Welcome (?), Infowars Readers

Hello to all the new readers I’ve gotten from, uh, Paul Watson of Infowars. Before anything else, consider reading this statement by the CDC about vaccines.

Still here? Fine.

Infowars linked here with the headline Survey Finds People Who Identify As Left Wing More Likely To Have Been Diagnosed With A Mental Illness. This is accurate only insofar as the result uses the publicly available data I provide. The claim about mental illness was made by Twitter user Philippe Lemoine and not by me. In general, if a third party analyzes SSC survey data, I would prefer that media sources reporting on their analysis attribute it to them, and not to SSC.

As far as I can tell, Lemoine’s analysis is accurate enough, but needs some clarifications:

1. Both extreme rightists and extreme leftists are more likely than moderates to have been diagnosed with most conditions.

2. Leftists might be more likely to trust the psychiatric system and get diagnosed. My survey shows some signs of that. Liberals are 60% more likely than conservatives to have formal diagnoses of depression, but only 30% more likely to have a self-diagnosis of depression.

3. Leftists might be more likely to think of their issues through a psychiatric lens than rightists, meaning that even the self-diagnosis numbers might be inflated.

4. The SSC survey is a bad sample to use for this, not just because it’s unrepresentative, but because it might be unrepresentative of different political affiliations in different ways. For example, SSC Marxists really are surprisingly depressed, but maybe the only Marxists who would read an anti-Marxist blog are depressed Marxists looking for things to be miserable and angry about (though see below for some counterevidence).

5. A commenter on Lemoine’s tweet links to this blog post by someone who found the same thing in the General Social Survey. The General Social Survey is much larger and more rigorous than my survey, and there’s no reason to care what my survey has to say when there are GSS results available.

In general, if a survey analysis is posted on this blog, it’s mine. If not, then it isn’t mine and you should link to whoever performed it and let them clean up their own mess. Thanks – and seriously, vaccines are fine.

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261 Responses to Welcome (?), Infowars Readers

  1. Anonymous Bosch says:

    The General Social Survey is much larger and more rigorous than my survey, and there’s no reason to care what my survey has to say when there are GSS results available.

    That’s not how bullying works.

    • kipling_sapling says:

      I think there’s a joke I’m missing here.

      • GearRatio says:

        He’s calling Infowars people bullies, probably. The accessible interpretation is that the GSS is big enough not to care about infowars, so infowars aims themselves at a twitter guy and a blogger guy instead.

  2. Alethenous says:

    Infowars linked here?

    …Do we panic now? I think we panic now.

  3. Rolaran says:

    Could the causation be going the other way from what Lemoine and Watson are implying? People who have been formally diagnosed with a mental illness (and therefore experienced firsthand the current state of medical support for the mentally ill) becoming more sympathetic to expanding the medical and social safety net, and becoming more politically left-wing?

    For context, I don’t have a formal mental diagnosis, but I’ve had a chronic physical condition (type 1 diabetes) since I was 15, and that’s certainly influenced my views on healthcare policy, and made me more left-wing in the sense of “since anyone can become sick, anyone should be able to access high-quality healthcare, regardless of socioeconomic status”.

    • atreic says:

      Yes, I came here to say that, a correlation between ‘needs more healthcare’ and ‘thinks healthcare is an important thing we should provide for free’ doesn’t seem surprising, and similarly ‘is sometimes unable to work’ and ‘thinks we should make sure people who are unable to work can afford to live comfortably’ seem to go hand in hand.

      [Although I think Scott’s point about lack of stigma and actually being diagnosed as opposed to incidence rates is probably also a big driver of this.]

    • batmanaod says:

      Exactly – the correlation shown doesn’t demonstrate anything negative about left-leaning political views unless one assumes that people with mental illness are substantially more likely to be have “bad” opinions about abstract concepts like politics. That’s probably somewhat true for some diseases or symptoms (such as paranoia), but the conclusion that “these views are literally ‘crazy'” seems to demonstrate a pretty shoddy understanding of what mental illness actually is.

      • Bergil says:

        A related confounder- if any actual gibbering lunatics responded to that survey, they might be more likely to misrepresent their own political beliefs, or less able to accurately evaluate what category they fall into.

    • N.K Anton says:

      Isn’t the major demarcator of American political discourse healthcare? Even in the 2019-2020 Democratic Primary, many define both moderation and extremism of particular canadidates through their proposed health care plans and policies. If opinions on healthcare policy play an outsized role on how ‘left’ a person is, then (direct or indirect) experiences with illness would be formative.

    • eh says:

      Universal or single-payer healthcare is presumably more strongly identified with the left in the US than it is in, say, Canada or the UK. I wonder whether the correlation between mental illness and left-wing politics is strongest in the US?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Isn’t health care strongly identified with the left everywere? Sure, Brexit campaigned on using the money for the NHS, but I think Dominic Cummings said that was specifically because Tories are weak on NHS and it was much more credible in this context than a regular campaign promise.

        I grouped country as US, UK, Germany, Canada, and Other. US is about 3x Other, which is about 3x each of the other 3. Depression and Anxiety, which I assume are the most common diagnoses, but still a bit rare for these sample sizes for the three countries.
        Doesn’t look very different.

  4. For what it’s worth, I never imagined this would blow up like this when I posted it, let alone be mentioned on Infowars… It’s just something I did in 5 minutes after the idea occurred to me to check in the data from your survey. (Indeed, I made a mistake in the first chart, which I corrected in another tweet in the same thread, but I just saw that Infowars had used the chart with the error.) When I want to do more careful data analysis, I do so on my blog, as I don’t think Twitter is a well-suited medium for that. Anyway, I basically agree with the points you made, most of which I had also made in discussion on Twitter, although to be clear I don’t believe the association between mental illness and far-left ideology can be completely explained away by this kind of confounding. (I suspect there is a similar, though perhaps not as strong association with far-right ideology, but I’m less confident in this case, because there were very few respondents who identified as far-right in the survey so the confidence intervals are huge and that association is not observed in the GSS. Speaking of which, just so you know, I replicated the finding of the blogger you linked to above with the data from the 2018 edition of the GSS, though the between-group differences were not as striking. I will post this on Twitter when I have time for people who are interested.) The reason I don’t believe the result can be totally explained away in that way is that, as I said on Twitter, given the size of the effect, one would have to make assumptions that I regard as implausible for that to be the case. Finally, one thing I should add is that the GSS is not in fact larger than your survey, at least not if we’re talking about the sample size. In fact, it’s the opposite, the sample is much larger in your survey, but as you say it’s not representative. I have already spent way too much time debating this stuff, which again I never imagined would blow up like that, so I don’t intend to discuss it further here, but I just wanted to make a few clarifications myself.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      For what it’s worth, I never imagined this would blow up like this when I posted it, let alone be mentioned on Infowars

      It’s entirely believable that you couldn’t predict this would end up on that particular site. But it was definitely a cheap swipe at lefties from an account that seems to be geared towards chasing clout on that basis. Don’t worry, though. A few more viral boom cycles and you’ll be at the threshold where you don’t even have to bother with these post-hoc, pro-forma nuances.

      • Aapje says:

        @Anonymous Bosch

        But it was definitely a cheap swipe at lefties from an account that seems to be geared towards chasing clout on that basis.

        The original tweet actually merely claims a correlation and doesn’t draw a negative conclusion about lefties. Interpreting it as pejorative is merely one possible interpretation (the one that Infowars went with, unsurprisingly), but there are many other interpretations, depending on what biases, beliefs and frames the reader uses to interpret the tweet. For example, Lemoine himself noted a possible pro-lefty interpretation where people with mental illness prefer leftism to get easier access to healthcare.

        In general, Philippe appears to me to be a lot more fair to his political opponents, than most people, including many scientists. With academia increasingly being dominated by leftists and with far worse ‘cheap swipes’ at conservatives being not at all uncommon in social sciences, I think it is rather unfair to chastise Lemoine for making “a cheap swipe at lefties from an account that seems to be geared towards chasing clout on that basis.”

        • ajakaja says:

          The only sense that that tweet was not a loaded jab towards lefties is that it was crafted, like a lot of twitter-hate, to sound like an innocent observation, since that’s what seems reputable these days.

          A phrase like “this is also what I would have guessed based on anecdotal evidence”, yes, in principle could be completely without subtext, but not in a feed full of partisan weirdness.

          • Aapje says:


            What you are doing is called ‘assuming bad faith.’

          • Ninety-Three says:

            What you are doing is called ‘assuming bad faith.’

            And you are not refuting the argument.

          • Radu Floricica says:


            One of the reasons why assuming bad faith is not nice is that it’s not exactly refutable. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but can be a mechanic simulation of a duck… it’s fair to call it a duck unless it leaks oil.

            You _can_ come with arguments that make bad faith a better assumption – for example a long history of posts in bad faith. But the burden of proof is on you.

          • Aapje says:


            Ajakaja actually refused to engage with the evidence I provided, in favor of evidence-free assertions.

            I argued that this tweet can be interpreted in many ways and that Lemoine didn’t provide his own framing/interpretation in his original tweet & in a later tweet, interpreted it quite favorably to leftists.

            Ajakaja then completely ignored my evidence, which actually is somewhat suggestive of the intent of the original tweet, simply claiming that the only possible intent was to jab at leftists, yet no proper evidence was provided that this was the actual intent. This is simply a (biased?) assertion.

            Ajakaja asserted that a partisan weirdo can’t be fair, with no facts to back that up or even an argument why ‘partisan weirdness’ makes a very negative interpretation of Lemoine’s tweet the only reasonable one.

            My assertion is that what ajakaja is doing, is very strong evidence of bad faith on their part, where the bias against the outgroup leads to very negative assumptions. The claim of ‘partisan weirdness’ seems to be no more than an assertion that Lemoine’s opinions are outside of ajakaja’s Overton Window. Yet no evidence was provided that ajakaja’s Overton Window perfectly matches the set of people who are fair to their opponents, while excluding those who are not.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          With academia increasingly being dominated by leftists and with far worse ‘cheap swipes’ at conservatives being not at all uncommon in social sciences, I think it is rather unfair to chastise Lemoine for making “a cheap swipe at lefties

          What? We should not comment on a cheap swipe because other people make cheap swipes? Why on Earth should “but liberal academics!” be relevant to this discussion?

          • Purplehermann says:

            Maybe (though Aapje can speak for himself) in a climate where actual cheap swipes are normal, if he was actually trying to do a nasty he could’ve easily been more blatant?
            So when you could interpret it either way, you should really give him the benefit of the doubt?

          • Scott has rules about behavior on this blog, we aren’t supposed to take cheap shots. I support that because it keeps argument rational.

            But it’s never applied to our behavior outside the blog. And it shouldn’t. The well-argued, carefully footnoted essay about men’s rights will never be as potent as ‘feminists are fat lol.’ You need cheap shots to win.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            @Alexander Turok
            Sorry, are you saying that people who care about men’s rights should tweet “feminists are fat lol” rather than writing nuanced essays? That doesn’t seem very niceness, community and civilisation of you.

          • Sorry, are you saying that people who care about men’s rights should tweet “feminists are fat lol” rather than writing nuanced essays?

            They should do both, depending on the audience.

          • Aapje says:


            I put quotes around ‘cheap swipes’ to (again) indicate that I dispute the assertion that this was actually a cheap swipe.

            Lemoine’s tweet is a fact claim that can be interpreted negatively for leftists, although it can also be interpreted positively (or both).

            My assertion is that a decent number of scientists also make fact claims that can be interpreted negatively or positively for certain groups, but that I’ve seen plenty of papers where only the negative interpretation was noted (or where the methodology was biased against a group). This seems a lot more unfair to me than not providing an interpretation.

            Also, because (social sciences in) academia are mostly leftist (where research suggests a chilling effect on the remaining conservatives and centrists), a far greater concern is that leftist biases and interpretations that are unfair to non-leftists remain unchallenged than vice versa.

            Yet you seem to be outraged at what Lemoine did, but didn’t reply to me saying that you agree that leftist biases and interpretations in academia are a bigger issue, suggesting that you don’t consider that worse.

            Outrage at (alleged) wrongs or imperfections committed by ideological opponents, while ignoring far more substantial wrongs or imperfections committed by ideological allies is actually a major element of ideological oppression, leading to group-level bias/ideological bubbles.

          • Ninety-Three says:

            Yet you seem to be outraged at what Lemoine did, but didn’t reply to me saying that you agree that leftist biases and interpretations in academia are a bigger issue, suggesting that you don’t consider that worse.

            I specifically challenged that it was relevant. There are serial killers murdering people at random, which is even worse than liberal academics but this isn’t a discussion about that.

            You are playing the game of Ethnic Tension: You saw someone say something that made your side look bad, and now you’re insisting that the other side is worse even though this is clearly not a discussion about how bad the sides are.

