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Culture War Roundup for the week of December 12, 2022

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Just as an FYI, we just deployed a major performance improvement for this site. It also might be buggy. Please report any issues you run into, especially those involving the display of the front page or comment threads (like this one).

(At the same time we're currently working with a significant performance degradation because of a library bug. Hopefully we'll get that one solved soon too.)

Edit: So far there are 414 janitor submissions, y'all are great, I was expecting to have to wait a week or two to get a good chunk of useful data but nope this is going fast.

(one post is considered one submission, not one set of posts)

Works fine so far. Thank you for your efforts.

You might be jannies, but you're our jannies. <3

The janny volunteer popup dialog seems to be in light theme even if you're using dark theme.

Sigh, I admit the themes are an annoying amount of work. I'll fix this one though.

I didn't actually realize there was a 'dark' theme until this comment. White text on dark background is my preferred look, so I switched over. However, I'm pretty sure there's a bug with the dark themes ('dark', 'midnight', and 'tron' all share this issue), where the interface doesn't register if you've clicked the upvote or downvote button, it stays the same color regardless. Any chance this could be fixed as well?

The problem is that I've been making serious changes to the base theme but not wanting to invest the time on fixing up the other themes. I think I might:

  • Change TheMotte to light

  • Fix up dark a bit

  • Rename the other themes to include (unsupported)

  • Remap users to light or dark as appropriate

  • Send a message to everyone who was using an unsupported theme saying "your old theme is kind of deprecated and may look crummy, we've changed you to a supported theme, you're welcome to change back if you really want or volunteer to fix up the theme"

I should also do a check to see which themes are most popular.

actually lemme just do that now, I need to get into the DB anyway

TheMotte: 1477 (obviously a lot of these are "I just left it as the default")

reddit: 98

dark: 96

midnight: 74

dramblr: 27

coffee: 23

4chan: 19

win98: 15

tron: 7

light: 4

transparent: 1

I am one of the people using "reddit". It actually doesn't resemble Reddit very much; it's just a nice theme: dark, but not too dark like the actual "dark" theme. (The background on "dark" is apparently literally #000000, which no one ever does!) It seems "midnight" is basically just "reddit" but worse (the contrast is terrible), so if you combine the two, "reddit" is the de facto dark theme and therefore it should, in my totally unbiased opinion, become the official dark theme.

The "transparent" theme has something to do with custom backgrounds, which are non-functional, so I think you can just remove it completely. I can't even get it to work, no idea how that one person did it.

The background on "dark" is apparently literally #000000, which no one ever does!

OLED display users (mostly mobile, but not all) do.


Edit: Oops, just noticed you said there are non-mobile OLED displays. My bad. Anyway, would it be too much to have a "dark", renamed from "reddit", and "OLED" or "superdark" or something, renamed from "dark"? Or perhaps rename "reddit" to "light dark"? Again, I am very biased, but "reddit" is the most popular non-default theme.

My suggestion would be for default theme to use the prefers-color-scheme @media query to switch the base colors to bright-on-dark-gray if you have your browser/OS set for dark mode. "Dark" would be moved to "OLED black".

Personally, I use "coffee".

Per Transtellung's comment I just switched to the 'reddit' theme, and already I can tell it is much better. It does leave the big 'The Motte' site name in the upper left black (unreadable against the background), but now all links are clearly highlighted in blue, and upvotes and downvotes are clearly visible as orange and light blue respectively. Very much support his recommendation to turn 'reddit' into the official dark theme.

EDIT: it appears that the 'reddit' theme does not highlight unread comments in the same way as the 'themotte' theme does. So if I had one other suggestion, it'd be to incorporate that change into this theme. Thanks!

I got a popup asking to rate a post.

My too. Just some random comment. I rated it.

I also accidentally fat finger upvoted it. That should probably be disabled when rating comments.

Excellent! It appears to be working.

The volunteer/janitor page has a link for the rules which should instead of localhost/rules.

Oops, not my finest moment. Should be fixed now, thanks!

Hmm, can you give me screenshot examples of those? I think this is the first I've heard of either, for the record.

Today I learned there are lines indicating how replies are nested in the light theme on mobile! I have been using dark theme since launch and while I thought I remembered lines at one point, collapsing threads without using the minus next to a user name has always seemed like a random crapshoot when I tapped to the left of a comment. As another Johnny Bench I think double tapping would be light years better (and an option to remove the collapsing function of the lines if possible (oh and make the lines visible in dark theme please.))

Huh, I like the "double-tap to collapse" idea. I don't actually use mobile so I'm sorta in the dark on what people want there :V

Task added!

Could we also see how many child comments a particular comment gets when collapsed?

I think this may actually be difficult, we don't track that info anywhere. But I'll add a task for it.

I have almost two hundred new notifications over the last 17 hours. It looks like I'm getting a notification every time someone comments on this thread.

Did you hit the "subscribe" button with the eye next to it?

I didn't think I did. But I just unsubscribed. Thanks.

American Mythology & Mount Rushmore

I recently visited Mount Rushmore for the first time. Previously, I did not know very much about the monument beyond the impression I had acquired through cultural osmosis. I visited in the off-season; the nearby tourist village was closed for the season and deserted, and the memorial was nearly as deserted except for a young Parisian couple I met on the trail. I would recommend visiting in the off-season if possible- the quiet and the cold are the best conditions to appreciate the monument.

I left the memorial with a greater appreciation for, and more tragic interpretation of, the monument.

What changed my interpretation of the monument was reading commentary by Gutzon Borglum on placards in the memorial center. Borglum was the lead sculptor who designed the work and oversaw its construction until his death in 1941. This was his vision. Obviously in a work like this, the intention of the artist is going to be completely overshadowed by the propaganda-form put forth by the government that has funded it and maintains it. But It was fascinating to learn how deeply, symbolically contrary Borglum's artistic intentions were in comparison to the political meaning to which it was immediately assigned and prevails to this day, essentially as a "shrine to Democracy." Borglum:

We believe the dimensions of national heartbeats are greater than village impulses, greater than state dreams or ambitions. Therefore, we believe a nation’s memorial should, like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, have a serenity, a nobility, a power that reflects the gods who inspired them and suggests the gods they have become.

As for sculptured mountains--Civilization, even its fine arts, is, most of it, quantity-produced stuff: education, law, government, wealth--each is enduring only as the day. Too little of it lasts into tomorrow and tomorrow is strangely the enemy of today, as today has already begun to forget buried yesterday. Each succeeding civilization forgets its predecessor, and out of its body builds its homes, its temples. Civilizations are ghouls. Egypt was pulled apart by its successor; Greece was divided among the Romans; Rome was pulled to pieces by bigotry and bitterness much of which was engendered in its own empire building.

I want, somewhere in America, on or near the Rockies, the backbone of the Continent, so far removed from succeeding, selfish, coveting civilizations, a few feet of stone that bears witness, carries the likeness, the dates, a word or two of the great things we accomplished as a Nation, placed so high it won’t pay to pull them down for lesser purposes.

Hence, let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away.

Borglum's quotation that "Civilizations are ghouls" should not be misinterpreted as a commentary on the rural/urban divide. This commentary is better understood with a Spenglerian reading:

'Mankind'… has no aim, no idea, no plan, any more than the family of butterflies or orchids. 'Mankind' is a zoological expression, or an empty word. … I see, in place of that empty figment of one linear history which can only be kept up by shutting one’s eyes to the overwhelming multitude of the facts, the drama of a number of mighty Cultures, each springing with primitive strength from the soil of a mother region to which it remains firmly bound throughout its whole life-cycle; each stamping its material, its mankind, in its own image; each having its own idea, its own passions, its own life, will and feeling, its own death.

