there’s a rolling plastic ball that picks up the (liquid?) deodorant and applies it to my body. This in contrast to the “stick” type that I use at home in the US, where the deodorant is a soft solid or a gel that is applied directly.

    Wikipedia informs me that the roll-on type is in fact more common in Europe while the stick type is more common in America, but doesn’t offer any theories as to why. I don’t know that one is more effective than the other; it just strikes me as an odd cultural preference with no underlying reason for it. Any idea how or why this came about?

    Also, any other odd cultural differences like this? One that jumps to mind is the alleged Canadian practice of selling milk in bags, although I’ve been to Canada a few times and don’t recall seeing bagged milk anywhere.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Any idea how or why this came about?

      Patents?

      Other odd differences I’ve noticed: Europeans tend to use front-loading washing machines while Americans tend to use top-loading washing machines. American cars tend to be bigger and have weird metal bars on the bumpers (I don’t even know what they are called).
      And of course the CW things: guns, infant circumcision, death penalty.

      • JayT says:

        I’m curious what metal bars you’re referring to. Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Mad Max? Because that’s in Australia. 😉

        • viVI_IViv says:

          Ok, after a bit of searching on Google images, i figured it out: they are bike racks. Saw them in Seattle on buses and other vehicles, but never with a bike on them.

          I didn’t really visited much of the US but I think in other places bull bars are common on pickup trucks.

          • JayT says:

            They aren’t uncommon on trucks and police cars have them. I was just imagining something like that on a Corolla and that was making me chuckle.

      • Anteros says:

        On my first visit to the States, I found it hilarious that blueberries were sold by the pint.

      • Lambert says:

        Sounds like a waste of perfectly good top-of-washing-machine space.

    • JayT says:

      I didn’t even know that roll-on deodorant still existed. I thought that was a 90’s marketing gimmick that died.

      One of the weirdest cultural difference that I’ve seen in my travels is how hard it is to get a glass of water in Germany. I was there during the heatwave last summer, and I felt constantly dehydrated because I didn’t want to pay the 2 euros to get a tiny glass of water at the restaurant. Their beer is much lighter than I’m used to here though, so it worked well enough.

      • Dacyn says:

        In some cases this is not only a cultural difference: in England and I think in at least some US states, it is illegal for a restaurant to serve alcohol without providing free tap water.

      • Aapje says:

        @JayT

        Germans invented Radler, which is a 50/50 mixture of beer and lemonade. Supposedly, this was first sold to cyclists (fahrradler = cyclist). This is good for drinking in summer if you don’t want to get drunk.

        • The Nybbler says:

          English “shandy” is apparently older than German “radler”.

          • Aapje says:

            It’s not rocket science to mix the two, so perhaps it was independently invented twice. I myself experimented a little with such mixtures as well.

    • Anatoly says:

      Siphonic vs Washdown toilets. Every time I visit the US, I’m surprised again by the siphonic toilets; they’re deeply weird.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        Huh, I had no idea they used different kind of toilets outside of North America.

      • Lambert says:

        Then there’s the Teutonic shit-shelf design.

        Not sure whoever thought that was in any way good or desirable.

        • Buddha Buddhing Rodriguez says:

          Žižek explains:

          In a traditional German toilet, the hole into which shit disappears after we flush is right at the front, so that shit is first laid out for us to sniff and inspect for traces of illness. In the typical French toilet, on the contrary, the hole is at the back, i.e. shit is supposed to disappear as quickly as possible. Finally, the American (Anglo-Saxon) toilet presents a synthesis, a mediation between these opposites: the toilet basin is full of water, so that the shit floats in it, visible, but not to be inspected. […] It is clear that none of these versions can be accounted for in purely utilitarian terms: each involves a certain ideological perception of how the subject should relate to excrement. Hegel was among the first to see in the geographical triad of Germany, France and England an expression of three different existential attitudes: reflective thoroughness (German), revolutionary hastiness (French), utilitarian pragmatism (English). In political terms, this triad can be read as German conservatism, French revolutionary radicalism and English liberalism. […] The point about toilets is that they enable us not only to discern this triad in the most intimate domain, but also to identify its underlying mechanism in the three different attitudes towards excremental excess: an ambiguous contemplative fascination; a wish to get rid of it as fast as possible; a pragmatic decision to treat it as ordinary and dispose of it in an appropriate way. It is easy for an academic at a round table to claim that we live in a post-ideological universe, but the moment he visits the lavatory after the heated discussion, he is again knee-deep in ideology.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            Are we seriously being asked to believe that Germans routinely inspect – and sniff! – their own poop before flushing the toilet?

    • bullseye says:

      I’ve used both kinds of deodorant in the U.S. The solid kind has the advantages of not catching my hair and not getting caught up in airport security. The rollon has no advantage that I know of.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        The roll on lasts forever in a smaller package. The residue is much less (unnoticeable) than the stick kinds I’ve used before, though gel solids have less noticeable residue than opaque solids.

        I use Mitchum unscented roll-on. Back when I was rollerblading daily it indeed lived up to the 48-hour protection claim. It dries on fast, and doesn’t stick to my t-shirts or cause my armpits to feel sticky. Issues I vaguely recall with stick deodorants.

    • b_jonas says:

      I’m a European. We have deodorants in all three methods of delivery: stick, roll-on ball, and aerosol spray. I currently use roll-on. I would weakly prefer stick, because I’ve had a ball fall off a bottle of deodorant once, pouring a large quantity of very densely scented liquid on me, but I care more about the scent than the method of delivery.

  11. Anatoly says:

    Why Evolutionary Psychology (Probably) Isn’t Possible

    Is there much to this critique of evolutionary psychology (itself a summary of a recent peer-reviewed article)?

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Meh, a defeatist position, probably argued for political reasons. If evolutionary psychology is impossible, then how is evolutionary biology possible? Don’t their argument apply to anything?

      • Anatoly says:

        The article (the peer-reviewed one) does talk about why the argument applies to evo-psych but not evo-bio in general, and demonstrates this on specific examples from both. I feel I don’t know enough to confidently judge whether this is convincing, but they do address this.

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        Evo-psyc is possible. It is also full to the brim of cognitive hazards, extremely lacking in verifiable evidence or possible experiments, which means it turns into a shit show generator of just-so-stories about how 1950s usa is the ideal society.

        General rule: When you reach that particular conclusion, go back and see were your reasoning process got highjacked by nostalgia.

        For example, I never, ever see anyone argue that our evolved sexual response patterns clearly indicate that the devils threesome was the ancesteral enviorment usual sexual encounter, and that is a position which is one hell of a lot *easier* to defend than the conclusions usually reached. (I dont particularly think it is true. I think it more likely human sexual response patterns are what they are, because with the current setup, women are very strongly encouraged to dump men who are not conscientious lovers like a rotten fruit, which is a decent proxy for “will not be a totally useless father” but I also know I dont actually know what the prehistoric evolutionary incentives were)

        • For example, I never, ever see anyone argue that our evolved sexual response patterns clearly indicate that the devils threesome was the ancesteral enviorment usual sexual encounter

          It’d be a pretty weak argument to make. We know of hunter-gatherer and primitive farmer* groups. Most are either monogamous either for life or serially. A few do weird stuff which allows ideologues to cherry pick and present them as typical, similar to how one could identify Short Creek as a typical social structure for industrial humanity.

          I think it more likely human sexual response patterns are what they are, because with the current setup, women are very strongly encouraged to dump men who are not conscientious lovers like a rotten fruit, which is a decent proxy for “will not be a totally useless father” but I also know I dont actually know what the prehistoric evolutionary incentives were

          Here’s one thing you can do: look at the real world. In farming societies you didn’t see much of “our wedding night was rather mediocre, I’m going to find another man.” For those hunter-gatherer groups which had serial monogamy it’s at least possible to imagine that this happened. On the other hand maybe it didn’t, you could start by reading the anthropological literature on modern hunter-gatherer groups.

          *Where evo-psych really goes wrong is the assumption that farming isn’t our ancestral environment.

          • brad says:

            *Where evo-psych really goes wrong is the assumption that farming isn’t our ancestral environment.

            How many generations does it take to fix a complex psychological trait? Or to put it another way, why farming and not factories?

          • viVI_IViv says:

            People whose ancestors have been doing farming since prehistorical times have adaptations such as more efficient ethanol metabolism. Similarly, people whose ancestors have been doing animal husbandry of milk-producing animals (cattle, yak, sheep and goats) tend to have lactase persistence.

            The Ashkenazim separated from the Sephardim around 800 CE and became prominent intellectuals around 1900 CE, which suggests that about 1,100 years are sufficient to evolve a 7-15 IQ points difference.

            There are no obvious adaptations to industrialism discovered so far.

          • Dacyn says:

            @brad: Wikipedia is being less than helpful here, but I think the answer should be something like log(N)/s, where N is the population size and s is the fitness advantage conferred by the mutation. I think 1% is probably a pretty good advantage, which in a population of a billion means about 2000 generations. Of course, complex traits require multiple mutations so that takes longer.

          • albatross11 says:

            I’m pretty sure it matters a lot that the size of the population was rapidly expanding during that time. The same land can support a tiny number of hunter-gatherers or a much, much larger number of farmers, so the population when up by some huge multiple when agriculture got established.

          • @albatross,

            The world population grew from 4 million to 400 million between 10,000 BC and 1,000 AD. On average it grew .04% a year, or 1.2% every 28-year generation.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#Past_population

        • viVI_IViv says:

          Evo-psyc Evolutionary biology is possible. It is also full to the brim of cognitive hazards, extremely lacking in verifiable evidence or possible experiments, which means it turns into a shit show generator of just-so-stories about how 1950s usa godless liberalism is the ideal society.

          Still claims too much.

          General rule: When you reach that particular conclusion, go back and see were your reasoning process got highjacked by nostalgia.

          Or whether it got highjacked by modernism.

          For example, I never, ever see anyone argue that our evolved sexual response patterns clearly indicate that the devils threesome was the ancesteral enviorment usual sexual encounter, and that is a position which is one hell of a lot *easier* to defend than the conclusions usually reached.

          How is it easier to defend? How many people practice devils threesomes?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Because it blatantly fits arousal patterns.
            Bear in mind, this is very tongue in cheek – I am trying to demostrate you can take biological facts and fit them to about any narrative you like.

            Women have a very elaborate erogenous system, the clit and all the rest are obviously not accidents. But on average, it takes a woman a bit shy of twice as long to get off as it does a man, and then.. she does not noticably wind down. If you try, for a very large percentage of women the upper limit on the length of a sexual encounter is basically your partners patience.
            Contrast this with male response where orgasm is basically a hormonal sledgehammer telling your brain that sex is no longer interesting at all and you should go do something else, Make a snack, sleep, but watching sex happen is foreplay. This is #obviously all a legacy from a history where the usual encounter was one woman boinking 2 to four guys in a row.

          • Pink-Nazbol says:

            But on average, it takes a woman a bit shy of twice as long to get off as it does a man, and then.. she does not noticably wind down. If you try, for a very large percentage of women the upper limit on the length of a sexual encounter is basically your partners patience.

            I’m sure you speak from experience here…

            What you’ve shown here is that it’s possible to take dubious “facts” and then use them to reach dubious conclusions, easier to do if you don’t look for any evidence to falsify your conclusions. See the non-existence of sperm competition in human population, which is what you’d expect if certain cucky fantasies were true:

            https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/sperm-competition/

    • Clutzy says:

      Isolated demand for rigor. Should be more accurately titled, “why psychology (probably) isn’t possible.”

    • Dacyn says:

      Skimming the article, it looks like a lot of it is correct, but then he phrases it in tendentious ways like “evolutionary psychologists have not shown […]” I mean, as a mathematician, I can say that none of you scientists have shown anything. Just made reasonable inferences based on data. The standards of each field are different and that’s OK. It’s worthwhile to point this out regularly so that people don’t get confused, but it doesn’t mean that evolutionary psychology is worthless or anything.

  12. proyas says:

    MSNBC is a news and culture TV network that caters to liberals, and since Donald Trump won the 2016 election, MSNBC’s viewership has gotten bigger than ever. There is probably a link between the two. My guess is that liberals who feel bad about Trump or scared by what he might do are watching MSNBC more because it is comforting to affirm their self-identities and to hear smart-sound people on TV reassure them and reinforce their views. If Trump stopped being President, the sense of urgency and fear would ease, and many people wouldn’t feel the need to watch MSNBC anymore.

    Higher viewership means bigger ad revenues and more money for the people working at MSNBC. That said, isn’t it in MSNBC’s financial self-interest for Trump to win re-election in 2020? Presumably, this will boost the network’s ratings even more, or at least keep them from declining.

    More questions:

    1) Are the people calling the shots at MSNBC aware that the Trump presidency boosts their incomes?

    2) If they wanted to facilitate Trump’s reelection, how would they do so? They of course can’t say anything explicitly pro-Trump since that would confuse and alienate their liberal viewers. This means that, if it decided to pursue its financial self-interest, MSNBC would have to make content that was superficially neutral or anti-Trump, but that somehow produced second-order effects that helped Trump. What kinds of content would do this?

    3) Is it more likely that the people in charge at MSNBC are unaware they are benefiting from the Trump presidency?

    4) Is it more likely that the people in charge at MSNBC are aware they are benefiting from Trump, but that they are choosing to make genuinely anti-Trump content designed to undermine his reelection because other principles are more important to them than making money?

    • John Schilling says:

      1) Are the people calling the shots at MSNBC aware that the Trump presidency boosts their incomes?

      Who do you imagine are “the people calling the shots” at MSNBC?

      MSNBC is owned by NBC, and NBC stockholders do not exercise operational control over the journalistic content of MSNBC. And MSNBC represents about 1.5% of NBC’s total revenue, so NBC stockholders are not going to pocket any great windfall on account of a Trump victory.

      Just about everybody who stands between NBC stockholders and MSNBC’s content-producing journalists is a salaried employee. The indirect incentives that you might think will have them greedily seeking a Trump victory, come riddled with principal-agent problems and non-financial incentives that are going to drive your posited incentive below the noise floor for personal decisionmaking.

      2) If they wanted to facilitate Trump’s reelection, how would they do so?

      They don’t want to, they aren’t going to, and discussing the hypothetical is almost certainly going to generate into “Down with the Liberal Big Media, evil because I just thought up something evil I think they will do”. We’ve all got better things to do with our time than that.

      • Dacyn says:

        Your logic seems to also imply that journalists have no incentive to maximize viewership in general, regardless of whether it comes from a Trump victory.

        • John Schilling says:

          Most journalists are freelancers, stringers, or staff at bottom-tier outlets that everyone expects to be bankrupt in a decade. They’re out to make a name for themselves personally so they can move up, and “make a name for themselves” is strongly correlated with viewership.

          Journalists at large, stable media outlets are motivated and rewarded more by ego and professional reputation, and those are more weakly correlated with viewership. Rachel Maddow gets roughly half the total viewers of Norah O’Donnell, but I’m betting I made the right call in linking to only one of those names. And, despite the viewership differential, they both get paid about seven million per year.

      • albatross11 says:

        My guess is that more-or-less everyone working at MSNBC cares deeply about ratings, and also has broadly liberal/progressive political views. Their choices about what to discuss, how to cover stories, whom to interview, etc., have large and visible and understandable effects on their ratings. They may also have all kinds of harder-to-untangle effects on getting their preferred side into power, but both the incentives and the knowledge they have are much weaker for making decisions that help their side.

        It’s quite possible to me that MSNBC’s coverage helps Trump, in the “no publicity is bad publicity” sense or in the sense of providing Trump supporters plenty of media examples to point out who are unhinged and unfair. But I think it very unlikely that there are many people at MSNBC consciously wanting Trump to stay in the white house.

        • Noah says:

          “no publicity is bad publicity”

          I think that stops applying once you’re sufficiently well-known and on everyone’s minds (e.g. by being POTUS).

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Epistemic status: these are opinions, not statements of fact.

      1) Undoubtedly.

      2) They should continue doing what they’re doing. When normal people encounter people who have been whipped up into a Trump-Russia-Ukraine conspiracy frenzy by MSNBC they respond the same way normal people responded when they encounter an Alex Jones fan: “this person is unhinged, and all of their ideas are suspect. My appreciation for their political opponents is marginally improved because they seem sane by comparison.” Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

      3) No, they are aware they are benefiting from the Trump presidency.

      4) They make anti-Trump content because it helps them in the short term (that’s what their audience wants to see). I do not know whether or not they are aware their anti-Trump content helps Trump by providing less-crazy pro-Trump programs with plenty of material to demonstrate how unhinged Trump’s opponents appear to be, making Trump seem normal by comparison. All of this is going to work out well for MSNBC’s bottom line. Deleterious effects on their viewers’ anxiety and depression levels are immaterial.

      • snifit says:

        When normal people encounter people who have been whipped up into a Trump-Russia-Ukraine conspiracy frenzy by MSNBC they respond the same way normal people responded when they encounter an Alex Jones fan

        Yikes. If I remember right, you were flogging John Solomon articles here just a couple months ago as though he were credible. He, of course, was involved in the Ukraine-Biden dirt scheme from the beginning.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Please provide evidence John Solomon is not credible on Ukraine-Biden.

          ETA: Here are Solomon’s facts, with references, in his Ukraine-Biden reporting. Which of these are factually incorrect?

          • snifit says:

            I’m having trouble responding. What’s your bar for credibility? You’ve dismissed an entire network as lunatics but you put stock in a partisan reporter working directly with Rudy Giuliani and co.

            The evidence that Solomon is not credible on Ukraine-Biden is that there is no actual wrongdoing. It was a narrative pushed by a hack reporter. It was so incredible that the scheme backfired spectactularly and helped get Trump impeached.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Please cite evidence Solomon is a partisan.

            Define “working with Giuliani” and under what circumstances that would be bad. I googled around to try to find out what you’re talking about and I found a few partisan websites stating Solomon worked with people Giuliani knew to set up interviews with Ukrainians, but I fail to see how that’s bad.

            If Rachel Maddow contacted Adam Schiff’s office to help put her in touch with impeachment witnesses, would that destroy her credibility in your eyes?

            The evidence that Solomon is not credible on Ukraine-Biden is that there is no actual wrongdoing.

            We don’t know if there was wrongdoing because there hasn’t been an investigation. It sure looks fishy. Hunter Biden has a lucrative job he has no business having with a corrupt Ukrainian energy company, despite not knowing anything about Ukraine or energy. The company is under investigation for corruption, and a month after the owner’s home is raided for suspicion of criminal corrupt dealings wrt to the energy company, Joe Biden has the prosecutor who ordered that raid fired. The replacement prosecutor then lets them off with a slap-on-the-wrist tax fine. That sure looks like corruption, and is worthy of being investigated.

            The investigation should be rather simple: have the Inspector General’s Office talk to the six guys with PhDs in Ukrainian Studies in the State Department’s sub-subbasement Ukraine Division and say “how did it become U.S. policy that a specific Ukrainian prosecutor be fired?” If this was all aboveboard then one of them will say “oh, that was totally my idea. We were trying to do good things A, B and C but Shokin kept doing corrupt things X, Y, Z, so here’s the memo I wrote about it. We passed that up to the ambassador and to Obama who agreed with us (here’s copies of the emails), and Biden was simply tasked with dropping the ax.” If on the other hand they say “we have no idea. One day Biden showed up and said ‘Shokin’s got to go, he’s screwing with my kid’s money!'” then that points in the other direction.

            So, you assert no wrongdoing was done.

            1) How do you know?

            2) How did it come to be U.S. policy that Shokin be fired? Specifically, naming names, whose idea was this?

            ETA: Oh, and as to my “bar for credibility,” you need to show me he’s actually made provably false statements of fact. Nobody does this. They just do the “yikes” thing as if incredulity is an argument. It is not. HBC did the same thing last time, saying that citing Solomon was “not a good look” without explaining why it’s not a good look.

          • snifit says:

            The Ukraine experts from the state department did testify as to the whole Ukraine-Biden issue. They said Solomon was wrong. There is no substance his allegations.

            The “Yikes” is because you (rightly) denounce MSNBC for stoking Trump-Russia conspiracies while pushing discredited Biden-Ukraine conspiracies yourself.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            They said Solomon was wrong. There is no substance his allegations.

            Did you read the article I linked?

            “I think all the key elements were false,” Vindman testified.

            Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y, pressed him about what he meant. “Just so I understand what you mean when you say key elements, are you referring to everything John Solomon stated or just some of it?”

            “All the elements that I just laid out for you. The criticisms of corruption were false…. Were there more items in there, frankly, congressman? I don’t recall. I haven’t looked at the article in quite some time, but you know, his grammar might have been right.”

            What specific facts were false? All he’s doing is the incredulity denial that you are parroting. Please tell me what the wrong facts are. Specifically, what is Vindman stating Solomon has wrong in his reporting?

            It’s basically The Shaggey Defense. “Wasn’t Biden.” Do you understand why that isn’t quite good enough? You need to state, specifically, what facts Solomon has stated that are wrong. You just keep saying…nothing really.

            So, one more time: NAME THE SPECIFIC FACTS SOLOMON ALLEGES WHICH ARE FALSE. Can you name even one? A single one?

            Notice I put that in all caps. This is kind of super-duper important. Please, I’m down on my knees begging you, at least find one single fact in the list of supporting facts I’ve linked that are false. If you can’t…do you kind of understand why I don’t find your complete lack of argument convincing? Do you understand why it just sort of looks like what it looks like…that Biden had the guy fired because he was investigating his son’s company? And that’s a little corrupt-ish? And maybe it’s okay to investigate that?

            Just give me something, anything to work with here, besides “Wasn’t Biden.”

          • snifit says:

            The “fact” list is irrelevant. It’s not disputed that Hunter was on the Burisma board, for example. The issue is whether Biden got Shokin fired to protect Hunter and the only “factual” support for that comes from Shokin himself. Are there any documents? Any witnesses? Or just the word of the corrupt prosecutor in question?

            I dont know why you discount the testimony of the state department officials. Not just Vindman, but George Kent, Fiona Hill, and Marie Yovanovitch all testified that Solomon’s reporting was wrong.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is like talking to a brick wall. In what way did they say Solomon’s reporting was wrong? Specifically? We understand what “specifically” means, right? It means not just “Solomon was wrong” but “Solomon said A and the truth is !A.” Please tell me what A is.

            Solomon never concluded Biden’s involvement was corrupt. He laid out facts that amount to probable cause to investigate to see if it was corrupt. And remember you’re the one saying he’s “not credible.” Why is he not credible if he’s stated nothing incorrect?

            Remember, you have yet to identify a single false or misleading statement by Solomon, and yet you started with “Yikes,” as if it’s a forgone conclusion anyone thinking Solomon is credible is embarrassingly misinformed. Shouldn’t it be super easy to embarrass me here by pointing out Solomon’s myriad lies and half-truths?

            Are there any documents? Any witnesses?

            That’s the point of having an investigation. You hear a shot. You find the body. The suspect is standing over the corpse with a smoking gun in his hand. The victim was threatening the suspect’s son. Is it maybe a good idea to investigate whether or not the suspect pulled the trigger because the victim was threatening his son, even though there is not currently a document by the suspect specifically stating he killed the guy because he was threatening his son? If somebody said “we should check this out,” would you respond, “Yikes?”

            The investigation into Biden should be very simple: the State Department should produce the documents that show how it became US policy that Shokin be ousted.

            Can we agree on that? There should be nothing wrong with finding the specific State Department technocrats who can lay out exactly how Shokin’s ousting came to be US policy?

            Do you understand I don’t just want a technocrat to tell me “TECHNOCRATS GOOD, SOLOMON BAD” I want them to walk me through the decision-making process on this one.

            Just do that and we’re all good. I can completely believe that Biden is so socially and politically inept that it simply never occurred to him or his staff that this looks like a terrible conflict of interest and he should have recused himself. This is the same guy who keeps awkwardly rubbing children and sniffing their hair. I can totally believe he’s simply inept and not malevolent. But you need the technocrats to explain the process and not just say “nuh uh.”

            And you understand this is not an isolated demand for rigor in the wake of my calling out of MSNBC. Go through the MSNBC “evidence” of Trump being a Putin puppet and I can debunk every talking point. Pick any one you want, Mifsud and Papadopolous, Trump Tower meeting, Ukraine policy in the GOP platform, whatever, I explain specifically how these are misleading narratives.

            But you have nothing.

            Ergo, MSNBC: Alex Jones tier conspiracy nonsense. Solomon: correct purveyor of facts.

          • The evidence that Solomon is not credible on Ukraine-Biden is that there is no actual wrongdoing.

            That’s a conclusion, whether true or false I don’t know, not evidence.

            Conrad linked to a detailed set of claims by Solomon, each of which had links to the evidence supporting it. Do you have evidence showing that those claims are false? Alternatively, and more plausibly, can you point us at someone else who actually rebuts the claims?

          • snifit says:

            What you’re looking for is in those officials’ testimony. I’m not playing keep-away about this. You can read it. I see that major publications like the Washington Post, ProPublica, and Vox all have summaries of the scheme if you google “what did solomon get wrong about ukraine”. You seem to know a lot about John Solomon so I’m just a little surprised you’ve never seen this stuff.

            Solomon was handed a lot of this stuff by Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas on Trump’s behalf. He then interviewed corrupt Ukrainians and reported their word as fact with no corroboration. He printed a bunch of lies.

            I know you were eager to defend Solomon’s “facts” but they’re really just not the point. His credibility is not an open question determined by his list.

          • AliceToBob says:

            @snifit

            I’m not playing keep-away about this.

            It sure feels like you are.

            I just spent ten minutes using your suggested search words and found nothing of substance. All I saw were the same vague claims you’re making: key elements are wrong, he’s not credible, etc. But not a single concrete example. There’s also some other innuendo about Solomon engaging in shady business decisions, yet again there are no details.

            It seems likely to me that you have no evidence to support your claims. Rather you’re just parroting back the vagaries you’ve digested from the media.

            I’m willing to update if you (or anyone) can provide actual details. I’m not fond of reporters, and it wouldn’t surprise me to discover another one is lying. But right now, I feel like snifit is aping a chatbot.

          • @Sniffit:

            Why are you not willing to accept the challenge Conrad offered you when he linked to a long list of claims Solomon made, along with links to what Solomon claims is the evidence for each? If he is really as unreliable as you say, shouldn’t you be able to take any claim you suspect is false and show either that his evidence doesn’t support it or that there is evidence at least as good showing it isn’t true?

            My guess is that the answer is not that you don’t believe what you are saying but that you are not willing to do the work it would take to actually follow up the arguments on both sides and find adequate support for your beliefs.

            That’s entirely understandable — I’m not willing to do it either. But that leaves you in the position of someone asserting, with great confidence, that something is true, when your basis for that comes down to “people on my side say it is true.” One often ends up depending on that sort of information, but can’t you see that there is no reason for the rest of us to take the argument seriously — or to take you seriously when you put your claim as if were based on something more than that?

    • This means that, if it decided to pursue its financial self-interest, MSNBC would have to make content that was superficially neutral or anti-Trump, but that somehow produced second-order effects that helped Trump. What kinds of content would do this?

      Content that was anti-Trump, fit the biases of liberals, and could readily be quoted by Trump supporters as evidence of how unreasonable/dishonest/evil Trump’s opponents were.

