Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SlateStar on the Blue Tribe's Crying Wolf

Read SlateStar's post, You are Still Crying Wolf

This gets back to my doubts about “dog whistles”. Dog whistling seems to be the theory that if you want to know what someone really believes, you have to throw away decades of consistent statements supporting the side of an issue that everyone else in the world supports, and instead pay attention only to one weird out-of-character non-statement which implies he supports a totally taboo position which is perhaps literally the most unpopular thing it is possible to think. 
And then you have to imagine some of the most brilliant rhetoricians and persuaders in the world are calculating that it’s worth risking exposure this taboo belief in order to win support from a tiny group with five-digit membership whose support nobody wants, by sending a secret message, which inevitably every single media outlet in the world instantly picks up on and makes the focus of all their coverage for the rest of the election. 
Finally, no, none of this suggests that Donald Trump is courting the white supremacist vote.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Real War on Science

Read The Real War on Science
Conservatives have been variously pathologized as unethical, antisocial, and irrational simply because they don’t share beliefs that seem self-evident to liberals. For instance, one study explored ethical decision making by asking people whether they would formally support a female colleague’s complaint of sexual harassment. There was no way to know if the complaint was justified, but anyone who didn’t automatically side with the woman was put in the unethical category. Another study asked people whether they believed that “in the long run, hard work usually brings a better life”—and then classified a yes answer as a “rationalization of inequality.” Another study asked people if they agreed that “the Earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them”—a view held by many experts in resource economics, but the psychologists pathologized it as a “denial of environmental realities.”
I also recommend Jonathan Haidt's related talk 

Friday, November 18, 2016


Reality has too many pixels, so for practical life we adjust our resolution enough to operate but not get lost in details. For more abstract life we adjust our resolution enough to find community but not feel inconsistent.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Electoral College vs. Popular Vote: Different Game Different Tactics Same Outcome

"If we elected presidents by popular vote, the campaign would change; it isn't obvious that Clinton would have won that way either"

A good point by Gary King

Winning the electoral college game is a lot like winning the popular vote game. They require the same political skills. Trump won the electoral college game we just played so my guess would be that he would win the popular vote game too if it were being played.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Is the Future Dominated by the Blue Tribe

Someone unimportant points out:
This is how the future voted. This is what people 18-25 said in casting their votes. We must keep this flame alight and nurture this vision.

That's nice, but people become more conservative with age. By the time the future actually comes all those people voting blue will be voting red

Monday, November 14, 2016

Maybe Trump... isn't the devil

After the election, a lot of people are expressing their view that this election was about them vs. bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and hate. The deeply religious fantasies of these people is hard to believe. They actually think they're the good guys fighting pure evil. Not a difference in point of view. Pure evil.

Do these people ever stop to consider that their feed is deeply biased. If trump said, "black children are raised without dads," they would treat that as racism. But if any social scientist says that (and it's true) it's just a fact. The power of the mind to stretch interpretation against the outgroup is incredible. A conservative cannot say anything about race unless it's explicitly confirming how great all minorities are. Or else they're charged as racist.

It makes me glad I'm not a conservative. But if I don't confirm the liberal delusions, I have to worry about being called one!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Advice for Election 2016

Jonathan Haidt talks tribal politics

Colbert says to get back to your life

Obama: all on one team

Scott Alexander writes the election doesn't tell you anything because it was more likely determined by noise

SlateStar's Thesis on Trump

Jacob tells you to get over your denial

Friday, November 11, 2016


If a Trump victory tomorrow would convince you that X is true, I suggest that you believe X is true regardless of whether or not Trump wins, because Trump’s victory almost certainly will depend more on noise than on X. If a Hillary victory tomorrow would convince you that Y is true, I suggest that you believe Y is true regardless of whether or not Hillary wins, for the same reason.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Christina Hoff Sommers on Amoral Masculinity

Here is a good interview with Christina Hoff Sommers, published by Vox:
When it comes to being crushed, mutilated, electrocuted, or mangled at work, men are at a distinct disadvantage. Most backbreaking, lethally dangerous jobs — roofer, logger, roustabout, and coal miner, to name a few — are done by men. We are often reminded that only 24 women are CEOs of the Fortune 500. But what about the Unfortunate 5,000 — that is approximately the number of men killed on the job annually. 
Education beyond high school has been called the passport to the American dream. Increasingly, women have it and men don’t. From the earliest grades, our schools do a better job educating girls. Women now earn a majority of associate, bachelor, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and their share of college degrees increases almost every year. 
Today, the women’s lobby deploys a faulty logic: In cases where men are better off than women, that’s injustice. Where women are doing better — that’s life.
She doesn't mention that men are far more likely to go to prison for the same crime.