Like Spengler, Borglum saw the Nation as a distinct entity with a finite lifespan, and he was obsessed in creating this monument as a testament to its spirit and accomplishments as a permanent record. This took the form of various ideas which never came to completion, like the idea to inscribe a brief history of the United States on the mountain in four different languages:

On one occasion when Mr. Borglum was in Washington urging the necessary appropriation to continue the work, he arranged with President Roosevelt for a meeting in the executive office, to which he invited all senators representing states carved from the Northwest Territory. Most of the senators attended. Borglum was the orator to make the speech to the president. He was a good orator. He was then stressing the importance of carving a short history of the United States on the mountainside. He said he intended to carve this history in four languages, English, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit.

Senator Tom Connally, of Texas, thought it was time for a question. He blurted out, “What in the world do you want to cut it in Sanskrit for? Nobody reads that.”

Borglum turned on Tom with a withering look of scorn. Striking a dramatic pose, he said, as nearly as I can now recall: “Sir, Mount Rushmore is eternal. It will stand there until the end of time. This age will pass away and all its records will be destroyed; 10,000 years from now all our civilization will have passed without leaving a trace. A new race of people will come to inhabit the earth. They will come to Mount Rushmore and read there the record that we have made. If that record is written on that immortal mountain in four languages, those people will not have the difficulty in reading our record that we had in figuring out the hieroglyphics of Egypt.

Another quote on one of the placards, read "You might as well drop a letter into the world’s postal service without an address or signature, as to send that carved mountain into history without identification." These early designs were ultimately abandoned in favor of the idea to carve a shrine inside the mountain called the "Hall of Records." Work on this was started but abandoned when Borglum died in 1941 and funding was cut-off as part of budget-saving measures for WWII. The project was declared complete.

I learned that the Museum placed some inscribed ceramic tablets inside the partially carved Hall of Records to partially fulfill Borglum's vision, but that room is not open to tourists.

The memorial also has a ~10 minute video presentation in a theater, and the film featured some recordings of FDR's speech dedicating the monument in 1936:

This is the second dedication. There will be others by other Presidents in other years. When we get through, there will be something for the American people that will last not merely through generations but for thousands and thousands of years.

I think that we can perhaps meditate a little on those Americans 10,000 years from now, when the weathering on the faces of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln shall have proceeded to perhaps the depth of a tenth of an inch, and wonder what our descendants—and I think they will still be here will think about us.

Let us hope that at least they will give us the benefit of the doubt, that they will believe we have honestly striven every day and generation to preserve for our descendants a decent land to live in and a decent form of government to operate under.

Notice the inversion of the interpretation of the monument. FDR conceives of "our descendants" looking upon the memorial 10,000 years from now as it weathers away, whereas Borglum conceived the monument as outlasting the Nation; in 10,000 years, a "new race" looking upon a monument to a long-deceased Culture that conquered the continent and tamed the frontier.

I tried to look a little into Borglum's political associations and learned that he was associated with (although not a member of) the Ku Klux Klan. That increases my suspicion that works like Spengler's The Decline of the West (1918) or perhaps The Passing of the Great Race (1916) influenced Borglum's artistic inspiration.

The clash between a linear, progressive view of history, and Spengler's conception of Culture as a super-organism with its own birth, life, and death cycle, is well-embodied by these conflicting interpretations of the monument. Spengler conceived the prevailing Culture as "Faustian culture", which was born around the 10th century and spanned the globe by the 20th century. In this capacity, per Spengler, Faust represents "Western Man's limitless metaphysic, unrestricted thirst for knowledge, and constant confrontation with the Infinite."

Looking at Borglum's intended final design in comparison to the final product after funding was cut with the outbreak of WWII, Mount Rushmore becomes an almost too-perfect monument to Faustian Civilization- "In Spengler's depiction, Western Man was a proud but tragic figure because, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached."

Thanks for a good post.

Even if America exists in 10,000 years, it will be utterly unrecognizable to us today. I wonder if they will look back on us with admiration, disgust, or if they will think about us at all. Personally I think apathy is the likeliest. I rarely think about humans 10,000 years ago. Although the calculas may be different since our records will theoretically survive better than our own old ancestors.

Then again, if we actually get AGI and life extension, who knows? Maybe Americans who were alive during FDRs reign will still exist in 10,000 years. Immortality truly breaks down a lot of mankind's expectations of large time scales. I'd imagine it would lean our race towards a far more conservative outlook.

I wonder if this is a Fermi paradox solver in some way? Perhaps species advance enough to gain immortality, then cease expanding out of a low appetite for risk.

I tried to look a little into Borglum's political associations and learned that he was associated with (although not a member of) the Ku Klux Klan.

According to Wikipedia, he was approached with the suggestion of him sculpting an ever greater monument, for Crazy Horse, and he didn't even respond. That alone doesn't mean he was a KKK sympathizer, but I assume he surely didn't sympathize with racial minorities that much.

On a different note, I'm somewhat surprised that no further work has been done on the monument since 1941.

Google, the most influential and powerful search engine in America, which most Americans use when searching for product information, released a propaganda music video advising everyone to only buy from black people. Buy what, only from black people? Everything. During a specific day as a kind of protest? No, every single day of the year. This follows Google’s decision to artificially boost black-owned businesses on their Maps app, giving these businesses a special eye-catching symbol.

Buying All Black - Ludacris feat. Flo Milli (A Google #BlackOwnedFriday Anthem)

“It’s time to buy black. All day, every day. Choose black 24/7, 365.

The music video goes on to tell the audience to “buy black” thirty times, while the Google-funded music video showcases individuals searching for black-owned businesses of every variety, from restaurants to salons.

I for one, am less than enthusiastic about the hegemonic consumer search engine producing propaganda advising consumers to never shop at a white-owned business. I’m less concerned with the music video, which received 15 million impressions on YouTube alone (a Google product), than with the underlying sentiment that clearly permeates through the business. I’m afraid of what Google is doing behind the scenes in terms of showing services, and whether they are going to artificially reduce exposure to a business owned by the ancestor of an Irish slave, in favor of a wealthy and privileged Nigerian immigrant whose ancestors owned many slaves.

Is there a black owned search engine we can switch to instead of Google?

MS CEO is not white, does that count?

Ironically, highlighting black owned businesses also makes it easy for racists to avoid black owned businesses.

"I've been saying we need this feature for years. Google: please flag the homos next."

-David Duke

Forget racist. If your main claim is “buy from me because I’m black” that signals to me other stores have more quality etc.

Thus proving that (at least in the eyes of Google) the median person is more likely to be biased in favor of blacks than against them. So this initiative is not meant to correct an imbalance but to further reward an already favored group.

14M views, 126 comments. They are favoring comments with black avatars too. This is just weird, man.

YouTube allows you to delete comments from your videos. They probably have someone doing that.

I believe white women are both the biggest US consumers and the most progressive group in the US. Could argue that part of companies going overly woke is just to sell more things to their biggest demographic.

Given that a call to buy only from PoC is equivalent to a call to boycott non-PoC, I wonder if ADL will notice the, to me, obvious parallel with the nazi Jewish boycott. Especially as in both cases Jews are the non-favoured demographic.

My gut reaction is that the ADL prioritizes being a sword over being a shield. They are more motivated by malice towards the outgroup, than affinity towards their ingroup. So I doubt they'll have a problem with this, since PoC are presently part of their coalition, and thus not a hated outgroup.

ADL can't notice anything DNC didn't tell them to notice. This has been the case for a while now.

ADL can't notice anything DNC didn't tell them to notice. This has been the case for a while now.

Avoid low-effort weakmanning like this.

I agree that wasn't exactly effortpost, but I disagree about weekmanning. My opinion is that ADL have turned completely political, and has converted from a principled institution fighting anti-semitism and bigotry to a partisan reputation laundering outlet that cynically cashes in on these sentiments for partisan reasons. Thus it is useless to mention it as a trustworthy arbiter in cases like this. This is not a random throwaway boo, this is a result of long (and rather painful, for me, as a Jewish person) observation of their (de-)evolution.