          • Aapje says:


            Your argument is that Lemoine’s comment is bad in a certain way. Yet if your criticism of his comment is bad in a very similar way, then why doesn’t your criticism apply to your own comment?

            Or to put it differently, if you think that your comment is a valuable contribution to the discussion, then why isn’t Lemoine’s tweet valuable to a similar degree?

            You are playing the game of Ethnic Tension: You saw someone say something that made your side look bad, and now you’re insisting that the other side is worse even though this is clearly not a discussion about how bad the sides are.

            No, my argument is that you are being hypocritical because you criticize this alleged ‘cheap swipe’ in a way that should similarly be considered a ‘cheap swipe,’ if you were being consistent.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          The original tweet actually merely claims a correlation and doesn’t draw a negative conclusion about lefties. Interpreting it as pejorative is merely one possible interpretation

          One I went with after perusing the rest of his Twitter feed. I find his after-the-fact ass-covering about how actually, this could be explained by the various factors Scott identifies and stigmatizing mental illness is bad much less telling than the various tweets before this one with stock “SJWs are mentally ill” and “anti-racists are mentally ill” dunks. PJW perfectly elevated the subtext to text for the normies. He’s free to deny it to the sophisticates and pseudo-sophisticates. That’s how this ecosystem works.

          Effective charity doesn’t require I assume good faith from him any more than it requires I give my opiate-addicted cousin some money to pay his bills. Phil Lemons’ fish-hook act is not particularly unique on Twitter nor is it difficult to parse; if I want “both sides are bad but also Trump isn’t and also the Left is worse” there’s many fine GMU faculty members and Quillette writers already mining this particular turd deposit. Gilding your bad faith shitposts with a studied politesse and mixing in intermittent winks like quote-tweeting a “Bloomberg says racist shit” story with “I’m warming to Bloomberg!” is a very powerful schtick among (1) people who react to tone rather than content (2) righties who see the schtick but excuse it because (as previously established) the Left is worse.

          • Purplehermann says:

            I spent about 15 minutes looking through his twitter posts (don’t have an account so may have missed something).

            It looks like you are slandering him, and using that slander to justify an uncharitable interpretation of his intentions.

            Please demonstrate with links that this uncharitable interpretation is warranted.

            Your post is certainly not kind.
            It appears that you are untruthful.
            Was it necessary?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I spent about 15 minutes looking through his twitter posts (don’t have an account so may have missed something).

            I spent about 1 minute (possibly less) searching the keywords “mental” and “mentally,” sorting by date, and starting prior to the initial post.

          • No offense to Scott, but I didn’t need him or anyone else to think about the rather obvious points he raised, which indeed I had made on Twitter myself before he or — I think — anyone else did. And I don’t believe the result can be totally explained away like that, something I’ve also been very clear about, whether I’m right or not.

            As for the rest, you make it sound like my feed is full of tweets where I accuse SJWs/antiracists in general of being mentally ill, which is completely dishonest. I did a search in my tweets for “mental” and “mentally” and found the 3 tweets you seem to be referring to. Those are 3 tweets out of a total of almost 50,000.

            I’m guessing that the first tweet you are referring to is that one, which is buried in a conversation deep into a thread and where I do say that “I suspect a lot of SJWs are mentally ill”, but I immediately add that « this is just based on anecdotal evidence » and goes on to explain why I don’t think the rise of “SJWism” results from this, which is what this particular conversation was apparently about. (The account of the person I was replying to seems to be gone, but you can still guess what he or she was saying.)

            As for what you call “anti-racists are mentally ill” dunks, I’m guessing you’re alluding to this tweet and that one. In the first, I do say that “what passes as antiracism these days is literally a mental illness” in response to a NYT op-ed whose author ponds whether his children can be friends with white people, and say he’d better see a shrink rather than write op-eds in the NYT. In the second, I say that “contemporary anti-racism is literally a mental illness”, in reaction to an article that discusses the “racist origins of Babar the elephant” and worries about the effect this cartoon might have on kids. Now, I do think people who really worry about that kind of things are probably not well, and I think it’s very bad that antiracism increasingly consists in promoting this kind of nonsense. I don’t think it’s charitable to infer from those 2 tweets that I really believe everyone who identifies as “anti-racist” or a “SJW” is mentally ill.

            Were those tweets insensitive? Perhaps the last 2 were, but at the end of the day, it’s just 2 tweets out of almost 50,000 that even I didn’t remember. There may be a few others, I only did a very rudimentary search, but clearly it’s extremely misleading to suggest, as you did, that my feed is full of tweets where I make fun of mentally ill leftists. I’m pretty sure that, if you look at anyone who has written ~50,000 tweets, you’re going to find a few insensitive or even stupid ones. So I can’t help but think that jumping to conclusions and assuming bad faith in the way you did is pretty stupid.

            I could say very similar things about that tweet on Bloomberg. I actually think some forms of racial profiling are sometimes morally permissible and probably even obligatory, but I’ve always been pretty open about this, so it’s not as if I had to hide this. That being said, I have no opinion about the stop and frisk policies that were implemented in NYC under Bloomberg, since I have never seriously looked into this. So whether you believe it or not, the tweet you are talking about was just a joke, it didn’t have any hidden meaning. I like Twitter in part because you can make this kind of silly jokes and I’m not going to stop because some people make up crazy theories about their real, hidden meaning.

            Finally, I follow and I’m followed by many people who do not share my political/philosophical views, with whom I frequently have debates about the various issues we disagree about. I don’t think I’m being presumptuous or delusional when I say that very few of them think that, as you claim in your comments, I’m not posting/arguing in good faith. Perhaps if you had actually followed me on Twitter for a while and/or talked to people who have, instead of jumping to conclusions based on just a few cherry-picked tweets, you would actually agree with them. Perhaps not though, I don’t know.

          • Phil Lemons’ fish-hook act

            Is this referencing what I think it’s referencing?

          • ManyCookies says:

            Those are 3 tweets out of a total of almost 50,000.

            Total volume isn’t super relevant here. If Dan’s twitter composes of 5 unconsidered/bad-faith “X are mentally ill” dunks and 32000 cat videos, those 5 tweets are pretty relevant evidence on Dan’s views regardless of how many kitten laser pointer gifs he posts in the interim.

            And if we’re checking for general bad faith against X, we’d extend that search to any bad-faith X dunks rather than specifically “mentally ill” dunks.

            I’m kinda with Bosch on the “why weren’t some obvious contextualizations handled at the start” front; even if it’s a five minute project, a quick upfront mention of the obvious unrepresentativeness of SSC seems important (“this shit’s exploratory, don’t run away with it yet!”). Also you explain your position on the data’s relevance:

            Sure, this is essentially a version of the ad hominem fallacy, but that doesn’t mean that groups that attract large numbers of mentally ill people are not more likely to propose crazy policies. It’s just that, in that case, you don’t need to point out many of them are mentally ill to show the policies are crazy. They can be refuted on their intrinsic merits or lack thereof. If they can’t, it’s irrelevant that mentally ill people are overrepresented among people who support them. In other words, I absolutely believe that the fact that so many people on the far-left are mentally ill has a lot to do with the fact that the far-left supports crazy policies, but the fact that many people on the far-left are mentally ill is not why I consider the policies they support crazy. I consider them crazy because, when I examine them on the merits, I find them to be crazy. Then I look at who supports them and I think it’s not really surprising, but that’s different from saying I reject them because of who supports them.

            Which I didn’t find particularly compelling; you can’t bring up some Ad Hominem dunk and then say you shouldn’t use it in a serious argument, you’ve still earnestly presented an Ad Hominem dunk! If I tweet out “Hey look, data shows Rassemblement National are ugly and have bad breath” I’m obviously trying to dunk on RN even if I add a disclaimer it’s irrelevant to their platform’s strength.

            (And since we’re on SSC, isn’t that Bayesian Evidence™ for policies being crazy?)

            I won’t brush you with the sins of Infowars, they run with it further than you do, but they’re not exactly taking your position way out of context either.

          • Phil Lemons’ fish-hook act is not particularly unique on Twitter nor is it difficult to parse; if I want “both sides are bad but also Trump isn’t and also the Left is worse” there’s many fine GMU faculty members and Quillette writers already mining this particular turd deposit.

            Some people try to be charitable to opponents but feel, deep down, that they are turds, and sometimes let that viewpoint out. It’s not dishonesty or an “act.” Now if you’re going to interpret this comment as me thinking of you as a turd, well…

          • ManyCookies, the point about the non-random nature of the sample is not as good as you and many people seem to think and, in any case, most of my followers are sophisticated enough to understand that a survey of SSC readers is likely to be unrepresentative in many respects. Anyway, if you really think it’s rational to see my tweet, do a quick search of my feed and based on the 2 tweets I quoted above conclude that I’m the kind of person Anonymous Bosch described, even though you had probably never heard of me before that and certainly don’t know anything about me, I think it’s best if we just agree to disagree and both move on to more interesting things.

      • silver_swift says:

        Don’t worry, though. A few more viral boom cycles and you’ll be at the threshold where you don’t even have to bother with these post-hoc, pro-forma nuances.

        Less of this please

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          Less of this please

          • Lambert says:

            Less of ‘less of this please’ please on both sides.
            It makes sense from a busy blogger/moderator/fulltime psychiatrist, but from anyone else, it sounds like they CBA to give a proper justivicatiion as to why the preceeding comment was bad.

          • silver_swift says:

            it sounds like they CBA to give a proper justivicatiion as to why the preceeding comment was bad.


            I mean, I guess that’s kind of accurate, though? I didn’t want to get into a long and most likely fruitless discussion about conversation etiquette, but I do think the way Anonymous Bosch phrased that is harmfull enough to civil discussion that that I still wanted to show some kind of disapproval. On a platform with an upvote/downvote system I would have just downvoted it and moved on, but over here I either had to do nothing or make some kind of comment of my own.

            I figured this exact situation was what the ‘less of this’ norm was for.

            (also, thisheavenlyconjugation definitely didn’t do anything wrong. If I can’t be arsed to properly formulate my objection to what another poster is saying I certainly can’t expect others to be arsed to formulate proper responses to me.)

      • Mitch Lindgren says:

        I don’t know who Philippe Lemoine is, and I haven’t read anything by him except for the comments he posted here, so I’ll remain agnostic on whether or not he is personally guilty of this. But what you’re alleging fits a pattern I feel like I’m seeing a lot lately:

        1. Person A makes a claim which has has negative implications against a particular group of people (e.g. leftists) and could reasonably be seen as disparaging, but couches it in neutral language and subtext so as to have plausible deniability.

        2. Person B calls out person A because for making a disparaging claim.

        3. Person A (or their defenders) accuses person B of being uncharitable/acting in bad faith because there was no explicit disparagement, so person B must be reading something in that’s not there.

        Part of this is probably just because written communication does a poor job of conveying tone, and different people have different levels of sensitivity around various issues. But I can’t help but feel that this is sometimes done deliberately as a rhetorical tactic, allowing one to make bad faith arguments and then claim that actually it’s their interlocutors who are acting in bad faith. I feel like this is a vulnerability of communities built around “charitable” discussion, and some people are all too happy to exploit it.

        • Aapje says:

          Pretty much everyone does 1, though. People also seem to almost exclusively be outraged when the negative implication is about themselves or an ingroup.

          Selectively calling people out is itself an implicit negative implication. If I call out Jews who rob old ladies, but not gentiles who rob old ladies, then I am implying that only Jews rob old ladies.

          Similarly, if I call out claims with negative implications of leftists, but not or less often claims with negative implications of non-leftists, then that is an implicit disparaging claim of non-leftists.

          I prefer to just have more good faith assumptions, rather than call outs of bad faith that themselves can be considered to be in bad faith with equal justification.

        • TGP says:

          But, surely, this leads no option for anyone actually communicating in good faith.

          Lets imagine you have discovered something that may have negative implications for a particular group and want to discuss it.

          What *Else* can you possibly do other than couch the claim in as neutral a language as possible, and then make it ?

          You’ve literally done all you can.

          Then, lets imagine someone accuses you of the bad faith you outline in step 2…. and someone surely will…. afterall, a group had something negative proposed about them!

          What is the original person to say ?

          How can the discussion proceed from there other than by denying you were making a claim in bad faith ?

          It seems to me that whatever the original person does or says, all it takes is an accusation of bad faith for them to be dismissed.

          Given almost all items of true information can be seen as having some negative effect or other on some group … it seems as though you are saying that all such discussion of information can be shut down by the method you’ve outlined.

          Surely, at some point for an accusation of “Bad Faith Argumentation” to be accepted… you must point to evidence of Bad Faith Argumentation.

          You can’t just seize on any neutrally worded argument and accuse that of being bad faith to defend your group. Seemingly, because it had been crafted to be neutral which, seemingly, by itself is being used as “grounds for suspicion”.

          I agree with you we are seeing this a lot.

