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joined 2022 September 05 17:19:51 UTC


User ID: 644



1 follower   follows 2 users   joined 2022 September 05 17:19:51 UTC


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User ID: 644

The 2020 election was closer than the 2016 election.

Measured how?

It came down to a judge in any of 5 states allowing a filed election contest to be heard or even a slight peek at those definitely legitimate ballot signatures.

Ah, I see. Since literally every attempt on /r/TheMotte and here to provide a shred of solid evidence of fraud has been thoroughly debunked every single time, we've come back around to "just repeat things a bunch and they'll become true."

Could Trump run and lose? Sure, and it will take another vast and more ridiculous fraud campaign.

Or, you know, Trump not being that popular. Which, if you look at the 2016 results, was actually always the case--Clinton was just an unusually bad candidate (combined 2 party vote share of only 94% in 2016).

"This other hypothesis is wrong" and "my hypothesis is correct" are not the same thing. Many different hypotheses are plausible.

It looks to me like nara is explicitly saying that you can make those claims, you just have to A) provide evidence, and B) frame it in a way that is less antagonistic, dismissive, and strawmanny.

There's a number of details I'd be interested in arguing further given the time, but your point:

Sure, and I appreciate your willingness to be persuaded (and to admit to it!).

To hopefully try to give you a few more specifics:

With no IC engines, no electricity, no pesticides, no modern crops and techniques and a general iron-age toolset at best, we would in fact most likely all be starving if we didn't work the land. That's my understanding, at least. Is yours different? ... What tools then existing and proven would make up for, say, a 30% reduction in agricultural labor?

I don't think the portion of peasants trying to move into cities (many just wanted to move to a better paying farm) was ever like 30% post-Black Death. The population of London was probably not much more than 100,000 around this time (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_European_cities_in_history#Timeline:Roman_Empire%E2%80%93Modern_Age(1%E2%80%931800_A.D.)) while the total population of England was around 2 million (https://brewminate.com/the-collapse-of-the-middle-ages/) even after the plague decimated it. It was never going to be remotely feasible for 7x the population of the largest city to just move in all at once even if they wanted to; you don't have to ban that. My understanding is that somewhere around a few percent of the population would have left agriculture. Prior to the plague, average productivity had been declining as more and more marginal land was being ploughed, so the reduction in population probably allowed for a little bit of breathing room.

Also, there were options to improve productivity at the time. To give a few examples, oxen were being replaced by horses as draft animals (20 percent in England in 1086, 60 percent by 1574). Watermills were also being constructed at a quick pace, one for every 50 people in Southern England in 1086 and twice that 200 years later. Nothing revolutionary, but it was certainly feasible to absorb a minor decline in agricultural labor, especially if some of that decline is being invested in things that increase productivity.

Communism. Like, it's not even close.

Communism is a system; blood/nobility is a personal characteristic. This feels like a category error. I agree that "need" (as in, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need") manages to be worse than blood, but this is quite a low bar and they're both so bad it feels pointless to ask which is worse.

For most of that history, wealth as we understand the term effectively didn't exist, because there wasn't a workable way to create it.

Indeed, wealth creation jumped massively right as inherited power and nobility-based political systems were starting to be replaced! I wonder if there could be a connection between these events? Maybe such a confiscatory tax regime discouraged higher production? Perhaps nobles are effectively of random competence and random (or worse) moral character? Possibly such a rigid hierarchy discouraged innovation?

If everyone abandons the fields to go chase better wages in the cities,

I think it was quite far from "everyone" who wanted/tried to move, and some of those still planned to farm, just under someone who would pay them more. In any event, if nobles can foresee this happening, there's an obvious solution: Pay the peasants more! In this situation, their work is clearly valuable, so that shouldn't be an issue. It's not like no one except nobility is capable of understanding that food will need to be harvested 6 months out! This is exactly the kind of problem that markets are wonderful at solving and central planning is terrible at. Obviously if too many people start to move to the cities, wages drop because of supply effects, because there's limited capital, and because the productivity of the marginal migrant goes down, which discourages more migration.

Speaking of central planning, I find it rather bizarre that you pointed out how terrible communism was, then immediately suggested that some of the things the Soviets did, such as preventing peasants from moving to the city and engaging in confiscatory levels of taxation, all enforced by military strength, which demonstrably destroyed the economic productivity of huge swaths of land (most notably Ukraine) and lead to mass famine, were somehow good when implemented under feudalism?

I don't really see a better proxy for judging a sense of duty to others than blood/nobility.