  13. proyas says:

    Here’s an analysis of the future technology depicted in the cinematic masterpiece Terminator, Dark Fate: https://www.militantfuturist.com/review-terminator-dark-fate/

    • Viliam says:

      Watching the movie…

      Oh, here comes a Strong Woman(TM) who can win a physical fight with a Terminator. That reminds me of another Strong Woman(TM) I watched recently win a physical fight with people from Superman’s species. Except, in this movie we get an in-universe explanation: she’s augmented. Allright then.

      …okay, finished. My impressions:

      There is this annoying trend of converting male heroes into women (but keeping the villans and robots male, of course — tomorrow we might see Harriette Potter, but no Lady Voldemort), but ignoring this, the movie felt similar to other Terminator movies. Robots, fighting, and a very simple time-travel thing. (I’d say Genisys was an exception here, at that the time-travel thing was a bit more complicated than usual; Dark Fate reverts to the mean.)

      Rating: somewhere between “meh” and “okay”.

  14. johan_larson says:

    Let’s indulge in a counterfactual.

    The Victorians were right. Masturbation is bad for you. Careful social science on the subject, done with large sample sizes, proper control groups, and every attempt to eliminate confounders and isolate causality, has delivered a clear verdict. Masturbation won’t make you crazy or blind, but over time indulging in it tends to lower the capacity for self-control more broadly. And that has serious negative effects on school performance, conformity with the law, social functioning, and in particular lifetime earnings. Students accepted to the Ivy League on average masturbate half as often as high-school dropouts from the same cohort. Harvard, as it turns out, is not full of wankers.

    Now, if all of this were the case, what could, should, and would be done?

    • Machine Interface says:

      Subsidize libido-lowering medications and prostitution, destigmatize the later and present sex workers as doing a vital public service.

    • Lambert says:

      Promoting hookup culture ought to help.

      • johan_larson says:

        “You know what you should do, young man? You should have sex with your girlfriend.” Imagine the ads.

      • Creutzer says:

        On the contrary – people in steady relationships actually have more sex, and hookup culture just leads to a larger undersexed population.

        Nothing should be done that shouldn’t be done anyway. It seems that people nowadays already have shockingly little sex. And we already know that masturbation isn’t as good for people’s mental and physical health as actual sex. But there just isn’t much that can be done.

        • Well... says:

          Hookup culture also seems (to me anyway) to be directly tied to MeTooism as a thing. It’s true, boyfriends/husbands sometimes rape their girlfriends/wives, but there’s none of this “I thought we had a great date.” “Yeah, well I think it was sexual assault” stuff. You’re way more likely to not have a mutual understanding about the motivations and intentions of a stranger than of someone you’re deeply familiar with. I know what mood my wife is in by the way her footsteps sound from the other side of our house.

      • Aapje says:

        @Lambert

        Hookup culture has far greater transaction costs than long-term relationships, as well as having supply/demand issues.

    • EchoChaos says:

      Plausibly or “I’m dictator and can make it happen”?

      Plausibly would be increasing the tax benefit for married children to the point that parents were regularly marrying off their high school students at 14-15 for the benefits, because if you put two horny teenagers together semi-permanently and tell them society approves of them having sex there will be little masturbation.

      • Plumber says:

        @EchoChaos says:

        “…increasing the tax benefit for married children to the point that parents were regularly marrying off their high school students at 14-15 for the benefits, because if you put two horny teenagers together semi-permanently and tell them society approves of them having sex there will be little masturbation”

        Sort of related, from a UK newspaper:

        1,200 more babies due to be born in Denmark this Summer compared to last year

        Denmark’s bizarre series of sex campaigns lead to baby boom
        In 2015 a Danish campiagn titled ‘Do it for mom’ urged people to have children in order to please their parents

        Alexandra Sims
        Thursday 2 June 2016 18:15


        Denmark’s birth rate is set to increase following a series of targetted sex campaigns, including one that called on Danes to “Do it for mom”.

        Last year a string of campaigns were released over national television encouraging Danish people to procreate.

        Company, Spies Travel, released a video with the slogan “Do it for mom” in September 2015 urging people to have children to please their parents and help reverse the country’s aging population.

        “The Danish welfare system is under pressure. There are still not enough babies being born, despite a little progress. And this concerns us all. But those who suffer the most are perhaps the mothers who will never experience having a grandchild,” the advert stated, showing an older Danish woman imagining her future grandchild. 

        Soon after, the City of Copenhagen produced its own campaign calling on people to think about their fertility; with slogans asking men if their sperm was “swimming too slowly?” and women if they had “counted their eggs today?”

        The country’s national broadcaster also aired a programme titled “Knald for Danmark” or “Screw for Denmark”.

        Nine months later reports have suggested that Denmark is set for a baby boom with 1,200 more babies due to be born this Summer compared to last year, The Local reports, citing a report in the Danish broadsheet Politiken.

        Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for health, Ninna Thomsen, told TV2 News the campaigns were not co-ordinated and she did not want to take credit for the imminent baby boom.

        Ms Thomsen said: “You probably can’t ascribe the increase in births to our campaign, but it’s definitely a feather in our cap if the campaign has had a positive effect.

        “It was a bit of a surprise to me that there were so many campaigns on the subject within such a short time. It certainly resulted in people getting plenty of fertility advice.”

        The campaigns stemmed from Denmark’s falling birth rate and aging population.

        In 2014, the national fertility rate was at 1.69, a small increase on 2013 and the first time such an increase had occurred since 2010.

        The average age of first-time parents in Denmark was 29.1 years in 2014, five years older than the average age in 1970”

        IIRC for the U.S.A. in the last 100 years 1956 was the year with the highest percentage of young couples that were married with children [so presumably…], a peak after the previous low in 1940 (which more resembled today’s percentages).

        So just re-create the economic and social conditions of 1956 (Good luck! So much was different than, both policy and world conditions-wise, some portions of such a turn would be supported by Democrats and some other portions by Republicans, but on aggregate there’d be bi-partisan opposition, as too much is different now. For a long time the “baby boom” years seemed the baseline that we’d strayed from, but the more I’ve looked into it the more anomalous they seem from both the years before and after.)!

        • EchoChaos says:

          So just re-create the economic and social conditions of 1956

          That’s a platform I can get behind!

        • rocoulm says:

          Do it for mom

          lmao. Does that work as a pun in Danish too, or is it just a lucky coincidence?

        • So just re-create the economic and social conditions of 1956

          Real per capita income is currently about 3.7 times what it was then. So you are proposing that things would be better if everyone had under a third of his current income.

          Is that really what you want?

          • Lambert says:

            Also Europe and Asia might have objections to being flattened.

          • Plumber says:

            @DavidFriedman,
            Among many other factors, first you’d have to lower per capita income to even less than a third of now, and then have it rise for a good number of years.

            A weird thing about now is that we have been in an economic growth period for some years now, but birth and marriage rates are still down compared to just before the ’08 crash, my guess is that the expansion has to last longer to get over the “shell shock”, but I don’t really know.

            An interesting (to me) factoid is that birthrates among the married have actually gone up a bit the last few years, it’s that the marriage rate still hasn’t climbed back up after the last recession that births are low.

            In absolute terms now is by far richer than 1956, and even more than 1940, but births, church attendance, young marriages (all three correlate) in 2019 were closer to those of 1940 than ’56.

            My guess is it’s related to how optimistic people feel more than absolute wealth, maybe five more years of growth is needed?

          • JayT says:

            I suspect that low birth rates have more to do with marrying later in life than people used to. A very large number of my friends that married after 35 needed to use some form of fertility treatment to get pregnant, and that tends to be a pretty long and arduous process, so they don’t bother with a second attempt. The people I know that married younger tend to have 3-4 kids.

      • johan_larson says:

        I guess the question in that sort of scenario is what happens when the couple that was married at 15 gets pregnant at 16. Or rather, what the society believes should happen. Is the pregnancy aborted? Does one member of the couple (probably the man/boy) pull the ripcord on their education and go find a job to support the family? Do their parents look after the kid until the couple finishes their educations? Or does the state?

        All of these could probably be made to work. But none of them look great.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Traditionally in the cultures that I know of that had widespread teenage marriage (mostly Eastern European and Middle Eastern), it was the parental one, which is why they had more “extended families”.

          The Anglo model of nuclear families pretty much requires getting married in the early-mid 20s.

        • JayT says:

          Make getting a NuvaRing a normal part of a 15 year old girl’s yearly checkup?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Could always put sterilization drugs in the water and make people ask the Crown Uncle Sam for the antidote

          • caryatis says:

            Yeah, I strongly believe that all girls should be on birth control as soon as physically possible. Why run the risk of unwanted pregnancy when you don’t have to?

          • Deiseach says:

            Yeah, I strongly believe that all girls should be on birth control as soon as physically possible.

            So aged twelve to fourteen when you first start menstruating? I think the side-effects of pumping hormones into the system may not be that great (we already have plenty of such documented, and it’s my understanding that there are women who try and then come off hormonal birth control because of the severe side effects). Ditto with implants and IUDs and so on.

            Let me make you a counter-proposal: all boys to be sterilised as soon as physically possible (hey, it’s easily reversible! especially if some fancy new method gets invented! why shouldn’t male contraception get as many options as female contraception?), after all there can’t be pregnancies if there aren’t any viable sperm, right? And if that evokes an immediate visceral reaction against the proposal, then maybe you understand why “put pubertal girls on the pill” doesn’t sound like a universal panacea from the female side.

          • soreff says:

            @Deiseach

            Let me make you a counter-proposal: all boys to be sterilised as soon as physically possible (hey, it’s easily reversible! especially if some fancy new method gets invented! why shouldn’t male contraception get as many options as female contraception?), after all there can’t be pregnancies if there aren’t any viable sperm, right? And if that evokes an immediate visceral reaction against the proposal, then maybe you understand why “put pubertal girls on the pill” doesn’t sound like a universal panacea from the female side.

            I have a visceral reaction in favor of this proposal.
            Slight tweak:
            Rather than relying on the ability to reverse vasectomies,
            store frozen sperm. This is an old, reliable technology.

            [Ok, I’m biased. I’m childfree, and got a vasectomy myself in 1988.
            I consider it the best single decision of my life.]

          • John Schilling says:

            Let me make you a counter-proposal: all boys to be sterilised as soon as physically possible (hey, it’s easily reversible! especially if some fancy new method gets invented!

            If it truly were “easily reversable”, i.e. a quick outpatient procedure that even poor people can afford without great sacrifice and with say 99.5% reliability, this proposal would be at least as acceptable as the female version and probably more so. I wouldn’t want to make it mandatory, for what should be obvious reasons, but I’d support making it the cultural default recommended by pediatricians (along with circumcision).

            But we aren’t there yet.

            why shouldn’t male contraception get as many options as female contraception?

            Because we are now much more risk-averse about new drugs and medical procedures than we were when most of the current female contraceptive techniques were invented, and things which used to cost say $50 million to develop and test to the FDA’s satisfaction now cost billions.

            And because, back when we could develop new drugs for mere eight-figure sums, we weren’t very good at making men pay the cost of extramarital pregnancies. So there was a much more pressing demand for a “please please please make it so that I don’t get accidentally pregnant” drug than there was for an “It would be cool if I didn’t accidentally knock up some chick” drug.

          • Jake R says:

            Seems like a good time to point out that the Parsemus Foundation is still trying to get RISUG to market, although at this point they’re several years behind their own target dates.

          • Protagoras says:

            Yeah, the reversing vasectomies means there’s still a risk of the girls being impregnated by older men who’ve had their vasectomies reversed, but soreff’s change from reversal to frozen sperm neatly fixes that problem. So I also endorse Deiseach’s proposal of vasectomies for all the boys as soon as physically possible, with soreff’s amendment.

          • soreff says:

            @Protagoras

            Many Thanks!

            [The slogan I have in mind for the proposal is:
            “Store Sperm, and Snip!”]

          • Jake R says:

            @soreff

            I’ve looked into the freeze sperm and vasectomy route. The problem is it’s about $1000 up front and 2-300 a year thereafter. Much cheaper than a kid but a pretty serious hurdle to it becoming the cultural norm.

          • soreff says:

            @Jake R
            Many Thanks! I hadn’t looked into that part of it.
            (I suspect that a typical “Sweet 16” party probably runs more than that…
            But your point is quite valid, for much of the population that is a
            substantial upfront cost. Society-wide, in the U.S., unplanned
            pregnancies are about half of them,
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_pregnancy#United_States_of_America
            and raising a child is a good fraction of a million dollars,
            so I think there should be some way to make the economics work)

            On another facet of this, returning to Deiseach’s:

            I think the side-effects of pumping hormones into the system may not be that great (we already have plenty of such documented, and it’s my understanding that there are women who try and then come off hormonal birth control because of the severe side effects).

            Yes, agreed. Vasectomies are intrinsically safer than
            changing a woman’s endocrinology for decades on end.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @ Jake R

            And that doesn’t include people (men or women) suddenly becoming irreversibly infertile when freezers break, or vials get mislabeled (which also leads to false paternity/maternity).

            It costs proportionately more money to store samples in multiple off-site freezers.

            And store sperm or eggs and your sperm and eggs’ DNA doesn’t have a chance to mutate. Do we really want this as a species? This is one of the benefits of older paternity/maternity.

            It’s far better to just use condoms with spermicide, and have abortions readily accessible as needed.

    • AppetSci says:

      “We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now”

      • Machine Interface says:

        I doubt orgasm is the prime motivator for masturbating. Sexual urges (horniness) are quite distinct from the (often absent) reward for indulging in them.

        • AppetSci says:

          That was just a quote from Orwell’s 1984 but I do think if your nether regions were numbed and stimulation did not release the happy chemicals (neither during the build-up or the “climactic” event) then Big Brother’s neurologists could effectively sever the link between the urge and the genitalia. That would ending masturbation as way to release sexual tension because it would be ineffective. I’m sure that with a bit of ethics-free CRISPR and focused Party funding, those neurologists and biologists could increase your capacity for self-control.

      • Lambert says:

        Abolishing the neurological state of non-orgasm would technically work too.

    • Thegnskald says:

      Nothing, nothing, and a whole bunch of dumb shit.

    • pancrea says:

      Masturbation and sex have similar effects on the body. Are we assuming they’re both bad for you? Someone should probably do a study checking on that, in this hypothetical world.

      We should make sure this information is widely known, including warning labels on masturbation aids. We should take no other action. The government regulates too much stuff already.

    • AG says:

      Opposite direction of leveling equality: mandate masturbation sessions amongst the higher classes. I don’t see the studies finding correlation with feelings of contentment/happiness.

      In a different direction, if school, law, social functioning, and earnings are currently configured to not gel well with masturbation, then it’s more likely that the former, not the latter, are at fault for demanding we go against our nature. Our economic system should be changed such that any behavioral changes influenced by masturbation do not penalize financial and social standings.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I’m going to go with the idea that the healthiest substitute for masturbation is sex. I can’t wait to see the public service ads. Perhaps Nike would be willing to lend their slogan: “Just Do It!”.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      Restructuring society to allow marriage in the mid-teens is one answer, but that strikes me as implausible even within the hypothetical. Encouraging hookup culture would do the opposite of what we want; that would be like subsidizing bread in order to discourage butter consumption. Another radical possibility is giving pubery blockers to everyone until age 18, but if reality has any sense of dramatic irony at all, that’s just asking for a Children of Men scenario.

      The low-hanging fruit is corn flakes and circumcision banning pornography. Criminalize its distribution and crack down on it like we do on child porn. It won’t eliminate masturbation, but it can only help.

      Also, make this story required reading in all middle schools.

    • Dacyn says:

      In case anybody wanted it: a link to last year’s discussion. Many of the same suggestions were raised.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Now, if all of this were the case, what could, should, and would be done?

      Ban porn.

    • mtl1882 says:

      There’s undoubtedly an argument to be made in favor of self-control and discipline, but the Victorians were ever-alert to that issue, and masturbation was only one of many things that threatened it. I think we do have issues with instant gratification, and, much more fundamentally, with building healthy habits and character, and on a broader level I think it can and should be addressed. But this wouldn’t be my area of focus.

      (Some) Victorians were absolutely hysterical about masturbation, but self-discipline and healthy relationships got brief mention compared to confident assertions it caused insanity, mental retardation, impotence, infertility, blindness, sexual abuse, death, and everything else. Their “treatments” were even weirder. So I wouldn’t say they were right on the issue in a meaningful sense. But sometimes they were surprisingly insightful about sex–they just managed to conclude that when done solo, it was somehow an entirely different thing. I think they had a theory that it drained a man’s vital energy, impairing his intellect and general health, but that when done “properly,” vital energy was generated and imparted to him by his wife. But even then, they stressed moderation.

  15. Clutzy says:

    So, at the age of 31 I’ve gotten my first real old man injury. I was doing my morning stretching, slipped, and heard a few unsavory cracking noises (like a loud knuckle crack). Now I’m pretty sure i pulled my hammy, and mildly badly. After a day of ice on the bum anyone have any additional suggestions?

    • GearRatio says:

      If you make good money and have good insurance, you might as well get it checked out; don’t take any opiates or anything since it sounds like you are handling it, but if it’s a real injury you might as well not let it get worse.

      Past that, make sure you are eating plenty of calories a day for a bit, preferably from protein. I’m friends with an amateur power-lifter guy, and there’s little question among them but that calorie surpluses aid recovery.

      • Enkidum says:

        If you make good money and have good insurance, you might as well get it checked out

        Since this is a fractional thread, can I just point out how insane this sounds to anyone outside of America?

        • EchoChaos says:

          You get the quality of healthcare you pay for.

          • Enkidum says:

            Well, no. For most people in most of the world, we get the quality of health care that richer people pay for.

            ETA: actually things like physio, which is what Clutzy undoubtedly needs, are often the least likely to be covered. But the idea of not being able to get something checked out? Insanity.

          • Aapje says:

            @EchoChaos

            The US spends almost twice as much on healthcare as the UK, but I don’t see how quality is twice as good.

          • Nick says:

            @Aapje
            Well yeah, you shouldn’t expect it to? Diminishing returns and all.

          • Enkidum says:

            But you should expect its quality to be better. It isn’t, unless you are wealthy.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Aapje

            Health outcomes for white Americans are substantially better than white Britons. Our overall lower health outcomes are because we have substantial minorities with very bad health outcomes.

            @Enkidum

            It isn’t, unless you are wealthy.

            Well yes, that’s what I just said. I’m glad you agree.

          • Enkidum says:

            Well yes, that’s what I just said. I’m glad you agree.

            I do, actually. No disagreement about the facts here, unless its to note that health care for poor white Americans is pretty bad as well (but I think you agree with that). I just think it’s appalling that this is the case.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Enkidum

            I just think it’s appalling that this is the case.

            Why? Life expectancy for white Americans is basically the same as the British, so what is there to be appalled at?

            Most racial disparities are due to things outside the control of healthcare, like obesity in the black community, which is at a horrifying level, and drives diabetes and heart disease, which is the #1 killer of African-Americans.

            Which has better health outcomes, poor whites in Appalachia or poor whites in Scotland? It’s Scotland with their wonderful socialized healthcare and a life expectancy of 75 years compared to 77 in Appalachia.

            And allowing the ultra rich to buy the best of the best healthcare has made America the center of healthcare innovation in the world, which is why Europeans can look down their noses while they buy new and amazing treatments Americans invented for them.

          • Machine Interface says:

            I’m very suspicious of the claim that african-americans, who represent less than 13% of US population, are alone sufficient to explain why the US have the lowest life expectancy in the western world, even lower than several countries in Eastern Europe and Latin America.

            Besides this is a reversible argument: you could argue that the 13% of wealthiest Americans which can afford your price-gouged system are pulling the numbers up and that the overall picture is actually much worse than the numbers subject. I’m not saying that’s the case, but “black people are pulling the average down” sure is a convenient handwave when middle class Americans are literally dying because they can’t afford their insulin anymore.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Enkidum

            My edit window has passed, but one other thing. The US spending twice what the UK spends is misleading for a big reason, which is per capita GDP.

            Healthcare is a service, which means labor cost is a major driver. An American worker just costs more than a British worker, but we have higher income to pay for it.

            In real terms, we spend closer to 40-50% more than the British, which is still not great, but hardly the end of the world in any way given that we have a 40-50% higher income to pay for it.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Machine Interface

            Blacks are 13% and Hispanics are 17%, which is 30% of the country being made up of lower life expectancy minorities. That’s a big deal.

            Feel free to compare. Life expectancy for white Americans is basically the same as European countries.

            I’m not saying that’s the case, but “black people are pulling the average down” sure is a convenient handwave when middle class Americans are literally dying because they can’t afford their insulin anymore.

            This sort of hyperbolic claim is the reason that we can’t have a reasonable discussion. One of my best friends has a type 1 diabetic son and is solidly in the American middle class. While it does cost money (obviously), he is nowhere near “literally dying because they can’t afford their insulin”.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Which has better health outcomes, poor whites in Appalachia or poor whites in Scotland? It’s Scotland with their wonderful socialized healthcare and a life expectancy of 75 years compared to 77 in Appalachia.

            Source? As far as I know, life expectancy in Scotland is actually 79, in other words two years higher than Appalachia, and indeed slightly higher than the average for American whites overall.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @thisheavenlyconjugation

            Looks like I read the Scottish men’s number as all Scotland. I accept the correction. The poorest Americans have a life expectancy slightly behind their NHS covered cousins in Scotland.

          • Nick says:

            @EchoChaos

            Blacks are 13% and Hispanics are 17%, which is 30% of the country being made up of lower life expectancy minorities. That’s a big deal.

            Hispanics actually have higher life expectancy.

          • GearRatio says:

            While I don’t care to defend or attack various health care systems, I do agree with this last bit:

            which is why Europeans can look down their noses while they buy new and amazing treatments Americans invented for them.

            I’d like super-cheap or free health care all things the same, but I’m reasonably convinced that in the real world what I’d be doing is trading in slightly improved health now (when I’ve got reasonable health and don’t really need doctors, ’cause I’m not quite old yet) for much decreased health when I’m old.

            I have a dead dad who would have died in his early-to-mid 50’s at best instead of his mid 60’s and my name-sake nephew who would have very likely died of leukemia if we had put in reasonable European style health care in the 90’s. That might not be typical, but it colors my opinion on this a great deal. And that’s just people I know, but to the extent that there have to be at least a few more future health situation whose positive outcomes depend on continued progress, I’m OK with it.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Nick

            That’s selection effects from immigrants. Native born Hispanics have a life expectancy in line with their socioeconomic status.

          • Randy M says:

            Are you saying immigrants have higher life expectancy than native born for presumably similar racial demographics? Cultural practices may make an impact (more sugar in diet, say, or more sedentary), but that’s pretty discouraging if true. But then, it’s not like Mexican health care is the reason, right?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Randy M

            Sickly people don’t emigrate, and immigrants don’t have child mortality dragging down their numbers.

            https://www.prb.org/us-hispanics-life-expectancy/

            In addition, U.S.-born Hispanics’ life expectancy dropped below that for non-Hispanic whites.

          • Nick says:

            No, not good points. @EchoChaos, your linked article doesn’t support your general take, and that quote in particular is misleading. Look at the paragraph it occurs in:

            Hayward and his colleagues offer more evidence on the power of smoking to shorten lives and explain Hispanics’ longer lives.3 They probed mortality differences among Americans ages 50 and older, paying attention to race, ethnicity, and country of birth. When they eliminated all smokers from their analysis, foreign-born Hispanics’ life expectancy did not significantly exceed that for non-Hispanic whites. In addition, U.S.-born Hispanics’ life expectancy dropped below that for non-Hispanic whites.

            If the difference only exists for non-smokers, then it’s not down to a healthy migration effect, it’s down to smoking rates, which are much lower among foreign-born Hispanics and somewhat lower among US-born Hispanics.

            Unfortunately, while I tried looking for the paper to see the actual data, it appears to have been an early version of this one, which doesn’t break things down by smoking at all, and hardly even mentions it.

          • Nick says:

            As an addendum, sorry if that sounds a tad aggressive. It’s nothing personal, EchoChaos! I am just a gigantic pedant.

          • DinoNerd says:

            I just want to register shock that the first explanation of life expectancy differences that come to American minds is race rather than money, and that none of the suggested explanations for such differences involve the medical system treating people differently based on apparant race.

          • Lambert says:

            > differences that come to American minds is race rather than money

            I think it explains a lot about US politics and society.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Nick

            No harm done. My quote was pointing out that native-born Hispanics have a lower life expectancy than Hispanic immigrants for all the expected reasons (children who die at 5 don’t immigrate, people with chronic health problems don’t immigrate) and that once you control for the actual differences between the populations, Hispanics are in fact lower than whites, which I had remembered.

            @DinoNerd

            It is possible that poverty is the reason that blacks have a lower life expectancy, of course, but it’s far more likely lifestyle in my opinion.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Lambert

            Everything is correlated, but black life expectancy at 75.5 years is well below the 77 years for the poorest white areas in Appalachia.

            Blacks on average are richer than Appalachia, so the fact that their life expectancy is still 1.5 years shorter tells us it isn’t just poverty.

            And the reason I tend to go to race first is that it explains a lot more than poverty does for American statistics. If you look entirely at income you miss a lot about American life.

          • Enkidum says:

            I have a very hard time getting round what seems to me to be the massive issue here: if you are poor in the US, you just don’t get health care outside of the emergency ward. If you’ve got terminal cancer, you just die. If you put out your back like @clutzy in this thread, you just suffer.

            I think this is not overstating the situation? I would love to be wrong about this.

            If this isn’t a massive part of the explanation for health outcome disparities between groups in the US, I’d love to know why any rich people in the States bother buying health insurance.

          • Randy M says:

            I just want to register shock that the first explanation of life expectancy differences that come to American minds is race rather than money, and that none of the suggested explanations for such differences involve the medical system treating people differently based on apparant race.

            I would like to register the opposite of shock that in your pointing out the stereotyping at work, you’ve done the same thing and attributed one person’s thoughts to the 330+million person group he is a presumed member of.

            Also, disaggregating the data by race is not the same as assuming the results are due to heredity, but is important to be sure one is making an equivalent comparison.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Enkidum

            if you are poor in the US, you just don’t get health care outside of the emergency ward.

            That’s false. You get free medical care from the government if you are poor.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicaid

          • johan_larson says:

            Enkidum, that’s not quite right. There is a program called Medicaid that pays for health care for the very poor. It’s not great, but better than nothing.

            As I understand it, the real problem population in the US system is not the very poor. It is more like the working class. The truly poor have Medicaid. The middle class and above have employer-provided health insurance. But the people in between are on their own. They can pay for some care out of pocket, but any serious illness — the kind that requires six figures worth of care — is ruinous.

          • Randy M says:

            I think this is not overstating the situation? I would love to be wrong about this.

            You are wrong about this. I know an at most lower middle class family with multiple cancers–mother and young son. The boy has lived for many years with the cancer, getting numerous treatments. The mother likewise. So at the least, you are making a gross simplification.

            Does it suck that getting sick presents a huge expense to an American family that will impact their lives? Yes, yes it sucks.
            Might some government run system be better on net? It might.
            Are you being hyperbolic? I think so.

            If you put out your back like @clutzy in this thread, you just suffer.

            I do not believe medical science can do much for back pain other than give lots of drugs to numb the sensation. Am I mistaken?