          But I disagree in that the way out of this closed loop is to require evidence of bad faith, or otherwise dismiss the “accusers” point until he provides that evidence.

          What other way out could there possibly be ?

          • Mitch Lindgren says:

            I don’t think I really disagree that the best way out of the loop is to provide evidence of bad faith argumentation. But the standard for “evidence” can be extremely high, and also varies from person to person depending on their disposition towards the argument in question.

            To answer your final question though, these days my preferred method of handling arguments that I think are made in bad faith is just to not engage with them. I’m not saying everyone should do that, but for me it just seems like a better use of my time and better for my mental health.

          • kronopath says:

            What *Else* can you possibly do other than couch the claim in as neutral a language as possible, and then make it ?

            You’ve literally done all you can.

            That is far from true. You can, for example, directly address the implication: “Does this mean that all liberals are literal nutcases, and liberal policies are literally crazy? Not really: the definition of mental illness on this survey is a lot broader than psychosis; people with any illnesses probably care more about universal healthcare; the survey had a lot of respondents from the extreme left but relatively few from the extreme right, so it’s possible that this is just measuring extremism rather than leftism; etc. etc.”

            It’s very hard to fit that kind of deeper digression into a set of tweets, though, which is an example of why Twitter is a bad communication medium.

            But by trying to present the facts as neutral and acting as if that implication didn’t exist, it makes it sound like you’re tacitly agreeing with The implication regardless of whether or not that was your intent.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      It’s perfectly reasonable for people with mental health issues that are detrimental to their earning power in the marketplace to favor a larger social safety net.

      Are there any mental health problems that boost wealth and thus incline somebody to disfavor redistribution?

      Perhaps. For example, in Jay McInerney’s novel “Brightness Falls,” a billionaire investor is a manic-depressive whose up and down cycles have so far happened fortuitously to have moved in sync with the stock market’s bull and bear cycles.

      But, in general, it’s likely that suffering mental health issues makes one more favorable toward redistribution.

      • Saint Fiasco says:

        Are high functioning psychopaths and autists more likely to be right wing? There are profitable jobs that benefit from those conditions.

        • Bugmaster says:

          I don’t know about “right wing”, but AFAIK high functioning psychopaths are over-represented among successful businessmen (and possibly politicians). They are also exactly the kind of people who would be smart enough to check the “no mental illness here, no sir” checkbox on any poll.

          • Hysterical Paroxysm says:

            According to Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths — who make up about 4% of the population — are more likely to succeed in not only business as a field, but also police work (along with, presumably, other positions of power which also include a substantial amount of risk-taking.)

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Larry Ray was to Bernie Kerik (briefly George W. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security in 2004) as Bernie was to Rudy Giuliani.

            Larry is a classic sociopath, creating a cult for himself among his daughter’s roommates at Sarah Lawrence College:


        • Steve Sailer says:

          As I’ve been pointing out in other threads, there is some evidence that autogynephilic fetishists tend to be more right wing on average.

    • Timothy M. says:

      When I want to do more careful data analysis, I do so on my blog, as I don’t think Twitter is a well-suited medium for that.

      Why don’t you think Twitter is a good platform for careful data analysis?

      I totally agree, of course, but every reason I can think of is also a great reason not to do less-careful data analysis and distribute it there.

      • Mostly because of space limitations. My blog posts usually are more than 3,000 words long and often much more than that. I think it’s often necessary to discuss all the complications and you can’t really do that on Twitter. But I think it’s perfectly fine to do a quick and dirty analysis and drop it on Twitter to give people something to think about. It might prompt someone to dig into the issue more seriously or, in some cases, the replies might be interesting and persuade me to do it myself and write a blog post about it. It’s actually one of the things I like about Twitter, that you don’t have to be extra careful about every word you use, because — I thought — people understand that you can’t be expected to do super-careful analysis on this medium. I find that intellectually stimulating and I think it’s a pity that recently people have become more and more guarded about what they say on Twitter because they’re afraid of being piled on.

        • Timothy M. says:

          I think it should perhaps give you pause that people are spreading your ideas to advance their agendas, though. (I suppose this mostly only applies to politicized topics. Assuming we have any non-politicized topics left.)

          • This can and does happen even with a 10,000 words long essay, and in my experience it happens just as easily, so I don’t think it would be reasonable of me to stop using Twitter in that way, even just on certain topics, in the unlikely event that one of my tweets will be picked up by people like the folks at Infowars. It’s just a fact of life that, whenever you write something, no matter the medium, there is a chance that people who pursue an agenda you disagree with are going to use it to promote the agenda in question, but I don’t think it should stop you from sharing your thoughts or that, at least on some topics, you should never do so unless you provide a super careful analysis that looks at every nuance of the problem. Beside, I have read the Infowars article and I honestly don’t think it’s that bad (I actually thought it would be much worse before I read it), so I don’t think it’s such a big deal.

            P. S. Another, related fact that seems relevant here is that, no matter how careful you are, people will find a reason to be offended. For instance, I once wrote a very long essay about feminism, which believe it or not I made a deliberate effort to write in a way that would not be offensive, because I was genuinely hoping I could change some people’s minds. But in spite of that, when I eventually published it, a lot of people completely lost their shit and accused me of making all sorts of claims which I didn’t make. (In some cases, I even rejected those claims explicitly in the essay, so clearly people either had not read it, assumed I didn’t mean it or were just lying.) So even if nobody with a nefarious agenda uses what I write for their own ends, I think the added value of being super careful is not as great as you seem to think.

  5. wearsshoes says:

    Perhaps this response is burying the lede, I’d like “SSC Survey bad sample to generalize from” to be front and center, not like the majority of infowars readers will even care, since that site is confirmation bias incarnate.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      The SSC Survey is an extremely valuable resource.

      What’s the average IQ of a respondent? 130? 140?

      Where else are you going to get thousands of people with stratospheric IQs answering very personal questions?

      Obviously, people with stratospheric IQs aren’t representative, but, in the long run, they tend to be highly influential.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Agreed, that was my first thought.

      Also toasting in an epic bread.

  6. The Nybbler says:

    Did you mean to link to the HPV vaccine page specifically? I didn’t see one on general vaccine safety (except a link page) but maybe the MMR one would be most useful, as measles seems to be the most dangerous of the diseases spread by vaccine refusers.

    Or maybe Infowars has a special hate on for HPV, I don’t read the site.

    • LadyJane says:

      I have no idea what the InfoWars crowd is saying, but in general, anti-establishment social conservatives tend to be particularly angry about the HPV vaccine, since HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. So in addition to all the usual anti-vax nonsense, there’s a ton of outrage about the medical establishment supposedly promoting sexual promiscuity or putting innocent children at risk to protect the health of fornicators.

      Although I’m not sure if Scott knew that, or if he just posted that link because the HPV controversy happens to be the most recent anti-vax scare.

      • DarkTigger says:

        Seriously are they? Because anti-HPV-vaccination in Germany is mainly feminists talking about old white men taking controll of the female body. The conservatives where mostly in the “well, if it helps against cancer”-crowd.

  7. Today I found out what infowars is thanks to this post.

    Now I need to know, is there a way for me to disinfect my search history? I don’t want google to think I read infowars.

    • Well... says:

      Shoulda used Duckduckgo.

    • noyann says:

      Startpage offers Google results but maintains privacy.

    • North49 says:

      Google has a dashboard where you can delete many of the kinds of info they track about you. At the risk of sounding infowarsy, I’m not entirely sure if when you delete something there, Google actually forgets about it, or just tags that data point as no longer visible to the user.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        Well, if they want to comply with the EU GDPR, they have to actually delete it, at least if you are in the EU.

        • shakeddown says:

          Iirc they just follow it everywhere. Much easier and safer to do that than have different policies for EU users.

        • North49 says:

          Oh, right, I assumed they would also tag it not visible to regulators.

          • Roxolan says:

            The GDPR maximum fine is 4% of annual global turnover (note: not profit). “We told users and regulators the data was deleted but actually we saved it”, from a large tech-savvy company, is the sort of thing that would court it. Whistle-blowers exist.

            User data of a handful of privacy-conscious individuals is not *that* valuable.

        • peak.singularity says:

          There’s one potential* loophole : “deleting” data on computer systems is, in first approximation, like leaving a contact book to rot on your garden’s compost heap (especially if they are storing it on wear-leveling SSDs).

          They might consider that doing this is them giving due diligence to the matter… but at the same time if they ever find it critical to get that data back (or, God forbid, someone else gets a low enough access), they might potentially be able to do it !

          * Big emphasis on “potential”.

      • Garrett says:

        As someone who used to work there and has been moved from mistake theory to conflict theory by the experience:
        There’s two separate issues: that *you* searched for the term, and that *someone* searched for the term.

        Notwithstanding a bug (or some legal requirement I suppose), I have good confidence than once you tell it to delete to delete something it really will be deleted. It might take a while for it to be purged from every storage mechanism if you include backups on tape or whatever.

        That someone searched for that term will be aggregated into long-term search result trends, but the specific logs which might be able to trace back to your IP address or whatever will age out pretty quickly. Once again, notwithstanding things like legal requirements or a backup tape getting wedged somewhere. Log data like that just isn’t worthwhile storing past the time required to debug any immediate issues.

        • grendelkhan says:

          To get a little further into the weeds, there are a few reasons why this might be more complicated than it looks.

          Sometimes data is written in a layered system, so you “delete” data by adding a deletion marker that shows up before the data itself, but it still exists in storage until the data is rewritten. (More about how Cloud Bigtable does this.) Additionally, it’s generally implausible to go to backups and delete small amounts of data in the middle of them, and it’s harder the colder the storage is. You could use key-shredding, where the data at rest is encrypted and you just discard the decryption key, but I don’t know if that’s lawyer-compliant.

          And that’s just data that’s clearly attached to an individual account; retaining aggregated logs is its own set of complications, and if you share some data to a third-party, I have no idea what happens then. (Which is, I guess, part of why sharing personally-identifiable information in that way is considered so dangerous.)

          • viVI_IViv says:

            I’ve heard from somebody working at another big company that complying with GDPR and in particular honoring deletion requests is indeed a technical pain, yet they have to comply. Dura lex sed lex.

            Paradoxically, complying with GDPR means that the privacy of the users is more at risk in case of hacking or leaks, because each piece of data needs to track which user it belongs to.

          • @viVI_IViv / anyone else reading this:

            Paradoxically, complying with GDPR means that the privacy of the users is more at risk in case of hacking or leaks, because each piece of data needs to track which user it belongs to.

            Sorry to poke into this in such a cherry-picked manner, but I’ve promised myself to try and raise the GDPR sanity line whenever I can.

            This statement is one of the misconceptions people who implement GDPR unfortunately often have (along with the regrettably common “if we don’t geoblock the EU we need to implement the GDPR”).

            The GDPR explicitly denies that you have to add data just to ‘comply’ with it. See e.g. Recital 57:

            If the personal data processed by a controller do not permit the controller to identify a natural person, the data controller should not be obliged to acquire additional information in order to identify the data subject for the sole purpose of complying with any provision of this Regulation.

            So, to anyone reading this: Please don’t add more tracking just for GDPR, the GDPR does not want you to do this.

            (To clarify: I am not a lawyer, but I was the data protection manager at a company the year GDPR went into effect, so it was my main topic.)

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Thanks for the clarification.

      • alexschernyshev says:

        Google is full of privacy and take-control-of-your-data activists (arguably it was full of them way before the trend reached the wider society), hence stuff like Google Takeout being built way before GDPR (as part of the Google Data Liberation Front initiative). You can be reasonably sure that whatever privacy initiative you can think of, it’s already been though of at Google, probably executed, and likely to the point of overkill.

  8. chridd says:

    The obvious explanation to me is that people (or at least mentally ill people) think that liberal policies will be better than conservative policies at meeting the needs of mentally ill people and/or that liberal policies are less likely than conservative policies to hurt mentally ill people.

    (This could be because it’s true—I think it’s true, and it’s relevant to why I personally am liberal—though people thinking it’s true is sufficient to explain the correlation.)

    • Act_II says:

      Certainly possible, but I think I’m more convinced by Scott’s theory about diagnosis rates. Both could be driven by underlying views about mental illness — conservatives might be more likely to view it as invalid or a moral failing, and therefore less likely to either identify it in themselves or support public policy that treats it like a health issue.

      • Aapje says:

        Conservatives may be more likely to see mental healthcare providers as abusive and/or reject the entire diagnosing system.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          More generally, psychiatry is generally coded as leftist and atheistic, conservatives might be more likely to seek help from family or religious ministers.

          • Act_II says:

            This is an interesting point that I think I agree with. I literally just left a comment to the opposite effect below, but I can now see how a traditional religious person with depression or anxiety might refer to their problems as “fighting their demons” instead of with clinical terms. This is still a relatively empathetic way to look at mental illness (i.e. it removes at least some moral judgment) but is consistent with rejecting psychiatry.