I really wish people would pay attention to the rules we have here about how to argue your points, and not just whether or not they agree with the sentiment of the post in question. Very often someone will snarl something about their ideological opponents, and after being warned for the snarl, they or someone else will come back with "But what I said is true!"

Maybe it is true. And written as an effortful post explaining why you think that, it would be fine. But low-effort sneers, even if expressing an opinion that could be defended, are just low-effort sneers.

the more obvious parallel is affirmative action.

It continues to be darkly amusing that progressives are reinventing and advocating segregation.

whether they are going to artificially reduce exposure to a business owned by a former Irish slave...

Where would one find a business owned by a former Irish slave? To my knowledge, there are very few enslaved Irish in the past few decades.

There are also very few enslaved black people in the past few decades.

I don't think segregation is the right term for this unless the call to patronize black-owned businesses is only intended only for black people. It's simple racial discrimination.

I think the reasoning is that blacks are already discriminated against so the only way to even the balance is to go out of your way to favor them. Of course, this implies that all differences between races is purely a function of discrimination, which isn't my view and probably not of many others here. But in the wider cultural discourse, questioning this assumption would be a fringe if not suspect act. What goes unsaid ultimately goes unthought.

I agree re Irish slave comment being silly. However, one thing to note is that increasing one group necessarily artificially decreases visibility of not that group.

What Google is doing is wrong.

OP currently reads the ancestor of an Irish slave, so OP presumably thinks the Irish will be re-enslaved in the future. To which the civilized races can only say, thank God, of course.

Remember the "AI ethicist" Timnit Gebru? Her being a woman and black working in tech, where that combination is very rare, I was shocked, distraught and frankly terrified over Google's firing of her when she started calling them racist and irresponsible.

It almost appears as if Google prefers these PR stunts for optics but when it actually matters, their policies are diametrically opposite. (For the record, I have zero issues with Google firing her, my sarcasm aside. She should've never been hired in the first place. All I'm asking is for Google's messaging to be consistent with their actual behaviour).

It has the same energies as a rapping German teacher of whatever in a 80s edutainment public television series.

It’s worth noting that if the goal of affirmative action is genuinely to help black people, then encouraging traffic at black owned businesses is probably the most bang for your buck way to do that, even after accounting for that many, eg, beauty salons are segregated for normal and natural reasons. Black communities do have an actual problem where Koreans, Arabs, and Indians own most of the businesses in them, and the profits generated are exported from the community.

Google’s method might be dumb here- and probably is- but the basic thought isn’t.

(cynically, they're done almost-purely for PR, in which case they're good for Google and downstream effects are ignored).

For this specific case, this is almost certainly true. Google most certainly has the ability to track if this leads to an increase in traffic to black owned businesses(after all, the majority of people who navigate through google maps do so by clicking on an icon, and it's pretty easy to track traffic to a particular place that way, or at least I'd think so). They also probably don't want to, because that opens up the possibility that they could be wrong about it, and these kinds of woke initiative usually don't want to entertain the idea that they don't work.

Maps has a reasonably large footprint if only because of android install base. Many people use default apps so for iPhone users the data'd mostly be from TomTom and for android users it'd be mostly Google. Waze is amusingly a google subsidiary so people using that are also using Google maps data. Google maps used to be more common in third party applications but they changed something in the licensing so in the past five years or so I've more often seen Bing (which is also powered by TomTom). (And by "often seen" I mean the small time developers using their dev licenses in their production applications then getting cut-off by whatever service they failed to pay for and instead of a map you see tiled images of "Pay for a license, signed by $Company". Google just overlays the nag notice over low-resolution maps, Bing makes it white squares.)

Sort of ancillary to the point you're making, it's kind of weird that we have to treat "15 million impressions" reported by YouTube as one of the facts of matter, when we have no way to confirm (and increasingly no reason to believe) those are the actual numbers.

The message would be bad whether it was 5 views or 5 billion, but it's something to keep in mind when these stories come up where something is considered inherently newsworthy based on social engagement which may be entirely bunk (and obviously, the threat of malfeasance is much higher with something internally- produced and explicitly propagandistic.

2.4% of US businesses are black owned, even accounting for significant fibbing on those surveys by businesses trying to claim to be black owned.

This just doesn't matter. It isn't going to hurt anyone, it probably won't really help anyone either. It is not at all comparable to a boycott of white owned businesses, let alone a boycott of Jewish owned businesses.

On one side of the Overton window, a thing is unthinkable, and only crazy people would worry about it.

On the other side of the Overton window, a thing is unquestionable, and only crazy people would try to oppose it.

If the definers of the Overton window narrow it enough, a thing can jump from unthinkable to unquestionable without debate about it ever being permitted. Sometimes the Overton window can even be shrunk past zero width, so that a thing can be unthinkable and unquestionable at once for a time. (You can notice this when a side argues that something could never happen and also that only monsters could oppose it. Of course, it's rarely the same individuals, but often they hold arbitrarily-similar views otherwise.)

So there is very little that gets my hackles up more than hearing somebody say that something someone brings up as worth worrying about is too unimportant. To me, it sounds very much like being told that "there's nothing to see here, go about your business, this is too unthinkable to lead to anything, the bounds of the Overton window will protect you! We'll let you know when you're allowed to think for yourself." Because I strongly suspect that time will be "never," (for why should important matters of basic human decency ever be subjected to the vagaries of public debate?)

The bounds of the Overton window will not, in fact, keep their shape unless people actually do care about maintaining them. And if caring makes me a crazy, well then, so be it.

let alone a boycott of Jewish owned businesses.

Why? They're only 2% of the population, according to your logic it just wouldn't matter either.

Majority boycotting a minority is very different from a minority boycotting a majority.

Your claim was that this doesn't matter, because only a small portion of the population would be affected. This would still be the case if a majority boycotts a minority. It sounds like the original reason you gave for this being ok is not the actual reason you find it ok.

Also this ad did not encourage a minority to only buy at black owned business, it encouraged everyone to do so.

No, my original claim was that the number of black owned businesses is small. Try all you want, you can't shop at only black owned businesses. Making it irrelevant, and not a constructive boycott of other businesses. Let's not pretend we live in a different world than the one we live in.

It probably won't amount to a full "boycott of other businesses", but you can absolutely make the argument that it redirects business that would've otherwise gone to white/Asian/etc businesses towards black-owned businesses. To claim that this is not going to hurt anyone (like you claimed in your initial comment) and is irrelevant (like you claimed in this one) because people will still shop at businesses owned by people of other races is frankly missing the point to an impressive degree, just because it is impractical to do a full boycott doesn't mean it isn't essentially encouraging people to discriminate and doesn't mean it won't have real world effects.

It's probably intended to redirect business from Korean or Indian owned businesses to African-American owned businesses, if it's intended to have an effect and not just virtue signal.

Okay, but I'm wondering on what basis you believe that this specifically is the intent. Do you have data on, say, any unique overlaps between the markets served by Korean/Indian owned businesses and black-owned businesses?

I understand where you're coming from. Pragmatically speaking, you're correct that this will have zero impact. But I think people get angry over the principle. Just because something cannot harm me directly or indirectly, doesn't mean that it's right.

not a constructive boycott of other businesses

That it isn't a racial boycott of all e.g. (white) Jewish businesses doesn't mean that it isn't a partial boycott, e.g. a Jew-owned grocers in an area of a city with a black-owned grocers. Maybe "constructive" is doing a lot of opaque work in your assertion?

This seems to say “sure it’s wrong but the effect is small so who cares.”

