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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 1, 2024

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The War on Kiwi Farms: The Kiwis Fight Back

I'm sure everyone here knows of the controversial site Kiwi Farms, which has been endlessly accused of facilitating online harassment, and endlessly deplatformed. The site's defense has always been that it doesn't do that, the content is completely legal in the United States, and it's just a neutral observer, and with very limited exceptions (namely protecting Chris Chan until 2021, and interfering with zoosadists), I've found that to largely be the case. But I always wondered if this attitude left them vulnerable to just being attacked endlessly like this. Like, if bad actors know that this site won't actually fight back in any way, wouldn't you expect that they would just relentlessly attack it, since they're more-or-less free to do it?

Well, recently, they've actually started doing it. They're using the tactics that have been most effective in deplatforming them, and turning it on others. Namely, filing abuse complaints with upstreams and accusing sites of violating their AUP (which stands for Acceptable Use Policy). Their first target, thematically enough for an anti-trans site, is DIY HRT, as in HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) that isn't dispensed directly from a licensed pharmacy, often homemade and imported in to the country from shady international sources.

DIY HRT sites exist in a very legal gray area, because they more-or-less undeniably facilitate the sale of unlicensed pharmaceuticals. There have been credible reports of the drugs being manufactured in really unsafe and unclean conditions, leading to issues like clearly visible human hair in a vial that's meant to be injected into your bloodstream. Furthermore, the demographic they serve raises child welfare concerns - children are the demographic most likely to be unable to access legal HRT and/or want to keep their HRT on the down low from others - and some of the marketing/labeling on the items is quite blatant (in one case, text reads "Keep away from parents" and the image is of a childlike figure). Naturally, these are the reasons Kiwi Farms uses to file abuse complaints with upstreams. And they're doing it quite openly - there's a public thread on the site where they coordinate and give information on filing abuse complaints. So has it worked?

Looking at the DIY HRT wiki, they list several DIY HRT sites that have been taken down by complaints, so certainly looks like it has. It's gotten to the point that I had to look through an archive of the DIY HRT wiki, because I couldn't connect to the live site. The irony is that, just like Kiwi Farms themselves, the sites haven't actually been taken down for good - they just hop to another web host, domain registrar, email provider, and they're back in business. And the biggest irony of all is that the DIY HRT camp don't have any recourse for this. On their subreddit, one person asks "What is stopping doing the same to KF?" and the answer is "It has been done to KF already." What are they going to do exactly, attempt to take down a site that has spent years hardening itself against being taken down? One is reminded of the Chinese parable where the penalty for being late is death. They can't be more mean to Kiwi Farms, because trans activists have already spent years being as maximally mean as possible to Kiwi Farms, kicking them out of almost every single web host and domain registrar in the world, and all that has resulted in is a horde of people pissed off that their site is being taken down by trans activism, now radicalized against the trans movement. They've been put in a situation where they can either lose, or lose but also take down others with them, and in that respect I don't blame them for finally, finally, starting to fight back.

trans activists have already spent years being as maximally mean as possible to Kiwi Farms

My favorite part of the KF saga is how poorly it is going for the deplatformers. They can't even get rid of one guy who doesn't have a lot of money and has been banned from virtually everything that matters. And that's despite fawning mainstream coverage and years of unprecedented behind-the-scenes efforts, all the way up to getting Tier 1 ISPs involved.

Almost could make one a bit more optimistic about the future of the Internet.

To be fair, the guy in question seems to have a superhuman level of obsession with keeping his project alive, I don't think an average person could reproduce that.

Though speaking of optimism, he did mention plans to share his hard-won knowledge with the common folk.

That's true, but I see this as a form of evolution, the same way that 99.99% antibacterial soap ends up producing superbugs through natural selection. It's just a matter of consequence that trans activists' deplatforming efforts would end up hitting on one guy who just happened to have the smarts, wits, etc. to figure out how to effectively resist censorship and would want to dedicate enough time and effort to doing so.