            At the risk of going off-topic, I wonder if that coding primarily comes from anger at psychiatry being perceived as secularizing that point of view. Like, who needs to go to confessional when you can go to a different old guy who’ll try to solve your problems without God. It would go some way to explaining the smears against psychiatry from the far right when it was first developed (“Jewish science” etc).

          • muskwalker says:

            At the risk of going off-topic, I wonder if that coding primarily comes from anger at psychiatry being perceived as secularizing that point of view. Like, who needs to go to confessional when you can go to a different old guy who’ll try to solve your problems without God.

            Traditionally in the US the right wing is dominated by Protestantism, which generally doesn’t do confessionals (and often has a negative view of Catholicism).

          • Act_II says:

            It was just an example. Feel free to substitute the therapy-like religious institution of your choice. (Also, the whole “Jewish science” slur I was talking about was more of a Nazi Germany thing anyway.)

        • Act_II says:

          Definitely plausible for the official diagnosis rates. Less so for self-diagnosis; I don’t see how “rejects the entire diagnosing system” meaningfully differs from “doesn’t accept mental illness as real” if it results in not even identifying mental illness in yourself.

    • Aapje says:


      Yes, for example, mentally ill people are probably relatively poor compared to people with similar intelligence and other talents, which would logically make them prefer redistribution more than people who are better at monetizing their intelligence and talents in a free trade system.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “The obvious explanation to me is that people (or at least mentally ill people) think that liberal policies will be better than conservative policies at meeting the needs of mentally ill people and/or that liberal policies are less likely than conservative policies to hurt mentally ill people.”

      That seems highly rational. For example, I entered my 30s feeling pretty bulletproof and being something of a libertarian fellow traveler. I entered my 40s, after numerous unfortunate events, such as a battle with cancer, feeling much more appreciative of the social safety net.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      All of these confounders make sense, but I won’t dismiss outright failure of correct thinking being causal to Marxism.

      How many Marxist states have to crush and burn before a reasonable person comes to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the ideology?

      • antepod says:

        What do you mean? There’s never been a Real marxist state!

        It’s not the ideology that’s the problem, it’s the implementors.

        • viVI_IViv says:


        • DarkTigger says:

          In case you are not ironic.
          You know? I agree. There never has been an real marxist society^[TM]. But this isn’t for the lack of people trying.

          This should affect our priors about the the concept.

          • sandymount says:

            Nor by the same token has a capitalist state ever been tried. State spending 30-50% seems norm in developed world. Long way from zero.

        • Hoopdawg says:

          Eh, you guys immediately agree that state-capitalist states are state-capitalist once they become globally dominant economic superpowers.

      • grendelkhan says:

        How many Marxist states have to crush and burn before a reasonable person comes to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the ideology?

        I suppose the Marxist rejoinder to this would be “How many degrees does the global temperature need to rise/kids need to die of insulin shock/Amazon warehouse workers need to die of exhaustion/landscapes must be poisoned by greed before a reasonable person comes to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the ideology?”.

        But more interestingly, Marxism really is an attempt at solving some specific problems. I wonder who the people are who still care about those problems and believe a Better World Is Possible, but are doing the best job of noticing the skulls. Maybe the self-described neoliberals?

        • Aapje says:

          The problem with your argument is that Marxist-Leninist states did and do seem to do considerable worse on most of the benchmarks than social-democratic states. The best measurement is probably the desire to migrate, where people seem far more prone to desire leaving communist states for social-democratic ones than vice versa.

          • grendelkhan says:

            It’s not my argument; I don’t particularly buy it. But I think it would have been a lot more convincing mid-century, when black people moved to Russia and North Korea was doing better than South Korea, when Stalin’s and Mao’s crimes weren’t broadly known.

            I really would be interested in whatever the Noticing the Skulls version of Marxism turned out to be. Because it pointed to some real problems, many of which still exist in some form!

          • Aapje says:

            Black Americans wanting to migrate far more often than white Americans, actually suggests that the issue was not the general capitalist system, but something specific to blacks (like racism).

            However, your link actually argues that the total number is just a few hundred black Americans, where some of these merely went for training. The number of permanent migrants is surely fairly insignificant compared to the Russian diaspora in the US.

            As for your second link, this is actually largely true for the USSR vs the West as well. Most of the West had a major growth spurt that the communist nations didn’t really get.

            I really would be interested in whatever the Noticing the Skulls version of Marxism turned out to be. Because it pointed to some real problems, many of which still exist in some form!

            Every system has problems, not in the least because it has to deal with humans. Criticisms in themselves are rather hollow, if they are not backed up with a plausible alternative.

        • peak.singularity says:

          Well, yes, and this is why many (leftist) ecologists hate Marxist(-Leninists) with a passion !

  9. blacktrance says:

    This is a good time for a reminder that one of the criteria for disease is “something rare; the vast majority of people don’t have it”. So if a majority of people is plagued by some mental disorder, it’s still unlikely to be classified as such.
    And there’s kind of an asymmetry in the way that neurodivergent populations are treated: they lose points where they’re more impaired than the general population, but don’t gain points where they’re less impaired.

    • Matthias says:

      Does the rarity criterion make sense?

      Caries, cold sores and the like are probably more common to infect people than not, but we still would call them diseases?

      Similar perhaps if ever obesity is not rate in the US, even if it hasn’t quite hit 50%, yet.

      • chridd says:

        The majority of people don’t have a cold at any given time, even if most people have a cold at some point in their lives. Diseases that most people have, they generally have for a small portion of their lives; diseases that people have throughout their lives, most people don’t have. If we considered liberalism or conservativism to be a disease, then roughly half of the population would have it their whole life (or a large portion of their life), which would make it weird to call it a disease.

    • Aapje says:


      What do you mean by “gain points?” Do you mean that a person who is 5/10 at language and a 5/10 at math is seen as a mediocre human, but a person who is 2/10 at language and 10/10 at math is seen as a mentally deficient person?

      If so, I’m not sure I agree. I think that people like Bill Gates and Elon Musk get a lot more acceptance for their idiosyncrasies compared to people who behave the same, but lack their talents.

      • blacktrance says:

        If you can leverage your talents to do obviously better than the average person, maybe, but otherwise you’re seen as deficient. It’s also not clear that famous idiosyncratic people are really that idiosyncratic, as opposed to that being a persona or hobby for them. While a socially impaired person might be able to do reasonably well with their other talents, they’re unlikely to rise to such a high and prominent position.

        But my point was something more like – normies don’t get docked points for normie problems.

    • rahien.din says:

      Rarity is not a criterion for disease. It is not even necessary that disease be “unnatural” or unexpected.

      For example : osteoporosis is so prevalent among the elderly that it was originally considered to be a normal part of aging. It was only in 1994 that the WHO reformulated it as a disease.

      The reason why osteoporosis is a disease and white hair is not? Osteoporosis adversely affects normal functioning.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Hypertension affects about 30% of adults, in some countries depression affects about 20% of adults, and they are still considered diseases.

  10. ManyCookies says:

    And since there’s a depression-intelligence correlation, the obvious takeaway is that Lefties are smarter. Checkmate, Infowars.

    • Alkatyn says:

      We don’t even have to go that far. Left wing beliefs in the general population correlate with education level, which makes people more likely to be aware of, and seek diagnosis of, mental health issues.

      • Garrett says:

        IIRC, this isn’t as straight-forward as implied. The last time I recall seeing a graph it had the likelihood of voting Republican or being conservative (I don’t recall which) increasing as the person’s level of education increased. Right up until they got a Ph.D at which point it cratered. I can think of lots of reasons why that might be, but it’s more complex than initially suspected.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Is this still true? My understanding was that it was a simple population effect because older people vote more and older educated people were more likely to be middle class whites.

          Currently lower class whites vote more conservative than upper class whites and more minorities are getting college degrees, so I would expect this to no longer be the case going forward.

  11. Liriodendron says:

    Another way the results could be explained via selection bias is that there might be two dominant clusters of SSC readers: conservatives(ish) who come here for the gray-tribe culture and politics, and mentally ill people evenly spread across the political spectrum who come here for the psychiatry.

  12. Pete says:

    On the exceptional depression of SSC Marxists: If Marxists are reading this blog they’re more likely than the average Russian bear to be having or have had their paradigm collapse and be isolated from other Marxists, while also being unable for whatever reason to move on. An SSC Marxist is a depressed Marxist.

  13. flocculant says:

    I wonder if there is a difference in the way that left vs. right do anger, and in turn this has a part to play in the incidence of mental illness.

  14. cubesad says:

    I’m sorry, did you just link to a race-realism blog? Even a cursory glance at that Inductivist page should have shown that it is hardly a reliable source.

    Also, I’m disappointed that you haven’t called out the stigmatisation of mental illness that all of this has prompted. To address a post to Infowars readers and then to tacitly confirm their bigotry is extremely irresponsible.

    • Vitor says:

      Less of this, please.

      Scott is not personally endorsing all content 3 hops away from every little thing he links to. This entire post is an implicit “go away, please”, and the link is clearly only meant to point out that this survey result is not something unique to the SSC population.

      Also, whenever someone is “disappointed that you haven’t X”, 90% of the time the X that follows is an unreasonable expectation of ideological purity. Sigh.

      I do concede that the linked blog isn’t exactly high quality, but readers around here are smart enough to figure that out themselves.

      • cubesad says:

        It’s not “3 hops away” though. Scott directly (and uncritically) linked to a site which explicitly talks about certain races being intellectually inferior to others. Nothing more than a viewing of the page Scott linked to would have confirmed that for him.

        I totally understand objections to guilt-by-association arguments, but I would have thought that not citing racists was a pretty low bar to clear. Especially when that source doesn’t even provide the data that Scott implies it does.

        • Vitor says:

          Cubesad, I agree with what you’re saying, but the tone you used was very unkind: faux shock followed by a strong accusation of insufficient moral purity. We don’t do purity spirals around here.

          Scott, I understand where you’re coming from with this post, your intention is clearly to defend this blog and community from hostile mainstream attention (a thankless, unending task). However, this is exactly the kind of post that people less familiar with your writing are prone to misinterpret. Consider saying what you mean and where you stand more explicitly.

          • Purplehermann says:

            The tone policing is warranted here, as your tone is not just tone. Your tone is the main thrust of what you posted, the outrage and dissapointment.

            If you posted a full explanation of exactly why you think Scott linking that blog isn’t right in this specific case despite the reasons he might have for doing so and tone along with it that would be different.

            Here you used your tone to try policing (cajoling? Browbeating?) Scott, and (appropriate description)ing people with tone is generally a horrible thing for open, high minded discussion that should be policed.

            Please don’t do this.

            If you have an issue, explain what your issue is and why you feel the way you do, so people understand you and can engage with you.

          • cubesad says:


            I still find it slightly disingenuous for people to be asking what my actual issue here is, but here you go:
            – linking to a race-realism blog is bad, absent good reason to do so
            – if Scott needs to link to a race-realism blog, a disclaimer should be provided along with an explanation of why it is being used as a source
            – the blog in question is, even disregarding the racism, a terrible source. Most of the most recent posts talk about IQ in the General Social Survey data, when the GSS doesn’t even measure IQ. This is clearly not someone who should be cited for an interpretation of GSS data
            – linking to the blog wasn’t even necessary to make Scott’s point (being that GSS data exists and is probably more representative than the SSC data)

            Given all of that, I think it was irresponsible for Scott to provide the link. Disagree with me if you want, but I don’t see what my tone has to do with anything.

          • Purplehermann says:

            @cubesad I don’t really have an opinion on the blog in question and don’t know much about it.

            The manner that you use in discussion or other interactions matters.

            This should be obvious, but I’ll explain.

            When people start trolling in any forum (not that you were trolling…) the quality of that forum goes down.

            When people start making up facts in any forum (not that you were making things up…) the quality of that forum goes down.

            When people start demanding (as opposed to proposing, suggesting, or explaining why they feel that is the right thing to do) that others change their behaviour in any forum the quality of that forum generally goes down.

            When people start trying to shame and browbeat others, in any forum, the quality of that forum generally goes down.

            There are many norms and conventions which are useful for keeping a healthy online culture, so all the wonderful discussions that happen here can keep happening.
            Your tone was pretty bad and there was nothing in your comment besides browbeating/shaming/ demands and tone.

            Comments like yours are bad for this community. If you feel the need to air a grievance, do it nicely and explain exactly what your issue is, and why it’s an issue.

          • albatross11 says:

            The GSS includes a vocabulary test which has some (not very strong, IIRC) correlation with IQ, which I assume is the source of the data.

            Is there some indication that Inductivist is dishonest or careless with facts? That would be a reason not to link his blog. But refusing to link to an article that’s relevant to a current discussion because you dislike his other political ideas doesn’t make much sense to me. Should non-leftists be unwilling to link to Jacobin, or non-libertarians be unwilling to link to Reason?