Maybe. But 1 wrong is wrong and 2 Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Yes and furthermore 95 percent of black owned businesses are non employer firms. In other words they have no employees. I imagine the 5 percent That do are things like restaurants, clothing stores, music stories, maybe convenience, barber shops etc

Sure, but out of your 4 listed categories the barbershops and salons are already de facto segregated for very good natural reasons, and the restaurants and clothiers probably aren't that far behind. A Black barber would have no idea how to cut my hair, and my barber has no idea how to cut 4c hair. Even worse for women!

And a restaurant owned by your Nigerian slave owner is unlikely to be a local pizza joint* that I'd get confused by to begin with. Idk about clothing, I feel like there are distinct markets there as well but I don't want to overstep my argument.

This is meaningless happy claptrap.

*Though I might be wrong here on second thought, tbf my favorite Italian deli is owned and operated by Koreans. They bought the place, kept the Italian name and concept, improved the menu and offerings. Best meatball Parm I've ever had. Diversity is our strength.

A Black barber would have no idea how to cut my hair, and my barber has no idea how to cut 4c hair.

A white guy walks into a barber shop in Compton, where he is greeted by the proprietor

"Hello there sir, and welcome to my barber shop! Who is getting their hair cut today?"

White guy looks around, confused, at the otherwise empty store

"Uh hi, I am? I'm getting my hair cut, I'd like a short back and sides please - 4 blade if you can."

"You?! You want me to cut your hair? But how!? I only have scissors for black hair sir, I don't have even one pair of white scissors! How do white people even start a short back and sides, do you do it in order of colour shade? Should I start on a diagonal? Nope, I'm sorry sir but without extensive training I think this is probably only going to endanger the both of us."

What reasons exist for good and natural segregation of hair dressing services that don't exist for schools, public transport, restaurants etc?

Your confident ignorance is highly amusing.

White and Black hair really are just physically different. A barber that primarily works with black customers isn't going to have a clue how to layer fine straight blonde hair to produce texture in a side part. He's going to be used to doing the opposite, trying to tame overly thick and textured hair into something respectable. Most frequently the issue is seen in reverse, Black women in small towns unable to find anyone who knows how to work with textured hair.

So you are correct in the claim about hair being different but overstating the impact practically. I've been to a number of black barber shops none of which had any issue with my red/blonde hair. Short back and sides with a side part isn't the most challenging of haircuts after all.

They would perhaps lack the experience to deal with complicated or long hair, but for short lengths it's not as much of an issue. For hairstylists for women, your point becomes a little stronger, but even there given the numbers of black women who relax or straighten their hair, most black salons will have experience in dealing with straight hair as well or indeed given extensions/weaves are often put in and then styled, dealing with straight fine hair (often from Indian women).

It's not a symmetric issue in other words. A black woman may struggle in a white suburb to find someone but a white man in a black area is much less likely to have an issue. If they are hipsterish, a rocker or similar with long hair that calculus will change again, but a lot of black stylists are used to dealing with fine straight hair (albeit it is not their clients own natural hair).

I am aware different races have different types of hair. They also have different metabolisms, but nobody considers that a good and natural reason for segregating restaurants. Because that was and is my point - your good and natural reason for segregating barber shops is a lack of interest and experience. The same reasons separatists gave for segregating schools and restaurants (because they couldn't politely mention their feelings of discomfort, which I also suspect is the case with some hair stylists.)

"You?! You want me to cut your hair? But how!? I only have scissors for black hair sir, I don't have even one pair of white scissors! How do white people even start a short back and sides, do you do it in order of colour shade? Should I start on a diagonal? Nope, I'm sorry sir but without extensive training I think this is probably only going to endanger the both of us."

This, but unironically. If most of your clients have kinky hair and the rest have curly hair, you might have problems with styling straight hair. How the hell do you style hair that tends to lie flat into a 90s curtained hair or into an undercut? Even if's the short back and sides, how do you combine that with the longer hair left up top without leaving the customer looking like a Ukrainian blacksmith?

This dialog is kind of funny in its over-the-topness but do you really not understand that the black people and white people have very different hair? Try a google image search for "black men's hairstyles"

What is over the top is suggesting a barber would have "no idea" how to cut hair of someone from a different race. And then going on to suggest that this is a good reason for segregation, effectively resurrecting one of the most popular reasons racists had in the past for segregating schools and restaurants.

Edit: ignore this post, I'll delete it in half a day - I thought I had dreamed posting the other reply I wrote.

Edit 2: Actually, on second thought, I'm going to leave it here. I like how it illustrates my confident ignorance, lol.

How Elon Musk can unlock the value of twitter, you all live in a bubble edition.

Here's a theme I've been seeing in multiple comment threads here, the theme being the assumption that motte users and the leftist journalists they follow are typical twitter users.

Those are the type of users [10k-ish follower esoteric accounts like popehat] (unlike journo-s) that twitter can't afford to lose. Not sure if network effects will be that strong.

This is based on a totally false idea of what the heck twitter actually is. Go look at the top 10 accounts:

There are 2 celebrity businessmen (one of whom became a celebrity politician), 1 celebrity politician, more celebrities, plus Narendra Modi. If you go further down the list of top twitter accounts and drop stuff that's clearly the result of a well placed "follow me on twitter button" (e.g. @youtube, @pmoindia, @cnn), you discover that twitter is mostly celebrities and sports.

From a logged out incognito account on a US VPN, the top 10 trending topics are currently NFL (6), pro wrestling (1), NBA (1), happy birthday taylor swift (1) and business (1 topic about SBF). Of the UI tabs twitter has chosen to put on the trending page, they are "For You" (celebrities plus some tweets about TV shows, with a little news mixed in), "Trending" (celebrities and sports), "World Cup", "News" (which includes celebrity news), "Sports" and "Entertainment". (India is not much different.)

This even fits the anecdotal stories that have made it into our bubble - after Musk fired the moderators, twitter Japan was suddenly a bunch of anime, j-pop and k-pop.

Here's another hint that you're in a bubble: a significant chunk of the anime that's trending is stuff like "My Dress Up Darling" or "Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic" instead of the ninja stuff beloved by western nerds. I'm in a bubble too! I once looked up forums for an anime about cooking with the goal of recreating recipes from the show. What I got was a bunch of discussions about who male protagonist everyman diner chef should have sex with - texas A1 steak girl, high class french food girl and rural japanese cuisine good girl.

So here's how Musk can unlock the true value of twitter.

  1. Fire the moderators to save money and let everybody post a bunch of Happy bday taylor swift I :heart emoji: u.

  2. Downweight replies that match n(.*[i1l].*)g+(.*e.*)r so you can only see them after digging through 10+ pages of "I :heart emoji: u Rihanna".

  3. Stop trying to put leftist cause of the week at the top, and allow twitter to fully exploit for engagement that which it already is: celebs and sports.

  4. Allow Apple and Ritz Crackers to place their advertisements between taylor swift birthday wishes (by anyone but Kanye, next year Kanye is probably fine) and discussion of how awesomely Asuka punched the heel of the week on WWE.

  5. Don't worry about the journalists leaving. Twitter matters to journalists, but journalists matter very little to twitter. Their excessive influence is actually mostly a historical anachronism - they were early adopters and spread it to the mainstream, but they are no longer very important. Also they can't leave.

I vaguely knew, or should have known, that Twitter is mostly celebrity-focused. My friends who use it do so in a very healthy, “I like the lady in this baking video and wish to subscribe to her thoughts on cupcakes” way. They may occasionally signal boost some worthy cause. None of them are involved in the screeching activism or circular firing squads I associate with the site.

Thanks, bubble popper. That was refreshing.

Rural Japanese cuisine good girl is best girl. Seriously, her story arc was the best thing about that series.