            But the people in between are on their own. They can pay for some care out of pocket, but any serious illness — the kind that requires six figures worth of care — is ruinous.

            I think it’s fair to say that the problem is not that the poor get no medical care; the problem is that needing medical care can make you poor.

          • Garrett says:

            I do not believe medical science can do much for back pain other than give lots of drugs to numb the sensation. Am I mistaken?

            Yes, but it depends upon the cause of the pain.

            If it is a minor strain/sprain, appropriate care and rehabilitation will minimize the time in pain and level of dysfunction. The previously-held idea of simply resting until healed is no longer accepted.

            If it’s a fracture of some kind, understanding the underlying cause (calcium deficiency?) and correcting it may be appropriate. If it is displaced, surgery may be required. Back surgery is of questionable efficacy – get a second or third opinion.

            If it’s related to arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, treatment can minimize the long-term damage and pain. In this case, it’s not “numb the pain” as much as it is “reduce the inflammation triggering the pain”.

          • Randy M says:

            Back surgery is of questionable efficacy – get a second or third opinion.

            I guess I’m mostly thinking of long term. My mom has had some questionable back surgeries. Little balloons blown up in her vertebrae or something. It didn’t seem to help, but I should ask her again because I haven’t heard the complaints for awhile.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            #1 – if you are a single, able bodied person, many states still don’t cover you, even if you have no job at all. I live in one of them. The two young men living in my third floor bonus room currently don’t have health care. One of them lost their job, the other doesn’t have coverage through work and doesn’t make much money… see #3.

            #2 – With the advent of the ACA, any state that chose not to throw a hissy fit got federally paid for expanded Medicaid coverage that covered everyone up to an income level where subsidized ACA coverage kicked in, making coverage essentially free for the most subsidized rung on the ACA ladder.

            #3 – If your state did join the lawsuit against the Medicaid expansion in the ACA and didn’t expand coverage, you may very well be poor enough to not have health insurance.

          • JayT says:

            The biggest driver of life expectancy differences between the US and Europe is that the US has more deaths from things that aren’t related to the healthcare system, such as accidents, drug use and murders.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4767002/

          • Machine Interface says:

            Americans literally dying because the price of insulin has been suddenly multiplied by a factor of 500% is not a hyperbole, it’s happening right now, for real. So is Americans having to start go fund me to be able to pay for necessary life saving treatments. So are 2500$ ambulance rides (by all means explain to me how that pays for medical research). So are praticians ordering battery of unnecessary tests just to line up their pockets. That’s the reality of many Americans which you can hear about if you just talk to them.

            The plural of anecdotes is not data, but there sure are a lot of anecdotes outthere of the kind that are surprisingly absent in Europe.

            And Europe medical research is fine, thank you, we produce our own medications (I guess you wouldn’t know since the FDA won’t approve their import to the US).

          • Enkidum says:

            Thanks for reminding me about medicaid.

            (For some reason when I read that sentence it seems snarky – just to be clear, it’s meant as genuine, I had just forgotten about it.)

            I think my point still stands: if health care is anything other than a costly signal, then differences in health outcomes in the US have to be due to shoddier health care for the poor (among other causes). If this is not true, all rich people should immediately quit their health insurance to save needless expenses, or move to a Medicaid-equivalent program immediately. I do not see anyone lining up to do this, ergo I conclude the US has incredibly unequal health care for rich and poor that has devastating impacts on health outcomes.

            Back pain: I have no statistics, but certainly in my case I had crippling back pain, coupled with h pylori – aka ulcers – that flared up whenever I took most useful painkillers, made for an interesting few years. The cure was physiotherapy, which literally changed my life in the course of two weeks. I cannot tell how many people need physio for equivalent problems, but I would assume it is a massive fraction of sufferers, as a lifetime of poor posture and not working out one’s core will have consequences.

            Physio is not covered for all conditions in all Canadian provinces, so I ended up having to pay for that (but it was covered by my workplace insurance, and it was a total of about $1000 for several weeks). The h pylori antibiotics, of course, were free. But even the initial referral would cost people money in the US, which isn’t the case in any other country in the developed world. I flat out refuse to believe that this doesn’t have a massive impact.

          • Americans literally dying because the price of insulin has been suddenly multiplied by a factor of 500% is not a hyperbole, it’s happening right now, for real.

            Blame government regs.

            So are 2500$ ambulance rides (by all means explain to me how that pays for medical research).

            The variable costs pay for the fixed costs, among other costs this includes medical research. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost is similar in Europe, it’s just hidden from the consumer and they consume fewer ambulance rides.

            So are praticians ordering battery of unnecessary tests just to line up their pockets.

            How would it help the situation if they could just charge that to the government instead of an individual or an insurance company?

          • JayT says:

            Americans literally dying because the price of insulin has been suddenly multiplied by a factor of 500% is not a hyperbole, it’s happening right now, for real. So is Americans having to start go fund me to be able to pay for necessary life saving treatments. So are 2500$ ambulance rides (by all means explain to me how that pays for medical research). So are praticians ordering battery of unnecessary tests just to line up their pockets. That’s the reality of many Americans which you can hear about if you just talk to them.

            There are Europeans literally dying because they don’t have access to the level of cancer care Americans have. Far more than the number of Americans that die from a lack of insulin.

            The plural of anecdotes is not data, but there sure are a lot of anecdotes outthere of the kind that are surprisingly absent in Europe.

            My wife has cancer, and she belongs to a Facebook group of people with the same type as her, and the level of care the Europeans get, especially people in the UK, is shocking to me. They are using procedures that are ten years out of date, and their access to doctors is miniscule in comparison to what we have.

            The fact is, the anecdotes you hear about in the US are outliers. There’s a reason universal healthcare isn’t a particularly popular idea in the US, and it’s because the majority of people are very happy with their healthcare services, and they don’t want to lose it in favor of the substandard care they hear about Europeans getting.

          • I think my point still stands: if health care is anything other than a costly signal, then differences in health outcomes in the US have to be due to shoddier health care for the poor (among other causes).

            This is like saying “if food really contains calories, more expensive food must contain more.” Healthcare can matter without the differences in healthcare by price mattering.

            If this is not true, all rich people should immediately quit their health insurance to save needless expenses, or move to a Medicaid-equivalent program immediately. I do not see anyone lining up to do this, ergo I conclude the US has incredibly unequal health care for rich and poor that has devastating impacts on health outcomes.

            I agree that they should do so. They should also buy cheaper cars as their expensive cars aren’t meaningfully better at transportation from point A to point B than cheaper cars. There are a couple reasons they don’t:

            1. Irrationality/costly signalling.
            2. Non-taxation of health plans are a subsidy for healthcare; the higher your marginal tax rate the higher the subsidy.
            3. Often employers pay most of the costs, so no point in trying to save them money.

            But even the initial referral would cost people money in the US, which isn’t the case in any other country in the developed world.

            Government-run healthcare does not mean free at the point of use. Some countries provide “free” primary care, others don’t.

            https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2019/universal-health-coverage-eight-countries

          • LesHapablap says:

            @Enkidum,

            My experience with physiotherapy was similar. I had ongoing shoulder problems for two years before finally going to a physio, thinking that I would need surgery or steroid shots. The problem was fixed in two or three sessions over a few weeks.

            In later sessions they’ve helped fix my posture and allowed me to strength-train properly. It has been literally life changing and it only cost a few hundred bucks. I think everyone should go to a physio at least once to have their posture assessed and get an opinion on any aches and pains they might sometimes get. Modern life is so sedentary that you’re almost guaranteed to get big benefits seeing a physio.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Quality healthcare.

            Affordable healthcare.

            Universal healthcare.

            Pick any 1.5.

          • Machine Interface says:

            There’s a reason universal healthcare isn’t a particularly popular idea in the US, and it’s because the majority of people are very happy with their healthcare services, and they don’t want to lose it in favor of the substandard care they hear about Europeans getting.

            So substandard that even Greeks live longer than Americans.

            I’m sure the Americans who are getting no healthcare whatsoever are happy to hear that they have the best healthcare system in the world.

          • @Machine Interface

            So substandard that even Greeks live longer than Americans.

            The “even” implies that you should expect them to live shorter due to little spending on healthcare. But the correlation between spending on healthcare and health outcomes goes to zero once you reach the developed country level. So it’s not surprising at all.

          • JayT says:

            That’s my point though. The US system is unequal, but for the people that it works for, which is a large majority and makes up most of the voting populace, it is better than the European systems. So you need to convince ~70% of the population on private insurance that it is a good idea to make their healthcare worse, so that everyone can get care. Good luck with that.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think my point still stands: if health care is anything other than a costly signal, then differences in health outcomes in the US have to be due to shoddier health care for the poor (among other causes)

            “Have to”? It isn’t possible that A: health care is not just a costly signal but something of genuine value and B: that value is largely independent of “shoddiness”. Crudely speaking, it is possible that antibiotics improve health outcomes, the fancy expensive medicines advertised on TV are mostly just signaling, and antibiotics provide the same benefit if dispensed by a concierge physician or an attendant at a shoddy free clinic.

            But your parenthesized hedge I think undermines the rest of your argument. Because it is definitely plausible that violence, despair, recklessness, drugs, alcohol, and poor nutrition cause far more of the observed difference in outcomes than the delta in health-care “shoddiness”. You couldn’t even prove that health care for poor Americans isn’t better than that for poor Europeans from that data, given the amount of noise swamping that small signal.

            You, and too many others in this thread, seem to be claiming nothing more than “it is intuitively obvious that it is shoddy health care and not any of the other things that is primarily responsible for lower life spans among poor American minorities”. And, my intuition is largely the opposite. What have you got beyond intuition, that I should pay you any mind?

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m sure the Americans who are getting no healthcare whatsoever

            This is the sort of hyperbolic exaggeration that convinces me you have nothing to say on this subject that any rational person ought to listen to. You might want to do something about that.

          • Plumber says:

            Here’s a list of Nations by highest to lowest longevity (I don’t know why Hong Kong and Puerto Rico are listed separately), the second number after the first is male life expectancy, the third female.

            Hong Kong 84.894 82.002 87.786
            Japan 84.67 81.532 87.718
            Macau 84.296 81.334 87.23
            Switzerland 83.836 81.928 85.654
            Singapore 83.662 81.574 85.772
            Spain 83.612 80.868 86.302
            Italy 83.568 81.384 85.598
            Australia 83.496 81.558 85.452
            Channel Islands 83.144 81.244 84.968
            Iceland 83.07 81.598 84.546
            South Korea 83.062 79.962 85.988
            Israel 83.04 81.416 84.556
            Sweden 82.874 81.126 84.616
            France 82.728 79.792 85.544
            Martinique 82.614 79.274 85.668
            Malta 82.598 80.788 84.314
            Canada 82.516 80.556 84.446
            Norway 82.484 80.546 84.432
            New Zealand 82.356 80.66 84.032
            Ireland 82.354 80.726 83.948
            Netherlands 82.348 80.672 84.002
            Luxembourg 82.312 80.236 84.394
            Greece 82.308 79.896 84.72
            Guadeloupe 82.2 78.542 85.52
            Portugal 82.11 79.118 84.896
            Finland 81.976 79.178 84.768
            Belgium 81.702 79.412 83.938
            Austria 81.63 79.286 83.926
            Germany 81.412 79.05 83.786
            United Kingdom 81.398 79.71 83.052
            Slovenia 81.388 78.654 84.086
            Cyprus 81.054 79.01 83.084
            Denmark 80.968 79.03 82.916
            United States Virgin Islands 80.654 78.052 83.148
            Reunion 80.638 77.8 84.03
            Taiwan 80.53 77.884 83.262
            Costa Rica 80.376 77.87 82.952
            Qatar 80.304 79.246 82.076
            Chile 80.272 77.88 82.512
            Puerto Rico 80.186 76.64 83.554
            Guam 80.158 76.952 83.572
            French Guiana 80.05 77.146 83.122
            Mayotte 79.544 76.272 83.036
            Czech Republic 79.43 76.82 81.996
            Barbados 79.268 77.904 80.55
            Maldives 79.038 77.654 80.848
            Lebanon 79 77.224 80.93
            Curacao 78.942 75.856 81.684

            United States 78.93
            76.424 81.464

            Cuba 78.886 76.932 80.85
            Poland 78.784 74.892 82.614
            Estonia 78.748 74.38 82.718
            Albania 78.612 77.03 80.252
            Panama 78.584 75.534 81.798
            Croatia 78.558 75.386 81.642
            United Arab Emirates 78.034 77.352 79.374
            Uruguay 77.986 74.222 81.532
            Oman 77.95 76.228 80.406
            Turkey 77.766 74.808 80.622
            French Polynesia 77.72 75.684 79.954
            New Caledonia 77.632 75.04 80.452
            Slovakia 77.586 74.08 80.996
            Bosnia and Herzegovina 77.48 74.982 79.918
            Colombia 77.36 74.61 80.084
            Bahrain 77.352 76.498 78.484
            Thailand 77.194 73.536 80.908
            Ecuador 77.104 74.39 79.916
            Antigua and Barbuda 77.08 75.906 78.178
            Sri Lanka 77.056 73.692 80.326
            China 76.96 74.826 79.274
            Algeria 76.954 75.754 78.208
            Montenegro 76.946 74.516 79.356
            Hungary 76.902 73.288 80.312
            Peru 76.822 74.174 79.568
            Tunisia 76.79 74.782 78.812
            Morocco 76.77 75.51 77.988
            Iran 76.742 75.644 77.952
            Argentina 76.738 73.328 80.048
            Aruba 76.36 73.84 78.704
            Saint Lucia 76.262 74.904 77.646
            Malaysia 76.218 74.29 78.372
            Romania 76.098 72.668 79.556
            Serbia 76.05 73.458 78.66
            Brazil 75.964 72.344 79.618
            Lithuania 75.954 70.358 81.364
            Brunei 75.932 74.792 77.184
            Macedonia 75.864 73.864 77.918
            Kuwait 75.538 74.802 76.652
            Vietnam 75.47 71.388 79.58
            Honduras 75.342 73.036 77.624
            Latvia 75.322 70.288 80.034
            Saudi Arabia 75.216 74.014 76.854
            Mexico 75.152 72.308 77.966
            Armenia 75.142 71.4 78.54
            Bulgaria 75.106 71.624 78.712
            Mauritius 75.06 71.73 78.518
            Belarus 74.774 69.64 79.564
            Belize 74.658 71.708 77.848
            Jordan 74.602 72.908 76.382
            Nicaragua 74.582 71.066 78.056
            Jamaica 74.55 72.93 76.204
            Guatemala 74.384 71.456 77.236
            Paraguay 74.284 72.286 76.432
            Dominican Republic 74.146 71.064 77.432
            Palestine 74.14 72.488 75.852
            Bahamas 73.95 71.668 76.132
            Georgia 73.808 69.394 78.168
            Trinidad and Tobago 73.55 70.91 76.276
            Kazakhstan 73.488 69.112 77.598
            Seychelles 73.47 69.972 77.446
            El Salvador 73.418 68.574 77.916
            Samoa 73.366 71.354 75.532
            Syria 73.216 68.768 78.24
            Cape Verde 73.052 69.598 76.284
            Azerbaijan 73.018 70.49 75.504
            Solomon Islands 73.014 71.306 74.896
            Libya 72.996 70.184 76.028
            Bangladesh 72.718 71.008 74.706

            World 72.632
            70.276 75.068

            Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 72.608 70.348 75.212
            Russia 72.566 67.134 77.784
            Grenada 72.47 70.138 75.034
            North Korea 72.332 68.684 75.8
            Venezuela 72.214 68.476 76.148
            Ukraine 72.092 67.122 76.886
            Egypt 72.06 69.804 74.428
            Moldova 71.928 67.66 76.176
            Bhutan 71.876 71.484 72.304
            Indonesia 71.774 69.622 74.034
            Suriname 71.746 68.526 75.13
            Uzbekistan 71.734 69.566 73.882
            Bolivia 71.588 68.768 74.57
            Kyrgyzstan 71.488 67.466 75.628
            Philippines 71.282 67.316 75.554
            Tajikistan 71.166 68.984 73.474
            Tonga 70.968 69.01 72.966
            Nepal 70.882 69.35 72.324
            Iraq 70.654 68.582 72.736
            Vanuatu 70.546 69.034 72.24
            Sao Tome and Principe 70.434 68.018 72.87
            Western Sahara 70.348 68.688 72.398
            Mongolia 69.942 65.872 74.208
            Guyana 69.93 66.932 73.146
            Cambodia 69.88 67.582 71.976
            India 69.73 68.53 71.038
            Timor-Leste 69.562 67.564 71.7
            Botswana 69.398 66.306 72.192
            Rwanda 69.064 66.862 71.17
            Kiribati 68.462 64.34 72.43
            Turkmenistan 68.24 64.746 71.776
            Senegal 68.03 65.848 70.004
            Laos 68.02 66.224 69.86
            Micronesia 67.928 66.258 69.656
            Fiji 67.526 65.76 69.436
            Pakistan 67.328 66.374 68.36
            Madagascar 67.178 65.546 68.828
            Myanmar 67.168 64.062 70.174
            Djibouti 67.072 65.084 69.308
            Ethiopia 66.706 64.798 68.648
            Kenya 66.696 64.308 69.048
            Gabon 66.448 64.378 68.634
            Eritrea 66.436 64.264 68.676
            Yemen 66.194 64.504 67.902
            Tanzania 65.46 63.632 67.26
            Sudan 65.406 63.55 67.292
            Mauritania 64.994 63.352 66.604
            Afghanistan 64.956 63.498 66.522
            Republic of the Congo 64.58 63.088 66.034
            Papua New Guinea 64.578 63.332 65.918
            Comoros 64.4 62.658 66.208
            Malawi 64.306 61.154 67.45
            Ghana 64.166 63.072 65.284
            Liberia 64.16 62.748 65.574
            South Africa 64.124 60.728 67.652
            Haiti 64.108 61.93 66.292
            Zambia 63.836 60.82 66.816
            Namibia 63.756 60.756 66.548
            Uganda 63.408 61.048 65.65
            Niger 62.528 61.378 63.738
            Gambia 62.228 60.822 63.662
            Benin 61.916 60.342 63.478
            Burkina Faso 61.744 60.89 62.472
            Burundi 61.696 59.872 63.504
            Guinea 61.68 60.914 62.218
            Zimbabwe 61.362 59.652 62.796
            Angola 61.212 58.482 64.1
            Togo 61.17 60.266 62.054
            Mozambique 60.882 57.826 63.69
            DR Congo 60.766 59.224 62.328
            Swaziland 60.006 55.894 64.596
            Mali 59.442 58.652 60.232
            Cameroon 59.39 58.114 60.676
            Equatorial Guinea 58.878 57.866 60.078
            Guinea-Bissau 58.444 56.404 60.358
            South Sudan 57.948 56.454 59.488
            Ivory Coast 57.844 56.642 59.194
            Somalia 57.5 55.822 59.24
            Sierra Leone 54.81 53.948 55.622
            Nigeria 54.808 53.9 55.748
            Lesotho 54.366 51.248 57.61
            Chad 54.348 52.938 55.786
            Central African Republic 53.346 51.164 55.554

            Americans (on average) have shorter lifespans than those of many other nations, but still longer than most. 

            Also, this list is very disturbing to me because I don’t like seafood!

          • Garrett says:

            So are 2500$ ambulance rides (by all means explain to me how that pays for medical research).

            I’m not going to dispute that these actually do exist. But notwithstanding special circumstances (outlined below) I’ve never encountered them. As always, YMMV.

            First, looking at the ambulance services I volunteer with (both in suburb-like areas) the cash rate for a call is very roughly $600 + $6/mile for a BLS transport and $1,200 + $12/mile for an ALS transport.

            Second: most negotiated insurance rates are a lot lower than that. The official Medicaid rate (take it or get nothing) is $300 flat for an ALS transport, recently increased from $130. Most insurance pays a lot more. Sometimes the full rate, but usually about half, give-or-take.

            Third: Both organizations are charitable organizations. Both pay so little that almost everybody has a second job. And yet, last time I looked at the numbers, employee salary & benefits were 80% of the budget. So I suppose that EMS in larger cities with wages which could support someone with only a single job could drive up the costs.

            Fourth: If you are poor and don’t have insurance, most ambulance services are willing to work something out with you. They’d much rather get a small amount of money easily than maybe get a lot of money with a lot of effort. It costs money to go to court, put a lien on someone’s house, etc.

            Fifth: There’s a lot of expensive stuff which is carried in an ambulance. Medical equipment is expensive because of the liability/regulation involved.

            Per the official price list I could find, the LifePak 15 cardiac monitor which meets effective minimum requirements for an ALS service is $32,995.00 (Part number 99577-000046 with trending, Sp02, NIBP, 12-Lead ECG, EtC02, Carbon Monoxide, Bluetooth), not including batteries, chargers, supplies, etc.

            About $20,000 for a stretcher. $5,000 for the stretcher mount to secure the stretcher inside the ambulance. $4,000 for a stair chair and ambulance mount. Oh – right – about $150,000 for the ambulance itself.

            Plus a whole pile of misc stuff I’m not willing to price out.

            Then you have insurance, fuel, building operation costs, billing operations, etc.

          • Clutzy says:

            Just to clarify for everyone. I pulled my hamstring (probably), and did not throw out my back.

            Its not nearly as bad as a lower back injury, which I’ve had as a result of sports.

          • hilitai says:

            U.S. resident here, with a close relative who was the recipient of a $1000+ ambulance ride (completely unnecessary, as it turned out). This was in Minneapolis a few years ago.

            I can’t remember how much of it our insurance plan covered, but it wasn’t a whole lot. Fortunately, for us it was just an annoyance rather than some sort of crisis. It did tend to confirm my biases that healthcare here is illogically priced and often quite expensive.

            Accompanying that high price is a fairly gold-plated standard of care; the last time I ended up in a hospital, I was put in a swish private room, the hospital cafeteria had a diverse menu with a chef in charge, etc. If you ignored all the health stuff, it was like being in a nice hotel. (And this is in a little Midwestern town. I visited somebody at the Mayo Clinic once — Jeez, the main lobby there was like the waiting room for Heaven.) Catching glimpses of hospitals on BBC television shows, it looks like they just stash people in corridors and put a curtain around them sometimes.

            My general impression of “European health care” (I realize it varies considerably from country to country) is that it provides about 95% of what American health care does, at about 20% of the price. I would be open to a system a bit more like that, but I do not trust anyone in power to provide such a system. As such, I’ll stick with the devil I know, thanks.

          • theredsheep says:

            With apologies for extending this gigantic response thread even farther, I’d like to point out a factor in health-care quality that hasn’t been mentioned yet (unless I missed it due to the sheer mass of responses to read): Caregiver competence.

            Good hospitals tend to hire hardworking and intelligent staff using up-to-date methods. Bad ones get the leftovers, and stupidity multiplies. A lot of hospital-acquired infections are due to staff simply not following best practices. I don’t have the hard data to back this up, but I’ve had some experience working and learning in American hospitals, and I’ve known nurses in poorer areas to do some astonishingly stupid things. It seems to me that just having a fuller staff of attentive and competent nurses could make an enormous difference.

            Most of the meds used in hospital pharmacies aren’t super-expensive; lisinopril works as well now as it did decades ago when it was invented, opiates and NSAIDs are mostly cheap, albuterol and duoneb went generic long ago. There are expensive supermeds, yes, but they don’t account for the bulk of what’s dispensed.

            I don’t know about surgical procedures and can’t comment. But sensible hospital staff might be somewhat less likely to, for example, look at a child’s low weight for his age on a chart, assume it was given in kilos instead of pounds by mistake, and dose opiates accordingly without confirming. My nephew nearly died that way.

          • Randy M says:

            I visited somebody at the Mayo Clinic once — Jeez, the main lobby there was like the waiting room for Heaven.

            I suspect, as complimentary as you intend the comparison, they aren’t going to put that on the ad copy.

        • Clutzy says:

          Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing where the nationalized healthcare systems perform most horribly? By the time I’d get an appointment with a physio in a nationalized system the issue would have resolved itself, or I would have already been able to conclude on my own that it would not.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            In Czech nationalized system, no. You would most likely found a doctor easily.

          • John Schilling says:

            He’s not asking about finding a doctor. He’s asking about finding a physical therapist, a medical specialty whose practitioners are not doctors. The general reputation of nationalized medical systems is that they are good at arranging for sick/injured people to be treated by a generic doctor, but that specialized care requires dealing with enough bureaucracy that many conditions will have run their course (for better or worse) before the first visit with a specialist.

            If the Czech system has found a way around that problem, that would be good to know.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            @John Schilling

            Good point, I should say that a market for physiotherapy not covered by nationalized insurance exists in Czechia (partially advertised to foreigners as you could easily google them in English), but when I had an injury few years back, I got a paper (yes, system is not exactly technologicaly advanced) from a doctor certifiyng that I have a legitimate claim on so and so services covered by national insurance, and then I had a task to find therapist myself, which turned out to be easy (I googled them and about third one was acceptable), with the help of google. It is true that my sessions were scheduled on some awfuly early morning hour before work, as opposed to after work which I would prefer, and generaly medical system here isn´t too convenient, but people not being able to get physical therapy due to rationing doesn´t seem to be massive problem.

            John Schilling

            Good point, I should say that a market for physiotherapy not covered by nationalized insurance exists in Czechia (partially advertised to foreigners as you could easily google them in English), but when I had an injury a few years back, I got a paper (yes, system is not exactly technologically advanced) from a doctor certifying that I have a legitimate claim on so and so services covered by national insurance, and then I had a task to find a therapist myself, which turned out to be easy (I googled them and about the third one was willing to accept me), with the help of google. It is true that my sessions were scheduled on some awfully early morning hour before work, as opposed to after work which I would prefer, and generally medical system here isn’t convenient, but people not being able to get physical therapy due to rationing doesn’t seem to be a massive problem.
            On the other hand, our medical system is underfunded, especially after the recovery from the recession, since “insurance” payments (which are taxes in all but name) were not raised in many years despite nontrivial inflation, and sometimes you could read in the media that public insurance corporation is having a dispute with some gravely ill patient requiring prohibitively expensive care.

            Probably issues which affect lots of people tend to be prioritized at the expense of those which affect only a few. Of course Czechia is relatively poor compared to the US, so resources available all around are limited.

          • LesHapablap says:

            Here in New Zealand we have a mixture of public and private health care. Problems I’ve had that required a physio were covered under ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), which meant that my visits were $30 instead of $100. Scheduling an appointment with the physio is identical either way, and the physio herself does the paperwork to apply for ACC, which doesn’t seem to hard.

            ACC is funded by payroll taxes among other things and is pretty damn expensive, but it is a nice safety net for accidents and probably contributes to an outdoorsy and adventurous culture here in NZ.

            For more complicated procedures, like my boss’s recent hip replacement after a botched hip replacement, private insurance works a lot better (faster) than the public option.

          • As best I can tell, the one unambiguous fact in these arguments is that U.S. healthcare is substantially more expensive than healthcare elsewhere.

            It’s also true that U.S. life expectancy is shorter than life expectancy in many other developed countries, but that leaves the cause open.

            The claim I have heard, specifically with regard to NHS (U.K.), is that the survival rates for a list of serious illnesses, such as cancer, are substantially worse than they are in the U.S. Whether that is true I don’t know — someone else here may.