        • Aapje says:


          Whether there are (significant) IQ differences between races is an open scientific question. Arguing the pro-side is not inherently racist, nor does it automatically make one unreliable. You equating supposed racism with unreliability is IMO a red flag suggesting that you are unable to distinguish ‘correctness’ from your level of moral approval.

          In fact, I would argue that those who are unwilling to consider the issue because they hate or fear the consequences if it is true, are the ones who are quite unreliable on that issue.

          Anyway, can you point to an actual mistake in the blog post?

          • DarkTigger says:

            I think they are quite clear that it is not acceptable to them, to link to a site, that does argue this, at all.
            Which makes me think they are not well versed how the discurse around here works. Probably was brought here directly or indirectly via the infowar article.

          • peak.singularity says:

            Yeah, I really liked that SSC post exploring the superior IQ and history of Ashkenazi Jews…

            (I don’t have any Jewish ancestry, AFAIK.)

          • albatross11 says:

            Whether there are (significant) IQ differences between races is an open scientific question

            No, it’s not actually an open research question. IQ tests are pretty cheap and easy to give, and IQ statistics between blacks and whites in the US and other countries have been collected many times, carefully, over many decades. There is absolutely no question that measured IQ differs on average between blacks and whites in the US. I think there are similar but less-well-nailed-down results showing a smaller IQ difference between whites and East Asians.

            The open scientific question is about *why* average IQ scores differ by race.

          • Aapje says:

            Let me rephrase then: it is an open question to what extent those differences are correlated to race and to what extent they are intrinsic.

          • The open scientific question is about *why* average IQ scores differ by race.

            And the more I look into it, the more mystified I get. To give a rough account of my journey without linking to a load of studies, I’ve been exposed to this information:

            -A certain selection of IQ tests (things like raven’s matrices) correlate well together and with academic achievement and income. This points towards a general factor of intelligence (g), although intelligence can be split into verbal and processing IQ. These often correlate, but sometimes not, and there may be ethnic differences in that ratio as well as in g.

            -Twin studies provide heredity estimates for g.

            -If IQ tests are culturally biased, they are culturally biased in a way where the culture in question is as broad as: “modern industrial/post-industrial economies”.

            -IQ stats and proxies in the USA consistently show east-asians higher than whites which are higher than hispanics which are higher than blacks.

            -A number of other things follow the same pattern. Average brain size also shows the same relationship. Morton’s skull volume measurements were said to be faulty but then later shown to have been correct. In any case, others have done measures of actual brain size.

            -The Flynn effect raised IQs, but narrowed gaps only very slightly, and was strongest in weakly g loaded tests.

            -There’s evidence the Flynn effect is now reversing.

            -In the UK, blacks outperform whites in GCSEs. GCSEs are said to not be very g loaded by hereditarians as they are self-selected and contain soft subjects as well as hard ones, however critics like Chanda Chisala point out that the hard subjects show the same performance levels for blacks, looking at maths in particular.

            -I seem to recall levels of higher education show blacks falling behind in the UK, and I’m not sure what this means.

            -I think Dutch results are similar, but it seems really hard to find concrete information on the issue outside of the USA, even though comparing to other Western countries should be really important.

            -Interestingly, the black crime rate is on par with the USA (information requested by the Sun under the freedom of information act showed London to literally be the 13% meme).

            -Races are broad categories and not homogeneous, so there could be sub-saharan African populations that would have high average IQs, such as the Igbo. This also seems true for Indians, as India has a low national IQ average, but India is extremely diverse, and there are sub-populations with high measured IQs that exceed the white British average.

            -Races are not completely smooth clines through all possible variation either. If you sort them with an algorithm, they clump up. The formation of races is surely due to geographical barriers limiting breeding relative to that with people within the barrier. It seems that you can simply show that there are clumps within the clumps. The resolution used is a decision.

            -It’s believed that Rushton’s data was faulty and that national IQ averages for SSA are not as low as the 60s. Revised figures (estimates?) from others showed mid 70s to low 80s figures if I recall correctly.

            -A debate was brought up by Chanda Chisala as to whether Nigerian competitive scrabble performance showed that IQ stats for the country were bunk. Various back and forths went on as to whether blacks in the UK were super-selected, and how the math would work. A study was brought up that attempted to quantify the g-loadedness of scrabble compared to other games, and found it to be rather weak for g. I still don’t know what to make of this overall debate and what it means.

            -Countless numbers of SNPs have been suggested to have additive effects on intelligence, and when the associated SNPs are arranged on a graph, they follow the same trend of east-asians > whites > blacks.

            -However, academic Kevin Bird created a paper arguing that these SNPs are biased because they were found in European populations, and using some math wizardry he finds that less than 15% of variation in IQ scores can be explained by the genetic variation, in contrast to those who claim it’s over 70% and so on. Critics shot back that his maths were faulty, but I’ve not seen a full proper back and forth yet, and lacking the maths skill set, I can’t evaluate the statistics myself. I’m only left confused. Critics who agreed with his bias claim, also pointed out that only a small amount of SNPs have been currently associated with intelligence, so there are bound to be a far far greater number we haven’t found.

            -Kevin Bird seemed incredibly biased, and his overall motive seems to be for the debate to end. He views the debate itself as illegitimate although he put out a debunking, so I’m not sure about his motives.

            -That being said, the same can be said for the other side, many of whom have white nationalist motivations. How much should we trust someone as an expert if that’s the case? I understand that for experts in a field, they can directly test things, but laymen need to be assured that the people involved aren’t political ideologues. Should a layman who can’t do the statistical evaluation trust data from, say, Edward Dutton, if he hangs around with Richard Spencer?

            Big shrug.

            The basic premise of innate differences between races is valid, but as to the specific question of intelligence, I have no idea. Obviously, evolution doesn’t stop at the neck, but exactly what evolution did and what the differences are isn’t clear. Maybe Africans are innately less intelligent than other races? Maybe they are equal if the environment is just-so? Maybe sub-groups of Africans can exceed 100?

            Am I missing anything? Who’s lying? What’s going on? Why is European data so sparse compared to America? Is African data out of date or biased? Are European education systems cooking the books?


          • albatross11 says:

            One thing that’s important to remember: US blacks mostly come from a small subset of sub-Saharan Africa. It’s quite possible that whatever conclusions we draw from them will not hold for other sub-Saharan African populations.

          • Aapje says:

            @Forward Synthesis

            If IQ tests are culturally biased, they are culturally biased in a way where the culture in question is as broad as: “modern industrial/post-industrial economies”.

            And if they are very biased, universities and companies must be equally biased, even in situations where such strong discrimination seems unlikely. For example, the top tech companies have an overrepresentation of Indians and a underrepresentation of whites (and even more so when merely looking at gentile whites). So if they are white supremacist, they are the weird kind that favors Indians and Jews over gentile whites.

            In the UK, blacks outperform whites in GCSEs.

            Black Africans seem to perform roughly on par, but black Carribeans perform much worse.

            This suggests either a strong selection effect one way or the other (or both), and/or these people actually being different ethnic groups.

            I think Dutch results are similar

            Of Dutch ethnic groups, Roma have an average IQ of 74. Surinamese, Antilleans, Maroccans and Turks have 85. Chinese have 105 and Jews have 112.

            Maroccans and Turks did see a substantial increase between the first and second generation, going from 81 to 88. Note that Maroccans and Turks were selected for not being too smart, if anything. The average IQ as measured in Turkey is 90, which is higher than Dutch Turks, which suggests a selection for lower than average IQ. So the gap between the first and second generation is likely at least in part regression to the mean.

            Actual (direct descendants of) Africans are pretty rare in my country, with most blacks coming from the Dutch (ex-)colonies in the Caribbean (being descended from slaves).

            A debate was brought up by Chanda Chisala as to whether Nigerian competitive scrabble performance showed that IQ stats for the country were bunk. Various back and forths went on as to whether blacks in the UK were super-selected

            Nigerians can also be superselected into scrabble. Pretty much any ethnic group can be greatly overrepresented in a niche pursuit by focusing their talent on it, at the expense of other pursuits. This story suggests that this is the case.

            You didn’t mention the adoption studies, even though these seem to be some of the strongest evidence there is.


            Africans are more genetically diverse than Europeans or Asians, so it is plausible that there are substantial genetic clusters.

      • North49 says:

        I find myself falling prey to a sort of outrage fatigue. Over the last 5ish year I’ve had an increasingly hard time distinguishing between genuinely interesting points worthy of consideration being raised, as opposed to something more like low value virtue signaling. How do we get to more virtue, less signaling?

        Could we set up a site where people can donate to charity, and get a one time use code to post in their rant (not meant pejoratively, it’s just late and I can’t think of a better synonym) so everyone can see how much they actually care about the issue? “Oh, you cared $50 to the Human Rights Campaign about this, maybe I shouldn’t discount this argument.” It would signal some issues as high quality while imposing a tax on low quality issues, and raise money for charity…. good idea, or time for me to go back to bed?

        • eric23 says:

          I once wanted to post a outrageous-sounding idea to some social media platform and preface it by “Before you accuse me of horrible things, you should know that in the last year I gave [amount] to Against Malaria Foundation and thereby likely saved [number] lives. I welcome replies to this comment, but I would ask on the honor system that you first go to AMF’s website and donate to them and only then reply, and not reply otherwise.”

          Haven’t yet got around to doing this – the outrageous-sounding idea still needs some work around the corners before it’s publishable, and for now it’s sitting in a file on my computer somewhere…

          • EchoChaos says:

            I have discovered a truly outrageous statement of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.

        • Anteros says:

          Not such a bad idea, if a tad impractical. My only addition would be that the use code would be for an hours worth of your work, not a particular amount of cash. Otherwise I’d only be entitled to a tenth of the rants available to, say, Echochaos. And as far as ranting is concerned, I’m strictly equalitarianism. My rants are as important as everyone elses

          • EchoChaos says:

            Nonsense! All rants are equal, but some are more equal than others.

          • semioldguy says:

            The one-hour-of-work donation also doesn’t work very well for people who are retired or for people that for a variety of reasons may not work full time as one hour of work represents a much larger portion of their income.

          • Anteros says:

            I take your point completely. How about a proportion of your weekly disposable income?

          • semioldguy says:

            While this is certainly straying a little off-topic, my disposable income is very small. My hobbies are almost entirely low/no cost (hiking, reading, cooking, really I’d consider learning and self-sufficiency to be hobbies; as well as doing various volunteer charity work from time to time). I have enough wealth to be happy and more or less only work enough hours to pay for the necessities so that I don’t have to draw from my savings/investments. I could probably stop working and be fine.

            I also would be unlikely to purchase rants. Though someone in a similar position to mine would be hard to include in fair pricing for ranting.

      • ManyCookies says:

        I do concede that the linked blog isn’t exactly high quality, but readers around here are smart enough to figure that out themselves.

        That source is low quality and biased enough on the immediate question to earn a disclaimer at least. From the post:

        One possible link is being neurotic: I can see the Woody Allen type on the couch, riddled with a long list of insecurities, anxieties, and feelings of guilt. Government serves as Dominatrix, pleasing masochistic tendencies through high taxation, affirmative action, and the like. Maybe mentally ill people just want their SSI checks increased. Whatever the case, psychiatric disorders are common among really liberal people.

    • As a visible thread on SSC grows, the probability that there will be at least one commenter claiming to be shocked, shocked that Scott linked a non-PC source approaches 1.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Should I mention the even-fewer-hops-site which speculates on the intellectual superiority of one particular ethnic group?

        Naa, I’ll let them find it themselves, then I’m not liable if they suffer a fit of apoplexy.

  15. dank says:

    Another alternative hypothesis: a large portion of the marxists who read SSC found it through Freddie Deboer. Since Freddie used to write about mental illness too, his audience was skewed towards people with a diagnosis.

  16. sandymount says:

    Where does this leave the classical liberal/ libertarian who doesn’t neatly fall into right or left category?

    • imoimo says:

      The data for that can be purchased on the free market.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        The stats are available for free from Scott if anyone wants to go over them. It’s a gift economy.

    • North49 says:

      Libertarians are considered ‘alt-right adjacent’ these days via some kind of pipeline, or so I hear. I think it’s Steven Molyneux’s fault.

      • sandymount says:

        If libertarian is taken to mean negative property rights that doesnt logically come with all the positive norms that the likes of Molyneux favour. If you fancy being a left libertarian, thats up to you. If you want to live in a mini fortress in the outback counting gold coins, go for it. But the law will apply to you all equally. (Not selling it, just my understanding of it… i.e. people love to dismiss it because of its association with right wing libertarians but that is I believe a logical error)

      • Null42 says:

        From what I’ve seen there is a libertarian-to-alt-right pipeline due to the ideologies attracting people who like unconventional viewpoints and lean right rather than left.