In any case, I think this is an interesting question. I think we need a term for the sort of hyper-online partisan political engagement culture. I have no clue what it could be. In any case...would Twitter be better off if it basically ignored that? I think the argument you're making...and I that it seemed that it leaned in to that culture over the last few years, pretty hard, and maybe it would be better off if it didn't. And I think that lack of value...I'm certainly seeing people want to leave Twitter because frankly, they don't want to be in a space that they see as fundamentally hostile to them. And I'm thinking...welcome to my world where practically every place is hostile to me.

In any case, I do think that's where things are heading to some degree, is a deprioritization of politics overall. And honestly that's a good thing. That's where most of the toxicity comes from.

hyper-online partisan political engagement culture

If anything, this seems like this is fundamental to how Twitter is designed: the differences between it's "shouting into the globally visible void" versus, say, Facebook leaning into connecting before content visibility emphasizes seeking the most viral content to maximize engagement. That said, I do think Twitter has leaned into that premise in deliberate ways: they could probably make modest changes to minimize pile-ons (especially of non-public figures), but seem to have decided that amplifying, for example, the Covington debacle.

To its credit, Facebook seemed to make some deliberate choices about 5 years ago to reduce the amount of rage-bait political content and emphasize the friend graph over re-shared content. I think Twitter must want to be the home of low-quality political hot takes over, say, a centralized equivalent of RSS for link aggregation, although maybe that wouldn't pay the bills.


RIP Nigerians. But good point about bubbles vs mainstream.

Fire the moderators and let everybody post a bunch of Happy bday taylor swift I :heart emoji: u.

Twitter has suprinsgly weak moderation compared to most sites. Moderators only get involved for certain accounts for more serious matters. I think twitter should stop trying to fact check things or be an arbiter of truth. Usually it makes no one happy. Reddit is the opposite, being a huge site that is very closely moderated.

Twitter has suprinsgly weak moderation compared to most sites.

Surprising to who? They're there to control the spread of memes and information, their structure lets them do that effectively without bans and content removal.

surprising to people who think twitter censors anything that that is not politically correct. reddit is way worse in this regard

I don't disagree with the general point, but popehat had 300k followers. See e.g. elton john, who left twitter bc of elon's antics, and whom elon replied to asking him to come back!

Also, western nerds loved kaguya-sama

also, your regex is wrong, you meant n[i1l]+g+e+r - that regex matches any string that has 'niger' in that order, meaning this sentence fits the regex! And the parens don't do anything, they're capture groups

re: my regex having lots of false positives, that's fine. You go to the bottom anyway. There's no shortage of people to populate the top of the replies to Tom Cruise and Drake.

I stand corrected on what western anime nerds like.

The Reload reports: (previous discussions here, here, and indirectly here).

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult.

The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered. The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range.

“[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees, wrote to CDC officials after their meeting. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value – even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.”

Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), argued Kleck’s estimate has been damaging to the political prospects of passing new gun restrictions and should be eliminated from the CDC’s website.

This isn't the first time the CDC has papered over a study giving politically undesirable answers -- it's not even the first time doing so for a Kleck paper, though at least that one had the fig leaf that Kleck misread the survey scope.

But the discussion here is unusually damning. It's possible that Devin Hughes, the guy signing many of the initial e-mails here, genuinely believes his argument that only the defensive gun uses that make it into the tiny fraction of media and police reports GVPedia has access to 'counts'. If so it's not really a defense of his logic or math, which rests on the claim that no one has found more 'confirmed' defensive gun uses than the Gun Violence Archive, when nearly everyone, including other anti-gun groups, come away from this topic with higher counts. Instead, there's a lot of evidence that GVA finds it appalling -- and could compel the CDC -- merely on the spectre that someone might reference the different numbers and might not submit to the GVA's policy goals.

To their credit, the CDC's people did not immediately fold on the topic; their initial responses are polite, but point to other reasonable interpretations of data. Against their credit, this interest faded after an unrecorded or unFOIAable Teams meeting, set up by the strongly anti-gun Senator Durbin, including the CDC's Acting Principle Deputy Director, with the Teams Meeting on either September 15th or 16th, and basically no FOIA'able discussion after that. There was no discussion in this discovery looking to talk to any of the many researchers finding higher numbers. Nor was there any point where the CDC attempted to ask Kleck -- who is on record saying the CDC has not, so it can't merely be a FOIA foible.

Worse, while playing games with FOIA redactions has long been a boogeyman of ... basically every political activist group, here we see :

“A few of just met with the CEO of the Gun Violence Archive yesterday – Mark Bryant,” he wrote. “Odd that they would be connected to the Newtown Action Alliance!”

The CDC attempted to redact Mercy’s comment about the tie between GVA and the gun-control group, but it only applied the redaction to one of the several copies of the exchange included in the release. (The agency also failed to redact the emails and phone numbers of many of those included in the release. The Reload has redacted the non-public contact information that was left exposed.)

Incompetence, perhaps? But in addition to the pages that are redacted in full under the poorly-defined b5 exceptions (probably the 'internal deliberations' prong) to FOIA, as was the above exclamation of surprise about Bryant's NAA links, it's also noticeable what isn't there are all.

Notably, Hughes claimed to have attached a slide deck from that Teams meeting. Maybe he forgot it, and missed the Outlook/Mozilla warning? But probably not. I doubt there's anything amazing in there, but in turn it's hard to imagine anything present that could not or should not be disclosed. Maybe they had a genuinely compelling argument! But if it's the same already-refused arguments repeated, it would look a lot more like the CDC's higher-ups are driven by the influence of a Senator and the White House than by anything in the data.

It's also worth spelling out one part of the process to find this, which is somewhat unusually public. MorosKostas begun the FOIA process in June, after reading a The Trace article a couple days earlier mentioning the removal had happened sometime in April. (Notably, Hughes from above is a former Trace employee.) He only got the response on December 12th. This... leaves some !!fun!! questions about political accountability; even if this particular example would not matter, five months is a significant portion of even today's extended political seasons.

((Not that it would or could matter for Durbin; for his state, this is a nothingburger, or even a bonus.))

More broadly, though, this points to a greater issue with the death of expertise. There are increasing campaigns to open up the CDC for gun violence research, often countered by gun owners pointing out a tendency for the organization to be captured by political forces, and it's hard to see this as anything but a poster child for that problem. Worse, you can point to the existing version of the page, which now reads:

Estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the questions asked, populations studied, timeframe, and other factors related to study design. Given the wide variability in estimates, additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.

Emphasis added. If they ask the question enough, perhaps they'll get the answers the political activists want -- and if not, they can ask for money to try again.

Why does the CDC even exist? If they can't help with COVID they can't help with anything.

Trumpists should line up beyond a policy of disbanding as many of these institutions as possible.

And scatter the rest across a swath of cities. Keep congress, the white house and museums in DC and spread the others out.

The CDC is in Atlanta.

Baby, meet bathwater.

I know this is your usual brand of hyperbole, but that’s not logically sound. Inability to solve a problem does not imply limits on solving an easier one. At the very least, they should keep posting stats instead of burying the one they don’t like.

There definitely ought to be some kind of punishment for astonishing under-performance.

The British shot an admiral who, in their judgement, 'failed to do his utmost' to defeat the enemy and accomplish his missions. There are various controversies about the circumstances, whether it was reasonable. But for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars, they got a very aggressive navy! They kept winning.

The CDC definitely failed to do its utmost.

The review bears out reporting from NPR in November that revealed a small infectious disease lab at the CDC was aware the coronavirus test kit it had developed could fail 33% of the time but released it anyway. Under normal circumstances, that kind of failure rate would stop a test in its tracks.

They also prevented anyone else making their own tests for a while. Amongst many other things.

It was the single most disruptive event of my lifetime by a margin. Not only did the CDC fail to solve it, they made it worse. And they lied a lot.