            I did, some years back, look into the basis for the common claim that the quality of U.S. health care was poor, which came from a WHO report, and concluded that it was very weak. Details here.

    • LesHapablap says:

      Go straight to a physio. Physios are awesome.

      • Clutzy says:

        Yea, I’ll schedule one soon if its not back to 100%, was looking for some more easy to do advice though. After 24 hours I feel like I could probably play on Sunday if I was in the NFL and had their trainers with Toradol.

    • salvorhardin says:

      More stretching, but of the right kind, and probably eventually yoga too. The good thing about going to a physical therapist, as some others have already recommended, is that they will tell you just what stretches to do to actually target your injury and make it better and not worse.

      • Clutzy says:

        I was doing a yoga pose when I hurt it! That said, Its already almost painless in normal range of motion.

  16. Thomas Jorgensen says:

    …I need a reality check on something, and this is probably as good a place for it as it gets. I routinely come across the claim that US libertarianism is nothing other than crypto-republicans – that is, people call themselves libertarians, and then go out and vote for republican politicians who.. kind of are anathema to everything libertarians claim to stand for. That it is, basically, a cloak of social acceptability with no actionable content.

    So, question: Is there anyone here who proclaims themselves libertarian without, in fact, consistently voting and donating R?

    • John Schilling says:

      Here. I usually vote Libertarian; when I can’t or won’t do that I usually vote for divided government.

      Also, it’s the bureaucracy that is anathema to everything libertarians stand for. Republican politicians are anathema to maybe two-thirds of the things libertarians stand for; Democratic ones to a different two-thirds, and if I can’t at least signal my support to a good Libertarian I’ll gladly set the Republicans, Democrats, and Bureaucrats against one another.

    • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

      Does “kind of libertarian leaning, and too busy to bother to vote, but conflicted about which way I’d vote if I did” count?

      And I think “anathema to everything libertarians claim to stand for” is a bit unfair. There are currently two parties that actually get elected, and neither of them is terribly aligned with libertarian values. But, the Republicans at least make noises about cutting taxes and shrinking the size of the government. This comes at the cost of their traditionalist opposition to drugs, LGBT rights, etc. (though some libertarians may be on board with “freedom of association” trumping “freedom from private discrimination”). However, the other side is debatably much worse from a libertarian perspective–the more socially permissive policies of the Democrats come at the cost of their explicit support for more taxation, spending, regulation, and now full-on socialized medicine.

    • Well... says:

      I would guess the origin of this notion is from people who want to vote for Republicans (and usually do when push comes to shove) but consider themselves more socially liberal (and lately, more fiscally conservative) than what you typically hear from official GOP affiliates, so end up saying “I’m a small-ell libertarian” when you talk politics with them.

    • Nornagest says:

      I think it’d be fairer to say that there’s a population of self-IDed libertarians — not the whole movement, probably not even a majority, but a good chunk of it — who are basically burned Republicans. They’re still culturally Red Tribe, but they’ve grown disillusioned with the GOP, usually over compromises on Red Tribe values of self-sufficiency, self-determination, and freedom from corruption and wanton government interference, and they’re looking for a political label that more closely matches those values. On a personal level they’ll probably say they don’t like e.g. drugs or gay marriage, but don’t think the government should be in the business of regulating them.

      But, because they’re culturally Red Tribe, they’re still reasonably likely to take into account a claim to honor that culture when they’re voting, if no better way of deciding presents itself. That’s a fairly stark contrast with Silicon Valley techno-libertarians or with whatever’s left of the Libertarian Party’s old hippie wing, but I’m not going to call them fake for it.

    • Matt says:

      The opposite, here.

      I claim to be Republican but I vote Libertarian every time I see it on the ticket. If no Libertarian is present, though, I vote for the Republicans, and on most Rep vs Dem issues (not all) I take the Rep side. When Libertarians disagree with Republicans, I tend to agree with the Libertarians.

      Isn’t it all a spectrum, though?

      I stopped donating to politicians of any stripe, though.

      • aristides says:

        I am in a similar boat. I’ll proudly claim to be a Republican, but the only presidential candidates I have voted for are Obama and Johnson. Congress I still vote R across the ticket. But honestly, if you only look at Congress, Republicans are the experts at making sure government does nothing, so short of tactically voting for divided government, it is the most libertarian option. Republican Presidents have a much worse track record.

    • brad says:

      I don’t know if I’d go that far, but some time in the Bush administration it seemed like every Republican that wasn’t devoutly Christian started calling himself a libertarian. But even leaving aside voting patterns (spoiler: libertarian candidates never seemed to be able to capitalize on all these self professed libertarians), in debate the new style libertarians only ever wanted to talk about guns and cutting taxes—on which topics there was and is zero light between them and bog standard republicans. Even if you could pin one down on being technically, I guess in favor of e.g. open boarders or legalizing sex work it wasn’t something they were going to argue with Republicans about, they needed to save their energy to argue with liberals about guns and taxes.

      • quanta413 says:

        libertarian candidates never seemed to be able to capitalize on all these self professed libertarians

        There aren’t that many self-professed libertarians so there is nothing to explain here. If the number of self described libertarians exceeds 5% in national surveys (on average) I’d be surprised and if it exceeds 10%, my mind would be blown.

        I guess in favor of e.g. open boarders or legalizing sex work it wasn’t something they were going to argue with Republicans about

        Open borders isn’t a core libertarian position. Minarchists don’t have to be pro open boarders. Ancaps sure, but I don’t think most libertarians are ancaps.

        It’s hard to see how you could not be for legalizing sex work and still be considered libertarian though. But very few people are in favor of that so why try pushing that issue? You don’t lead with a guaranteed loser.

        I’m pretty sure the libertarian party platform is for both those things though or very close to it. It was last time I checked (as well as more guns and less taxes).

      • Garrett says:

        on which topics there was and is zero light between them and bog standard republicans

        I disagree. Republicans pretty much never do anything to substantially improve gun rights or cut spending. Republicans are fine with spending as long as it’s done through debt rather than taxation.

        • brad says:

          Which Libertarian Presidents appointed Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito (the Heller majority)?

      • John Schilling says:

        in debate the new style libertarians only ever wanted to talk about guns and cutting taxes—on which topics there was and is zero light between them and bog standard republicans.

        You never encountered any “new style” libertarians who wanted to talk about legalizing / ending the war on drugs? That’s weird. Or possibly you were encountering libertarians in contexts where that wasn’t a debatable issue, e.g. because most everyone else was a progressive-ish liberal and there wasn’t anything to debate.

        But, drug legalization has enough support among libertarian-leaning Republican politicians that it isn’t going to be a strong driver for voting Democrat for anyone who isn’t single-issue on that matter.

        • brad says:

          In my recollection the marijuana obsessed libertarian pre-dates the secular Republican libertarian. At least online.

    • Tarpitz says:

      I claim to be a kinda-sorta-libertarianish, don’t live in America, and either vote Conservative or spoil my ballot.

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      I call myself libertarian and have voted Democratic in the past several presidential elections, third party in Congressional races, and usually split among the parties for other races.

    • quanta413 says:

      In general elections, I usually vote for a libertarian when available, and if that’s not an option I usually attempt to vote for gridlock after that at whatever level I’m voting at (I don’t really see much difference between democrats and republicans on things I care about so I figure less will happen if they’re closer to even in power).

      I’ve voted for democrats more often than republicans.

      I register as a member of whatever party I think will be most relevant. In 2016 I registered Republican to vote against Trump in the primary. Now that I live in California, I think I’m a registered Democrat (but I don’t remember getting my voter registration card in the mail… which I suppose I should look into. I might be forgetting something).

    • RMECola says:

      Libertarian, don’t really vote much but my sympathies more often than not lie with Republicans, though frankly both parties are disappointing.

      The way I always framed it, there are more institutional/constitutional barriers to the aspects of the Republican agenda that make libertarians nervous. Things like obscenity and pornography bans, forced prayer in public schools, and bans on abortions are more or less settled issues, or at least ones I don’t foresee changing anytime soon. The Democrats, on the other hand, have a whole slew of terrible government policies and regulations that can go through with relative ease.

      I’ll admit this is a bit dated considering the new wave of Marco Rubio/Tucker Carlson Republicanism which is just as interventionist as the Democrats. At this point it’s looking like libertarian ideas are hitting a low point in influence.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I’m somewhere in the libertarian-conservative space. Voted Gary Johnson in 2012 and 2016, but wasn’t impressed by Barr or McCain in 2008 and ended up voting Boston Tea Party in 2008, probably one of a few hundred to do so. On the other hand I’ve voted for Republicans to other offices more than I have Democrats. For reference, this year I plan to either stay home or spoil my ballot with a NOTA write-in, I haven’t decided yet.

      I think it’s worth noting that this cliche is somewhat muddled by lack of ballot access and candidates (which in turn is due to electoral structure and ballot access). “If you make a self-professed libertarian choose between a republican and a democrat, most of them will vote for a republican if they bother to vote at all” isn’t any more shocking in a FPTP system with two competing big tent parties, any more than “If you make a self-professed socialist/social democrat choose between a republican and a democrat, most of them will vote for a democrat if they bother to vote at all” is.

      Remember, the average voter is:

      A) profoundly ignorant of candidates beyond whatever sound bites made it into the news cycle or (these days) social media posts went viral.

      B) not deeply concerned with ideological or philosophical purity. “This guy sounds a bit more like my kind of guy than that guy” is sufficient criteria for 99.99+% of voters.

      Combine that with the primary choices being a party that is pretty openly hostile to libertarian principles right on down the line as a matter of policy and says so, and a party that is hostile to libertarian principles half the time, indifferent another third, and actually sort of friendly on a few issues, but CLAIMS to be much more friendly to libertarian principles as part of its public identity, and it’s not hard to see how you can get a lot of people willing to pull the lever for that party.

      Doesn’t really tell you much about what their voting behavior would be if we had a system where third parties were in any way meaningful.

    • salvorhardin says:

      I’ve been strongly libertarian for most of my life, though I don’t usually identify as one these days because I think team identifiers are intellectually corrupting– but I’m still much closer to libertarian than to any other major label. I rarely vote Republican and when I do it’s usually for sacrificial-lamb Republican candidates in my heavily Democratic district who are, well, pretty damn libertarian. The two times I voted other than Libertarian for President it was for Democrats.

    • Clutzy says:

      I’m a lean Libertarian. I’ve never voted for someone who became president.

    • Jake R says:

      I vote libertarian when I bother to vote, which I usually don’t for rational ignorance reasons. That said, I grew up in a Republican household so I tend to have more of a visceral reaction towards people saying positive things about Democrats or negative things about Republicans. This is true even when I completely agree with what they’re saying. It turns out tribal “us vs them” affiliations run deep and aren’t easy to shake. I do try to recognize when this is happening and ignore it though.

    • JayT says:

      In the 1970s and 1980s the Republican party had economic issues, trade issues, immigration issues, guns, and regulation issues largely in common with Libertarians. The Democrats had social issues (though back then even the Democrats were against things like drugs and gay rights), so the Republican party was the obvious place for Libertarians to go if they wanted to feel like they were voting for someone that had a chance. Then, by the 90s there were a lot of people that agreed with the Republicans on economic issues, but they weren’t religious, so they called themselves Libertarian.

      Today, the Trump-lead Republican party has very little left in common with Libertarians, but old habits die hard, and it’s not like the Democrats are rushing in a Libertarian direction either, so a lot of Libertarians still vote Republican. I expect that support to fade away, especially if the Democrats become the free trade party.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The Republicans have taxes and guns (though wishy-washy on that as usual), and are better on regulation. The Democrats have…. nothing? On a state level SOME (D) parties have weed and other War On Drugs things, but in NJ we don’t even have that.

      • and it’s not like the Democrats are rushing in a Libertarian direction either

        It was asserted upthread that about ten percent of the population identify as libertarian in some sense. That raises a question I’ve been interested in for a long time: Would it be possible for the Democrats to pull those people into their coalition by some set of policies that wouldn’t drive away a noticeable number of their own supporters?

        They don’t have to be very libertarian — more libertarian than Trump is a pretty low bar.

    • teneditica says:

      US libertarianism is nothing other than crypto-republicans

      You could make similarly ridiculous claims for many groups. Are marxists crypto-democrats? I guess marxists tend to vote democrat, but that doesn’t mean marxism is not a meaningful ideology in its own right.

      republican politicians who.. kind of are anathema to everything libertarians claim to stand for.

      Pretty obnoxious, to take an inflammatory claim and just presuppose it in your question.

      • rocoulm says:

        You could make similarly ridiculous claims for many groups. Are marxists crypto-democrats? I guess marxists tend to vote democrat, but that doesn’t mean marxism is not a meaningful ideology in its own right.

        True, but the US does have a, uh, “prominent” Libertarian party (at least in the sense that major elections frequently have candidates nominated from it, even if they rarely win), while, as far as I know, no such Marxist equivalent exists.

        • teneditica says:

          Isn’t that an argument against libertarians being crypto-republicans?

          • rocoulm says:

            If you have a self-proclaimed Marxist who votes Democrat, you can’t say “You’re no Marxist! If you were you’d be voting for the Marxist party candidates!” because there is none.

            If you have a self-proclaimed Libertarian who votes Republican, you can say “You’re no Libertarian! If you were, you’d be voting for the Libertarian Party candidates!” because there is one.

            Obviously, this is leaving aside the pragmatic issues of voting, like whether you factor in “electability” and whatnot. Also, admittedly, the existence of a Libertarian party itself does suggest there is a significant number of “True Libertarians” (whatever that is). But the Republican party consistently capturing the “Libertarian” voters, who have the chance to vote for Libertarians but don’t, seems like some evidence in favor of Thomas’s position, at least more so than an equivalent relationship between Democrats and Marxists.

        • quanta413 says:

          The green party is more marxist tinged than the democratic party (at least recently). So you’d still think a marxist would vote for the green party not the democrats if they were just voting for the best available option.

    • Rebecca Friedman says:

      Hi! I only donate to one political charity, and I’m pretty sure Institute for Justice is as Libertarian as they come. (I don’t donate to election campaigns.) Voting is more complicated, because the California Republican Party frequently runs people who are actually libertarians, and I vote for Libertarian —> “Republican” who mysteriously seems to have no problem with drugs or gays (outside maybe freedom of association issues) but wants California to tax less and spend less and deregulate at least somewhat —> whichever democrat/non-libertarian republican looks least bad, for local elections. But I voted Libertarian in every presidential election in which I’ve voted. If I lived in a red state, I suspect I’d reverse the pattern – Democratic candidates would be less extreme, Republicans more so (and probably not in my direction), and there you go.

      Do you know what state(s) your sources are reporting this behavior from?

    • eigenmoon says:

      I’ve never been to US but let me tell you about my all-time favorite political party: Girchi. This is a party of Georgia (with Tbilisi, not Atlanta).

      Georgia has mandatory conscription but makes exceptions for priests of registered churches. Girchi has registered a church – Christian Evangelical Protestant ‘Biblical Freedom’ Church of Georgia – seriously, the government refused to register them under a shorter name – and ordained everyone.

      Tbilisi has passed a bunch of restrictive laws on taxis. In response, Girchi created an educational service “Shmaxi”. The education consists of viewing lectures of Milton Friedman while being driven from point A to point B. The payment is proportional to the time being educated, not to the distance, so technically it’s not a taxi service.

      Currently Girchi has organized a brothel in their headquarters just because it’s illegal.

    • FormerRanger says:

      I used to think of my self as a libertarian (never capitalized, though). I don’t consider myself a member of any party. My state is one of the bluest in the nation, with overwhelming majorities of Democrat officeholders in the legislature. Except on rare occasions Republicans (much less Libertarians or any other third party) don’t get elected to anything. However, if you aren’t registered in a party, you can vote in any primary, and I do that, though most of the action is in the Democratic primary.

      I am very down on the national Republican Party after the experience of the Obama and Trump administrations. Most Republican Senators and Congress-things are members of the “corporate party.” I’m even more down on the Democrats, most of whose members appear to have been driven mad by Trump. They are quite explicitly are in favor of rewriting the Constitution, and changing the demographics of the country to achieve (they hope) a permanent super-majority consisting of the hard left, the “tech bros,” and bolstered by open-borders immigration.

      I voted for Clinton in 2016, in spite of her being the actual embodiment of everything that is wrong with the government, because I thought Trump was a buffoon. He is still a buffoon but the Democrats have become even worse. I can’t imagine ever voting for a Democrat again unless they regain sanity. I will probably vote for Trump.

    • Erusian says:

      I like to bring up the Koch Brothers who, despite being Democratic boogeymen, donated to Democratic politicians in support of gay marriage, against police brutality, and for prison and sentencing reform. They were involved heavily in the recent Florida initiative to return voting rights to felons, adding two million mostly minority voters to the polls. They harshly criticized the former (Republican) governor for how he handled the system, which excluded most voters and led to a (failed) discrimination lawsuit. They’re also pro-immigrant, in fact they’re more extreme than the Democrats on this issue.

      So there’s a mainstream, powerful, libertarian institution and action network that appears to be more guided by principles than party. I tend to find their claim that they’re pushing for libertarian values and just see the parties as vehicles pretty credible.

      It’s true the majority of their money goes to Republicans but they’re not as mainstream bog-standard Republican as (say) the Mercers. They will give to Democrats where they feel the Democratic policy is more libertarian. They will withhold money from Republicans who they don’t feel are libertarian enough (like Trump, who received $0 from the Kochs).

      (Also, I do understand why the Democrats don’t like them: They opposed Obama’s healthcare law, they oppose public transportation, they oppose welfare in general, they support lowering taxes. But they’re pretty consistently fiscal/bureaucratic conservatives and social liberals, which is my understanding of libertarianism.)

      • salvorhardin says:

        You forgot climate change. The single biggest reason to dislike the Koch brothers (and I agree with you about all the good libertarian stuff they do) is their pushing of climate denialism, and opposition to holding polluters accountable for their negative externalities generally, in order to protect their business interests.

    • achenx says:

      If we’re posting anecdotes here: I’ve considered myself libertarian for a very long time. I voted the LP candidate for president in 00/04/08/16, but I did vote for Romney in 2012. For Congress and state elections, in the 00s I voted for all of LP, R, D, and Independent candidates at various times, depending on the specific candidates, but I gave up on the Democrats around 2008 and don’t think I’ve voted for one since. So election choices come down to “is the Republican worth voting for”, but the answer is often “no”, and that’s becoming the case more often. (My state Republican party has not been great at the best of times, and it is no longer the best of times for them, so I’m seeing way fewer Rs that I would vote for.) At this point I’m close to giving up voting altogether.

      Also, I would sooner set my money on fire than donate it to a politician.

    • Jon S says:

      I’m a lot less libertarian than I used to be, I’m somewhere between typical Libertarian and Democratic positions at this point. When the Democratic party sends me surveys I feel like I disagree with 90% of what they’re trying to do, but I think I agree with them in more areas that aren’t their priorities at the moment.

      Over the last 11 years I’ve built up a visceral loathing for many leaders of the Republican party. I’m not sure whether I’ve ever voted for a Republican for national office, and (barring a Trump-like-candidate running as a Dem) I probably won’t any time soon.

    • Pdubbs says:

      Through my early 20s I called myself a libertarian and voted D every time I cast a vote because I cared more about staying out of war, incarcerating fewer people, and gay marriage than I did about tax cuts and the abstract idea of reducing the size of the government. Since then I’ve realized that I believe in social welfare and just identify as a liberal.

    • Yes.

      When I vote in a presidential election, it’s for the libertarian candidate.

      I’ve probably voted for Republicans for lower level offices from time to time, but the last time I can remember voting for one for congress it was because the Democratic candidate’s campaign sent me a list of all the terrible things the Republican candidate was in favor of. I was in favor of all of them, so felt obliged to vote for him.

    • sentientbeings says:

      I am a libertarian and a Libertarian, and I do not consistently vote for or donate to Republicans.

      I also know quite a few other libertarians of either sized “L,” and I don’t think a single one of the matches your crypto-republican description.

      That doesn’t mean none exist, of course, but I think the idea of it being dominant pattern, let alone “nothing other than,” is wildly incorrect.

    • SamChevre says:

      Here.

      But it’s not quite fair: when it matters, I vote R vs D–but it almost never is both that choice AND matters, so I generally vote third-party, or for the best Democrat. (I’m in a very Democratic city and state.)

      In LadyJane’s useful typology, I’m a Paleo-Libertarian: I’m much more concerned about freedom of association and rule of law (vs arbitrary punishment) than about further increasing immigration or legalizing prostitution. In my ideal world, heroin would be legal, but heavily stigmatized; so would sex outside of marriage. Both would make it harder to get a good job or live in a nice neighborhood–similar to the current disadvantage of being a heavy smoker who is habitually crude in his references to women.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Are you against sex outside of marriage, or sex outside of a committed relationship?

        • SamChevre says:

          I think the answer is “outside of marriage” – the key facts are that’s there’s consent to the relationship given publicly on-the-record, a reasonable expectation of permanance, and a male-female pairing. Relationships meeting those criteria have significantly better outcomes for both participants and children. A committed relationship that met those criteria would look incredibly like marriage.

    • I vote for Libertarian Presidential candidates and often vote Democrat in local elections because the local Republicans can’t get their act together enough to respond to candidate questionnaires. However, my votes in Congressional elections tend to be for Republicans.

    • albatross11 says:

      I’m more-or-less libertarian. Like John Schilling, I’ll often vote for divided government or for individual candidates. Also, while I have voted Libertarian in most presidential elections, I voted for Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008, in reaction to the IMO horrifying policies of the Republicans under George W Bush. Then Obama got into office and carried most of those policies on with better grammar, and I repented of my previous support for Democrats and went back to voting Libertarian. I live in a complete non-battleground state, so this is all sending a message stuff–if my state is in play, the Republicans are winning a landslide.

    • Anteros says:

      I self-identify as libertarian, but have only voted once and I voted green.

    • Caliban says:

      Happy to be the exact counterpoint. If you count up my voting history I’m very close to evenly split between Dems and Reps (if you count presidential elections I am exactly split, but if you also include all congress and state/local I probably have closer to a 60/40 split R/D). I grew up in very conservative area and would probably be a “natural Rep by background,” but I care a lot about libertarian ideals (although don’t identify as a capital-L Libertarian). Nearly every time I’ve voted Dem it has been because I think the Rep alternative has too much authoritarian-ish tendencies vs the Dem counterpart. Of course I am frequently disappointed by how candidates actually behave/vote once they are in office. I often find voting a very disappointing experience of “just try to choose the least bad candidate” in line with my ideals.

    • Thomas Jorgensen asked:

      So, question: Is there anyone here who proclaims themselves libertarian without, in fact, consistently voting and donating R?

      The answer seems to be that almost nobody here who proclaims himself libertarian consistently votes and donates Republican.

      Perhaps I missed it, but you don’t seem to have offered any reaction to the evidence you asked for. Is your conclusion that your beliefs about libertarians were wildly mistaken? That your beliefs were confirmed, refuting the beliefs of other people who had made the claim you asked about? That libertarians on SSC are very different from libertarians elsewhere?

      Curious minds would like to know.

      • Dacyn says:

        The answer seems to be that almost nobody here who proclaims himself libertarian consistently votes and donates Republican.

        Thomas Jorgensen didn’t ask for positive examples, so it’s plausible some didn’t comment because they felt they wouldn’t be relevant.

  17. Plumber says:

    Full disclosure: I don’t think I learned the term “cancel culture” until this year either, but I found this Captain America/Rip Van Winkle-ish exchange (edited for space) to be charming: 

    Presidential candidate Senator Sanders: “… if you have young people, who are generally speaking quite progressive, vote at the same rate as older people vote, we will transform this country, and without any doubt I will be the president of the United States.

    New York Times staff: We have a few questions along this line actually, yeah.

    Sanders: I knew I jumped the gun on you there.

    NYT: Speaking of young people, recently President Obama made remarks around cancel culture and this idea ——

    Sanders: Around what?

    NYT: Cancel culture. Cancel culture.

    Sanders: Cancel culture.

    NYT: Are you aware of that phrase?

    Sanders: Help me out a little bit. Give me a hint.

    NYT: So cancel culture essentially is often attributed to younger people, millennials, and this idea that if you put out a critique of a public figure and call for either their resignation or for their cancellation, that sort of thing

    Sanders: Oh, I see.

    NYT: Where do you stand on this? Is that something you’re concerned about in terms of the way it’s kind of energized a certain segment of the mainstream?

    Sanders: I think you got a Twitter world out there. And the critique has been made, which I think has truth to it, that the Twitter world does not necessarily reflect what the American people are or even where most Democrats areThe appeal that I make to young people is two-fold. First of all, the good news is, and it is very good news, is that our younger generation today is the most progressive young generation, I suspect, in the history of this country[…]

    […]you’ve got a great generation of young people out there. Problem is that many of them do not vote or get actively involved in the political process. And the appeal that I make in virtually every speech that I give is to say, it’s not good enough for you to be here at a rally. What you’ve got to do is tell your friends who can’t afford to go to college, “We’re going to leave school in $50,000 of debt. We’re worried about climate change. We’re worried about racism. You know what? Don’t moan and groan, you’ve got to get involved in the political process.”

    So I suspect the president is right. That’s not enough to send out an email or a tweet or whatever it may be[…]

    […]And I think by participating in the political process, they can bring about some change.

    NYT: Senator, since we live in a Twitter world, I’d love to ask a couple of lightning-round questions about your use of technology.

    Sanders: Oh, God!

    NYT: I know. I’m the geek squad. Do you personally use any social media?

    Sanders: Yeah, I have. Most of the stuff that comes out — let me answer — I’m sorry, it’s not going to be in 12 characters. It’ll be a longer answer.

    I am not a geek, but I understood way back when the power of social media. And that is why my Senate office, you could check it out, I can’t remember exactly, I think we have more followers on my Senate office than probably almost all the Democratic senators combined. And while I worry very much that Trump has 60 million followers on Twitter, we, I think, have reached the 10 million level.

    So I take it very seriously. Have I tweeted? I sure have.

    NYT:  What about you personally?

    Sanders: Yeah, I have, absolutely, every now and then. Not so much lately, but when I had the time I did. Yes, I did.

    NYT: Do you have a Mitt Romney-esque sort of secondary.

    Sanders: No.

    NYT: No lurker accounts?

    Sanders: Nope.

    NYT: What’s an —

    Sanders:As a senator, and as the candidate, I could use my own official place.

    NYT:  Fair enough, fair enough. What’s an app on your phone that you have that might surprise people?

    Sanders: Nothing.

    NYT: Do you have any apps on your phone?

    Sanders: I look at — No, I was asked by your Instagram people when I walked in here. I read a lot, including The New York Times and The Washington Post and The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and some progressive publications. So I go to them in my own way.

    NYT: I ask because these products play massive roles in people’s lives, as well as the devices. I mean, one issue that we’re all thinking about all the time is security, especially as a candidate. I mean, do you have two-factor authentication set up on your phone?

    Sanders: There is a woman in my office whose name is Melissa who drives me crazy and gets angry at me all the time. Again, we take that issue very seriously, and she works on my phone and my iPad, my computer, as she does for the whole office[…]”

    Along with “No malarkey”, I’m now also on board with “Help me out a little bit. Give me a hint” as a campaign slogan! 