        That said the ideologies are about 120-150 degrees away from each other on the political compass and calling libertarians Nazis is grossly unfair. When you become alt-right you usually stop being libertarian. Libertarians usually really don’t like fascism, though whether they dislike it as much as communism varies from libertarian to libertarian.

    • NTD_SF says:

      Depressed libertarians become Death Eaters.

    • LadyJane says:

      In all likelihood, moderate libertarians would be similar to moderate conservatives and liberals, while the more extreme libertarians would be similar to far-rightists and far-leftists.

  17. timujin says:

    I am depressed and a Marxist, but this blog had never made me miserable and\or angry. It barely even registers as “anti-Marxist”, more like “oblivious to Marxism and providing a quality discussion about things that have nothing to do with Marxism”.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      While Scott doesn’t talk about Marxism much, when it does come up he never talks about it in a good light. He does more consistently shit on communism and the strange assertion that it’s never been tried.

      • grendelkhan says:

        While Scott doesn’t talk about Marxism much, when it does come up he never talks about it in a good light.

        Never is too harsh. I think he at least was sympathetic when he reviewed Red Plenty.

        This book was the first time that I, as a person who considers himself rationally/technically minded, realized that I was super attracted to Communism.

        Here were people who had a clear view of the problems of human civilization – all the greed, all the waste, all the zero-sum games. Who had the entire population united around a vision of a better future, whose backers could direct the entire state to better serve the goal. All they needed was to solve the engineering challenges, to solve the equations, and there they were, at the golden future. And they were smart enough to be worthy of the problem – Glushkov invented cybernetics, Kantorovich won a Nobel Prize in Economics.

        And in the end, they never got the chance. There’s an interpretation of Communism as a refutation of social science, here were these people who probably knew some social science, but did it help them run a state, no it didn’t. But from the little I learned about Soviet history from this book, this seems diametrically wrong. The Soviets had practically no social science. They hated social science. You would think they would at least have some good Marxists, but apparently Stalin killed all of them just in case they might come up with versions of Marxism he didn’t like, and in terms of a vibrant scholarly field it never recovered. Economics was tainted with its association with capitalism from the very beginning, and when it happened at all it was done by non-professionals. Kantorovich was a mathematician by training; Glushkov a computer scientist.

        Soviet Communism isn’t what happens when you let nerds run a country, it’s what happens when you kill all the nerds who are experts in country-running, bring in nerds from unrelated fields to replace them, then make nice noises at those nerds in principle while completely ignoring them in practice. Also, you ban all Jews from positions of importance, because fuck you.

        This seems like he’s pretty keen on the sentiment, and at least admires the Marxists for understanding and trying to solve the big problems.

    • Well, Scott is an unorthodox variety of social-liberal, so his writings are inherently going to be colored by anti everything that’s not weird social-liberalism, let alone Marxism in particular.

      • Null42 says:

        He’s independently discovered the value of custom and tradition. I’m convinced with different social pressures (i.e. not wanting to make a living as a psychiatrist in a left-wing place) he might easily be the next Oakeshott or Burke.

        • grendelkhan says:

          This is uncharitable–Scott is introspective enough to know whether he’s contorting himself to fit in with The Liberals–and in any case, I think it misses the key left/right dividing line in practice: Scott seems to like living in cities and group houses. Cities are for liberals. If he wanted to live out in the countryside, with a big yard and space to think and roam, he’d probably be a conservative.

          It’s hard to remember that most liberal city people aren’t high-octane activist SJW types, because those are the loudest. Just like most conservative country people aren’t militia-joining clinic protesters.

    • Act_II says:

      I’ve seen him make drive-by anti-Marxist comments but I’ve rarely seen him go into great detail. It’s just as well, I’m not sure how informed he is on the matter. I think there’s some anti-progressive rage from living near frustrating people in the Bay Area that may get transferred to everyone left of Obama.

      I’d quite like if he did a book review of, say, Kropotkin, though (specifically Mutual Aid). I sometimes wonder how this community would react to left-anarchist ideas instead of right-libertarian ones. The Archipelago post is really not that far off from an anarchist’s ideals (as I understand them anyway — I’m not actually anti-capitalist myself).

    • Lambert says:

      He did say that he has tried and failed to understand marxism in the same way he understands (does not necessarily agree with) Libertarianism, conservativism, woke politics.

    • Hoopdawg says:

      I basically scrolled down to the comment section to post something like this, yeah.

      (I’d better go now before I start wasting time replying to all the usual hot takes from the libertarian commentariat…)

  18. Mark Paskowitz says:

    Did this directly lead to the next post on confirmation bias, or was that just a happy coincidence?

  19. Steve Sailer says:

    The SSC survey offers a huge sample size of very high IQ males, along with an oversampling of people knowledgeable about both ideology and mental health issues. If an SSC reader describes himself as a “Marxist” and “depressed,” he is much more likely to have fairly precise definitions of both in mind than the average person. So there is less noise due to respondent confusion in the SSC survey than in most surveys with a more representative sample.

  20. Steve Sailer says:

    It’s not at all irrational for people who suffer problems that make them less effectual in the marketplace to favor redistribution.

    • albatross11 says:

      I’ve always had a similar suspicion about the leftward tilt in media.

      One plausible left-wing view of markets is that there’s a lot of corruption and nepotism and who-you-know and randomness in success, lots of people are barely making ends meet, while a few hit the jackpot, get insanely rich and powerful, and lord it over everyone else. It seems to me that this isn’t all that great a description of most of the economy, but it’s a really good description of the entertainment industry. It’s not a surprise that people living in a part of the world where a Bernie Sanders/AOC view of markets is a good description of reality tend to like Bernie Sander/AOC style economic policies.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        There’s the funny paradox of New York playwrights that came to Hollywood for the big money in the 1930s. In New York since the 1919 Broadway strikes, playwrights have been the dictators, with contractual rights allowing them to push around directors and producers. They were Ayn Rand heroes on Broadway in the 1930s.

        But as soon as they got to Hollywood, they were wrapped up in collective enterprises where they were schmucks at the bottom of the totem pole (e.g., see the Coen Bros.’ “Barton Fink”). The writers reacted to being forced to cooperate with others by joining the Stalinist Communist Party of Hollywood in the hopes of getting back some of their entrepreneurial rights.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Also #MeToo. I’m not surprised the media thinks sexual harassment is everywhere, because it seems as though sexual harassment is much more common in media companies than it is at some ersatz insurance company. I work at a modest sized outfit and I’m almost certain no one’s office is a Matt Lauer-esque sex dungeon. Or at least no one’s ever tried to sex-dungeon me, which is a little insulting.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Or at least no one’s ever tried to sex-dungeon me, which is a little insulting.

          Have you checked what you are wearing?

        • eric23 says:

          There used to be plenty of sexual harassment in the boring old corporal world, then it became an issue and all the big corporations instituted sexual harassment policies to avoid being sued. This happened, what, 20 years ago?

          • DarkTigger says:

            Then why didn’t that work in Hollywood, Television, and Journalism?

          • eric23 says:

            Are Hollywood companies big enough to have HR departments that functions independently of a charismatic star CEO?

            Also, no HR department would stop sexual misconduct outside of a work context, e.g. Kevin Spacey groping people at parties.

          • North49 says:


            Probably related to the subjectivity of performance metrics in these fields. Not having followed the issue closely, but reading a few articles about it when it was happening, my impression is that it wasn’t back office research analysts, script editors or PAs who were being harassed, but mostly on-screen talent, where the ability to say “we decided to go another direction with that part” is basically inscrutable.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Yes, in the 90s big corporations set up sexual harassment policies to avoid being sued. It worked! In the 70s, big corporations set up sexual harassment policies to reduce sexual harassment. It also worked at this very different goal.

        • Bugmaster says:

          I think that the definition of what counts as “sexual harassment” had shifted significantly over the years. On the one end of the spectrum, you have a Mad Men type of atmosphere where groping your secretary is seen by everyone (including the secretary) as perfectly normal. On the other end, you have a situation where smiling at a female employee while making eye contact counts as harassment.

          This means that a formerly Mad Men-style company could honestly claim that they’d had zero cases of sexual harassment throughout their entire existence — if they’d stayed just behind the leading edge of social change the entire time.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But the stuff going on in Hollywood and the media was Weinstein, and Matt Lauer’s sex dungeon. This is current, and far more extreme than a little grab-ass with the secretary.

        • The Nybbler says:

          No dungeon, but there was a mattress in one of the offices at a tech company I once worked at, and it was used for illicit sex on at least one occasion. However as far as I know (and I was not one of the parties involved) it was entirely consensual. Also it was ground floor, we did not have a basement. Also near where my wife has her art studio there’s a lot of sex going on, and quite likely dungeon scenes. Yes, they make porn. Maybe you’re just not in the right workplaces.

          (Does a porn company count as “media”?)

    • eric23 says:

      Any evidence that SSC members with mental illness are less “effectual in the marketplace” than SSC members without mental illness?

      • Aapje says:

        This is nearly tautological, as mental illness is mostly defined as an inability to achieve metrics of success, despite having talent.

        • cuke says:

          Lots and lots of very high functioning people with mental health diagnoses.

          • Aapje says:

            That doesn’t actually prove me wrong.

            If Bob is diagnosed with ADHD, which limits him in school or at work, then gets Ritalin, which makes him much more successful; the diagnosis and treatment reduced or resolved the diminished functioning.

        • grendelkhan says:

          You could probably compare that with income (maybe normalized for average income by state) and self-reported life satisfaction and see how tautological it is.

          • Aapje says:

            Perhaps, although low ability and mental illness is surely correlated, which has the potential to completely mess up that analysis.

            A better way might be to compare incomes before and after treatment, normalized for aging (as income mostly goes up by age).

        • eric23 says:

          “Metrics of success” includes things like doing your job well, but also includes things like not wanting to kill yourself.

          One could imagine reasons why, say, overworking yourself could lead to both professional accomplishmemnt, and burnout leading to anxiety and depression.

  21. DeadAtheist says:

    Conservatives: shame mentally ill people and devalue their opinion.
    Mentally ill people: lean left.
    Conservatives: we knew it, only insane people would support liberal ideas.

    Impeccable logic.

    • North49 says:

      Just to recap:

      Shaming the mentally ill and devaluing their opinions: bad.

      Shaming conservatives and devaluing their opinions: good.

      Also the history of shaming and abusing the mentality ill has a very strong progressive streak through it, I’m not sure this framing is the slam dunk you seem to think it is.

      • DeadAtheist says:

        Just to recap:

        Shaming a group and blanketly devaluing their opinions: bad.

        Criticizing one specific opinion of a group: neutral.

        Criticizing two opinions shared by some members of a group for direct contradiction: good.

        Doing it in meme format: funny and signifies it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

        Also, I know nothing about history and don’t think it matters, but here are two studies, reasonably recent, that find stigma of mental illness is connected to conservative beliefs. I didn’t put nearly as much effort into verifying them as Scott would in “Stigmatizing mental illness: much more than you wanted to know”, but I found no articles claiming the opposite, so that should count for something.

        I definitely didn’t mean something dumb like “All conservatives hate people even with most minor mental disorder, while all liberals are perfectly tolerant and supportive!”. Scott says there are only 60% difference in rates, so no slam dunk should be possible.

  22. North49 says:

    I was raised in a Christian home, my mom saw a “church counselor” for many years. I guess I don’t have information one way or the other, but my impression is that they weren’t licensed or trained in any official behavioral health capacity. I wonder to what extent alternate institutions are being leveraged which leads to informal, or non medicalized mental health care, and to what extent such institutions skew to left or right leaning people.

    • Lambert says:

      As well as the specific pastoral role of the church, I’d expect conservatives (for the reasons discussed in a recent OT about the nuclear vs extended family vs neighbourhood community) to have a stronger support network of relatives and close friends compared to more atomised urban liberals.

  23. Gumpalonia says:

    Another possible confounder might come from the practical implications from these ideologies. Meaning it´s not holding leftist/rightist ideas that cause mental illness, but secondary behavioural effects from these leading to differeing choices and thus health outcomes. One could be leftism leading to an unhealthier diet (brain damaging plant toxins instead of healthy animal fats and proteins) or excerzise patterns (endurance instead of weight lifting). It seems accidental that e.g. vegetarianism is connected with a left-wing ideology rather than right wing, since the value of “caring for animals” could be framed to fit either ideology.

    • eric23 says:

      an unhealthier diet (brain damaging plant toxins instead of healthy animal fats and proteins) or excerzise patterns (endurance instead of weight lifting).

      Plant toxins? Lol. Vegetarianism and veganism can lead to nutrient deficiencies if one is not careful, but you didn’t mention that, and what you did mention (“brain damaging plant toxins”) is 100% woo.