I have a hard time thinking of a worse one. The history of "nobility" is largely one of forcefully looting as much wealth as possible from what are effectively slaves, held in place with military force. What was the nobility's reaction to the peasantry being able to demand higher wages after the Black Death, or move to cities for the same end? Was it to encourage this natural economic development which improved productivity even at their own cost? Of course not, they passed laws prohibiting peasants from leaving so that they could not get those higher wages.

The feeling of societal obligation you're talking about--and in particular, a feeling of societal obligation that actually helps other people and does not consider the rigid maintenance of the existing order for the sake of "stability" to be the primary obligation--is extremely rare.

Neither that argument nor any supporting evidence for it are in their post. It's mostly just complaining about the outgroup.

Modern American meritocracy is bad because I see no reason why the child of two Brahmins deserves vastly more wealth and power than the child of two average Mayflower descendants just because the former is “more intelligent”.

You are making the same error that leftists do when they complain that not enough minorities are doctors or CEOs, qualifications be damned. It's not a question of "deserving power." It's a question of, "who is best for the job?" because whether important jobs are done well matters. As Scott once wrote:

The intuition behind meritocracy is this: if your life depends on a difficult surgery, would you prefer the hospital hire a surgeon who aced medical school, or a surgeon who had to complete remedial training to barely scrape by with a C-? If you prefer the former, you’re a meritocrat with respect to surgeons. Generalize a little, and you have the argument for being a meritocrat everywhere else.

The Federal Reserve making good versus bad decisions can be the difference between an economic boom or a recession, and ten million workers getting raises or getting laid off. When you’ve got that much riding on a decision, you want the best decision-maker possible – that is, you want to choose the head of the Federal Reserve based on merit.

This has nothing to do with fairness, deserts, or anything else. If some rich parents pay for their unborn kid to have experimental gene therapy that makes him a superhumanly-brilliant economist, and it works, and through no credit of his own he becomes a superhumanly-brilliant economist – then I want that kid in charge of the Federal Reserve. And if you care about saving ten million people’s jobs, you do too.

Now, obviously, IQ is not the only factor that determines if someone is going to be good at such a job. And I would greatly like to separate/reduce power over other people from as many positions as possible, even if what they do is important, because the existence of the "ruling class" is the problem, not the details of who is in it. This is relatively easy for surgeons; less so for the chairman of the Fed. But the only way for the Fed not to have power is not to have a centralized monetary system, and similarly the only way for a politician not to have power is to have as small and weak a government as possible. And favoring "Mayflower descendants" over 1st generation immigrants accomplishes, in my view, pretty much nothing on either front. What if we flip your example; do Mayflower descendants deserve more wealth and power just because their ancestors from 400 years ago fled England?

The theory I heard is that Hussein was trying to pretend he had WMDs in order to intimidate potential rivals in the region like Iran, and accidentally did too good of a job.

I think walking 30 minutes every day would add up over time.

No, I mean places like Chicago, Denver, and New York. Like I said, snowfall sometimes makes driving impractical in those places as well.

Maybe part of the reason the average American is obese is because they drive everywhere, and walking 30 minutes a day would have tremendous benefit.

They are, but even in cold American cities it's rare that it's so cold that walking or cycling become impractical. Like, a few days a year rare--certainly similar to the frequency with which snowfall makes cars impractical in those same cities.

A computer and reliable internet access aren't free (nor a VPN), and many people rely on the library for the internet (ironically enough).

I don't think the internet replaces what libraries currently do, even around getting books. Being able to easily browse, to find books you never even thought of... a physical space like a library is way better than the internet.

Libraries are a lot more than just a warehouse for books. They provide a lot of services, including research help, internet and computer access, rooms that can be booked (hah!) for various purposes, and often a variety of other programs (tax help, kids programming, etc.). Also, just because some books are cheap doesn't mean that borrowing books as no purpose. Some people are still poor, or just have limited space, so "books are cheap" isn't that strong of an argument.

Could be that they want to hide the exact capabilities we have and how we got them. Once everyone knows what's possible, they'll immediately try to replicate it? We have some super secret research lab but want the Chinese look for alien storage facilities instead?

Honestly, "trying to mislead foreign countries about what capabilities the US has" doesn't seem like a terrible explanation. It's certainly within the capability of the CIA to take whatever our most advanced technology is and recruit a few pilots and former spooks to exaggerate what they saw in front of Congress (or just lie). Maybe some of the Congresscritters are even in on it.

Again, I don't see why any argument that is fundamentally based on uncertainty would favor delaying the vaccine. Yes, it's a bad flu for many healthy people in the short term, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have long-term effects. Getting the vaccine was, at worst, 1 day of flu symptoms for most people, too, but you don't seem to think that means that covid has some unknown long-term risk. There are viruses (like rabies) which hang out in people for a long time with no apparent symptoms but are extremely dangerous. And the whole point of a vaccine is to be similar to the disease it prevents.