    I love this, forward to the 20th century!

    • Statismagician says:

      I kind of want ‘I’m a US Senator, I refuse to discuss something as trivial as whether or not I have MFA set up with you’ to be a fair answer to this kind of question, but also I want the Senator to have some clue how apps work if he wants to go regulate them. It’s an interesting tension.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      Along with “No malarkey”, I’m now also on board with “Help me out a little bit. Give me a hint” as a campaign slogan!

      Yes I like this response too. I think it’s a good thing when a political candidate admits he doesn’t know something and asks about it. Maybe it’s even a good thing that Sanders doesn’t know what cancel culture is. Of course I still think the flap about Alleppo in 2016 was an extreme over-reaction, so take this as you will.

      Not that I would ever support Sanders, but he comes off good here.

      • gbdub says:

        I don’t think it’s a good thing at all – here’s a guy whose whole pitch is “hey young people, get out and get involved and vote (for me, natch)” who, at least in this exchange, doesn’t seem to have done much to actually understand young voters. It makes the rest of the praise he has for them ring hollow (and frankly a bit presumptuous).

        Twitter is not that hard. Being ignorant about it (especially when it is a preferred hangout of key demographic of his support) isn’t cute, it’s lazy.

        He sounds like an old man. Which is what he is, but there’s a fine line between “elder statesman” and “old man yells at cloud” and Bernie often seems to be on the wrong side of it.

    • albatross11 says:

      Warm fuzzies for Melissa, the security person who’s trying to browbeat Sen Sanders into using 2FA!

      • Evan Þ says:

        Hurrah hurrah hurrah!

        Seriously, if he’s concerned about unethical people (whether The Russians or anyone else) trying to sabotage his campaign, enabling 2FA should be one of the first things he does.

  18. Deiseach says:

    While I’m quoting Chesterton, after reading that “psychiatry yes or no?” exchange, let me say I feel you, Mr. Moon!

    “Do you, perhaps,” inquired Pym with austere irony, “maintain that your client was a bird of some sort — say, a flamingo?”

    “In the matter of his being a flamingo,” said Moon with sudden severity, “my client reserves his defence.”

    No one quite knowing what to make of this, Mr. Moon resumed his seat and Inglewood resumed the reading of his document.

  19. GearRatio says:

    What are some good, comprehensive lists of major airline crashes/tragedies?

  20. DragonMilk says:

    So the outside counsel for our firm has begun adding “pronouns” to their signature block in e-mails. That is after name, there was a, “Pronouns: he/him/his”

    Being nosy, I asked if this was permanently part of their sig block. I was told, “yes that is part of my signature block. Although not implemented on a firmwide basis yet, [redacted], like many organization now, is encouraging us to list pronouns in our signature as a way to promote inclusion for the LGBTQ community.”

    All else equal, I would actually choose a different firm if given the choice due to this woke pandering. For those that may be Q, I’d feel like this position may actually backfire as they may be feeling like a potentially offensive, “Pronouns: she/him/their” I certainly doubt that the net effect is inclusion any but one letter of the five, and symptomatic of this recent fixation on trying to justify T is being beyond a totally an ok thing to get with the program/trendy.

    Finally, on the margin, if there are more socially conservative clients being served, such a thing borders on morally objectionable as business is being mixed with what many consider to be a mistaken ideology.

    Has anyone else found this pronoun thing pop up in their work e-mails? I’m curious how far the, “like many organizations now” thing extends

    • EchoChaos says:

      I have never seen this.

      • DragonMilk says:

        I’ve heard that law schools, like their younger college cousins, are increasingly a liberal bubble, so maybe it’s extending to the profession as well. I will say that this is a top 10 law firm, which is why I wonder how mainstream it’s becoming.

    • Deiseach says:

      I demand the right to include my blood group. Seeing as how there are estimated 6% AB+ globally, which beats out the estimated percentage of transness (at the moment), it’s demonstrably more important information that everyone should be compelled to know! After all, sharing antigen types promotes inclusion of the shy and bashful 0.36% AB- types to be out and proud!

      My view on this is that if you have to tell me your pronouns so I won’t call you the wrong thing, then you’re failing at passing as your desired gender so much it doesn’t matter if you tell everyone “Call me ma’am”, they’re going to think “that’s a guy in a pink tracksuit and hoop earrings” rather than “what a perfect example of a truly feminine lady” anyway.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        My view on this is that if you have to tell me your pronouns so I won’t call you the wrong thing, then you’re failing at passing as your desired gender so much it doesn’t matter if you tell everyone “Call me ma’am”, they’re going to think “that’s a guy in a pink tracksuit and hoop earrings” rather than “what a perfect example of a truly feminine lady” anyway.

        Precisely.

        My understanding of the thinking behind pronouns is that if everyone is forced encouraged to advertise them, it makes trans people more comfortable in advertising their pronouns. This is ridiculous on a number of levels.

        Putting 99.9% people through an awkward, artificial, and useless social ritual for the comfort of 0.1% is not going to happen, and is a sure way to increase animosity towards that 0.1%.

        Besides, in most cases where I’ve seen pronouns advertised is was not by trans people but by woke SJWs advertising their wokeness more than their pronouns.

      • baconbits9 says:

        My view on this is that if you have to tell me your pronouns so I won’t call you the wrong thing, then you’re failing at passing as your desired gender so much it doesn’t matter if you tell everyone “Call me ma’am”, they’re going to think “that’s a guy in a pink tracksuit and hoop earrings” rather than “what a perfect example of a truly feminine lady” anyway.

        I think this is entirely the wrong reasoning for the more or less correct position. The issue is largely that if your identity depends in large part on how other people perceive you then you don’t have control over your own identity. One of the least healthy responses to struggling with your identity is to demand that other people confirm it for you, in a similar way to lavishing praise on a person who is depressed doesn’t generally help their depression, or focusing on how an anorexic actually looks doesn’t do a whole lot of good in fighting anorexia.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        I demand the right to include my blood group. Seeing as how there are estimated 6% AB+ globally, which beats out the estimated percentage of transness (at the moment), it’s demonstrably more important information that everyone should be compelled to know! After all, sharing antigen types promotes inclusion of the shy and bashful 0.36% AB- types to be out and proud!

        I believe there’s a legitimate reason why people don’t include their blood group in their signatures: because it’s not relevant. Your blood group (normally) doesn’t make any difference to how I converse with or about you. Nor does my knowing about your allergies to medications, or other health conditions.

        OTOH, “AB+” or “AB-” is very appropriate for, say, a MedicAlert[TM] bracelet, or hospital inpatient bracelet. So are”Penicillin allergy” and “Diabetic.”

        I’m on a Discord server which is about religion, and my religious preferences are quite relevant, so I have the roles “Jewish,” “Anglican,” and “Catholic.” But on the several libertarian and other political servers I’m on, those usually aren’t relevant.
        And on some servers I list my Enneagram and MBTI temperament types, while on all of them I list my time zone, so people will know when I am likely to run and/or play in roleplaying games.

        • Randy M says:

          I’m on a Discord server which is about religion, and my religious preferences are quite relevant, so I have the roles “Jewish,” “Anglican,” and “Catholic.”

          On a tangent, what does that mean? That’s what you want to discuss? Surely you don’t claim to be all those at once?

          • acymetric says:

            One could certainly have heavy exposure to all three when the grew up, though (parents of different religions, with extended family of primarily another, or parents changed religions at some point, etc).

          • Nick says:

            As I recall Ventrue is Anglo-Catholic, which is to say, Anglican. I’m not sure what he means, either.

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            I was raised Jewish, including being bar mitzvah, and I’m still very proud of my ethnicity/culture.

            After college I was baptized Episcopalian.

            I consider myself “Anglo-Catholic” which in my case means “very High Church” Episcopalian — “Smells, bells, there really is a Hell” and Nulli Tunica, Nulli Calci, Nulli Salus — and moving slowly towards Rome.

            Also possibly relevant here: I’m MBTI temperament type ENTJ, and Enneagram temperament type SP 1w2.

            Who else here knows their temperament type (either Enneagram and/or MBTI)?

          • Tarpitz says:

            Who else here knows their temperament type (either Enneagram and/or MBTI)?

            INTP. I believe SSC readers (or at any rate ones who take the survey) are NT at truly preposterous rates compared to the general population.

          • edmundgennings says:

            INTJ
            I love the “Smells, bells, there really is a Hell” line. English wordsmithing is certainly an Anglo Catholic talent.
            Also does Nulli Tunica, Nulli Calci, Nulli Salus contextually mean “without the shroud and the empty tomb, no one is saved”?

          • Aapje says:

            @Ventrue Capital

            What do you want to signal with “Jewish,” “Anglican,” and “Catholic?”

            That you can speak with authority on all these religions?

            I personally would just be confused if I encountered this.

          • Joseph Greenwood says:

            I got INFJ when I took the test today. I got ENFJ last time, which I think is more correct. I am 8w9 (that’s 8 with a 9 wing, right?) on the enneagram.

          • acymetric says:

            Is there a…free place to take Myers-Briggs?

          • rocoulm says:

            @acymetric

            https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test is a well-known one, but I have no idea if these sorts of sites are looked down on as “unofficial” like free IQ tests are.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m probably enneagram 1 with a 9 wing, but what is SP?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz
            SP is short for “self-preservational” in the instinctual variants typing system. A truly orthogonal-to-the-enneagram motivational typing schema commonly used by Enneagram practitioners to flesh out the Enneagram types and motivations. The other two types are “sexual” – abbreviated SX (inter-relational, really, but that doesn’t start with the letter S), and “social” – abbreviated “SO” or “SOC”, cause the socials just have to have an extra letter over the other variants 😛 .It is frequently recognized as a continuum like the Enneagram, so where Enneagram types are often described along with the wing type, one can describe oneself Instinctual variantly by saying SP/SX (SO-last implied), or as I did SP-first, SO-last (sexual middle implied).

            @Ventrue Capital

            Enneagram: 5
            Instinctual variant: self-preservational first, social last
            MBTI: I don’t know what the heck Myers and her daughter did to Jung’s typology, or what Augustinavičiūtė (copy-and-pasted) did to it, but I don’t like it. Jung himself would have called me an introverted thinker.

            Edit to add to everyone: Tests are crap (possibly even worse than typical self-reports). You need to read and understand, as best you can, about all the types or factors in a particular system to have the best chance at placing yourself and others in that system.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Psychetypes by Malone gives an interesting theory about the personality types– that they think of time and space in very different ways.

            From memory: Time can be thought of as an even progression from past to future, as the present being the most important thing, as intense snapshots from the past as most important, or as future possibilities being most important. For space, boundaries can be very important or not.

            All the types are healthy variation and can lead to high achievement.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Very interesting, thank you, I’ve bookmarked that link to search for the book at the library at some point.

      • helloo says:

        Be careful – there are some places like South Korea, that place blood type as an important identifying marker. wiki link
        The analog is generally made to astrology sign or zodiac animal, but possibly a better one would be age.

        And yes, people sometimes do put “I am a X-blood type” on their resumes/business card/profiles. Generally when it is “good”/they can make the stereotypes relevant, but asking for someone’s blood type is a thing.

        I’m not sure if it’ll make sense for a South Korean law firm to require it, but for a dating app? Yes, that is a field which may be required (and possibly embarrassing/reluctant to be filled for some).

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Thanks, I’ve always wondered why in some Japanese games when they give you character bios they’ll include things like height, weight…and then also blood type. I guess that’s it.

    • GreatColdDistance says:

      I am in the law sphere and I’ve seen this an increasing amount recently. To be completely honest I don’t really have much quarrel with it, it seems very much harmless in itself. Adding a line to your email signature just seems like such a small thing, and if it makes the rare person feel included then I suppose it’s a good thing.

      Listed pronouns also has uses beyond trans individuals. As someone who’s been sending out application emails to lots of people who I’ve never met before I can tell you listed pronouns can really help when emailing someone with an ambiguously-gendered name.

      • Jake says:

        It’s not just limited to ambiguously-gendered names either. I work remotely with a lot of people from different countries that may have names that are 100% gendered where they live, but I do not share the cultural background to determine that, so I’ve definitely mis-gendered people accidentally over e-mail/messaging. It could definitely help prevent some cross-cultural faux pas, without having anything to do with LGBTQ issues (though I will admit that it definitely comes across as a political statement.)

        • DragonMilk says:

          To me that’s like citing people getting sunburn as a reason to force all people to avoid the sun entirely when the real reason is that albinos want to feel included.

          Those with ambiguously gendered names have always been free to clarify their gender. My question explicitly confirmed that it’s for LGBTQ inclusivity.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            Eh, seems like a sort of curb-cut effect to me. The original intention of the policy is trans inclusivity, but it has the fortuitous side-effects of helping to clear up ambiguities in non-gendered or foreign names.

            And I think you’re making this out to be a much bigger inconvenience than it really is. Even if the policy becomes mandatory, I suspect you will take two minutes to add one unnecessary line to your signature, be mildly annoyed for a week, and then promptly forget about it because who spends time reading their own email signatures?

          • DragonMilk says:

            It’s not at all a matter of inconvenience. It’s a matter of signalling and attempting to legitimize something that much of the population considers to be morally wrong.

          • acymetric says:

            Does it really promote inclusivity though? Seems like it is more likely to single out people with non-standard pronoun preferences and make them stand out more than anything else (potentially making it easier to casually discriminate against them).

          • hilitai says:

            “I suspect you will take two minutes to add one unnecessary line to your signature, be mildly annoyed for a week, and then promptly forget about it”

            Or, you will see it every time you send an e-mail, and be quietly reminded that you are being forced to do it against your will by someone with power over you.

          • BlackboardBinaryBook says:

            don’t really have much quarrel with it, it seems very much harmless in itself. Adding a line to your email signature just seems like such a small thing, and if it makes the rare person feel included then I suppose it’s a good thing.

            Yes, this.

            listed pronouns can really help when emailing someone with an ambiguously-gendered name.

            As someone with an ambiguously-gendered English name, I approve this message.

            cross-cultural faux pas

            Yes, this too.

            To me that’s like citing people getting sunburn as a reason to force all people to avoid the sun entirely when the real reason is that albinos want to feel included.

            To me it’s like citing all people being capable of getting sunburned to advise (not require) using sunblock. Albino people feeling included may have been the impetus for the idea, but it’s still a harmless, low-effort act that can help people (even beyond to the original target population).

      • DragonMilk says:

        Suppose a white woman claims to be trans-racial and identifies as black. She goes beyond blackface and tries to go for melanin treatments for her skin, and on all forms for job applications and other fields, she puts African-American down as race.

        And then a company decides it’s a great idea to be racially inclusive and mandate that sig blocks include race, and it happens to be the company she works for, which say has 10% actual black employees.

        Given melanin pigmentation and associated racial differences are much less impactful than that of sex, how would you react to a Ms. Gertrude Andersson having a sig block that specifies, “Adjective: African American”?

        To that end, without this particular individual in mind, how would you react to a company mandating that employees specify their race on e-mails, ranging from, “Adjective: Arabic” to “Adjective: Spanish/Liberian/Irish/Seminole/Other African Tribes”?

        If these folk truly are race and sex blind, why are they mandating it to be pointed out for the sake of being “inclusive”?

        • GreatColdDistance says:

          Without opening the can of worms that is hypothetical trans-racialism, I think this objection fails because in the English language race has nothing to do with how I address someone when speaking to or about them, whereas gender very much does. Pointing out your race in an email signature is therefore completely useless and unnecessary, whereas pointing out gendered pronouns is helpful and useful. This roots back to the very structure of our language, far before woke-ness.

          This is why I’m willing to bet that no woke company has ever even considered suggesting employees identify their race in emails in this way.

          • DragonMilk says:

            The policy is explicitly due to the T in LGBTQ. Those with ambiguously gendered first names have lived their lives just fine without companies mandating that all employees put down their pronouns. Because the policy just so happens to solve another non-issue doesn’t make mandating it for all more palatable.

          • GreatColdDistance says:

            The policy is explicitly due to the T in LGBTQ.

            I will concede this. Fundamentally, your position on this comes down to how much you want companies encouraging people to be inclusive of trans people. I think that the costs of adding such a line to your signature are basically nil, and the benefits of inclusion are significant to the small but real portion of the population benefited. Depending on your position on the broader issue of trans rights, you may feel differently.

            However, just because people have lived their lives without something doesn’t mean that it isn’t helpful to have it, and I hold by my position that people with ambiguously-gendered names are also helped by such labels. As I said, I have personally be helped by such signatures in my job search this year, so these gains are not hypothetical. This still counts as a further point in favour of adding pronouns to your email signature, even if it is not the fundamental justification.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I think that the costs of adding such a line to your signature are basically nil

            I strongly disagree with this. Pledging allegiance to SJWs might not cost you much money, but it will cost you your soul.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @jermo sapiens
            It’s hardly “pledging allegiance to SJWs”–think of it as a wonderful opportunity to proudly proclaim that you continue to use the pronouns that match your chromosomes!

            In all seriousness, though, I don’t think adding a line to your email signature is “selling your soul” any more than attending mandatory company-wide “sensitivity training” or whatnot. If you chose to add pronouns to your signature, it would be an act of alliance with the trans community; but the fact that it’s mandatory strips it of any personal meaning.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            If you chose to add pronouns to your signature, it would be an act of alliance with the trans community; but the fact that it’s mandatory strips it of any personal meaning.

            No, absolutely not. It would be an act of alliance with the woke SJWs. Trans people are the tokens being used by the woke SJWs currently, but you should not conflate the two. There are many trans people (I believe it’s the majority of trans people, but that’s just a hunch) who oppose the SJW agenda and just want to go on with their lives without becoming a nuisance to everyone else.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @jermo sapiens
            Ok, I’ll grant that many people in the trans community aren’t actually advocating for mandatory pronoun disclosure. Substitute “vocal social justice / trans activists” for “the trans community” in my argument.

          • Ketil says:

            Without opening the can of worms that is hypothetical trans-racialism, I think this objection fails because in the English language race has nothing to do with how I address someone when speaking to or about them

            Isn’t there a certain n-word that is deemed (more) acceptable only if used between two persons of a certain race? (Sorry, I get all my knowledge of American culture(s) from Hollywood. I do hope I’m right, though, adding adjectives to lawyer’s cards would lead to some interesting legal exchanges. Why is law dominated by white man’s culture? Decolonize law NOW!)

          • Ketil says:

            The policy is explicitly due to the T in LGBTQ. Those with ambiguously gendered first names have lived their lives just fine without companies mandating that all employees put down their pronouns.

            In olden days, people would signal gender in writing (and formal speech) by prefixing “Mr.” or “Miss/Mrs”, later “Ms.”. So there’s already a mechanism in place, and I would argue it’s for the Q, i.e. people who identify as no-gender, both-genders, or different-gender. The T’s are usually quite insistent on one of the more traditional ones, I think.

          • albatross11 says:

            Not just gender, but also marital status. Ms. was a new construction to avoid disclosing martial status in a title; previously it would be Miss or Mrs.

          • Joseph Greenwood says:

            As an aside, why is there a distinction between Miss and Mrs. but no corresponding bifurcation of Mr.?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Joseph Greenwood

            Because traditionally men are the pursuers, so signaling if they were available to be pursued was valuable to women.

          • albatross11 says:

            No idea. Language and cultural conventions are weird.

            In Spanish, you also have a formal and informal version of you (we had it in English a long time ago but lost it), and you can refer to someone as “Don X” or “Doña X” when they’re old and important–I can’t think of an equivalent in English.

          • Randy M says:

            In Spanish, you also have a formal and informal version of you (we had it in English a long time ago but lost it), and you can refer to someone as “Don X” or “Doña X” when they’re old and important–I can’t think of an equivalent in English.

            I don’t know if Spanish society is different in valuing youth less, but that sounds like a minefield in America. “Does this person care more about being high status or young?”

          • ana53294 says:

            @Randy M

            It’s also a minefield in Spain. Sometimes even me letting 60+ year olds a seat in a train can be offensive (mostly for men).

            Treating people in respectful you is only something done in customer service phone calls (where everybody gets treated with “usted”, and Don/Doña irrespective of status or age). It’s also used by politicians in Congress and debates. In court, when addressing the judge. With old professors in university.

            But mostly, in day to day life, I never address anybody with the respectful you, because it’s more likely they’ll get offended than not.

          • In English, the familiar/intimate (thee/thou) has gone out of use, and the “respectful” (you) has taken over. I think that’s the case in German and French as well.

            But I still sometimes use the familiar to my wife.

          • Ms. Morgendorffer says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Today, in more than you wanted to know, spawning from a thread that does not call for it, a digression prompted by your mention of the evolution of french formalism in addressing people.

            In french the respectful “you” has taken little by little over the familiar form since the 4th century and is still very much in use. The respectful way to address someone is the use of the 2nd person plural (‘vous’ so the practice is called ‘vouvoiement’ as opposed to ‘tu’ / ‘tutoiement’) and is used to mark your respect (duh) of and/or signal a wish to keep some kind of social distance with your interlocutor (ie keeping coworkers from becoming too familiar).
            In practice you’ll use the formal way when talking to anybody except (and those are strict rules as in you’ll very rarely see any deviation from them):
            -People you’re familiar with
            -All kids (pre teen)
            -All animals
            -All objects for those of us who are into that
            -People you wish to show disrespect to / your authority (a-holes, high schoolers, both)
            -People who can’t hear you (no, not the deaf ones but the driver of the car behind you or the talking head on TV)
            -Teens when you’re a teen (and I can tell you that when teens start to address you with ‘vous’ which happens around 20, you suddenly feel old and rejected)

            An interesting exception (we’re talking french language, of course there are exceptions!) is the use of the respectful form between kids and parents. This was the norm before the french revolution and has rapidly disappeared since, but you’ll still find families where this formalism is upheld today, more by respect for family tradition than for social class reasons (but I guess there’s a fair bit of correlation between the two).
            Apart from this not-so-recent change, the other current change in tu/vous use I see today goes in the other direction than what you’re suggesting: a tendency to promote the casual form in some companies as part of their corporate culture to foster a sentiment of belonging.

          • albatross11 says:

            ana:

            I’ve noticed there are differences between countries on Usted/tu–Spain and Mexico are pretty different!

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @Ms. Morgendorffer
            You forgot one–IIRC, God is also addressed with “tu”.

          • Ms. Morgendorffer says:

            @VoiceOfTheVoid From what I knew ‘tu’ was used when addressing Jesus, and ‘vous’ when addressing Marie or God, but I went back to check and there have been developments from the second ecumenical council of the Vatican (1962): all recent prayer translations do use ‘tu’ for God. It seems that it was done to close some gap with protestant believers’ use of ‘tu’ but I did not find more detailed explanations. Thank you for pointing that out.

        • aristides says:

          I know a few EEO lawyers that would love to pass their cards around at that workplace.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          This link belongs here: https://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

          A Person Paper on Purity in Language
          William Satire (alias Douglas R. Hofstadter)

          First paragraph:

          It’s high time someone blew the whistle on all the silly prattle about revamping our language to suit the purposes of certain political fanatics. You know what I’m talking about-those who accuse speakers of English of what they call “racism.” This awkward neologism, constructed by analogy with the well-established term “sexism,” does not sit well in the ears, if I may mix my metaphors. But let us grant that in our society there may be injustices here and there in the treatment of either race from time to time, and let us even grant these people their terms “racism” and “racist.” How valid, however, are the claims of the self-proclaimed “black libbers,” or “negrists”-those who would radically change our language in order to “liberate” us poor dupes from its supposed racist bias?

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Adding a line to your email signature just seems like such a small thing,

        I want to push back on this a bit. We already have the situation where many consulting firms add a long spiel to the end of every e-mail about how they have no liability for any comments made on their e-mails. Adding this bit does make it more difficult to converse back and forth with e-mail. Yes, a couple more lines is a small thing, but it is a slippery slope and I hate to encourage more of this CYA stuff.

      • gbdub says:

        In an email exchange, it might make some trans people stand out more, if they go by a gendered name that doesn’t typically align with their identity.

        Or it could be helpful for everybody who has a technically gender neutral but in practice usually gendered name (e.g. Tracy, Kelly, Alex)

      • hilitai says:

        But if you’re responding to someone in an e-mail, you would address them by their name or title, not by a third-person pronoun, correct? I can’t see any case where the pronoun information is actually useful in communication.

        • Dacyn says:

          It could be a group email thread, and maybe you want to talk about someone without directly responding to them. I found an example in my email from last week, so this is not that uncommon.

    • Ouroborobot says:

      Some of our HR people have started putting their pronouns into their email sigs. So long as it’s not required, I don’t see why this should bother me much. It seems to be a voluntary thing cooked up by the individuals doing it. No way am I wading into that minefield at work.

      • DragonMilk says:

        My understanding is that it will be mandatory. And thus an extension of the intolerance of the tolerance police.

      • Viliam says:

        So long as it’s not required, I don’t see why this should bother me much. It seems to be a voluntary thing cooked up by the individuals doing it.

        It’s perfectly optional, of course. And so is your promotion.

        In effect, this means that in your company, certain people publicly disclose their political affiliation. Presumably because they expect it to be somehow useful for their careers.

    • SamChevre says:

      My employer (large, established company, finance, northeast) is pushing it and most of my colleagues do it. I must admit to finding it handy with colleagues with non-European names.

    • voso says:

      The vast majority of my office’s clients are universities, and it seems to be decently common among the emails I get from them. (~25%)

      I definitely get the feeling that it’s the decision of the person and not the university for most of these, although I have no real way of verifying that.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Never seen it working with banks, finance, and tech companies.

    • broblawsky says:

      I’d argue that lawyers have an ethical obligation, and significant practical interest, in making their firms as welcoming to potential and current clients as possible.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I agree. And putting pronouns in your signature line is a great way to tell the about 90% of the population which is non-woke that they are not welcome.

        • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

          about 90% of the population

          [citation needed]

          It looks to me like the American population’s opinion on transgender acceptance is pretty evenly split.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Yes, that was an exaggeration. But I’ve seen the 90% figure somewhere (it might have been 85%), with respect to people who oppose SJWs. As I mentioned to you above, dont conflate SJWs with trans. Also, dont conflate SJWs with “transgender acceptance”.

            I have nothing but love and respect for people who suffer from gender dysphoria. At the same time I despise and oppose SJWs with every fiber of my being.

            I understand that the kerfuffle about pronouns is ostensibly a way to help make trans people feel comfortable. I’m pretty sure some people really do believe that. But for SJWs in general, I believe it’s about power.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @jermo sapiens

            Apologies for my conflation above, I should have been more careful. You’re right, the most vocal activists don’t necessarily speak for the entire community.

            At the same time, I’m not surprised that 90% of people oppose [term coined to criticise the actions of a particularly objectionable segment of a group]. I suspect you still might get majority disapproval of “social justice activists”, though I’d guess it’d be more around 60-80% disapproval rather than 80-90% (open to changing my mind on that if you find an actual study, I couldn’t find quite what I was looking for with a couple minutes of googling).

            Similar objections to studies finding that ~90% of americans think “political correctness is a problem”–coin a word with negative connotations, ask people whether they think it’s bad, what kind of responses do you think you’re going to get?

            And while some people are definitely using LGBT etc. activism to play power games, the people I know and care about who talk about this stuff are trans people who really do feel intensely uncomfortable when misgendered, and cis people who really care about make the world a more hospitable place for trans people.