      Similarly with exercise, it would seem that endurance is both more “natural” and more effective than weightlifting. If you like, you can refer to endurance exercise as a kind of “weightlifting” for one’s cardiovascular system…

      • profgerm says:

        100% woo

        Perhaps this is overly charitable, but I kinda considered that the point: it was a ridiculous sounding explanation to display that it was absurd and unlikely.

      • Purplehermann says:

        Pretty sure there are health benefits to more intense exercise (weightlifting helps with depression it seems), and maybe pesticides, lectins or gluten intolerances in vegetables?

        (If you’d like to be charitable to the actual claim…)

        • caryatis says:

          All exercise helps with depression, and all exercise can be intense. This idea that weightlifting is the only good exercise is highly flawed.

          • Purplehermann says:

            First off, please provide sources showing that all exercise helps with depression. Not that it matters much to the discussion.

            Most people running/jogging do so in a way that is not intense, while heavy weight lifting, bodyweight, …. are usually more intense.

            The discussion here was about lifestyle differences causing differences in mental health.

            In general people who run seriously will have less intense exercise than people lift weights seriously. This could cause some variation in mental health.

            I used the example of weightlifting because eric23 used the same when disparaging Gumpalonia.
            It was used as an example of a form of exercise that is usually more intense.

            Any idea that only one kind of exercise is good is ridiculous and a weak man at best, but most likely a straw man.

            This idea

            You appear to believe that I think only weightlifting is good.

            This is incorrect and what I wrote does not imply that I hold such an idiotic belief.

            I expect (and almost always see) much better form from people on this blog.

  24. Deiseach says:

    To my leftist brethren and sistern who are now finding the shoe on the other foot, I say: relax. Accept it. Then ignore it.

    So somebody spun up data to say “lefties are all nutcases”? They’ve been doing that to us on the right forever.

    I’m right-wing/conservative myself. That, if I believe all the SCIENCE PROVES!!!! media article and online clickbait, means that I’m an authoritarian, ignorant, stupid (it’s been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN if you accept that “level of education” correlates neatly with “level of intelligence”), heartless bigot who can’t think for myself, want to lock up if not murder all the gays’n’minorities’n’the poor, am constantly craving and yearning for a Fascist Strongman to overthrow the democratically elected government and establish a dictatorship whereby I will then be issued my first pair of Official Jackboots to goose-step through the streets on the prowl for said gays’n’minorities’n’poor people to lock up/deport/lock up in cages before I deport ’em, I’m driven by disgust and purity fetishes, I mindlessly and blindly worship and follow authority and loyalty but don’t care about harm or fairness, oh and I am driven by crazy fears that the liberals are going to come take away my guns and meat 🙂 Throw in that I’m a religious believer with that, and oh momma. It’s a wonder I can even breathe unaided, let alone tie my own shoelaces.

    EDIT: Whoops, forgot to include that I’m also closed-minded, timorous and driven by fear (which is why I’m a -phobe and an -ist of all varieties) and all the good stuff like that. And apparently I should also prefer wall-to-wall carpeting rather than old wooden floors?

    It’s okay, my to-the-left-of-Great Immortal Chinggis Khaan fellow-beings. You’ll get used to it. Just accept it all, let it flow through you, and pass on its way out. Come sit by me in the crazy corner – it’s cosy! 😀

    • Null42 says:

      FWIW I thought Haidt was actually fairly sympathetic to conservatives, arguing their focus on loyalty, disgust, and authority was more ‘normal’ in terms of average behavior throughout human history than liberals’ exclusive focus on care and justice. He actually became a centrist/libertarian from being a liberal as a result of his work, as I recall.

    • Bugmaster says:

      FWIW, my opinion of Christians took a big plunge after I came to the US. I used to think of them as utterly wrong but basically harmless; now, my knee-jerk reaction is to see them as the people who want to criminalize D&D because it’s Satanic, teach Creationism instead of evolution in schools because evolution is Satanic, criminalize homosexuality because gays are Satanic, and ban violent videogames because they turn young men into snarling berserkers (due to being Satanic). And don’t get me started on the whole Catholic Church fiasco.

      Note that I did say “knee-jerk reaction”. Logically, I realize that most Christians are just normal people. However, somehow all the most prominent ones tend to be theocratic ideologues. That said, they did seem to mellow out a bit in the recent years — probably because the radical leftists are so hell-bent on taking the “worst puritanical moral nag ever” crown from them…

      • Plumber says:

        @Bugmaster says:

        “….and ban violent videogames because they turn young men into snarling berserkers (due to being Satanic)…”

        So Satanism is the reason?

        I thought it was just the lights and movement giving me such a headache!

        I can’t tell any difference though between the effects of the non-violent and the violent games though, my son’s Need for Speed car racing videogame is just as headache inducing as his Naruto dueling one, actually even more so!

      • sharper13 says:

        The vast majority of the D&D (and other RPG) game players I know are Christians (Which shouldn’t be shocking, based on their percentage in the base population of Americans). So I guess that perhaps you were just associating with the wrong Christian crowd? Or is this based more on media reports/the local televangelist cable channel than direct experience?

        I mean, I literally agree that there must be this Christian repressive small town dystopia somewhere, because I’ve heard several people describe it from their own experience, but I’ve spend a lot of time around American Christianity and and it also seems to be somewhat selection bias based on their family growing up, or a particular small town church community, or something like that. YMMV.

        • Bugmaster says:

          D&D was a significant part of the “Satanic Panic” back in the 80s and 90s; the source material was censored somewhat due to the religious objections. On a more anecdotal note, I personally knew a guy who had to hide the fact that he was playing D&D with the rest of us — because if his parents/pastor/teachers strictly forbade him from not just playing the game, but even physically touching the books. True story.

          • J Mann says:

            The worst thing is convincing everyone in your life that D&D is not Satanic and then having them introduce the Descent into Avernus storyline, where the characters descend to hell and make deals with devils. (To their credit, every character at any table I’ve been at has laughed off the deals.) Plus Riverdale introduced a plotline where the teens are drawn into a death cult by playing TTRPGs.

            The original Satanic panic was more around the belief that your kids should not pretend to do magic, IIRC, but Wizards and the CW arem’t making my life easy these days.

      • Purplehermann says:

        The ones who really hold true to christianity would either be pretty radical, or pretty concerned with keeping their heads down

  25. oligo says:

    Sadsack Marxist SSC reader here. Yes, the online left really is Like That even outside here, although I think there’s a sort of Online Weirdo phenotype this is channeling rather than anything specific to Marxism (other than it being something you’d have to be a bit contrarian and curious to get into under local conditions): every community that I’ve gotten into, regardless of reason (D&D, politics, rationalism) seems broadly similar in terms of having pretty high rates of depression, gender weirdness, and various other things. I’m not part of the Online Right (obviously) but they seem to have similar qualities (even eg sexual minorities despite hating them, and I would guess greater-than-expected numbers of Jewish community members as well.)

    My anecdotal impression of the in-person far left is that this replicates for eg study groups but not IRL-impacting activism, but that might just be confirmation of my priors.

    (The explanations for most of this are probably aggressively boring: Openness to Experience filtering for any community organized around locally weird ideas, and onlineness leading to social isolation and depression.)

    • Also, couldn’t you chalk a good chunk of Marxist depression up to the dearth of governments in which Marxism is taken seriously?

      Today, other forms of left wing thought seem to have supplanted Marxism. I’ll bet if you asked Marxists during the early days of the Soviet Union, you’d find lower depression rates than today, with depression rates rising as variants of Marxism split up over the direction of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and tracking steadily downwards before spiralling to the floor during the 90s when the worldwide dissolution of acutally existing socialism hit. You’d probably see Marxist depression reverse a little during the financial crisis of 2007-8, but then increase again when they realize the modern populist left has rather limited applications of Marxist theory.

      Across the Western world, the right is doing pretty well at the moment politically speaking, so you’d expect people who seriously identify under a political label to be the least depressed when they are doing well. Though a stumbling block for this interpretation is that conservatives are doing well politically, but believe they are losing culturally.

      • Null42 says:

        They are losing culturally. Religion and nuclear families on the decline, gay marriage has become legal, and major organizations are becoming more accepting of transgender people. Drag queens are giving story hour to children in public libraries, which would have seemed like a scare story made up by conservatives 20 years ago.

        I’m sure a lot of people here would approve of these things (particularly the last few), but yes, conservatives are losing the culture.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          The traditional right lost the culture war, the new right (populist right/alt-right/alt-lite/whatever you want to call it) has ascending momentum. They are still locked out most cultural institutions because these institutions have lots of inertia, but they already made big gains in politics, where the officials are replaced regularly by elections, and in competitive markets (wherever people can vote with their wallets things that get woke go broke).

      • Hoopdawg says:

        Eh, “Marxist” is just a label Scott forces leftists to choose in the survey. You should treat it as a synonym of “leftist”, I would certainly not self-identify as “Marxist” unprompted.
        Likewise, you should not equate Marxism with the official ideology of the former soviet sphere. I’m pretty sure that, even within the smaller group of actual self-identified Marxists, you’ll mostly find people referring to his actual writing. Which, contra your claim, has a pretty wide area of application, we’re talking about a guy who essentially kickstarted the entire field of sociology, for example.

        Also, the people who are currently doing well politically are not the same people who are losing culturally (and materially also). If you group them together as “conservatives”, you’ll get a severly flawed view of reality.

    • Null42 says:

      Apparently quite a few people at Counter-Currents, one of the big antisemitic white nationalist sites, are gay.

      As for the online right being disproportionately Jewish…not to the degree of the left, but between Breitbart and Drudge and a few others I could mention it is not exactly purely goyish. More than 2%? Couldn’t tell you.

      Verbal ability?

      • viVI_IViv says:

        Apparently quite a few people at Counter-Currents, one of the big antisemitic white nationalist sites, are gay.

        It’s not like there isn’t a historical precedent: Ernst Röhm, the leader of the SA, was openly homosexual.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I believe Richard Spencer referred to homosexuality as an important part of white identity. I don’t know what this means, however, but I don’t get the impression the WN are particularly homophobic.

        • Aapje says:

          With homophobia being rather common among Muslims and the far right opposing Islam rather strongly, it is a natural alliance for those on the right who don’t oppose gays*.

          * Although they may still oppose gay and hetero hookup culture.

          • chridd says:

            Are Muslims common enough in places where there are white nationalists to actually be an issue for them? I’d expect homophobic parts of the right-wing to be more of an issue (and people on the left, at least those I’ve encountered, seem to be way more pro-gay than pro-Islam, unless there are some super pro-Islam not-as-much-pro-gay leftists that I’m just not aware of).

          • albatross11 says:

            Religious conservatives make up a lot of the rank and file of the center-right in the US, and are not likely to make common cause with gays. But I don’t know how much of the far right is made up of people whose religious beliefs would preclude a close alliance with gays. Further, there are a number of openly gay people who manage to do okay with the secular right–think of Dave Rubin, or Milo whathisname.

          • Aapje says:


            Far right doesn’t necessarily mean white nationalist.

            In my country, support for the ‘populists’ is both strong in places with lower class whites who are resentful of current and past government behavior (fisherman, ex-miners, etc), but also white lower class people who have been or are at risk of being gentrified out of the cities. Places like The Hague and Rotterdam still have lower class whites, but Amsterdam and Utrecht are pretty much cleansed.

            The lower class in The Hague and Rotterdam do have to deal with the consequences of more Muslims near them, while those who move out of the cities to surrounding places, presumably have had those experiences in the past, even if they are now living in places with few Muslims.

  26. Alex M says:

    > As far as I can tell, Lemoine’s analysis is accurate enough, but needs some clarifications:

    At least half of these “clarifications” seem like excuses or special pleading. Here’s an idea, Scott. Maybe Infowars finally found an accurate criticism of leftism (because, hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day) and you just don’t LIKE that criticism because you and a lot of your friends identify as leftists, so you’re making excuses to justify your position.

    I say this because a lot of these excuses seem really weak and not at all like your usual style of writing. Instead of trying to come up with the most likely analysis, four of these excuses are just you trying to find reasons why the Infowars framing MIGHT be wrong. Since you seem to lack the self-awareness to be aware of when you yourself are being irrational, it falls upon the rest of us to help guide you back to the path of rationality. Heres a tip: when you find yourself grasping at straws to find reasons why an unflattering description of yourself or your group MIGHT be wrong (ie, in lieu of contravening data, you are presenting negative evidence or the absence of evidence) rather than citing hard facts that contradict the unflattering accusation, then it’s usually a pretty strong sign that you have abandoned rationality in favor of motivated reasoning. The medieval church did the same thing. Galileo’s calculations MIGHT have been inaccurate. He MIGHT have been recording the wrong celestial bodies. When you find yourself resorting to statements about how the other side MIGHT have got something wrong, that’s usually a strong indicator that your own case is pretty thin.