So a lot of evidence of unfair gender outcomes comes from choosing one metric (like the gender wage gap) and ignoring all others.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Best and Worst of Steven Pinker

This is the best Steven Pinker interview I've ever seen. Pinker is both at his best and his worst in this interview.

He's at his best when he talks about taking the middle view, not in a Goldilocks sort of way, but that there's a finer grain of detail underlying many debates that doesn't quite put one in either camp.

He's at his worst when Tyler challenges his optimism.

They mention Jonathan Haidt, Friedrich Hayek, and Bryan Caplan asks the last question.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

SlateStar on Rape Culture

Here is Scott Alexander's explaining why he is confused and skeptical of the term "rape culture"
Most rapes are crimes without witnesses. If the accused claims the sex was consensual then even DNA cannot provide corroborating evidence against this story. The courts are presented with a “he said” / “she said” dilemma. Because the legal system enshrines the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” – that is, erring in favor of the defendant when a guilt cannot be established “beyond a reasonable doubt” – this situation usually results in acquittal.
A rock and a hard place indeed.
I do not want to justify the “advice” people give rape survivors. Some of it seems broadly good (if you’re meeting a strange man for a date or something, do it in a public place), but much of the rest seems well-intentioned but actively wrong (it’s been pretty well established that the clothes you are wearing do not affect sexual assault rate). Whether the advice is good or not, giving it to someone who has just been traumatized is without a doubt a stupid decision, and giving it in place of punishing an actual perpetrator is an obvious miscarriage of justice.
Some things are impolite to say, but nonetheless true. And that you didn't take precautions against something does not mean you are to blame for that thing happening.
Breast cancer gets a very disproportionate amount of funding compared to other, deadlier types of cancer. No doubt this is because of successful initiatives like the Pink Ribbon campaign, but these initiatives are themselves due to the fact that any gendered issue is naturally more interesting than any ungendered issue. My guess is this is also part of why prostate cancer (gendered issue relating to men) is in second place, although that could also be its unusually high morbidity/mortality ratio. 
The point of this graph isn’t to knock breast cancer research, but instead to note that people disproportionately ignoring women’s issues because they don’t care about women is the exact opposite of the way the world works.
Also relevant: Rape is a Special kind of Evil

Monday, November 7, 2016

"No one is Born Gay"

For a long time I've been wondering why it's so obvious to gay people that they were born gay. I don't know through sheer introspection that I was born straight. And not being born gay doesn't mean it's a "choice". It feels weird to remind the blue tribe of this, but environment is a thing.

Anyway, I read something very good on this today. Here are a few quotes. The first is him quoting the other side:
“Because implying that homosexuality is a choice gives unwarranted credence to roundly disproven practices such as ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy. The risks associated with attempts to consciously change one’s sexual orientation include depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior."  
The problem with such statements is that they infuse biological accounts with an obligatory and nearly coercive force, suggesting that anyone who describes homosexual desire as a choice or social construction is playing into the hands of the enemy.
Just because an argument is politically strategic, does not make it true. 
Does culture effect how gay we are?
In Ancient Greece, sex between elite men and adolescent boys was a common and normative cultural practice. According to historians Michel Foucault and Jonathan Ned Katz, these relationships were considered the most praise-worthy, substantive and Godly forms of love (whereas sex between a man and a woman was, for all intents and purposes, sex between a man and his slave). If men having frequent and sincere sex with one another is what we mean by “gay,” then do we really believe that something so fundamentally different was happening in the Ancient Athenian gene pool?
Bias in science:
And, of course, there is the time-eternal question: why aren’t scientists looking for the genetic causes of heterosexuality? Or masturbation? Or interest in oral sex? The reason is that none of these sex acts currently violate social norms, at least not strongly enough to be perceived as sexual aberrations...
At the end of the day, what we can count on is that the science of sexual orientation will produce data that simply mirror the most crass and sexist gender binarisms circulating in the popular imagination.
Does gay conversion work? If it did it wouldn't prove there was something wrong with being gay or that being gay is a choice.
People like to use the failure of “gay conversion” therapies as evidence that homosexuality is innate. First of all, these conversions do not always fail; if you make someone feel disgusted enough by their desires, you can change their desires. Call it a tragedy of repression, or call it a religious awakening—regardless, the point is that we can and do change.
The whole thing is very good.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Global Warming as a Convenient Truth

A lot of people are worried about global warming and they promote a lot of different ways to fix it. The most popular that I read on the internet are:

Boosting energy efficiency
Greening Transportation
Using more renewable resources
Phasing out fossil fuels
Reducing Deforestation
Developing and Deploying new low carbon technologies
Ensuring Sustainable Development
Fight Misinformation
Eat less beef
Upgrade our infrastructure
Live closer to work
Reduce birth rates

Do these solutions have anything in common? I think they do. Greenies have been advocating for these changes since before anyone was talking about global warming. Global warming fits perfectly with their worldview. And despite Al Gore, it's an extremely convenient truth, suspiciously convenient actually.