            Honestly I’m pretty lukewarm on “hi these are my pronouns”, but I’m fully in favor of referring to people by the pronouns they ask you to use–not sure if that’s part of what you’re referring to by “kerfuffle about pronouns”.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            [term coined to criticise the actions of a particularly objectionable segment of a group]

            I believe this was discussed here before but I forget what ultimately came of it. I do recall that in my experience SJW was used by SJWs to describe themselves. Were they taking back a term of abuse? If so, they didnt take it back for long. But their behavior is generally not appreciated, in that SJWs are characterized by their desire to impose weird new rules on everybody, and canceling anyone who deviates from their religious dogma.

            Similar objections to studies finding that ~90% of americans think “political correctness is a problem”–coin a word with negative connotations, ask people whether they think it’s bad, what kind of responses do you think you’re going to get?

            Political correctness has a negative connotation because people generally dislike those who raise their personal status by policing the behavior of others. Not because of the term itself.

            the people I know and care about who talk about this stuff are trans people who really do feel intensely uncomfortable when misgendered, and cis people who really care about make the world a more hospitable place for trans people.

            Absolutely. Which is why it’s important to separate the annoying behavior of SJWs from the legitimate demands of trans people. Having trans people being treated respectfully is obviously legitimate. Having everyone introduce themselves by saying their pronouns is not.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @jermo sapiens

            Yes, it was initially their term and was repurposed almost immediately as a term of derision against them.

          • And “politically correct” was, I think, a negative term coined by some leftists to criticize other leftists, but then went into common use by non-leftists to criticize leftists.

          • Dacyn says:

            @jermo sapiens: I object to PC primarily because it is people policing speech based on ideology, not because it involves status games.

          • cassander says:

            @davidfriedman

            My understanding of the history is that politically correct was originally coined as an unironic term used in the sense of “The politically correct line on this issue is X” and it later morphed into a term of abuse. But I don’t remember my source for that.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            The way I’ve heard the source of “politically correct” is it was a Marxist thing. When an issue came up that created disagreement within the party, the way to resolve that was through the dialectic of discussing the thesis and antithesis. At some point the party came to an official conclusion as to the right answer, whether it was democratic within the party, or determined by the leaders, or whatever. But once this decision was made, it was the obligation of all party members to agree with the final answer, regardless of their original position, for party loyalty reasons. These final decisions were called “politically correct” positions. I don’t know if this phrase were ever used in a positive sense outside of Marxists, but it was certainly not nearly as popular amongst leftists as a good thing as it is now amongst rightists as a bad thing.

        • BBA says:

          Of that 90%, I estimate only something like 10-15% are either actively bigoted or crotchety enough to complain about something so minor. The remaining 75-80% will shrug and go along to get along.

        • broblawsky says:

          How confident are you that preferred pronoun signaling turns off more people than it attracts? I ask because my intuition is that the vast majority of people will either appreciate it (because they’re part of the 62% cited in @VoiceOfTheVoid’s link) or not really care (because while they may be less accepting of transgender people, they aren’t particularly invested in the idea).

          • John Schilling says:

            (because they’re part of the 62% cited in @VoiceOfTheVoid’s link)

            Objection: The cited 62% are all the people who are “more supportive of transgender rights than they were five years ago”. That includes people who simply want transgender people left alone to go about their business without any special accommodation, and people who support some public accommodations for transgender individuals but not broad mandates on private use of pronouns. It does not follow that the 62% cited in Void’s link will necessarily or even likely appreciate this measure.

            By analogy, the number of people who support gay marriage is larger than the number of people who support forcing private bakers to make wedding cakes for gay marriage.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @John Schilling
            I agree, the first metric analyzed in my link is pretty meaningless without a base rate, but if you scroll down you’ll see nearly-evenly-split opinions on a number of different questions re: trans rights / acceptance. I avoiding picking out one statistic in particular because I don’t think any one specific question they ask is a sufficient proxy for general support of trans rights.

          • Lambert says:

            Obligatory Sir Humphrey on opinion polls.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

          • John Schilling says:

            I avoiding picking out one statistic in particular because I don’t think any one specific question they ask is a sufficient proxy for general support of trans rights

            But they’re almost all about negative rights for trans people. A ~60% majority of Americans believe that trans people have the right to not have other people give them any guff about being trans, roughly speaking. Support for positive rights, is almost always lower than support for negative rights because now you’re imposing a burden on other people.

            I don’t see anything in that survey that addresses positive rights to transgender people. For gay and lesbian people, they get ~65% for positive rights whose burdens would fall only on licensed professionals and ~55% for positive rights whose burdens would extend to small business owners. Extrapolating, that almost certainly gives less than majority support to positive rights whose burden falls upon everyone including the respondent. And that’s for gays and lesbians, who I think are well ahead of the transgendered in winning general public acceptance.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @John Schilling
            I guess that’s true. I will point specifically to the 40% of Americans who “think there is a range of many possible gender identities”–though that question is not specifically asking about pronouns, I highly doubt anyone in that group would be turned off by a “he/him/his” signature.

          • Tarpitz says:

            I will point specifically to the 40% of Americans who “think there is a range of many possible gender identities”–though that question is not specifically asking about pronouns, I highly doubt anyone in that group would be turned off by a “he/him/his” signature.

            I for one am reasonably persuaded that gender is more accurately modeled as a multidimensional space containing two rough clusters and some points that do not fit particularly well in either cluster, but would certainly find a gender-specifying signature to amount to a declaration of tribal hostility, and an aesthetically displeasing one at that. I’m not actually a counterexample to your claim, because I’m not American, but I would be staggered if there weren’t Americans who felt similarly.

            ETA: I am in favour of using people’s preferred pronouns when addressing them. It’s the listing in bios and signatures I can’t stand. My quarrel is with wokeness, not trans people.

          • nkurz says:

            @VoiceOfTheTheVoid:
            > I will point specifically to the 40% of Americans who “think there is a
            range of many possible gender identities”–though that question is not specifically asking about pronouns, I highly doubt anyone in that group would be turned off by a “he/him/his” signature.

            I am American, “think there is a range of many possible gender identities”, and am strongly turned off by “he/him/his” signature lines. This may well be a minority position, but it definitely exists.

            I find it difficult to say exactly what bothers me about these lines, but I think it’s mostly that I would prefer de-emphasizing gender in language rather than making attention to it mandatory. I would feel similarly negative toward a norm for racial or religious id lines.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            This may well be a minority position, but it definitely exists.

            Or this may well be a majority position.

          • broblawsky says:

            ETA: I am in favour of using people’s preferred pronouns when addressing them. It’s the listing in bios and signatures I can’t stand. My quarrel is with wokeness, not trans people.

            This confuses me: how do you expect to be able to use people’s preferred pronouns if they don’t tell you? Aren’t they simplifying the question by telling you up front in their signatures? It seems like you’re assuming that someone who lists their preferred pronouns in their email is an SJW, but they could just as easily be an actual trans/queer person, someone with a gender-ambiguous name, or just someone following company policy without thinking about it.

    • BBA says:

      I think we’re approaching an inflection point from “only activists put pronouns in their signatures/bios” to “only bigots leave them out.” I’ve actively refused to list my pronouns, for my own reasons, but as my own reasons grow indistinguishable from bigotry, I expect I’ll give in and start listing them eventually. Besides which, on some level, I suppose I am a bit of a bigot, and it’s something I need to personally overcome.

      • DragonMilk says:

        Ironically, those mandating the pronouns fit the actual definition of bigotry, “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.”

        Seriously considering a 5-year old retort of, “no you’re the bigot!”

      • Dacyn says:

        I can imagine leaving them out in solidarity with the “bigots”.

      • Lillian says:

        I know several transwomen who hate listing their pronouns on the level of “actively makes them disphoric” because it interferes with their ability to know if they’re passing or not. To them, if they’re not being seen and treated as women by others it feels like deep personal failure of being. Consequently the idea that others might only be treating them as women not because they see them as such, but because they’re being forced to by social pressure, is deeply anxiety inducing. I guess they’re bigots for wanting to be themselves.

        • Aapje says:

          There is a conflict between “there shouldn’t be a femininity/masculinity requirement to be considered a (wo)man” and “people should judge based on current levels femininity/masculinity, rather than what people were born as.”

        • BBA says:

          Ugh, “Latinx” all over again. I’m not going to wade into internecine disputes in the trans community, that stuff makes Israeli politics look straightforward.

          Instead I’m just going to go on the rule that whatever makes me personally feel the most uncomfortable is most likely to own the cons. That’s what this is really all about, right? If you can’t figure out how to win, you can at least make the enemy lose.

          • Lillian says:

            Sounds like you have made yourself something akin to an ideological suicide bomber. This doesn’t strike me as healthy.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Well yeah, did you see the avatar, dood?

          • Statismagician says:

            Have you, umm, considered that this attitude may be part of the problem? I generally try not to be part of my own radicalization except when on Gallifrey.

        • caryatis says:

          Thing is, though, people ARE only treating trans individuals as their desired gender because of social pressure. It’s rare that MtF trans people actually look like women.

          • hls2003 says:

            By definition, only the ones you know about.

          • Nornagest says:

            Without taking a stance on the broader issue, something like half of the openly trans people I know, I’ve known since before their transition. And it’d be a lot more than half if I didn’t have connections in the rat scene.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think they’re doing it because they’re nice people. The first transwoman I met was back in ~2007, and she was a mildly popular figure in our state photography guild, because she was a skilled photographer. This was before the trans rights movement was anything anyone knew about, and everyone treated her as a her, and zero people were grumbling behind their backs about having to “pretend this man is a woman” because of the…nonexistent social pressure to act one way or the other. People acted this way because they were nice people and she was a nice person.

          • Lillian says:

            @caryatis
            As hls2003 says, there’s something of a toupée fallacy going on. This is exacerbated by the loud trans activists for some reason almost never being the ones who pass, let alone pass well. So it’s like if a bunch of people with bad toupees had gotten together to loudly demand that everyone acknowledge their hair as real, while all the folks with the good toupees just stay quiet and are content to lead their lives. It tends to lead to some pretty warped perceptions of just how good toupees can be. It also means that the good toupee havers don’t tend to be part of the conversation, though there are exceptions.

    • AlexanderTheGrand says:

      On a related note, I could imagine that question being really stressful for someone who undecided on their pronouns, or someone who would prefer not to advertise their gender identity.

      It could make a private choice public, or force the issue with someone before they’re ready.

      Would anyone with more firsthand experience with transitioning (either you or someone close) like to comment?

      • honoredb says:

        It’s probably actually helpful then to have like 20-50% of people not specify pronouns–means you won’t stand out either way.

        Having a norm like “if you sometimes get misgendered and hate it, put your pronouns in your signature, otherwise flip a coin and put your pronouns in if it comes up heads” would remove the signaling value, for better and for worse, while still accomplishing the main goal.

        There are cis people who really hate getting misgendered online, so I agree that there’s a curb cut principle at work here.

        • caryatis says:

          The better solution would be for people to stop obsessing over “””misgendering.””” It doesn’t hurt you in any way, it’s an innocent mistake, so just move on.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            The trans people I know are very understanding of accidental misgendering (for which I am very glad, since I tend to screw up quite frequently for about a month after a friend comes out to me as trans). That being said, “doesn’t hurt you in any way” isn’t quite true; I get the impression that it’s mildly hurtful on approximately the level of forgetting someone’s name.

            Intentional misgendering is a different story, and is (I think rightly) perceived as incredibly rude and offensive.

          • Dacyn says:

            @VoiceOfTheVoid: The trans people I have heard talk about it, it is something like: I want people to perceive me as my desired gender. If they say pronouns contrary to that, it reminds me that they don’t perceive me as I like, which makes me uncomfortable. If they are intentionally making me uncomfortable, that makes me even more uncomfortable.

            The issue is that while you may not want to be reminded that someone perceives you differently from how you want, it is a fact of life and ignoring it is not going to make it go away. I agree that going out of your way to point it out should be considered rude, but merely not choosing to actively hide the fact seems different.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @Dacyn

            The issue is that while you may not want to be reminded that someone perceives you differently from how you want, it is a fact of life and ignoring it is not going to make it go away.

            I don’t think that most trans people are “ignoring it” hoping to “make it go away”–rather, many of them are taking simple to drastic measures to be perceived as their preferred gender.

            I agree that going out of your way to point it out should be considered rude, but merely not choosing to actively hide the fact seems different.

            What do you mean by “not choosing to actively hide the fact” (let’s say, e.g. in reference to a trans woman who you think looks male)? Continuing to address the person as “he”? Or using “they” and/or avoiding pronouns altogether?

          • Intentional misgendering is a different story, and is (I think rightly) perceived as incredibly rude and offensive.

            Does “intentional misgendering” mean making a point of using the pronoun the person doesn’t want, or merely using that pronoun even though one knows the person doesn’t want it?

            The latter isn’t, in my view, rude at all, any more than failing to agree with some other view someone wants me to agree with. It’s rude if I’m an atheist, someone I am talking with is a Christian, and I make a point of saying that Christianity is a stupid set of beliefs. But it isn’t rude if I avoid saying things that (falsely) imply that I believe in Christianity, and it still isn’t rude if, in a context where some statement on the subject is obligatory, I make it clear that I don’t believe in Christianity.

            Similarly here. If someone self-identifies as female and I see the person as male, going out of my way to say so would almost always be rule. Not saying things that imply that I see the person as female is not rude, and demanding that I say such things is.

            Mostly I can avoid the problem by not using gendered pronouns at all, as in the second sentence of the previous paragraph. But that depends on enough verbal facility to rephrase one’s thoughts on the fly, and there isn’t always a convenient way to do it.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @David Friedman

            “They” has always, always been used as a singular pronoun in the modern English language. You can always use that instead of a gendered pronoun, even for the people who prefer a gendered pronoun, without being rude, in those rare occasions when you can’t think of a non-pronoun way of referring to them.

            So yeah, both of the situations you describe as possible interpretations of “intentional misgendering” are rude, as they are both easily avoidable by a person with your apparent verbal intelligence.

            Sometimes people are unintentionally rude. But even in these situations it’s generally best to try to learn from your mistake and do your best to not make it again. Yes, this will take time, especially with entrenched behaviors.

          • @anonymousskimmer:

            There are examples going far back of “they” being used as a gender indefinite pronoun but I strongly dislike the practice, for reasons not of precedent but of the logical structure of the language, and I’m not willing to do it.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Okay, you have that ability. But anyone saying that the English language has a logical structure is reaching, at best, and off their rocker, at worst. Anglish, maybe, but it’s been a bit over a millenium, and quite a few conquests since Anglish was the English language.

          • Dacyn says:

            @VoiceOfTheVoid: By “ignoring it”, I mean that they argue people should use their preferred pronouns because the reverse causes dysphoria, not because it encourages others to see them a certain way. (They may argue both but my point is that they are independent.) My claim was that the reason it causes them dysphoria is that it reminds them that they are not perceived as their preferred gender. This seems to me like they want to ignore this fact.

            I wasn’t trying to imply that trans people think that ignoring something is going to make it go away, just using the fact that it won’t as part of my argument.

            Regarding what I mean by “not choosing to actively hide the fact”, DavidFriedman’s comment basically covers it.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            “They” has always, always been used as a singular pronoun in the modern English language. You can always use that instead of a gendered pronoun, even for the people who prefer a gendered pronoun, without being rude, in those rare occasions when you can’t think of a non-pronoun way of referring to them.

            That’s only half true. “They” has always been used as a singular pronoun for an indeterminate person (“If anybody comes looking for me, tell them I’m on my lunch break”). It hasn’t always been used as a singular pronoun for a known, specific individual.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            “They” has always been used as a singular pronoun for an indeterminate person (“If anybody comes looking for me, tell them I’m on my lunch break”). It hasn’t always been used as a singular pronoun for a known, specific individual.

            This. If someone responds to “Where’s Becca?” with “they’re in the kitchen,” in the dialect I’m familiar with, that translates to “Becca is trans and prefers gender-neutral pronouns (and also is in the kitchen).” Since this is dramatically untrue, I would be pretty irritated. While I can’t speak for others, I would expect a trans person who didn’t prefer gender-neutral pronouns to be similarly unhappy – likely more so than if someone simply dodged his/her pronouns, though that’s a guess based on how friends react. So possibly we just have very different bubbles, but at least in my social bubble,

            You can always use that instead of a gendered pronoun, even for the people who prefer a gendered pronoun, without being rude, in those rare occasions when you can’t think of a non-pronoun way of referring to them.

            … is not true and will make things worse.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            You people do you.

            But I don’t see how anyone is interpreting a preference for they/them/their as “trans”, given it’s literally gender-neutral, not trans-gender (or the “Q” part of LGBTQ, not the “T” part, as someone pointed out earlier).

          • Dacyn says:

            @anonymounsskimmer: Nonbinary people are usually considered trans (except for intersex nonbinary).

            Incidentally, I’m not familiar with the term “queer” but Wikipedia tells me that all LGBT are queer, so it’s not really a separate “part” of LGBTQ.

          • Dan L says:

            @Dacyn:

            “Queer” is effectively a catch-all category for describing people ill-served by the standard categories. Depending on context “standard” might only include cishet men and women, or it might include all gender binaries or something else altogether – if this sounds squirrley and vague, that’s because it is. Probably unavoidably so, given the contradiction inherent in the definition.

            You’ll occasionally see people preferentially identify as “genderqueer”, which functionally is about the same as identifying as nonbinary. YMMV, but literally none of the people I know who preferentially identify as nonbinary could be accurately describes as trans. Most trans people will acknowledge that they probably count as nonbinary or queer, but with varying levels of reluctance.

          • Dacyn says:

            @Dan L: So “queer” can mean either “non-cishet” or “non-cishet and also non-LGBT”, or something else entirely? Fair enough. What would be an example of queer under the second definition?

            YMMV, but literally none of the people I know who preferentially identify as nonbinary could be accurately describ[ed] as trans.

            I only know one which is Ozy, who describes themselves as trans. I guess I don’t know whether this is a substantive difference between them and the people you know, or only a terminological one.

          • My impression is that “queer” in such contexts used to mean homosexual, but it sounds as though the meaning has broadened out since.

          • brad says:

            I don’t have a survey, but I suspect that more people prefer the singular pronouns than singular they. So using they as a default is more likely to disregard people’s preferred pronouns than using perceived gender singular pronouns. But somehow our preferences don’t count.

          • Dacyn says:

            @brad:

            But somehow our preferences don’t count.

            And if the speaker defers to the preferences of the referent, you might as well say that the speaker’s preferences “somehow don’t count”. I can understand (though don’t completely agree with) the argument that if a choice of pronoun has bearing on the perceived gender of the referent, they likely have more at stake than the speaker. I don’t see why that is true if the choice is between two gender-neutral pronouns.

          • Dan L says:

            What would be an example of queer under the second definition?

            It’s ultimately a category that defies broad categorization, but to describe an individual I know: biologically female, no intention to transition, romantically attracted exclusively to men, sexually flexible, aesthetic choices (incl. fashion and presentation) are androgynous leaning male, gendered hobbies are a scattershot leaning male, she/her pronouns. In a different era she could easily pass as a heterosexual woman without social friction and “tomboy” is probably ~80% accurate, but she feels uncomfortable in an exclusively female gender role and as an outside observer I am inclined to agree. That list of adjectives isn’t ever going to get a consolidated label, so she identifies as queer and probably will stay in that bucket for the foreseeable future.

            My impression is that “queer” in such contexts used to mean homosexual, but it sounds as though the meaning has broadened out since.

            There was a time when its primary use was for homosexuals, yes. But as homosexuality becomes included in the mainstream, a label that definitionally refers to the fringes is going to change targets – and in a milieu that highly prizes inclusivity, it’s bound to either retreat to the otherwise uncategorizable or overlap with its own antonym. In practice, a little bit of all the above.

          • brad says:

            And if the speaker defers to the preferences of the referent, you might as well say that the speaker’s preferences “somehow don’t count”. I can understand (though don’t completely agree with) the argument that if a choice of pronoun has bearing on the perceived gender of the referent, they likely have more at stake than the speaker. I don’t see why that is true if the choice is between two gender-neutral pronouns.

            The choice isn’t between two gender neutral pronouns, it’s between the male singular and the neuter plural. I prefer to be referred to by the male singular given that I’m both a man and one person. You are free to disregard that, of course, but in that case I’m unlikely to care even the slightest bit about *your* preferred pronoun. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @DavidFriedman (and @Dacyn as well)

            Does “intentional misgendering” mean making a point of using the pronoun the person doesn’t want, or merely using that pronoun even though one knows the person doesn’t want it?

            I am definitely including the latter when I refer to “intentional misgendering”. I think an illustrative example might help clarify my point:

            At a coffee shop, you run into your friend Bob, who introduces you to someone you haven’t met before. “Mornin’! This is my friend Charlie.” Charlie looks a bit androgynous, but you read them as male. After the pleasantries, the three of you sit down and start talking over coffee. At some point you refer to Charlie as “he”. “Oh, it’s ‘she’,” Charlie corrects you.

            As I said last time we talked about this, a quick “Oh, sorry” followed by continuing the conversation while avoiding gendered pronouns altogether would not (and IMO should not) be perceived as rude.

            But let’s say the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, and you decide that you’re too tired to deal with this nonsense and will just continue to use the pronoun that you naturally associate with Charlie as it comes up in your thoughts.

            Empirically, if you do this, Charlie or Bob will interrupt to correct you (probably with a simple “She.”) each time you refer to Charlie as “he.” If you apologize with a quick “oh sorry” each time, Charlie might politely excuse themself after a bit, maybe 5 times or so, and Bob might give you a brief explanation of transness afterwards. If you forgo the apology and simply keep talking, Charlie will leave much sooner and Bob’s lecture may be significantly less polite. If your subsequent response is unapologetic, Charlie will likely avoid interacting with you in the future, and Bob may do so as well.

            Now if I understand you correctly, you think that Bob and Charlie are the ones being incredibly rude by interrupting and lecturing you. Does this change if it turns out Charlie is not trans but actually a biological female who due to the genetic lottery happens to look somewhat masculine? Would you be more willing to use Charlie’s preferred pronouns in that scenario? If so, then there’s already more to your use of pronouns than just describing your initial or subconscious impression of the referent’s gender.

          • In your hypothetical I would probably conclude that Charlie was probably female and either use she/her or, if I felt seriously uncertain about it, try to avoid gendered pronouns. I certainly wouldn’t keep using he/him and apologize each time — that’s silly.

            If I thought it obvious that Charlie was male I would probably avoid gendered pronouns but certainly would not use she/her. If I used he/him because I wasn’t thinking about how not to fast enough, I probably would not apologize.

          • Dacyn says:

            @brad: Ah sorry, I misread your comment: me and Dan L were talking about nonbinary people (who could have a preference for certain singular neuter pronouns) and I didn’t realize you were bringing the discussion back to binary people. Anyway, what you wrote comes across as slightly hostile but I would imagine if someone doesn’t use the pronouns another person prefers, it’s because they don’t agree with the notion that people should always use the pronouns preferred by the referent, so they wouldn’t expect you to accommodate them if they had any preferences on what pronouns you use for them.

            @VoiceOfTheVoid: Yes, I think it is rude to present a difference of ideology as though you are correcting somebody on a factual matter.

          • brad says:

            @Dacyn

            I come across a fair number of people that use they by default yet still profess to care about the preferences of the referent, at least when the referent is in some way gender queer. YMMV.

          • Dacyn says:

            @brad: I don’t know exactly what you are referring to but it is possible to care about something without believing that it should be the overriding consideration in every case.

            Also, I’m not sure what your counter-recommendation is. People should use “he” by default” Or “he/she”? Or one of the nonstandard pronouns?

          • brad says:

            For the situation with a concrete, non-anonymous referent, people ought to use the singular pronoun that best matches the gender presentation of the individual in the absence of more information. That was universal practice until about 10 years ago.

          • Dacyn says:

            @brad: Here are three possible pronoun policies:

            1. If someone prefers a pronoun, use it.

            2. Use the pronoun corresponding to the gender you perceive someone as, taking into account pronoun preference but not treating it as the overriding factor.

            3. Use the pronoun corresponding to your beliefs about their physical sex characteristics.

            You sound like you are advocating for (2) although I suspect you may really be advocating for (1). In any case, all three of these policies were basically indistinguishable “until about 10 years ago”, so I don’t see how you can say any one of them was “universal practice”.

            @VoiceOfTheVoid: To expand on my earlier response, here is an example of an interaction I would consider “not rude”:

            Alice: Charlie […] he […]

            Bob: “she”

            Alice: *blinks*

            Bob: Uh, she is kind of bothered when people say “he”.

            Alice: Ah… sorry, I don’t mean to offend but I’m not comfortable/it goes against my religion/whatever to use “she” to refer to… Charlie…

            [maybe some ensuing discussion after which hopefully they can agree on either Alice or Charlie making concessions for the other, or come up with plans to not spend too much time together, or whatever… the point being that the next time this comes up, it may make people uncomfortable but at least we can treat it as a “done topic” and not get sidetracked]

            I do think that there should be “safe spaces” where people are expected to use preferred pronouns and so on, I just think that in a general setting, you have to recognize that there are different possible viewpoints, and the notion of rudeness should be adjusted to that.

    • The Nybbler says:

      There’s been a bit of controversy about this at my workplace (tech). Currently, only a very few people include them, but if you speak against it you’re signing your own pink slip.

    • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

      I’ve thought about this a bit more, and I’ve decided that there’s a real case to be made against the inclusion being mandatory.

      I am fully and unequivocally in support of those who voluntarily choose to put their pronouns in their email signatures doing so. The straightforward purpose is clarifying what pronouns to address the sender with (which I’ve had problems with–almost replied to the woman with a gender-ambiguous name emailing me about my new job with “Hi Mr. so-and-so,” before I thought twice and went with their first name). The other purpose is signaling support of the people who think we should introduce ourselves with our pronouns, and/or signaling support for trans acceptance in general. I’m ambivalent toward the former and actively in favor of the latter, so this doesn’t bother me. (I personally don’t put them in my signature, mainly because my full name makes my gender pretty clear to anyone familiar with English names, so it would be pretty redundant. I also try to avoid signalling political opinions to people I’m interacting with in a business or academic context.)

      For the same reasons, I am mildly in favor of encouraging people to voluntarily include pronouns in their signature. If everyone at my research lab or internship started putting their pronouns on their emails, I would probably jump on the bandwagon.

      However, after thinking it over and hearing @DragonMilk and @jermo sapiens ‘s objections to my initial thoughts (as well as others in this thread), I am mildly opposed to pronouns in an email signature being a mandatory requirement. It would be quite useful for the practical purpose of clarifying ambiguously gendered email senders, but you can’t really decouple that from the political signalling. If I receive an email signed, “Jane Doe, she/her/hers”, I will assume that Jane almost certainly supports trans rights in general and calling people by their preferred pronouns in particular. Though I support this position, some people clearly do not. I believe that you can’t mandate true acceptance, and that people should not be forced to profess beliefs they disagree with. While “he/him/his” isn’t explicitly a political statement, it will almost universally be interpreted as political signaling by people unaware of your firm’s policy, and I’m not comfortable with that being mandatory.