    I’m disappointed in you because I think you can do better, and I hope that you recognize the fact that you are being irrational simply because INFOWARS (hilariously enough) made an accurate criticism of leftists which hurt your ego. And the only thing that hurts more than having your group disparaged by Alex Jones is when Alex Jones has one of those rare moments of lucidity where his criticism is devastatingly accurate.

    • Purplehermann says:

      Clarifications 1 and 2 are simply pointing out that mental illness is not as imbalanced (as far as left-right goes) as you may think, and are important points- not grasping at straws. They don’t explain away the whole discrepancy.

      Clarfication 4 is pointing out that this survey doesn’t necessarily map all that well to the general public, given that certain demographics are heavily overrepresented. This is not grasping at straws.

      Clarification 5 is clearly saying “leave me alone, I don’t want to be used for this”. No grasping at straws.

      Maybe number 3 is a little in the air, but this post is clearly about making sure that people get a better picture of the overall data and its applicability, and getting people to leave him alone.

      We know scott hates bad mainstream attention, no need to assume he’s biased because of in group issues.

    • ManyCookies says:

      Pretty straightforward contextualization of a statistic is not remotely special pleading, Scott (as a psychiatrist) probably doesn’t view “more instances of mental illness” as some knockdown smear, and Iii really don’t think Scott is particularly tribal for Leftists.

    • wonderer says:

      Alex M, are you a regular SSC reader? It’s OK if you’re not, of course. I just wanted to point out that Scott does not, in fact, identify as a leftist. He identifies as belonging to the “gray tribe” of rationalists. Most of his political posts attack leftists or their ideas. For examples, see I Can Tolerate Everything Except the Outgroup and You Are Still Crying Wolf.

      • Alex M says:

        Scott is on record (either here or in the subreddit, I forget which) as saying that he sometimes gives leftists a pass on rule-breaking or behavioral issues which would otherwise result in a ban in the interests of having a balanced number of commenters of either political persuasion. When Scott admitted to showing favoritism to one side, then he lost the ability to claim that he was being neutral. (I mean, I guess technically you can claim whatever you want, but when rules aren’t applied equally, then the claim is transparently false.)

        Scott might “identify” as a neutral grey tribe member to try to give his perspective an air of impartial credibility, but I identify as a person who judges people by their actions rather than their words. A true Grey tribe member would pick a rule and apply it uniformly and in a neutral way. If that means all the leftists get banned, then so be it. If that means all the rightists get banned, then that’s fine too. At the end of the day neutrality (in this context) means the ability to apply rules of conduct impartially and without bias.

        For what it’s worth, I dont think that Scott has a significant bias compared to most other people – I am simply pointing out that his actions are in opposition to his self-identification. That’s a reasonable criticism, don’t you think?

        • Null42 says:

          I believe he said he was going to start cracking down on rightists over leftists in the comments because he was getting death threats from leftists. It’s unfair, but I can hardly blame the guy.

          • ManyCookies says:

            The explicit left-wing affirmative action was before the threat (October 2018 vs February 2019).

            In some weird reverse of Conquest’s Law, any comment section that isn’t explicitly left-wing tends to get more right-wing over time. I am trying to push against this and keep things balanced, so I want to be explicit that I’m practicing affirmative action for leftist commenters. You may have noticed some leftists saying things that should have gotten them banned. After some thought, I’ve decided to keep them around anyway with warnings instead (this means you, Brad and Freddie). I will still ban leftists for more serious issues. This doesn’t mean other people will be able to get away with this kind of behavior, so consider yourself warned.

        • Purplehermann says:

          I’m fairly right, and trying to keep a political balance makes sense to me, the objective here isn’t fairness, it’s a nice place where intelligent people with different ideas can hang out (more or less) having an imbalance of right wingers can hurt that goal.

          Don’t know if that’s a current policy, but it doesn’t sound biased inherently. It’s a useful version of Affirmative Action

    • Bugmaster says:

      As others here have pointed out, the biggest issue with Lemoine’s analysis is the correlation/causation confusion. It could be that mentally ill people tend to vote Left because they’re irrational; or it could be that people with any kind of chronic illness vote Left out of enlightened self-interest, because the Left will make their treatment cheaper. These are just two possible scenarios out of many, though, and proving a true causal link will take a lot more investigation than a couple of polls.

    • Deiseach says:

      The medieval church did the same thing. Galileo’s calculations MIGHT have been inaccurate. He MIGHT have been recording the wrong celestial bodies.

      You have no idea how hard I am sitting on my impulses right now. I’ve fought the Galileo Wars on here before, I will not (speaking sternly to self) do it again here!

      • DarkTigger says:

        Galileo Gambit: The method to unite conservative catholics and progressive atheists on the WorldWideWeb since 1989.

  27. kai.teorn says:

    This is a blog by a doctor. D-oh.

    It all makes about as much sense as “Readers of a cardiologist’s blog have higher chance to die by heart attack!”

    • Purplehermann says:

      “Left wing readers of a cardiologist’s blog have higher chance to die by heart attack than the right wing readers!”

      Is closer to the mark

      • semioldguy says:

        That’s part of, but not the whole story.

        If the cardiologist was also a NASCAR fan, and blogged about cardiology, but occasionally also racing; cardiology could bring in both left and right wing readers, while NASCAR is likely to bring in a greater number of readers from the right rather than the left. This could lead to a smaller chance for the right wing readers to die of heart attack than the left wing ones (and may increase cardiological interest/awareness among NASCAR fans).

  28. aripaul says:

    These stats lend even more support to Ted Kaczynski’s position on leftism. The question is WHY mental illness corresponds more with leftism. It tells us nothing new to simply say that leftists are more mentally ill because leftism attracts unhappy and miserable people. This fails to account for why both mental illness and leftism have risen sharply in the last several decades. The reason there is a rise in leftism and mental illness that correspond is because environmental conditions have changed radically (due to technological progress) which directly negatively affect mental health, and those who suffer are drawn to leftism as a form of therapy and world-view to rationalize why they are miserable. With this assessment, we can see how futile it will be to “solve” the rise in radical leftism with “dialogue” or “education” or “reason”: unless and until the technological conditions change to make people less miserable, they will still emotionally and psychologically need their ideology to cope with and explain their misery. The only solutions to leftism would be to psychologically or biologically alter humans to be more compatible with the new technological conditions (lowering misery), or for the technological conditions to radically change in such a way that they produce less misery. No amount of reasoning or arguing about the faults and contradictions in leftist ideology or its prevalence of mental illness is going to do anything about the problem…except serve as entertainment or to enrich the people talking about it.

    Everyone should read Technological Slavery and Anti-Tech Revolution.

    • semioldguy says:

      Without going into those claims surrounding the idea of technological progress affecting mental health, there are absolutely more solutions than you propose. Such as disconnecting oneself from different aspects of our technological surroundings. Or studying which aspects of technological advancement contribute to poor mental health, whether it affects all or just a subset of people, and make appropriate changes tailored to different regions/populations. Humans could adapt, as people with resistance to the effects of technological progress out-compete those who don’t.

    • chridd says:

      Has mental illness risen? I think a plausible explanation for both (and, from what I understand, the standard position on the left) would be increasing awareness of problems that have always existed, which for mental health would mean more people getting diagnosed who would have previously suffered in silence, and for politics would mean more people realizing how many problems traditional societies had and why leftism/liberalism is necessary.

      Also I think at least to some extent leftism is trying to change/fix some problems that recent changes (technology or otherwise) have caused (e.g., environmentalists caring about problems of pollution, various people caring about problems caused by big tech companies).

      *looks up who you’re talking about* You’re citing a domestic terrorist?

    • peterj says:

      The reason there is a rise in leftism and mental illness that correspond is because environmental conditions have changed radically (due to technological progress) which directly negatively affect mental health, and those who suffer are drawn to leftism as a form of therapy and world-view to rationalize why they are miserable.

      I think you might be on to something here, regarding the relationship between leftism and mental illness, albeit with only one data point. Without going full Stephen Pinker on you, I would argue that technology is part of modern progress that has increased quality of life in most respects including increased living standards, longevity, reduction in disease, famine, wars etc. etc. Perhaps then, those on the left disproportionately suffer from a Rousseau-like noble savage/declinism myth and associated pessimistic world view.

  29. Calion says:

    Vaccines are fine…unless you’re the relative of an internationally-wanted fugitive, in which case vaccines may just be a ruse to find your wanted relation.

  30. Subb4k says:

    Well, I’m sure glad I never wen to a Parisian SSC meetup, if Philippe Lemoine is any indication of what other readers here are like.

  31. Daviiid says:

    Area of agreement: Right- and left-leaning individuals both want a way to maximize the utility function for any sector of the economy (e.g., healthcare, agriculture, electronics).

    Area of divergence (how do we get there): The left wants a government-run healthcare program to provide for all (even undocumented immigrants?). The right argues that transparent and open market systems outcompete centralized top-down systems in terms of quality, accessibility, and innovation (this has been historically true). The right argues that if we want to get serious about increasing quality, affordability, and accessibility of healthcare long-term, we need to scale back regulation and foster an environment of clear and competitive pricing with many options.

    Unless there is something untrue about my prior assertions, by this logic, the leftwing platform of ‘single-payer’ (i.e., centralized government control of healthcare’), is either irrational or ignorant…

    Maybe I am giving too much credit to ‘the right’ and should replace it with libertarian?

  32. TJ2001 says:

    Sounds like it’s time for another month of in-depth analysis of various psychiatric medications and book reviews. 😉 😉 Perhaps review “The Knowing/Doing Gap” by Pfeffer and Sutton or “Are your lights on” by Weinberg… 😉

    Honestly – I think Scott is spot-on with his comment about “End effects” aka the extreme ends of the political spectra being catch places for people who are not well adjusted for whatever reason… “Normal well adjusted” people may visit Extremistan – but they don’t stay..

    On the Left vs Right use of mental health professionals… Sounds right.

  33. ajfirecracker says:


    I think this lays out the basic elements of the vaccines-cause-autism case well. Chiefly: there is a plausible causal mechanism. Even if vaccines are not a major driver of autism statistically, causation is causation.

    Moreover, regardless of whether autism in particular is risked, the overall situation seems to me downright rotten. Vaccine manufacturers are exempt from legal liability, and the CDC has every incentive in the world to error on the side of recommending treatments that could be helpful.

  34. thetitaniumdragon says:

    There’s a few issues here.

    One major issue is that conservatives are simply less likely to self-identify as mentally ill (i.e., in their minds, crazy), even when they clearly are. I know/have known a number of conservatives who clearly have mental health problems and yet who refuse to see mental health professionals. This ranges from “I’m not crazy, it’s those damn liberals who are crazy!” while engaging in bizarre health practices (like only drinking distilled water and consuming weird supplements to get rid of toxins/keep them at bay) or showing severe signs of narcissistic personality disorder, to people who are depressed but who want to get over it on their own, to people who refuse to go to doctors because they don’t trust them.

    And indeed, this maps well onto conservative ideology – if a big part of your ideology is being your own person, being a strong independent person who isn’t dependent on others and who isn’t weak, then obviously that’s going to push back against you self-identifying as mentally ill and seeking out help. This doesn’t make you any less crazy, but it will result in you seeming less crazy.

    Moreover, conservatives feel less comfortable discussing these issues than people who are more “with the times”, which of course is going to depress their response rates regardless.

    I mean, look at Donald Trump. The dude clearly has a personality disorder, but he will never, ever go to a doctor to be diagnosed with it until he’s put on trial and desperately tries to put up an insanity defense (and maybe not even then).

    That being said, I have noticed that socialists, libertarians, and fascists often seem to be pretty nuts. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a socialist IRL who didn’t have some sort of mental disorder. I’ve only ever met two Nazis and one neo-Confederate, but all three of them probably had borderline personality disorder. About a third of the libertarians I’ve met were crazy, though most of the others were, in fact, normal (and many of them were actually much *saner* than the general public – sometimes, it feels like there’s two brands of libertarians, the crazy sovereign citizen types and the smart ones).

    Conversely, people like Mitt Romney seem to be boring and mentally stable. In fact, most of the boring business Republicans I’ve met are mentally healthy and stable individuals.

    My guess is that political extremism attracts the mentally ill, possibly because extremists prey on the mentally ill, as they’re particularly susceptible to blaming all their problems on other people – the Jews, the rich, those ungodly heathens, ect. But it’s also possible it’s the other way around, and political extremism comes out of mental illness, which would explain why ideologies like socialism and Nazism are held by people at all anymore, given their very obvious public failure – you’d have to be crazy to subscribe to them in the first place, and the founders of the ideologies themselves were pretty nutty (Marx thought that the Reign of Terror was great, and Hitler had a lot of issues as well). Notably, Fidel Castro was also seen as crazy by the Soviets, and Stalin and Mao were pretty disconnected from reality in many ways and probably had personality disorders as well. Later leaders in the USSR and China were much more stable than the original ones, and committed far fewer (and smaller) atrocities.