What are some good things they do? All I know about them for sure is that they are worse than nothing during a pandemic and they are controlled by people who hate me. Why should I need more information than that to have the opinion that they should be dissolved?

The CDC has been politically active on the subject of guns for decades, the Dickey amendment, intended to slap their hands for playing politics on the subject of guns, passed in 1996.

They've been anti-gun enough that congress clipped their wings two decades ago, further surreptitious acts aren't a surprise, but hopefully will earn them a more severe clipping next time the republicans have congress.

Could one find a better example of mission creep and infinite expansion of the bureaucracy than the CDC? The early history of the organization has a mission that I think makes sense for a federal entity:

The Communicable Disease Center was founded July 1, 1946, as the successor to the World War II Malaria Control in War Areas program[8] of the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities.[9]


An Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) was established in 1951, originally due to biological warfare concerns arising from the Korean War; EIS evolved into two-year postgraduate training program in epidemiology, and a prototype for Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETP), which began in 1980.[16] The FETP is a large operation that has trained more than 18,000 disease detectives in over 80 countries. In 2020 FETP celebrated the 40th anniversary of the CDC's support for Thailand's Field Epidemiology Training Program. Thailand was the first FETP site created outside of North America and is found in numerous countries, reflecting CDC's influence in promoting this model internationally.[17] The Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) has graduated 950 students.[18]

The mission of the CDC expanded beyond its original focus on malaria to include sexually transmitted diseases when the Venereal Disease Division of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) was transferred to the CDC in 1957. Shortly thereafter, Tuberculosis Control was transferred (in 1960) to the CDC from PHS, and then in 1963 the Immunization program was established.[19]

This all seems reasonable enough - the whole point of federal agencies is to handle difficult coordination problems where state-level agencies or even interstate compacts would prove insufficient. Thinking about epidemiology, it makes sense for that to be national. Unfortunately, as these things tend to do, it continued to outgrow the role of handling communicable diseases:

An act of the United States Congress appended the words "and Prevention" to the name effective October 27, 1992. However, Congress directed that the initialism CDC be retained because of its name recognition.[21] Since the 1990s, the CDC focus has broadened to include chronic diseases, disabilities, injury control, workplace hazards, environmental health threats, and terrorism preparedness.

So, as government agencies do, it moved from the original role into providing questionable dietary advice, risk-averse guidance on how to have a safe workplace, and (naturally) some opinions on racism. They kept the title Centers for Disease Control purely for branding purposes, long beyond their purview went well beyond what anyone would consider a "disease".

What a mess.

Is anyone mainstream providing plausible defenses for this behavior? Either the initial censorship or the FoIA ass-covering. I am failing to empathize, here, and expect that the issue will be buried rather than defended.

Re: FOIA, it is not uncommon for federal agencies to take months to respond (I had a request last year that didnt get a reaponse for 9 months, and even then all I got was a letter telling me to give them an update to make sure I was still interested). There is a non-negotiable statutory deadline of 30 days, but most agencies ignore it completely. Suing over blatant disregard for FOIA requirements can actually be decently lucrative if you know what you're doing. They're not even trying to hide how illegal their actions are, trusting in the general apathy of requesters to keep their litigation/settlement budgets under control

I think the problem is that there's really no good data on the subject, and the data there is seems a bit too motivated. Gun advocates cite the Kleck data, but that has the disadvantage of being both really old and self-reported and almost certainly grossly overestimates the incidence of defensive gun use. Gun control advocates cite data involving actual police reports which has the disadvantage of being overly selective and almost certainly grossly underestimates the incidence of defensive gun use. This bickering comes off as pointless since there's no agreed-upon threshold at which either side will concede the other's points, i.e. it's not like gun control advocates are going to start campaigning for increased access if there's strong data to suggest that DGU reduces crime by 90%, and gun advocates aren't going to start calling for restrictions just because similar data shows that DGU is a marginal phenomenon. They're just going to move on to other arguments.

On the whole, though, I think the whole DGU argument actually helps gun control advocates more than it helps gun advocates. The most common explanation I've heard regarding why there's such a discrepancy between the data each side provides is that by relying on police reports gun control advocates are biased toward counting the most obvious and serious of defensive gun uses. When someone actually gets shot the police are almost certainly going to investigate and the circumstances surrounding the shooting are likely to be discovered. When someone uses a gun defensively but the criminal runs away as soon as the gun is visible, there's little point in reporting the incident (because it's probably not getting investigated), and some downsides to doing so (the defensive user might be carrying illegally, for example). I'm going to ignore the scenario where the gun is fired but nobody is hit because it seems rather rare and nobody appears to be using it as the basis of their argument.

If we assume that both sides are fundamentally right—that defensive uses that result in someone getting shot are rare enough so as not to justify concealed carry, but defensive uses where the perpetrator disengages after the victim exposes his weapon, then the deterrent factor is mainly because of the mere presence of the weapon and not its actual utility, because few perpetrators supposedly stick around long enough to get shot. Hence, a gun control advocate can justify a much more restrictive regime than a gun advocate would find comfortable. For example, a .22 revolver is lightweight, inexpensive, easy to conceal, easy to maintain, and takes cheap ammunition. It's obviously not the most powerful gun in the world, but I wouldn't want to find out what it's like to get shot by one at close range. It's also not the most reliable gun in the world, but it's reliable enough that when staring down the business end of one I wouldn't be too confident about it misfiring. And, of course, given the situation, it isn't likely the assailant will have the knowledge or time or proper illumination to even identify what's being pointed at him before it behooves him to hightail it.

As for the rest? Yeah, I'm sure it doesn't have the stopping power of something bigger and the limited capacity is useless in the event of multiple assailants, or that it has any one of the dozens of other problems gun advocates will tell me make a .22 revolver a bad choice for self-defense. The problem is, that all those arguments assume that the gun is actually going to be fired, and since that's a statistically slim possibility, it's irrelevant. But tell gun advocates "OK, we agree with you on the self-defense angle, we'll let you have a .22 revolver" and it probably won't go over so well.

then the deterrent factor is mainly because of the mere presence of the weapon and not its actual utility, because few perpetrators supposedly stick around long enough to get shot.

The problem is, that all those arguments assume that the gun is actually going to be fired, and since that's a statistically slim possibility, it's irrelevant.

If how effective the gun is doesn't matter, why not go all the way and require everyone to carry unloaded guns? Obviously this would not stop anything, showing that it is necessary for the weapon to be effective to deter criminals.

It is necessary for the weapon to be effective, the question is simply how effective? There's a much bigger delta between getting shot/not getting shot than between getting shot with a .22/getting shot with something more powerful.

Would answering that question not require grappling with the "dozens of other problems" raised by gun advocates?

We can't assume that any gun would work in a situation just because shots weren't fired. The threat criminals are reacting to is based on what would happen if the gun their target has (or is likely to have, if they run before they identify the gun) is fired at them. This threat will change once you restrict the guns people are allowed to have to a less dangerous variety.

I can't think of a good way to directly measure whether criminals find a certain gun a sufficient threat to be deterred. Debating stopping power, limited capacity, and other such issues seems like the best proxy we're going to get for whether a gun is a sufficient threat to deter a would-be predator.

I mostly agree that it's inherently nearly impossible to get authoritative numbers on these non-firing DGUs. Even if it was reported and a police officer responded, what are they supposed to do with "This guy came after me, but I pulled my gun and he ran away"? How in the world would they verify that it's true, and what would they do with it if it was?

On the low-end gun side, I would say that deterrence inherently depends on the belief that the one deterring does have the ability and will to carry out destructive actions. Right now, any attacker doesn't have any idea how effective a defender's gun is, and probably doesn't have the time or inclination to try and figure it out in the moment. But if it was mandated, criminal attackers would have a government guarantee that any guns their prey might have aren't very effective, which might change their thinking some. It doesn't sound like such a great idea when you think about it like that.