      I do still think that you’re making it out to be more of a terrible injustice than it really is. Yeah, some clients may end up with mistaken opinions about your politics, but I stand by my statements that it won’t really have a noticeable effect on your life, and that complying with mandatory policies isn’t selling your soul to “the SJWs”.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I do still think that you’re making it out to be more of a terrible injustice than it really is. Yeah, some clients may end up with mistaken opinions about your politics, but I stand by my statements that it won’t really have a noticeable effect on your life, and that complying with mandatory policies isn’t selling your soul to “the SJWs”.

        Assuming you’re not a devout christian (or even if you are), would you be comfortable including a line in your email signature that said “Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior”? This is what it feels like to me. It’s not going to cost you money, nor affect your life significantly, just accept the directive from Chick-Fil-A HQ or Hobby Lobby, and comply with the policy please.

        • CatCube says:

          Yeah, this is how I feel whenever this comes up. “It’s just words, right? Yeah, you may not believe it, but all they’re asking you to do is say simple words, not take any actions.”

          My question would be if I could then count on the speaker to argue for children being required to say the Pledge of Allegiance–or, more controversially, the Apostle’s Creed–before school every day. After all, it doesn’t matter if they believe it, it’s just making them say some words, right?

        • Chalid says:

          Eh, objectively I don’t think that is any worse than kids pledging allegiance to One Nation Under God in school, or using currency with In God We Trust written on it.

          • Randy M says:

            I’ve grown less fond of the pledge of allegiance as I’ve thought about it. For the money, though, it isn’t like you necessarily agree with everything you own, and approximately no one would mistake using American dollars as a sign of fidelity God. Admittedly I would dislike using “Hail Satan” dollars, but it’s not because people would think I was a Satanist.

          • Chalid says:

            True, the offense is lesser with money, but on the other hand money is far more ubiquitous.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Assuming you’re not a devout christian (or even if you are), would you be comfortable including a line in your email signature that said “Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior”?

          While I’ve never seen the pronouns, I work with several people who put their favorite Bible verse in their signature.

          I don’t, but it wouldn’t bother me if it was required because I do have a favorite Bible verse (Deuteronomy 32:41), but I think we can all understand why that would be an issue?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Okay, that would be hilarious in an email sig, while probably violating other company policies.

          • Nick says:

            Someone at my company put Proverbs 21:19 in an email and was very quickly informed to apologize.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            Okay, that would be hilarious in an email sig, while probably violating other company policies.

            I do try.

            @Nick

            Someone at my company put Proverbs 21:19 in an email and was very quickly informed to apologize.

            To be fair, that’s probably due to the content of the verse rather than because it’s from the Bible.

          • Dacyn says:

            I think being required to put a favorite Bible verse in your email signature is more analogous to the pronoun thing than what u/jermo sapiens suggested. It is (probably) not actually forcing you to say anything you don’t believe in (presumably there’s some pronouns or Bible verse that you agree with) but it makes you say something within a framework that assumes things you disagree with.

        • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

          I think that’s a good deal more explicit than the pronouns, but I definitely see what you’re getting at. Even if (as Dacyn suggests below [above? threading is confusing]) it’s just a mandate to include my favorite Bible verse, it would still make me uncomfortable. Whether it would be enough to make me consider quitting or risk being fired by opposing the policy, depends on how much I need/enjoy the job. But regardless, it would be a clear signal to me that the company’s culture (or at least, the culture HQ is trying to push) does not align with my own values. This could however be mitigated if everyone I personally worked with agreed that the policy was dumb and somewhat discomforting.

          ETA: So upon further reflection, I revise my opinion on mandatory pronouns from “probably not that terrible of an injustice” to “maybe actually kind of terrible” for two reasons: First, thinking more about how much I dislike forced political speech. Second, the argument people have made elsewhere in this thread that mandatory pronouns may actually make the situation worse for people who are questioning their gender and thus would like to leave it ambiguous (or at least avoid stating it outright). Or for that matter, anyone who would like to leave their gender ambiguous for whatever reason.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Just as with the pronoun policies, it wouldn’t really be “your favorite Bible verse”. It would be “a bible verse management accepts”. Anyone at an SJ-aligned company who tries to use attack helicopter related pronouns is going to get shot down, obviously. Zeke 23:20 isn’t going to play at the Bible-thumper’s. And they’d probably carefully examine anyone using Leviticus 19:27 (“Ye shall not round the corners of your heads.”)

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I’ve thought about this a bit more, and I’ve decided that there’s a real case to be made against the inclusion being mandatory.

        Yes. The 1.5* trans people I’ve met in my life I referred to by their preferred pronouns. They were nice people doing their best to deal with an extremely challenging problem in their lives. I will gladly be as polite to those individuals as I would anyone else. But pass a law that says I must refer to a dude in a dress with a thicker beard than mine as “she” or suffer the full force of law and I’mma fight you.

        * one began to transition and then stopped and went back so I’m not sure where they place in terms of trans or cis.

      • Deiseach says:

        Well, today I got my first example of someone including their pronouns in their email signature line. Yes, here in Ireland.

        And I really don’t understand what the hell purpose it served other than signalling “I am holding The Correct Views”. Now, this person is a Health Promotion Officer involved in a new Foundation Programme in Sexual Health Promotion, so they’re signaling “I am up to the very latest date on the very most correct way of teaching teens about sex” and sure, they’re a government education body so they have to be ultra-correct about inclusivity and sensitivity and the whole nine yards, so it’s probably ‘not officially but in practice’ mandatory to share your pronouns.

        But it’s no damn use to me. I’ll never meet this person, talk to them on the phone, or contact them by either email or post. Also, they have a traditional gendered name so I didn’t need their pronouns. There was absolutely no information transmitted apart from Virtuous Signalling. It’s as irrelevant as putting your blood group in the line.

        I did think of the ambiguous names, and foreign names, but you know – we used to have a way of distinguishing which went with what, but it got thrown out in the name of “sexism” and everyone pretending a fake intimacy of first names from perfect strangers instead of addressing people you didn’t know by title and surname. Why not go back to “Mr/Ms Smith” instead of “Hi, you never heard of me before, but call me Pat!” if it’s so vitally important that I know a total stranger two hundred miles away likes to present themselves as a particular gender?

        The only mainstream reason to do this is normalisation, the same way gay rights were achieved: it’s normal to be gay every bit as much as straight. Now we’re being fed it’s normal to be trans every bit as much as cis. That’s what the pronouns racket is all about.

        Because if it’s to encourage people to share their pronouns so nobody will be left out, why don’t we include “Jasmine – straight” or “Susan – bi” in the same way? Well, we were told it’s nobody’s business what orientation you are and that would be making non-straight people stand out as freaks and exceptions.

        If I’m meeting someone face-to-face for the first time and they walk in dressed in a skirt and makeup and say their name is “Isabella Queen”, I’ll assume they’re female (unless they’re pretty obviously A Bloke In A Dress) and I’ll say “she/her” to Isabella (even if she’s clearly A Bloke In A Dress) because don’t rock the boat. I don’t care if she’s cis/trans/gay/straight/likes to dress up as Optimus Prime on the weekend, it’s nothing to do with my work. All I want is to work with her on getting the paperwork through for the scheme to fund us for mandatory staff training. Her pronouns don’t matter a good goddamn about that.

        Seriously, from now on if I get the “my pronouns are – ” business (and like I said, today was my first instance in the wild!), I am going to make assumptions:

        (1) This person is woke and signalling it like nobody’s business

        or

        (2) This person is trans and needs to try really hard because they’re not convincing as their identified gender

        You may as well go the whole hog and put “Sheila – she/her, trans” in the line because that’s what it’s all really about: mainstreaming and normalisation.

        • Plumber says:

          @Deiseach >

          “Well, today I got my first example of someone including their pronouns in their email signature line. Yes, here in Ireland…”

          Please keep reporting, I’m curious how fast the new thing spreads.

          My wife says she’s gotten one of these with one of our sons school e-mails, but I haven’t noticed any yet.

          I have noticed the spread of “All gender restroom” signs, yeara ago there’d be “Men’s”, “Women’s”, “Family” (large single stall restrooms with a door lock and a diaper changing table), and single stall “unisex” restrooms, but around 2015 the San Francisco Public Defenders building put up “All gender” signs on their single toilet restrooms, which led to such descriptions as “The leak is in the all-gender-restroom that has the urinal”, starting in 2017 other single toilet restrooms got so labeled, no biggie (except to my wife who said that what had previously been “women’s” became “further”), but then private industry customer and employee multi-toilet restrooms became so labeled, typically now with a lock on the door, effectively making them just one stall and increasing wait times (what the hell Walgreen’s!), if they changed the building code so there’d be more new single stall restrooms that could have spiffy inclusive sigbs than fine, but not grandfathering in the multi-stalls is idiotic, it started in a government building, and you lost a couple restrooms that allowed a toilet and a urinal to be used at the same time, but most of the multi-toilet restrooms are still seperate men’s and women’s in City buildings, but now retailers have decided to be “inclusive” by greatly increasing wait times.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Uhhhh……I work in a factory. With a lot of immigrants that are in their 50s or older. Our hourly employees are still shocked that men cook, like cooking, and do not immediately divorce their wives if they have to cook.

      Suffice to say, we do not kneel pronouns are not a practice at my place of work.

      • Machine Interface says:

        That’s the one thing I really don’t get about traditional culture. I have very few if any of the qualities associated with a traditional “manly man”, but at the same time, I would never see my ability to cook a full meal (and no, boiling pasta and pan-frying a steak don’t count as “cooking a meal”) as a faillure of masculinity. What do all these Real Men do when their wife die? Live of toasted bread and canned tuna for the rest of their life?

        • John Schilling says:

          What do all these Real Men do when their wife die? Live of toasted bread and canned tuna for the rest of their life?

          Traditionally, Real Men are in charge of all cooking that occurs outdoors, and Real Women are in undisputed charge of the kitchen. That does suggest one possible solution to the dilemma.

          Otherwise, Real Men will have to remarry, eat at restaurants, and/or eat food that does not require cooking. But note that “nuking” “cooking”.

          • Lambert says:

            Are there any Halakhic loopholes that ritually designate an indoor area ‘outside’?
            It’s the kind of thing that’s at least as plausible as Eruv.

          • The Nybbler says:

            When my father was required to cook meals in the winter, he used an indoor electric grill. He’s a convert but probably did not consult any rabbis on this practice.

            Oddly, while his father didn’t cook while my grandmother was alive, he was perfectly capable and did cook after she passed. And I can cook OK, though I prefer grilling to the point that I’ll do it in the winter and occasionally shovel snow to get to the grill.

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          They die, is what they do.

        • DeWitt says:

          Places in which Traditional Culture is still a thing have even bigger mismatches in male/female mortality rates. The smoking and drinking is kind’ve a big deal.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Get their daughters to cook for them, I assume.

        • AlphaGamma says:

          I’m reminded of a story I heard recently- Butterball turkeys have a customer service helpline on the package, for questions from “how long does a frozen turkey take to thaw?” (the most common) to “my Chihuahua is stuck inside the turkey, how do I get it out?” (they managed, the dog was OK, I’m less sure about the turkey). It used to be staffed entirely by women, but they recently hired some men after finding out that 1 in 4 of their calls were from men.

          From the NYT article:

          Almost all of the experts have that one deeply meaningful call. It came for Bill Nolan in 2016. He’s a chef and retired culinary educator whose other job involves preparing meals for a group of priests. He is relatively new — one of only a few men on the talk line, which didn’t hire its first until 2013.

          Mr. Nolan picked up a call from a widowed man the day before Thanksgiving. “He said his wife was gone, but he wanted to make that first Thanksgiving meal without her for his family,” Mr. Nolan said.

          Tears came to his eyes as he told the rest of the story. Although the average call is about three minutes, he spent almost a half-hour with the man, coaching him through a simple Thanksgiving meal.

          “I mean, here was this guy in a house by himself who called us to help,” Mr. Nolan said. “We don’t cure cancer and we don’t save lives, but maybe that guy had a good meal.”

          • EchoChaos says:

            @AlphaGamma

            Thanks, that’s a great story.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            If I were the sort of old-school guy who’d be calling a helpline to find out what to do with a turkey instead of looking it up on the internet, I’d find it a lot more reassuring to hear a woman’s voice explaining it to me.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Gotta find that guy girl cutting onions outside my office…

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Yeah, they basically go out to local bars, they eat grilled meat, they eat pizza, they eat boxed potatoes, etc.

          Also, they have extended families, so daughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, aunts, mothers, etc.

          Also, they usually don’t live longer than their wives, because they eat like crap, drink a ton, and smoke like chimneys.

    • Well... says:

      I had a blog post where I tried out some pronoun requests in this vein. The one I would use in your situation is:

      Your Honor/His Honor/His Honor’s

    • viVI_IViv says:

      So, trolling ideas…

      Pronouns: Epstein/didntkill/himself
      Pronouns: only/two/genders
      Pronouns: build/the/wall
      Pronouns: Brexit/means/Brexit
      Pronouns: ok/tobe/white
      Pronouns: Islam/right/aboutwomen

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      Only barely related: there is no need to list the accusative and possessive versions of your pronouns unless you use pronouns other than she, he, or they. And probably not then. And also probably I’m not going to use your pronouns if they aren’t she, he, or they.

      • drunkfish says:

        “he/him” is both fewer characters and a bit less aggressively woke (in my opinion) than “pronouns: male”, and accomplishes the same goal. If I just stuck “he” in random places it would often be confusing, but the convention of sticking a slash in there, even if it does originate with the xe/xim/xeirs of tumblr, is pretty useful for signaling “I’m talking about my pronouns”. I never do “his” though because that does feel silly.

        • Randy M says:

          Speaking of accomplishing the same goal: “Mr. Randy M.”
          That works for all traditional pronouns, unless for some reason you want to mix and match, which I don’t really see why this should be honored.

          The other problem is for Dr., etc. which is gender neutral and thus doesn’t clue one in on the preferred forms of address. The solution, of course, is more gendered language. Either something like Drs. or the more elegant “The Lady Dr. Randi M.”

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            My department actually has two professors who are married, commonly referred to by us students as “Dr. Mr. Smith” and/or “Dr. Mrs. Smith.”

          • Deiseach says:

            The other problem is for Dr., etc. which is gender neutral and thus doesn’t clue one in on the preferred forms of address.

            Eh, I think that if you’re dealing with a stranger (someone you’re only communicating with by email or post) and are unlikely to ever meet them face to face, then “Dr Smith” is perfectly fine as a form of address – you’re unlikely to proceed to the stage of “Dear Randy/Randi” and if you do, you’re unlikely to be referring to them in the third person directly, whatever about other parties (“I was talking to Dr Smith, he/she thinks we should…”). Unless Dr Smith is coming down to the office to meet you all, it won’t make much difference if you think he’s a she or she’s a he.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            “Lady” is also a first name. While “Doctor” (or variations) is also a last name, I do not believe it is a first name.

            Though yeah, it’s highly unlikely for a man to have “Lady” as a first name, the attendant pronouns may not be preferred.

    • Ketil says:

      So the outside counsel for our firm has begun adding “pronouns” to their signature block in e-mails. That is after name, there was a, “Pronouns: he/him/his

      Being nosy, I asked if this was permanently part of their sig block

      Back under your rock, you evil sexist fascist bastard, you!

    • LesHapablap says:

      I’ve never seen this.

      People don’t like it because it is a broad political statement masquerading as support for a tiny minority. Social pressure to put political statements in your work signature should be resisted. It is completely inappropriate.

      • smocc says:

        It’s this for me.

        The school I teach at has a couple (literally two, I think) of gender-queer students, and I am happy that they are included and feel safe. I’m also fine with the one bathroom that’s been labelled all-gender for inclusivity (though I would never use that one myself). It hasn’t come up yet, but I’ll probably use whatever pronouns they ask me to.

        But when the administration asked the faculty to write their pronouns on their nametags at the faculty inservice I did not because it felt like being asked to affirm something I disagree with pretty strongly: I think that gender has real aspects to it and gender roles should not be entirely up to personal choice.

        There’s a difference between being inclusive and forcing everyone to agree. My school is a Jewish school and I’m a Christian but I don’t ask the other teachers to affirm the divinity of Christ to make me feel included. That’s what the pronouns thing feels like to me.

        • Deiseach says:

          If you’ve got two gender-queer students, how does “Hey, I’m a cis het woman, my pronouns are she/her” (and the male equivalents) for the rest of literally everybody help them? Everyone knows that Susan is a woman, so her introducing herself with “preferred pronouns she/her” does nothing. The students then introducing themselves with “preferred pronouns he on Tuesday and she on Wednesday/they, them/neutrois” doesn’t do anything except make them stand out. ‘That weird girl who pretends she’s a guy’ now being ‘I know now to call that weird girl who pretends she’s a guy ‘he/him” doesn’t seem much of an improvement to me, but granted, I’m old and stuck in my ways.

          Maybe for the students, “oh so that ambiguous person I wasn’t sure about is a he/him or she/her person” does work, but on the other hand, what’s the gender-queer advantage there to be pinned down to one expressed gender?

          It’s a nice idea and I’m not against inclusiveness and making people feel safe, I just honestly do not see the use or value in the majority of people who are confirming with their assigned gender affirming “yes indeed, you can use the pronouns commonly and historically used with my gender for me” or how it is going to do anything for the “use pronouns for my chosen not biological gender” people to make them fit in as “treat me like an ordinary woman/man, not as Special Exception Trans Not Real Woman/Man”. You look like a woman, you say “use she/her” for me, I was going to do that anyway – the only thing, as people have said, is that this clarifies matters in cases where you’re going on an ambiguous/foreign name and don’t speak to or see the person in question. And as said elsewhere, we used to have means to indicate ‘preferred gender identity’ by “Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms” but that got scrapped in the name of preventing sexism and tearing down hierarchy.

          Now we’re introducing new sexism/hierarchy but from the progressive side. I see this as regressive, not liberation.

          • mtl1882 says:

            If you’ve got two gender-queer students, how does “Hey, I’m a cis het woman, my pronouns are she/her” (and the male equivalents) for the rest of literally everybody help them?

            My understanding is that they want to make this a universal thing, so that people whose gender is ambiguous or who use “they/their/them” etc. don’t have to go out of their way to address the issue. I don’t believe this will realistically become adopted to the point were it is a default part of every introduction, but that is the idea. In one sense, it is similar to increasingly common practice of asking everyone if they have a food allergy or special dietary needs at a restaurant or before a function. I also agree it is awkwardly regressive, for the reason you point out: this isn’t really a new issue—we used to use titles that served the a similar function, but the labeling seemed awkward after a while. Doing (M) (F) or (Th.) in a signature seems like it might be the clearest and least intrusive option, as it would help a lot with ambiguous names.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Doing (M) (F) or (Th.) in a signature seems like it might be the clearest and least intrusive option, as it would help a lot with ambiguous names.

            This is the kind of thing that only develops after the more verbose expression of pronouns in signatures becomes so commonplace that it’s expected. Then the shorthand can be easily interpreted. But absent a “long form” that is commonly understood, the short form is essentially meaningless.

    • aristides says:

      Not yet, but my signature block is already 15 lines long, so I won’t be surprised if they add another. Actually will be more useful for people with gender neutral names, like Riley, which are more common than trans people. I’ve often used the wrong Mr. Ms. on people for that reason. I consider myself pretty conservative, but I admit, that doesn’t bother me.

      • Deiseach says:

        Actually will be more useful for people with gender neutral names, like Riley, which are more common than trans people.

        Reilly is a surname but I suppose we have to make exceptions for weird American mangling of spelling and using surnames as first names and so forth 🙂

        I admit, I’ve been interested to see how “Robin” has shifted in my lifetime from being a male name to “if it’s Robin it’s a girl” and particularly so if it’s spelled “Robyn”. Other names have gone the same way, I guess it has to be the equivalent of Shirley, though that change happened due to ‘craze for using name popularised by smash-hit novel’ thanks to Charlotte Brontë – the Victorian equivalent of Daenerys!

    • bzium says:

      Aside from the problems with forcing people to affirm an ideology they might be opposed to, there’s also a problem that this is effectively conscripting every single trans individual into the SJW army.

      Somebody might be hesitant to come out, or uncertain about their thing. And now they’re given a hard choice of conspicuously denying their thing or saying “I’m trans, fight me” with every online interaction.

      Measures to protect some class of people from discrimination typically include the discouragement or outright prohibition of demands to disclose whatever traits are to be protected. For example, “woke” surveys or registration forms might include a “refuse to answer” option on questions about gender, race, nationality, religion. And I think you’re not supposed to be asking about those things in job interviews.

    • FormerRanger says:

      If your pronouns are conventional, there is some minor benefit from being able to address mail to “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Ms.” (Leaving aside the people who will freak if they have Ph.D.’s and you don’t address them as “Dr.”) However, most of the warfare is about unconventional pronouns, many of which do not reveal the actual or declared gender of the user, or at best require a trip to Urban Dictionary to figure out what they might mean. So the whole thing is political/social trolling and performative wokeness. If you work for a “woke” law firm, you have bigger problems than what pronoun to use.

      • Dacyn says:

        However, most of the warfare is about unconventional pronouns, many of which do not reveal the actual or declared gender of the user, or at best require a trip to Urban Dictionary to figure out what they might mean.

        As far as I can tell, with regards to gender all unconventional pronouns mean basically the same thing as “they/them”. If someone wants to further declare an unconventional gender, they have to do that separately.

    • achenx says:

      I work for one of the Big Four accounting/consulting firms. The internal tool for generating a signature has “pronouns” as an option to include, but I’ve only seen a couple people actually use it.

    • DinoNerd says:

      Not in our work emails, but our internal directory encourages people to list their preferred pronouns. Many of my coworkers, not being especially “woke” about gender variance, happily assumed that the purpose was to clarify things for people who didn’t recognize (and thus couldn’t properly gender) a coworker’s name. (Yes, we hire a lot of immigrants.)

    • mtl1882 says:

      It’s becoming increasingly common, in a variety of places. Where I worked, it was optional, and I didn’t do it, because it seems like useless signaling. I don’t have any issue with using someone’s preferred pronouns, and it isn’t a political or ideological thing–it’s more like a natural aversion to corporate trendiness. And all you have to do is identify your own gender, so it’s not like you are being forced to refer to others in a certain way, though of course that is expected by organizations that suggest including this. I understand the argument about how it’s the right thing to do because it allows everyone the chance to identify their preferred pronouns without standing out, but I don’t believe that declaring this everywhere will ever become the norm (and people so rarely read even the most basic info that they are probably not going to check this), and at this point it probably produces more backlash than benefit. But dealing with it as a moral issue, even if I did object to it on a deeper level, it seems nowhere near as problematic as the dishonesty and power games of many other types enforced corporate posturing/redefinition.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Yes. It’s showing up (large, multi-department government organization with a chief diversity officer).

      I find it weird (and slightly off-putting in a “are you expecting other people to do this as well?” way) with the people whose pronouns match their names and observable gender, but it makes things clear with the they/them/their person with the ambiguous name and physical style choices. The first time I noticed it was in an email from this they/them/their person, with a pdf explanation attachment. This was about a year ago.

      It was odd, but not off-putting when the man with the thick pony tail and beard stated “he/him/his” before his talk at a large meeting.

      I believe we have some actual transgender people in the larger organization, but as their physical appearance matches (as best as possible) what their presumably chosen pronouns would be, I don’t see the point. This only makes sense to me for the they/them/their people.

      I believe I’ll eventually get used to it, but won’t adopt the practice.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        This only makes sense to me for the they/them/their people.

        Yeah this is what worries me. Are there really they/them/their people? I will NOT refer to one person as them. I’ve noticed people doing that on SSC and it invariably confuses me, as it takes me a minute trying to figure out what group they are talking about.

        • brad says:

          I strongly dislike that one too. And try as I may I can’t see how it is necessary. I can see how one could insist on ‘he’ or ‘she’, I can even see how one could find either unsatisfactory but I can’t see how someone could psychologically need they/them/their. I’m open to negotiation here, but insisting specifically and only on that seems unreasonable.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What of the new formulations, like “xir” or “xe?”

          • brad says:

            I’d take it over ‘they’. I understand that singular they has long been a part of the English language, but not with a specific person as an antecedent.

            It grates on me. If we are going to have a new concept—non-gendered, singular pronoun for a specific person with a non-binary identity—let’s have a new word.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “They” is actually relatively easy to get used to using in an Internet context. I say this as someone who has a hard time referring to the kids who come over to my house using “they” when they present as “he” or “she” to my eyes. And yes, that means I know multiple people who prefer “they” as their pronoun.

            All you have to do is substitute “they” in cases where you use the default male. In man cases you don’t know the gender underlying the moniker. For example, as an aside, Le Maistre Chat identifies as “she”, iirc. So just stop assuming you know the gender of anonymous people, and “they” immediately pops out.

          • brad says:

            It works decently well in the case of HeelBearCub, because that’s analogous to the historical usage for an unknown person.

            E.g. from wiki:
            “If anyone tells you that America’s best days are behind her, then they’re looking the wrong way.”

            But with a concrete, non-anonymous person of known gender it is an utter disaster.
            “Former President Obama went sailing today. They nearly fell in the water when waiving to the crowds.”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @brad:

            “Former President Obama went sailing today. They nearly fell in the water when waiving to the crowds.”

            “Former President Obama was devoured by wolves today. They were the senseless age of 83.”

            (And yes, my handle is a fairy tale character whose name is gendered French. Oh well.)

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            “Former President Obama went sailing today. They nearly fell in the water when waiving to the crowds.”

            Honestly all of this is bad. A person is on a sail craft of some sort, and you refer to them as “nearly falling” while “waving” to the crowds. Immediately mental imagery of the sailing craft bobbing from sudden waves while Obama is handwaving.

            I also think it’s more clear if the second sentence started with “The former president nearly”, as even a “he” is slightly weird when used as a pronoun after such an introduction.

            You’ll get used to the new use of they. If you’re willing to.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Mark V Anderson and @Brad
            It might help if you think of a groups of people with “he” as the pronoun as “hes” or “guys”, and a group of “shes” as “shes” or “gals” (though the women I know dislike the word “gal” and are fine with a gender-neutral “guys” for a group of women or mixed genders [though I’m still ??? on this usage, and prefer “people”]).

            Thus a group of people with “them” as the pronoun becomes a group of “thems” or “those”, with “them” as the obvious singular.

          • brad says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Immediately mental imagery of the sailing craft bobbing from sudden waves while Obama is handwaiving.

            That was the intent of the sentence. You were supposed to picture him standing on the deck of a smallish sailboat waiving to crowds on the shore while the boat heads towards a big wave. What can I say, I was feeling whimsical.

            You’ll get used to the new use of they. If you’re willing to.

            I don’t especially wish to. In the case of transgendered people wanting the other singular pronouns, there is a claim that deep psychological pain is being pitted against my linguistic discomfort. Fine, I’m willing to make way there. But in the case of singular they it’s a preference on one side vs a preference on the other side, and I see no particular reason why mine should lose.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            The “they” I know goes to lengths to dress and personally style themselves (including hair) in an ambiguous way. Presumably they only do this because otherwise they would experience psychological pain.

          • brad says:

            I’m willing to avoid he or she is cases where requested. I don’t believe that anyone has a deep psychological need specifically for singular they.