How nice it must be to be advocating a set of policy changes and then poof! a worldwide apocalyptic scenario set in that requires those same policy changes to be enacted. And when talk of the worldwide apocalyptic scenario came from those very Greenies themselves, it starts to look a lot less like a convenient truth, and more like a new strategy for the same end.

That isn't to say that Global Warming isn't real, but that it may not mean what they think it means. I would like for Global Warming alarmists to name me the policies they advocate for stopping global warming that they wouldn't have advocated anyway. Because it seems to me that global warming changes nothing for them.

This is the most evident when the super-left sites like Think Progress and MotherJones show us how preventing Global Warming reduces inequality all at the same time. The way to sell me on Global Warming is to show me how inconvenient they are to you. If you were like, "it really sucks that solving global warming will create more inequality, but we should solve it anyway because it's a bigger problem," then my nonsense detector wouldn't be buzzing so loud in my head whenever you speak.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Don't Vote, Coffee instead

November 8th is election day so don't forget to go out and... grab a cup of coffee. After all if you've found someone who you can trust and is voting for the other candidate, your votes are going to cancel each other's out. So make a deal, you both go out and grab a cup of coffee instead of casting your votes. Why waste your time?

Democratic Fundamentalists won't like this because their deep faith in the democracy is separate from any outcomes Democracy produces.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Empathy vs. Distant Care

Empathy is overrated. It's a kind of care that puts a spotlight on an individuals needs and distracts thinking from more effective forms of altruism.

A more distant kind of care is better. You want to be able to say, "look, I care about you but there are more important causes that deserve my charity." You can't say that when you're pulled into empathy. The kid in front of you who needs money to attend sports camp will take priority over the starving kid somewhere else.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Denying People their Voting Rights

People think it's very very important that everyone is given the right to vote (I don't but anyway). That's why we let everyone vote. Or do we? We don't let people younger than 18 vote, ever.

Of course that's because we don't really think everyone has the right to vote, just everyone past a certain age. But age is an odd limitation. Why is the number of years you've lived on the earth matter to what rights you get? Aha, because age is actually just a proxy for level of development or maturity.

Now we get to my point; if giving people their rights is so important, isn't the age limitation rather high? We would want to err on the side of giving people too many rights than too few. Presumably there are a lot of 16 and 17 year olds who can't vote and are every bit as mature as 18 or 19 year olds who can. Aren't we denying them their rights.

Go back a hundred years before black people could vote. If someone said, "I'd love for black people to vote, but they tend to be less mature and so we can't." And also suppose that it's a social scientific fact that black people at that time were less mature. Would that be a good argument? Only if the immature ones outnumbered the mature ones 100 to 1 would we even consider denying the one his rights to prevent 100 immature people from voting.

But I don't see that happening with age. I don't personally have a conflict because I don't determine people's rights by my own personal feelings. But for those who look inward and decide, "yes, all people should have the right to vote," holding to that consistently should make them change some other beliefs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How many Babies are in Heaven?

So lets talk about this:

Infant mortality used to be very very high. It's low now, but over history, that's a lot of dead babies. Both prenatal and postpartum, it far outnumbers the quantity of dead adults.

Christians often believe that dead babies go to heaven. This means heaven is full of babies who don't know Jesus. Does this really square with the biblical depictions of heaven?

So for the Christian either,

1) Babies don't go to heaven,
2) Heaven is packed with babies and as a result heaven is filled with people who never knew the name of Jesus
3) Life doesn't begin at conception (this reduces the number of babies in heaven significantly, but still leaves us with a lot of 1 and 2 year olds in heaven)
4) Life doesn't begin even after birth.

So pick your poison. I think most Christians would pick #2 because it's most emotionally appealing despite being unbiblical. But is #1 really so hard to believe if you're an annihilationist?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


The most relaxing song in the world

It reduces anxiety by up to 65%. I sure love it when people take percentages out of things with no obvious unit of measure.