Even on the nation-state level, fake deterrence is something to be very careful with. A fake division of inflatable tanks and artillery pieces may be useful to fool an enemy with poor reconnaissance for a few days, as was actually done by the allies in WWII. But it would be foolish to take that example to mean that we should build an entire fake army with no real weapons and just depend on the enemy giving up to it.

I don't think I did a good enough job of explaining exactly why I think a .22 would be effective enough. Even though small caliber, low velocity firearms look puny compared to their bigger brothers, they're still powerful enough that the consequences of getting shot with one at close range probably, in 99% of cases, outweigh the benefits of whatever objective the attacker is trying to achieve, and if they don't, it's hard to conceive of a situation in which the attacker would be deterred by a larger caliber. In other words, I don't think there would be many situations where an attacker would say to himself "He's armed, but it's only a .22 so I'll continue". This is much different than a situation where the attacker knows it's an unloaded gun or a pellet gun or some other sham. That's why I'd hesitate to categorize it as "fake deterrence", since the deterrence factor is very real, just not quite as high as it theoretically could be. When I hear justifications from gun advocates for more powerful weapons it's usually along the lines of that a .22 wouldn't have the stopping power of a .45, or a revolver wouldn't provide enough shots or the ease of reloading necessary to involve a shootout involving multiple assailants, or some other rare situation. In most random attacks, the deterrence doesn't come so much from fear of the weapon physically being capable of stopping the person but the knowledge that even in the second-best case scenario, where the victim successfully lands one shot to a non-critical part of the body, it's going to result in a hospital visit and a chat with a detective. Out of curiosity, I checked the actual information available about the efficacy of various calibers in self-defense situations, and the benefits of going bigger appear to be marginal. I can go into it further if you'd like, but it's not really essential to my argument, so I'll leave it there for now.

I see what you're trying to say, but the issue as I see it is the assumption that all criminal attackers can be easily deterred. For the average individual in most places, the majority risk of attack is indeed the opportunistic thief. That's someone who is somewhat rational in that they have no particular reason to target you, they're just looking for an easy buck. If they see you as harder or riskier than average, say by pulling any kind of gun, then they're going to get out of there for easier prey. While these are the most common threat for most people most of the time, and probably the great majority of all, it certainly doesn't cover everything.

There's plenty of reports of attackers who are irrational and will continue to attack until dealt injuries that are immediately serious or lethal. These people may be serial killers out for the blood, or on lots of drugs, or mentally ill in various ways. They might be much more motivated to attack you in particular, maybe due to being an abusive ex or stalker, or a gang hit, or a mob informant, or some other personal grudge. These sorts of things may be a small minority of cases overall, but they're definitely out there.

From everything I've seen on caliber effectiveness, the benefits of going bigger are only marginal within the group of what's considered "major calibers". There are many reports of small calibers such as 22LR or 25ACP doing essentially nothing at all to stop an attacker immediately, even if they might need medical care later. I would be surprised to see data indicating that the difference between these calibers and, say, 9mm is marginal.

For these reasons, I don't think it's right for the state to mandate or regulate things like caliber of defensive weapons, since they can't easily know what threat you might be facing and what your needs might be. If you personally choose to carry a 22 because you think it's good enough plus light and cheap, and are willing to risk it not being enough someday, then that's your right. You're welcome to try to convince others of this, but not to mandate it IMO.

Although, to go back a bit, I think I'd be okay with some higher level of licensing or training being required to carry larger caliber guns. I don't think they do anymore, but Texas used to have concealed carry permits with different levels, depending on the type of handgun that you qualified with - I think revolver and pistol were the only ones commonly used.

So, ignoring a word tweak here/or there, they basically replaced

The report Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence indicates a range of 60,000 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses each year.


Given the wide variability in estimates, additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.

I'm not sure how any of y'all are reading the new word as being notably more pro-gun-control. It seems like an accurate summary of a research area where estimates cover a 50x range.

  • -13

I think that going from "wide variability" without mentioning the range does matter on its own, even as someone that wishes Kleck was a bit more fastidious on his research. Not just that it's hiding or papering over data, though that's not great, but that a lot of mainstream activism relies on and communicates that these numbers are far, far lower than downsides like unlawful homicide or assault. GVA objects to even the lower-end estimate (60k) from the previous report for that reason.

And there a bunch of more complex issues, where to many people it seems like the desire to wipe the board and start again with new research coincides a) with the places with the greatest political disagreement, rather than disagreement with the merits, and b) where changes in political affiliation with likely researchers and with publications make it unlikely to see the same reads present, even if they were true.

On the other hand, I didn't write this up in June, even though I'd been keeping an eye on MorosKostas well before that. Nor did the Reload, even as its lead writer did.

Having a couple major gun control advocacy group specifically say that they want the number taken down because it undermines their policy goals, and then the CDC doing it because the gun control advocacy group asked, makes it a far bigger deal. This one is small, and not that aggressive, and ... it's the one they got caught on.

I don't object to the claim the evidence illustrates GVA is biased. I object to the claim that it provides convincing evidence the CDC is biased. In order to demonstrate that, I don't think what you showed is sufficient.

For instance, the fact the advocates were ignored by the CDC prior to getting support from the White House suggests that the CDC is not prioritizing leftwing advocates. Likewise, the fact this exchange took place over months suggests this isn't simple activism.

Moreover, the basic argument that this conversation caused the website to change doesn't indicate bias unless we take it as granted that the decision-making was bias. The more charitable explanation is that the advocates drew attention to a problem and the CDC eventually agreed in a neutral manner, at which point the only reasonable option was to change the website.

As I see it, the only way to demonstrate your preferred theory over the more charitable one is to demonstrate that the website change was, in fact, biased/unreasonable. IMO, you haven't done so.

to many people it seems like the desire to wipe the board and start again with new research coincides a) with the places with the greatest political disagreement, rather than disagreement with the merits, and b) where changes in political affiliation with likely researchers and with publications make it unlikely to see the same reads present, even if they were true.

What slate is being wiped clean? The CDC original reports are still publicly available. No research has been rescinded. I'd be shocked if future literature reviews just flat out ignored research from before year X.

So when was the last time that right-wing advocates pointed an issue out to the CDC and they made a change over it? If they’re unbiased, there ought to be some such instances.

I didn’t claim they’re unbiased. I claimed this incident isn’t good evidence that they are biased.

But even if I had claimed that, this retort is not convincing when the entire evidence in favor is N=1 and had to be leaked.

  • -12

So do you think they’re unbiased? Or are they biased and you’re just defending them on this point anyway?

Every individual piece of evidence is N=1, you can dismiss anything you want as long as you go one piece at a time. If you don’t see this as part of a broader trend then I question how much attention you’ve been paying.

And what on earth does its being leaked have to do with its evidential probity? If anything that makes it more reliable because people weren’t speaking guardedly.

So do you think they’re unbiased? Or are they biased and you’re just defending them on this point anyway?

I truly don't have an opinion on whether they're biased. But, I thought decoupling was considered a virtue on this site, so I think its appropriate for me to push back on what I see as pure confirmation bias here: the CDC can be biased and this can be terrible evidence for that hypothesis.

Every individual piece of evidence is N=1, you can dismiss anything you want as long as you go one piece at a time. If you don’t see this as part of a broader trend then I question how much attention you’ve been paying.

I mean, all the evidence I've seen against the CDC has come from opponents. Any distribution can be skewed with a biased filter, and whatever I think about the CDC, I definitely do think the people this website is biased against the CDC in the sense that anti-CDC content gets attention, while pro-CDC content does not.

So, no, I don't think me noticing a bunch of anecdotes that are anti-CDC is good evidence the CDC is biased. I think the much stronger evidence is simply the prior based on their demographics (i.e. very educated).