            Incidentally, supposing our former President’s preferred pronouns are he/him/his have I misgendered him above?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Brad
            You can’t imagine a person having a deep psychological aversion (equivalent to disgust) to the sex (or at least sex-role) implications inherent in the she/he gender dichotomy itself? And wishing to avoid such implications with regards to how others address them?

            Based on the spelling, I genuinely believe this person changed their first name, because such a spelling (and consequent pronunciation) is intermediate between feminine and masculine versions of the root name. Changing a first name is a pretty radical thing to do.

            Incidentally, supposing our former President’s preferred pronouns are he/him/his have I misgendered him above?

            I don’t believe so, but I don’t have a boat in this race. 😛 He, however, was never “our” president. He was president of the United States, not president of us (I write this as a US citizen).

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I don’t want my wife to take my last name (as compared to us inventing a de novo last name together) due to the incest implications of having sex with a person with the same last name that I was born with. Though I have no problem with other couples sharing the same last name (as it doesn’t prompt me to consider myself in an incestuous relationship).

            This makes me weird, but I’m glad my preference is now allowed by the law and larger society. I don’t like thinking of incest when thinking of my wife.

          • b_jonas says:

            > Le Maistre Chat identifies as “she”

            Yes, that one confused me too when I found out about it some months ago.

          • Presumably they only do this because otherwise they would experience psychological pain.

            Or because the person prefers to do that. That’s the normal implication of someone doing something. Is that equivalent to “experiences psychological pain”?

            “You have to act the way I want you to because otherwise people will experience psychological pain” reduces to “you have to act the way I want to because other people want you to act that way.”

            Which I mentally label as “passive aggressive aggression.”

          • brad says:

            You can’t imagine a person having a deep psychological aversion (equivalent to disgust) to the sex (or at least sex-role) implications inherent in the she/he gender dichotomy itself? And wishing to avoid such implications with regards to how others address them?

            I said I’d be willing to avoid both he and she. It’s the insistence on they and only they I find unreasonable.

            I don’t believe so, but I don’t have a boat in this race.

            Why not? Why is using he when someone prefers they a major insult, but someone using they for me, when I prefer he, not a major insult?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I said I’d be willing to avoid both he and she. It’s the insistence on they and only they I find unreasonable.

            A lot of actual theys might find this perfectly agreeable.

            Why not?

            Because in this particular example you’re using “they” to refer to former president Obama solely as an example, not as a literal referent during a discussion about Obama.

            Because in this example you expressed that you don’t know which pronouns he actually prefers, thus you don’t know.

            Because you aren’t trying to insult Obama with this pronoun use.

            Because some politically-incorrect monarchists and psuedo-monarchists think it appropriate to refer to a head of state in the non-gendered plural (or at least for said head of state to refer to themselves in the non-gendered plural), and have so for hundreds of years. Though as a firm democratic republican I reject this politically incorrect idea.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            It might help if you think of a groups of people with “he” as the pronoun as “hes” or “guys”, and a group of “shes” as “shes” or “gals”

            Sorry I don’t follow this at all.

            In English plural third person is they. Pronouns are often confusing already, so it is very useful to know singular vs plural. I think it is a very bad idea to lose this distinction for the tiny portion of the population that doesn’t seem to want to choose either male or female.

            By the way, some months ago I suggested in an SSC comment thread that we all start using a non-gendered third person pronoun like ze. But I got only disagreement. I will continue to he for unknown genders as is standard English, until the community comes up with a better solution.

            Edit: I do want to clarify that I don’t like gendered pronouns at all. In most cases when I refer to another person, the gender doesn’t much matter, so it is usually more of a pain than a help to have to find out if the person is a he or a she first. So changing to ze would be very beneficial, and more than to just transexuals.

            Society added the Ms. designation to the possibilities of Miss and Mrs. when I was a kid. That was a great improvement over the previous state, and so it was accepted very quickly by the general populace. Using they for singular is not an improvement, which is why there is much resistance.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            Yours is a very informative (to me) response.

            “Those people” is also acceptable English third person plural.

        • ana53294 says:

          I haven’t seen “they” used for anything other than a neutral third person of an unknown gender. It makes things less awkward than using he/she.

          And not assuming the gender of the average voter, citizen, teacher, lawyer, nurse, or whatever, is not because of trans-activism, but because it is seen as inconsiderate to use the default “he”, since women are half the population.

          I don’t understand this obsession with third person pronouns. If you know a person, you can always be formal and refer to them by their name, or by their surname and profession.

          • soreff says:

            >you can always be formal and refer to them by their name, or by their surname and profession.

            re surname and profession: almost always…
            I recently had an appointment with a physician’s assistant.
            It wasn’t exactly correct to call her “Dr.”, and I wound up
            explicitly asking what honorific I should use.
            She said to use her first name.

  21. meh says:

    People have started ranting about youtube below and I thought it deserved its own top level. Is there any doubt how much we will cringe at youtube 25 years from now?

    The pre video ads are awful
    The video titles are awful
    The video thumbnails are awful
    The video content is awful

    (with some exceptions)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Absolutely! Except for the channels I like, obviously.

    • Randy M says:

      The constant reminders to hit like so the Youtube algorithm will promote the video are awful.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I can’t blame them, though. That is how they make a living so they can keep giving me the video game reviews I appreciate so I know which games are good. 80% of the time I forget to hit the like button until the guy reminds me.

        • baconbits9 says:

          It’s a prisoner’s dilemma situation though. If no one pushes the ‘mash that like button’ narrative then every video will get a roughly proportional rate of likes to views that it deserves. One guy getting an extra 5-10% total likes by asking for them breaks the norm and now everyone has to do it to keep the ratios right, despite it taking time and making the content worse.

        • Randy M says:

          No, but the post was about awful aspects of Youtube, not faults of Youtube uploaders.
          I think there’s some quite good things on Youtube, from short comedy sketches (Door monster, for instance, or Ryan George) to game reviews or podcasts (for instance Shamus Young has a channel, or for another realm, MtG limited resources)–although I’m starting to get I bit tired of the incessant product hype on the medium.

          I’m sure there are lots of awful videos, but it’s easy enough to avoid those.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Is there any doubt how much we will cringe at youtube 25 years from now?

      Didn’t people cringe at how many commercials were filling the airwaves 25 years ago? How TV shows started cutting out the credits (or shoving them into a box while they started the next show or ran an ad in the bulk of the scree) and trimming bits and pieces of syndicated shows to fit more commercials in? Or how the Super Bowl became more and more about the ads every year for years on end?

      I think this is just the model that we are under.

    • Milo Minderbinder says:

      YouTube is an insanely varied platform. If all you’re seeing is trash, well, stop watching trash. That seems to address problems 2-4. As for bad ads, they don’t seem better/worse than TV advertising.

      • meh says:

        I’m not really trying to solve a problem, just commenting on society and culture.

        As surprising as it sounds, the stuff I watch is stuff that I find worthwhile. This only addresses item #4 though, since I see upcoming video titles and thumbnails, and even for content i find worthwhile, titles and thumbnails are creeping toward cringey.

        • AG says:

          Simply only watching good stuff isn’t sufficient. You also have to be actively pruning your suggestions by marking a bunch of stuff as “not interested.”

      • metacelsus says:

        Amen! I recently was shown a Youtube video by a friend who didn’t use it, and there was an ad every 2 minutes. It was incredibly disruptive. I don’t know how people manage without adblock.

      • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

        Honestly, I’m torn. A number of the channels I watch clearly put time and effort into making high-quality content, and I’d feel bad about consuming that content without at least providing them with the ad revenue from my views (miniscule as it is). I think it’s kind of a giant prisoner’s dilemma–any individual is better off by using adblock, but the more people that use it, the less incentive the creator has to continue making high-value content.

        However, I have at times been annoyed enough at the 8 ads over the course of some 10-minute videos (2 preroll ads, 3 midroll ad breaks with 2 ads apiece) that I’ve fired up my adblocker for the following hour or so of YouTubing. It often seems as well like the channels which produce the best content are the least likely to pepper their videos with midrolls (and correspondingly more likely to ask for Patreon donations at the end).

        I would totally use an adblocker that left preroll ads alone but blocked midrolls (or even just blocked midrolls more frequent than one/10 minutes)–does anyone know if this exists?

        • AlexanderTheGrand says:

          Have you considered asking the creators to set up patreon accounts, and donating directly? If they do, you’d be giving more and it’d cost you less!

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            Unfortunately I’m in the “pre-significant money making” phase of my life, and I’ve been specifically told by CGP Grey to Save. My. Money.

            …geez, Algorithm, I open up YouTube to search for the CGP Grey clip and the first thing you serve up is “Why You Should keep Adblock! – Virus Investigations 46“. You’re too smart for your own good.

            (also, looks like his initial Patreon video with the Ad Fairy and the “SAVE. YOUR. MONEY.” have been memory-holed :-/ )

    • Statismagician says:

      I mean, it’s a free service with a lot of content I both enjoy and couldn’t get otherwise. Ads, when they aren’t handled by web plugins, can usually be skipped after like 5 seconds. Titling, thumbnail selection, and content quality all vary by creator, so I just… don’t watch things I don’t like? Am I missing something here?

      • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

        pfft, being satisfied with the things you enjoy? That’s no fun. Complaining about how [people in control of beloved platform or franchise] have ruined [beloved platform or franchise]–now that’s a good time!

      • meh says:

        Well, I wasn’t trying to solve any particular problem, or trying to fix youtube for me because it’s making my life worse. It is just discussion about society and culture.

        just… don’t watch things I don’t like

        If we all agreed this was an adequate solution, 95% of the culture war would be solved 🙂

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately there is some great content on Youtube, but the entirety of Alphabet’s contribution is contra human fourishing. So I made my own platform.

      Every couple hours, my server queries about 50 of my favorite channels for new videos, downloads them using youtube-dl, repackages them into a video podcast format, and my phone syncs them. It’s all of the great content, but none of the garbage (ads, recommendation algorithm, comments, data usage/offline viewing).

    • Well... says:

      A word about top 10 list videos (those ones that seem like they’re made by robots) and certain “how to” videos (the ones without any voiceover): why the hell do they always have that annoying electronic music in the background?!

      • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

        Cause it’s royalty-free?

        …wait, just remembered Kevin MacLeod exists, never mind that’s no excuse.

        • Well... says:

          Exactly. There’s plenty of other music that’s royalty-free, and in many of these types of videos no music is needed anyway. And yet it gets added…

    • aristides says:

      I pay to watch Hulu, and it has more adds per minute. I’m glad to have YouTube as a supplement. If I cringe looking back 25 years ago, it’ll only be because a better free video streaming platform appears, and it’ll still probably have ads. Pl us the content is still better than 90% of reality TV.

    • DragonMilk says:

      Are you watching from phone or PC?

      My adblock on phone being unable to block youtube ads causes me to mainly watch it on PC. I think it’s great for listening to music (my original reason of getting adblock when symphonies were being interrupted by commercials), and my goto method for watching games…that is computer games.

      I’m an avid fast forwarder and like that the right arrow key produces +5s

      • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

        Protip: J-K-L is back 10 seconds, play/pause, and forward 10. For some reason K is more reliable than spacebar.

  22. johan_larson says:

    There are lots of places online to play traditional card games like Hearts and Spades. Unfortunately many of them to have problems, such as lower numbers of players, obnoxious ads, support for only a few games, or odd choices of game rules and variants.

    What sites provide good experiences for players of traditional card games?

    • SamChevre says:

      Are you looking for playing against other players, or against the site?

      Against the site, BridgeBase is great for Bridge: I’ve never used it for live games. LiChess is good for chess, similarly.

    • Nick says:

      For solitaire card games, I like classicsolitaire.com, e.g.

    • johan_larson says:

      After a bit of looking around, cardgames.io looks pretty good. It has a decent assortment of games, the variants are well-chosen, and I can get the ads out of the way by resizing the window. You can only play against bots, though, and the graphics are lackluster, but I can live with those limitations.

      https://cardgames.io/

  23. acymetric says:

    When looking at mutual fund investments (say, for a 401k) how valuable are the Morningstar ratings as a rule of thumb for which options to choose?

    • Jon S says:

      Those ratings are better than choosing a fund completely at random – they’re slightly correlated to factors like expense ratios, which will meaningfully affect your future performance.

      For whatever class of fund you’re interested in investing in, generally the Vanguard version is the best option if it’s available to you. Otherwise, doing what you can to choose a fund with a low expense ratio is most of the battle.

      • acymetric says:

        So, say I have 2 Vanguard options, would I want to just pile everything up there, or should I still diversify somewhat with some of the other available funds (understanding that the funds themselves are obviously already diversified), but still looking for low (just not Vanguard low) expense ratios? I do have the Vanguard funds as two of my primary investments currently.

        From what I can tell for the most part all of our (fairly limited) options have at least reasonable expense ratios and management fees, although obviously Vanguard blows them out of the water there.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          Depends which Vanguard funds you have access to. If they include broad stock index funds, like VFIAX (S&P 500) or VTSAX (total stock market), then buying any other equity fund is not diversification, but either redundant (if it’s somebody else’s broad-based fund) or a bet on whatever that fund specializes in (say, small-cap, or biotech, or whatever). You may feel like placing such a bet, but don’t call it diversification.

          But you don’t get coverage in the international markets via either of these, so including an international fund for maybe 20% of your total is probably sensible, assuming you are maxing out your contribution. (Note that there is a distinction between “international” funds and “world” funds; the latter might still be half U.S.)

          Depending on your age, a diversified bond index fund like VBILX would be a decent hedge. But I’m guessing you’re on the young side since this all seems fairly new to you. There’s an old rule of thumb that says to subtract your age from 100 and that’s the percentage you should be in stocks rather than bonds, but of late I’ve read people who say it should be more like 120 minus your age.

          Short answer: Vanguard funds in 401(k)s tend to be broad index funds, so there’s quite a good chance that my answer to your question is: Yes, just pile them all up there.

          And read Bogle’s Little Book of Common Sense Investing.

    • DragonMilk says:

      Why are you considering mutual funds rather than index funds, which generally have lower expense ratios?

      • acymetric says:

        Mostly because I shouldn’t have said mutual funds, I meant funds/investment options for my 401k generally. I probably should have just said “when looking at 401k investment options”.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Index funds are mutual funds.

  24. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Since this is a hidden OT: what do y’all think was the psychology behind early sexual activity/marriage in the past?
    As David Friedman pointed out in another subthread, traditional Jewish law let a woman who was barely bat mitzvah age get married even without parental consent. This opens up the possibility that men of all ages were legitimate sex partners for such a young woman,[1] and I think that’s objectively weird. In pre-industrial societies, teenage girls were physically more childlike than today, not less. Studies tend to claim that average first menstruation happened at 14 in Classical and medieval Europe, It doesn’t seem psychologically normal for grown men to be attracted to girls before they’ve developed secondary sexual characteristics. Of course maybe these were almost all “Romeo and Juliet” marriages, where the girl of 13 paired off with a boy who was no more than 3 years her senior. These sort of marriages were endemic among early modern Hindus, only becoming low status in the latter part of the 20th century.[2] “Hey, a girl! Who I can legally have sex with!” would be all a psychologically-normal teenage boy needs, right?

    [1]Ceteris paribis. A monogamous culture would change such a simple assumption dramatically because most eligible mature men would already be taken.
    [2] A 1929 law set the female age of consent at 14 and male at 18, but backlash required the British to pass another law saying it didn’t apply to Muslims. And nobody thought any less of Gandhi for having married at 13.

    • Atlas says:

      Not exactly an answer to your question, but here are some relevant excerpts from Our Political Nature (not totally convinced by the book’s arguments, but they’re interesting):

      The political battle over the reproduction of nations is fought over the bodies of women. The political right typically seeks greater control over women, since it sees them as the reproductive vehicles of the in-group’s future generations. The left, on the other hand, which is less concerned about reproducing the in-group, supports more equality and behavioral freedom between the sexes…

      Dutch political scientist Jos Meloen discovered a striking relationship when he studied a sample of eighty-four states: the world’s more authoritarian countries tended to support male dominance, to prepare men for military service, and to emphasize women’s role in raising children away from public life. He even found a strong correlation between a country’s level of authoritarianism and an independent ranking of gender inequality.55

      People in the world’s more conservative countries enforce three forms of gender inequality. These cultures reduce women’s freedom in: (1) sexually attracting male strangers in public, (2) choosing a spouse, and (3) divorcing. The underlying logic of these cultural patterns is to control women’s reproductive behavior; this control ensures a conservative outcome: early marriage, endogamy, and a high birth rate. These results increase the fitness of the tribe but come at a high price to women…

      Other extremely conservative cultures have more conventional and low-tech methods for ensuring that their women marry the “correct,” endogamous choice. In Yemen, for instance, over a quarter of girls are married off by their families before the age of fifteen. At this age, girls are a decade away from mental maturity (chapter 21 explains why mental maturity occurs around age twenty-five). Marriage at such a young age eliminates the chance that a Yemeni girl’s own preferences may defy the will of her parents.

      Very young brides, however, incur other types of risks. In April 2010, a thirteen-year-old Yemeni girl died from internal bleeding three days after her marriage. The cause of death, according to the medical report, had been a tear to her genitals inflicted by intercourse. The year before, the Yemeni legislature had tried to raise the minimum age of marriage to seventeen, but conservative lawmakers repealed the change as “un-Islamic.”61 The medical term for the girl’s fatal injury is “obstetric fistula.” The condition, whose causes are usually early childbirth and limited medical attention, is also prevalent in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal. As a result, many young girls become incontinent, leaking urine and feces. Their husbands abandon them, leaving the women unmarriageable and often unable to pay the several hundred dollars needed to repair their bodies.

      • AG says:

        The two questions in the case of the last two paragraphs are
        1) Has the rate of obstetric fistula increased over time, and
        2) Has the age of the husband in these cases increased over time

        As LMC surmises, perhaps in the past the young age of the brides went along with a younger age of the grooms, as elder men were already married or killed off, and that reduced the health risks, as the power imbalances from brain development weren’t as large.

      • Deiseach says:

        At this age, girls are a decade away from mental maturity (chapter 21 explains why mental maturity occurs around age twenty-five).

        Well bless my soul, if kids aren’t mentally mature until they hit 25, then nobody should be having sex before then. So are we gonna see all those “put 14 year old girls on the pill without their parents’ knowledge” activists rebuked?

        Personally I think the age of adulthood being 21 was sensible, and I don’t know why the push for first 18 and now 16 as the legal age of “you’re all grown-up”, but I really think that sentence is trying to eat your cake and have it. I have a feeling the author so exercised over 15 year old Yemeni girls being married off would be equally offended by “15 year olds should not be able to tra-la-la off to be fitted for an IUD” because that is hampering their natural and normal human right to get their rocks off.

        • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

          With modern contraception, having unwed sex is a far smaller commitment than marriage. More importantly, whether the teenage girl herself is actually seeking out the encounter is a huge factor. I suspect that the thirteen-year-old Yemeni girls have little or no say in when they are married off, who they are married off too, and when their new husbands can start having sex with them. Fourteen-year-olds having safe, consensual sex with other fourteen-year-olds is in no way comparable to fourteen-year-olds being forced into arranged marriages with whatever man will give their parents the highest bride price.

          • hls2003 says:

            Fourteen-year-olds having safe, consensual sex

            In many or most U.S. jurisdictions, it is legally impossible for fourteen-year-olds to have “consensual” sex with anyone of any age. The rationale typically given for this law is the judgment that it is practically impossible for such sex to be “safe” (whether physically, emotionally, or developmentally).

            So I think this is begging the question.

          • Dacyn says:

            @hls2003: I don’t think using the common definition of a word rather than the technical one constitutes begging the question. Of course, you can debate whether a fourteen-year-old’s consent (in the common sense) is important.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @hls2003
            Perhaps I should have said “protected” rather than “safe”–what I meant was, using some form of birth control and ideally STD protection (eg condoms), and having a partner who will stop if you say “Ow, stop, you are literally tearing apart my vagina.” And even if one is under the legal age of consent, there is a blindingly clear difference between “hey bb come over my parents aren’t home” and getting raped by a sex abuse ring–or by a man your parents forced you to marry.

          • Aapje says:

            @VoiceOfTheVoid

            Married monogamous people are not commonly very concerned about STD’s.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            @Aapje
            True; I still hold that marriage is overall a vastly larger commitment than casual sex, with the potential to have a much worse effect on one’s life.

          • Aapje says:

            Marriage or other more secure long term relationships can have huge upsides.

            Also, casual sex can have immense consequences.

          • Also, casual sex can have immense consequences.

            Most often tiny immense consequences.

          • b_jonas says:

            Re hls2003.

            In most of the U.S., if you have sex with a fourteen year old, if they later decide that they don’t like you for any reason, they can then sue you that you have raped them. But in most of the U.S., if you sell someone a cup of coffe, if they later decide that they don’t like you for any reason, they can sue you that you have scalded them with hot coffee. The U.S. just works that way. This doesn’t mean that having sex with a fourteen year old is necessarily unsafe, any more than a cup of hot coffee is necessarily unsafe.

          • John Schilling says:

            if you have sex with a fourteen year old, if they later decide that they don’t like you for any reason, they can then sue you that you have raped them.

            They can also have the police, etc, throw you in jail for a decade or so for having raped them. And the word “sue” does not apply to any part of this process.

            This is rather different than the case for a cup of coffee that does not meet one’s standards.

          • Aapje says:

            @b_jonas

            1. The US doesn’t work that way (the famous hot coffee case actually involved the sale of abnormally hot coffee)

            2. Statutory rape doesn’t require the 14 year old to not like you. Many a person has been convicted for sex that the alleged victim still liked. Some of them even married the convict.

        • Theodoric says:

          In the US, I think the push to lower the age of adulthood from 21 to 18 came because one could be drafted into the military at 18.

      • People in the world’s more conservative countries enforce three forms of gender inequality. These cultures reduce women’s freedom in: (1) sexually attracting male strangers in public, (2) choosing a spouse, and (3) divorcing.

        As opposed to more liberal cultures, where it’s very easy to dissolve the marriage decree itself but very difficult to dissolve the financial obligations associated with it. In their mind, you get more freedom…

      • Aapje says:

        @Atlas

        That is a very biased excerpt.

        For example, conservatism also restrict men’s freedom to attract women and to choose a wife, to great frustration of many men in restrictive countries. It’s just the typical framing where control of both men’s and women’s reproductive behavior is portrayed as only controlling women*.

        * Note that if you control women’s reproductive behavior, you pretty much automatically control men’s reproductive behavior and vice versa.

        Another example of bias is that the excerpt strawman’s the desired conservative outcome, completely ignoring goals like ensuring that fatherhood is clear and that there is a provider for the kids.

    • Jaskologist says:

      When Augustine was 31, Monica arranged a marriage for him to a wealthy heiress. But she was two years too young to marry, at a time when the legal minimum seems to have been 12, so they had to wait (ultimately the wedding was called off). Augustine doesn’t seem to find the age gap notable in itself.

      Yet the matter was pressed forward, and proposals were made for a girl who was as yet some two years too young to marry. And because she pleased me, I agreed to wait for her.

      (He didn’t actually wait.)

      Meanwhile my sins were being multiplied. My mistress was torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, and my heart which clung to her was torn and wounded till it bled. And she went back to Africa, vowing to thee never to know any other man and leaving with me my natural son by her. But I, unhappy as I was, and weaker than a woman, could not bear the delay of the two years that should elapse before I could obtain the bride I sought. And so, since I was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust, I procured another mistress–not a wife, of course.

      -Confessions, Book 6, Chapters XIII-XV

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Note that Augustine goes on at length about his greatest sin of lust, having sex with the same mistress from the time he was 17 to 31 (what a hedonist!). When he consented to his mother’s matchmaking “because she [the underage heiress] pleased me”, it’s not clear that “pleased me” refers to any erotic connection with such a young girl. It could refer entirely to liking her as a person/liking marrying within his social class. He dealt with his inability to be celibate by taking another grown mistress.
        The most we can say is that he didn’t see anything immoral or strange about the law saying he could have sex with a 12-year-old girl after a marriage ceremony.

        • Secretly French says:

          it’s not clear that “pleased me” refers to any erotic connection with such a young girl

          I would go further than this, and say that if in such a text you read “because she pleased me” and discount the reading “because she was to my liking”, and instead settle on the reading “because she sucked my dick real good”, you are an ignorant degenerate villain who would have been better off illiterate. But then, I am a provocateur.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I’ll note that when you read a lot of old writing they tend to take for granted that women are more child-like and foolish in their reasoning, which makes a lot of sense if they were typically 30 year-olds paired with 16 year-olds.

      • Statismagician says:

        Huh – that’s a really good observation, thanks for sharing.

      • theredsheep says:

        I would note that the presumption of feminine imbecility continued well beyond the period of gross age disparities. When I watched Casablanca, I was struck by the way it assumed Ilsa was effectively incapable of meaningful moral courage or agency. She thought her war-hero husband was dead, so instead of continuing his struggle, she fled the country, started an affair with someone she just met, didn’t mention her dead husband to this man, and left without a word of explanation when she discovered her husband was still alive.

        It is allowed that this is not good behavior, but they minimize it, and Rick’s resentment is presented as unjust. Her own husband, when he finds out it happened (she didn’t tell him either), says, “you were lonely, weren’t you?” As if she were a child. She was off porking some dude in Paris while he was in a prison camp, but she was wonewy. There’s nothing wrong with her chiding Rick for not putting himself at risk to help a woman who betrayed him, because a woman’s role is to encourage a man to do his manly duty. At the end, she has to be told not to betray her husband again, knowingly this time, and stay with Rick, and she complies; this is one of the most memorable scenes in cinema, in spite of its resting on the assumption that the female lead is a morally terrible person.

        • John Schilling says:

          [Ilsa] thought her war-hero husband was dead, so instead of continuing his struggle, she fled the country

          Perhaps not the best example, insofar as her husband’s particular struggle had been conducted at a five- or six-sigma level of excellence. If e.g. Werner von Braun had died in 1960, I suspect very few people would ask “Now how is Maria going to contribute to the space program?” nor consider it infantilizing to suggest that she might pursue romance, remarriage, or some other ordinary pursuit outside the realm of rocketry even though she could have done something for NASA.

          • theredsheep says:

            Giving up and running is the most defensible thing she does, beyond going back to her husband which was the one unequivocally correct part. I can see how she’d conclude it was hopeless and run like hell. But the part where she never mentions this incredibly brave man she married, or any part of his struggle, to the man she shacked up with a fairly short time after she thought said hero was dead? Germany took the Sudetenland in October 1938, and took over Paris in June 1940. She can’t have heard her husband was dead much more than six months before she was partying with Rick. Not cool, Ilsa.

          • John Schilling says:

            She can’t have heard her husband was dead much more than six months before she was partying with Rick. Not cool, Ilsa.

            Ah, so the complaint is about not observing the culturally appropriate mourning period.

            That seems inconsistent with the complaint about lack of agency, though, and embarking on an “illicit” romance seems quite agent-y.

      • Ketil says:

        I think the age difference can be more a matter of men marrying late than women marrying early. In many cultures, man can marry when he has the means to support a family. This is likely a later point in life than being able to cook food or mend clothes, or whatever passes for a woman’s role. And when marriages are arranged by the family, it is probably a good idea to marry off daughters before they start having ideas about boys, and runs off with some smooth talking undesirable.