(Also, I feel like I should point out that thalidomide is a very important medicine which is only really bad if you give it to pregnant women, which means that you could give it to well over 95% of the population and not have many big problems).

Covid might also have delayed unknown side effects, so by the exact same logic delaying them could do a lot of damage.

They were developed very quickly--I believe the first ones in January of 2020. They were approved "quickly" in the sense that a new medicine getting approved in less than a year would be unheard of in normal situations. They were not approved quickly in the sense that quickly by FDA standards is still glacially slow by any reasonable person standards. Also, the testing process was delayed--they were allowed to do phase 2 and phase 3 trials at the same time, IIRC, but those trials took a lot of time because most people weren't getting covid in the course of a month and you need a lot of people in the control group to get COVID in order to have enough data. This could have been worked around with challenge trials, which people even volunteered for, but we can't have that. People might get hurt!

Edit: Since I'm being sarcastic, I should say that manufacturing might have slowed down the process of getting vaccines out anyway. But even with a small number of doses you could prevent a lot of deaths by vaccinating old people and other at-risk groups, which is what we did, so I would guess challenge trials still end up saving lives on net.

It is possible for metrics to hide important factors. For example, there could be an increase in inequality, which means that most people are worse off while a few people are much better off. This seems to be the opposite of what has actually happened, though. One that seems more likely to me is an increase in prices swallowing more income, so people are worse off. Given what I've heard about housing costs, it rings true, although I can't seem to easily find great data. The US could easily be in a similar position, but being wealthier to begin with masks it.

Do you see the shape of the problem?

I don't understand your claims in this paragraph at all. Britain, its former colonies, and the other states that those places controlled or influenced, can't possibly be an "outlier" when they represent such an enormous amount of people, land, wealth, and influence. There were only so many major powers at the time or in the immediate aftermath.

And what does Marxism have to do with this? Marx's main works were published around 50 years after the end of what is generally considered the Enlightenment, and represents a very different intellectual tradition. Maybe Marx and some his followers thought they were the following in the Enlightenment tradition, but I don't see it at all, except to the extent that you could group literally all Western philosophy into one big tradition, but which is far too broad to ask a question like "Of the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789, which hewed closer in practice to the essential spirit of Enlightenment ideology?" Each generation of thinkers presumably takes influences from their predecessors, while also rejecting some of what came before. While you can have fuzzy boundaries for sure, I feel very comfortable placing the late-1800s socialists, the early- to mid- 20th century socialist states, and their apologists in Western academia, outside the purview of "The Enlightenment."

Doesn't it behoove the ideologues to account for such vagaries when designing their theories? If you're going to claim to know how to make a better society, shouldn't you account for the real-world conditions that will cause your system to fail?

I'm not really sure I follow, but it is impossible to anticipate all of the possible ways in which someone might misinterpret or misuse your ideas. Aside from the infinite range of human excuse-making and rationalization and stupidity, if someone can ignore what you write about individual liberty, they can also ignore what you write about not ignoring the part about individual liberty.

When the ideology itself claims that the nature of the political problem is that there are good people and bad people and the solution is for the good people to kill the bad people, I don't think you get to blame the outcomes on bad actors.

Ok, but did Enlightenment thinkers actually say that? Or did some people just hamfistedly glue their unrelated complaints to vague ideas about equality and distrust of authority and hierarchy?

For Christianity, you gave examples spanning a thousand years and several continents.

It wouldn't be hard to give examples that are much closer in space and time. Just look at the reactions to Martin Luther's theses, for example, which split down the middle of countries or even families. Or the differences across the groups of Albion's Seed.

Then your argument would be that the French Revolution was not a central example of the Enlightenment, and that individual liberties are a defining characteristic?

I think it's less central than the American Revolution, but also, the new system didn't even last that long. Napoleon took over, then the Bourbon monarchy was restored, then you had the revolution of 1830, then another in 1848, then Napoleon 3rd declared himself Emperor until 1870. While this initial event had something to do with the Enlightenment, it seems weird to me to over-index on this one fairly short event. Modern France's government is based on what happened many decades later, while America is still using the same Constitution we had in 1792. As I described above, I might just be biased as an American, but violent revolution against the existing powers is nothing new. For example, do any of the things you identify as negatives in the Enlightenment also seem to describe the Hussite wars of 400 years prior, and if so, why?

If so, what do you make of all the people arguing the opposite throughout history?

People also argue that the American Revolution is a central example of the Enlightenment, and your post is largely about the differences between the 2 revolutions. So do you argue the American Revolution is not a central example? Do you agree that 2 things can be wildly different while still being part of one big intellectual movement? Do you think that all of those people you mentioned are just confused?