Likewise, I think the fact this took months to resolve and only happened after boosting from the White House is evidence contrary to the "bias" interpretation being pushed here. That's not what I'd expect from an institution suffering extreme bias, and is, imo, stronger evidence than the HTML change itself.

And what on earth does its being leaked have to do with its evidential probity? If anything that makes it more reliable because people weren’t speaking guardedly.

No, I'm saying that we don't get many leaked emails from the CDC. If we had 10 and 2 of them show left-leaning bias and 0 show right-leaning bias, this is, in fact, not great evidence for bias or for right-leaning bias to not exist. It being leaked matters insofar as it means our sample size is tiny and even that sample is biased (someone had to be motivated to leak it).

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while pro-CDC content does not.

Pro-CDC content like what? What is there lately worth praising the CDC for? What is its proportion to the blameworthy stuff? You can't just assert that it doesn't get posted as evidence the forum is biased if there's simply none of it to be posted.

Also, for someone complaining about bad evidence of bias, you haven't given any evidence of bias on the part of this site, you've merely asserted your own opinion as if that should suffice. By your standards, what we really need is a double-blind statistical analysis of a representative sample of every post on the site and the subreddit containing the word "CDC" in the past 5 years, compared to some privileged benchmark. Good luck with that.

That's not what I'd expect from an institution suffering extreme bias, and is, imo, stronger evidence than the HTML change itself.

But who's saying they're extremely biased, in particular? Plus they still caved - compare to all the times e.g. bureaucrats under the Trump admin just straight-up ignored instructions, leaked them to the media, then suffered no repercussions. I don't see how it's supposed to be evidence against bias that they didn't immediately do whatever, given that they did do it after a bit of cajoling.

It being leaked matters insofar as it means our sample size is tiny and even that sample is biased (someone had to be motivated to leak it).

Evidence is evidence is evidence. A small sample size is not as good as a large sample, but that doesn't make it worthless. Plus, the mere fact that leaking requires a motive doesn't mean it's necessarily biased. Any action requires a motive, but that doesn't make every action biased.

More comments

I object to the claim that it provides convincing evidence the CDC is biased.

I don't think I made that claim; my objections remain if the CDC 'merely' revises their outreached based on poor arguments backed by Senators and the White House.

The more charitable explanation is that the advocates drew attention to a problem and the CDC eventually agreed in a neutral manner, at which point the only reasonable option was to change the website.

In a report that could not be recorded or presented to FOIA requests? Where none of these compelling arguments be summarized by any member? Where no 'expert' except the handful of the most bombastic gun control advocates were questioned, including the people the site had previously cited, about the matter?

What slate is being wiped clean?

Would you prefer I use the term 'buried' (or compare)? MorosKostas noticed this specific matter because The Trace used the removal here to argue as evidence that the study should be and was in the process of being re-evaluated.

I'd be shocked if future literature reviews just flat out ignored research from before year X.

I think you're vastly underestimating the available degrees of freedom for meta-study or literature review authors. Starting from whether such a broad literature review to note natively exclude data from before a start date is done.

I don't think I made that claim

It seems to me that if you believe the CDC revised its outreach due to poor arguments by liberals, there are a couple hypothesis

  1. The CDC is leftward biased.

  2. The CDC just bends to the administration in power.

  3. The CDC just acts mostly randomly out of both scientific and political incompetence.

The fact you are accusing the CDC of "papering over" data suggests you don't believe #3. So, it seems to me you either believe #1 (despite apparently denying it here) or you believe #2. That is my perspective, but I apologize for putting words in your mouth and am open to being wrong here.

In a report that could not be recorded or presented to FOIA requests? Where none of these compelling arguments be summarized by any member? Where no 'expert' except the handful of the most bombastic gun control advocates were questioned, including the people the site had previously cited, about the matter?

Is it normal to archive arguments for a change to a single sentence on one of the CDC's many websites? Honest question.

Would you prefer I use the term 'buried' (or compare)?

Why would you expect the specific string "Armed resistance to crime" to appear on the CDC website? Or "defensive gun uses". There are myriad ways to discuss either topic that don't use those specific strings. The topic itself is discussed quite a bit by the CDC, and there must be something wrong with Google because even the literal phrase "defensive gun use" is used on the CDC website.

But more generally, the idea that it's buried, imo, rests on the assumption that the new wording specifically "buries" the unfavorable study (2.5 million) and not the favorable one (60,000). This seems not true to me, or at least not obvious.

I'm completely get how literature reviews can be biased, but when you use phrases like "wipe the board and start again" - that, to me, literally implies ignoring all studies before year XXXX - including favorable studies. If all you mean was that this specific study would be dropped or all right-leaning studies would be dropped.... then say that? Why use totalizing rhetoric? And then provide evidence this will actually happen when the CDC reviews the evidence.

It seems to me that if you believe the CDC revised its outreach due to poor arguments by liberals, there are a couple hypothesis

Again, I don't particularly care whether it was #1 or #2 from your hypothesis, or that it's some excluded option (eg, the CDC bends to the first Senator to ask, and red tribers know not to ask because them doing this would be far greater a scandal).

Is it normal to archive arguments for a change to a single sentence on one of the CDC's many websites? Honest question.

At least in theory, it's a good deal of the point behind FOIA, although it can sometimes be excluded from FOIA under the b(5) exception (this is probably legitimate for the redacted 'drafts' of the new webpage). That's why there's 100+ pages that the CDC found responsive.

It's just that none of them contain a better argument than Hughes' insistence that his system was complete, somehow; most don't even contain a worse one. Instead, they're almost all about harm or visibility, or about The Trace asking on the topic.

Why would you expect the specific string "Armed resistance to crime" to appear on the CDC website?

That's the name of the underlying Kleck study.

Or "defensive gun uses".

That's the term of art used in the 2013 NASEM piece.

The topic itself is discussed quite a bit by the CDC,

From the top of my search list:

There are no direct mentions of even the low-end estimates from the previous "Fast Facts" page, and there are no serious engagement with the concept. Does your search look different?

If all you mean was that this specific study would be dropped or all right-leaning studies would be dropped.... then say that? Why use totalizing rhetoric?

Because I think this is more serious a problem, from a perspective of social trust.

I’d be be more inclined to agree if they hadn’t had such research and then removed it. Pretending that data doesn’t exist is worse than mentioning it but concluding the error bars are too wide.

Suppose someone had contacted them pointing out methodological flaws with the 60,000 number, and the CDC then made the change. Would you say the change was right-leaning?

If so, then you aren't evaluating the change - just the context.

If not, then it seems like you're assuming making a statement more abstract causes it to be more left-leaning? That, or that the original statement was right-leaning and the new statement is neutral?

[ Edit: where do they "pretend... that data doesn't exist"? They reference widely varied estimates and they host other reports that explicitly cite this research ]

There used to be 2 stats (60k-25M) and a comment (statistics vary). Now there are just two comments: statistics vary, and we want more of them. Combining a request for “additional research” with the silent removal of existing research is dishonest and suspicious.

So...sure, I’m judging the context. It would have been more acceptable if the current summary was used from the start.

The email exchange lasted months. You see clear parts where the CDC pushes back. The CDC ignored the advocates until the White House signal-boosted them. All evidence the CDC isn't biased, and all evidence that literally everyone in this thread besides me is ignoring. It supports the obvious and charitable counter-hypothesis: that the CDC is neutral and, after long and careful deliberation, they believed the new wording is better at communicating the current state of the literature.

So, in order for this to be evidence of leftward bias, someone in this thread is going to need to explain why the change was unreasonable for a neutral CDC and reasonable for a left-biased CDC. I still don't see why this would be the case, so I still maintain this isn't evidence the CDC is left-leaning.