You originally asked, "I think a good place to start is with a simpler question: Of the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789, which hewed closer in practice to the essential spirit of Enlightenment ideology?"

In order for this question to be meaningful, there has to be an "essential spirit" which is not simply defined by the behavior of people in those revolutions, as the latter would be circular. It seems like your answer is to define this "essential spirit" as being closer to the French version mostly because that version was more... popular? Globally influential? Which is something you can do, I guess, but is mostly an empirical question and I'm far from sure that you're correct, and in any event seems fairly close to saying that Catholicism is closer to true Christianity simply because there are more Catholics than any other branch.

The French Revolution, and the whole downstream branch of purported Enlightenment thinking and subsequent revolutions which took the French Revolution as their model, which appears to me to be the predominant portion both in raw numbers and in intellectual influence throughout the modern era.

Maybe this is just my Amero-centric bias speaking, but it seems to me like the American version is much more influential worldwide. Are there any countries that are currently trying to do what the French Revolution did as far as religion? I agree that the American Revolution is fairly unique among revolutions, but I think this more likely has to do with who was doing the rebelling and the circumstances of that rebellion than ideological influence. For example, the Americans were British colonists, rather than being natives of the country they inhabited, and so were not subject to the same sort of oppression (and technological and economic disadvantage) as, say, the Indians, Haitians, Mexicans, or Congolese.

(One could even argue that the real legacy of the Enlightenment is neither of those 2 big revolutions, but rather the peaceful granting of independence to countries like Canada and Australia much later, and these data points don't even come to mind because of how boring it is. That's fairly speculative on my part though).

Yes, the French Revolution was influenced by and incorporated aspects of the Enlightenment. I think it's a mistake to judge any intellectual movement by its worst "members" since some portion of any group of people will have bullies, narcissists, sociopaths, and people just hungry for power or violence, who are willing to join any movement and utilize it to their own ends, as well as extremists who truly believe but also use it to justify violence regardless of what those beliefs actually are. For example, what exemplifies the "core elements" of Christianity? Is it the Crusades? The forceful suppression of Native American culture and religion? The preservation of Greek and Roman learning through the Dark Ages? Maximillian Koble sacrificing himself at Aushwitz? All of these are some combination of what Christianity teaches and individual behavior by individual people. The French Revolution is the same.

(Communism rightfully gets dragged because all of its examples, at least above Dunbar's number, are horrific.)

No, it doesn't, because what people claim is of far less evidentiary value than what they do. But the flipside of this is the people who claim that Communism is Utopia, and therefore the USSR wasn't really Communist since it didn't create a Utopia. That is what I perceive you and others to be doing with the Enlightenment; you seem to be claiming that good results are part of its definition, and therefore an instance that produces bad results can't have been part of it. I think we should understand ideologies by the methods they employ and the outcomes they produce, not the outcomes they claim to be pursuing. The claims are still helpful in understanding how their agents saw themselves, but those statements should be heavily outweighed by what those agents actually did and the results they actually achieved.

I see what you're saying, and I agree that it's fallacious to just redefine a thing you like to be "good things" and a thing you don't like to be "bad things." However, in this case I really do believe that the individual liberty interpretation is much more in line with what Enlightenment thinkers like Locke actually proposed, and French Revolutionaries were largely taking out their anger with the Church, which was heavily entwined with the monarchy and had benefited from special privileges, rather than implementing an Enlightenment philosophical vision. Particularly when you have a mass movement with individual people from many walks of life... do you think that all of those people had read and digested all of the Enlightenment thinkers? Similarly I'm sure there were aspects of the American Revolution not perfectly in line with Enlightenment principles.

Is your idea of the Enlightenment accurate, though? I'm aware that the term is loaded with positive affect. Should it be, given the historical record?

What historical record are you referring to? If you mean the very question we're discussing, then that seems circular. Anyone can claim to be implementing some set of ideas, but that doesn't mean they actually are. Marx and the USSR claimed to be following "science" and "democracy"; does that mean science and democracy were the cause of those tens of millions of deaths?


There doesn't seem to be anything here about forcibly getting rid of all religion. E.g.

Locke said that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he said must therefore remain protected from any government authority.


In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, Thomas Jefferson calls for a "wall of separation between church and state" at the federal level.

Maybe there are other Enlightenment thinkers with more hard-line stances, but when I read Locke the individual choice interpretation was definitely what I understood.

I don't see that in these data; any change is likely noise. And even if there were such a change at approximately the correct time, you can't just read causality off of a timeseries graph.

edit: If anything, the decline in unemployment slows slightly after 2016, though this jut because it's approaching the lower bound at that point.