Surely he is writing down his methods?

He's apparently toying with the idea of setting up a charity / nonprofit for censorship resistant hosting infrastructure.

He's written a post on the forum of a tier list of internet services that he recommends.

To be fair, the guy in question seems to have a superhuman level of obsession with keeping his project alive, I don't think an average person could reproduce that.

He is also trapped - the anti KF crowd made sure that everyone in the entire world knew who Joshua Connor Moon was. He has no possibility of getting gainful employment in the west, because there's zero chance that the crowd currently trying to make sure KF goes down would be ok with him just having a regular job. They've made sure that he has no other choice - if he stops maintaining KF, which is how he supports himself, he doesn't have any other options.

My favorite part of the KF saga is how poorly it is going for the deplatformers.

My favourite part is that every few days, a tranny on twitter will say something about how "we got rid of Kiwi Farms" only to be corrected that no, they didn't, it's still there, still documenting insanity, and more hardened than ever.

Sigh. It seems it was inevitable that I'd have to get around to doing the unpleasant part of being a mod at some point, namely enforcing the rules and using my discretion in ambiguous situations. But I did sign up for it.

Please consider this a request, and a mild warning, not to speak this way.

So far, your comment has received 3 reports for being antagonistic, which it clearly seems to be to me. To an extent, antagonism is a forgivable sin, and I certainly plead guilty to being less than maximally polite on occasion.

However, what does draw my attention is that this, to me, represents an example of "waging the Culture War". There's no strict line in the sand here, the people discussing CW in the CW thread are almost always at least modest opinionated on the matter, and advocacy for one's beliefs is in no way disbarred.

I don't even particularly care that you call them trannies, I'm not one to police vocabulary where the word is entirely synonymous with more polite equivalents, even if it's pejorative. If someone insisted on calling Jews "Blood-drinking vampires", then I'd consider that to be an obvious infraction. Some of the other mods may well disagree, but I'm only me, and I have a degree of leeway here.

It might surprise you to learn that I happen to largely agree with you. I consider transgenderism, if not an outright mental illness in the strictest sense, to be highly comorbid with it. I wouldn't balk at calling many of them insane like you did. I have a soft spot for Kiwi Farms, Rdrama and the other untamed corners of the internet, and I'm glad they live to fight another day in an increasingly homogenous internet where the edges are sanded down and a relatively small but vocal minority tyrannizes the rest of us and slides the French Overton Window as fast as the rails allow.

That being said, I would prefer you be less antagonistic. You are allowed to be happy that attempts to deplatform a site that makes fun of transgender people backfire. You may enjoy schadenfreude. You may, assuming the rest of your comment doesn't continue to not contribute to the atmosphere/culture we seek to cultivate here, also call people trannies (or at least I won't mod you for that reason alone).

But the gestalt impression conveyed by your comment? Bad. Not conducive to the (ideal) spirit of even-tempered discussion of contentious topics. The problem with culture war fervor, schadenfreude, and pithy pejorative labels for the outgroup is that they tend to crowd out everything else, or at least foster a negative spiral if left unaddressed that leads to everyone else doing the same, and those looking for more polite and high quality debate crinkling their nose and leaving. We aren't rdrama, this is what we are trying to avoid here, and by including all three and not much else, this comment is not helping.

I'll leave it at that, it would take a trivial restatement of your comment to make it slip under the high threshold I hold for formal mod action, if not a reprimand. If you wish to consider this an attempt at censorship (and how can mod action not be?), then it's of tone and not content.

Wow.... I had no idea reading a massive longpost of a moderator going on and on in tortured detail about why he's handing out a warning would be so enjoyable. I can't believe I didn't vote for you. More of this please!

The moderator cries out in pain as he strikes you

(I find modding comments I personally agree with but consider against the rules or not conducive to the health of the forum painful, but I wouldn't have accepted the nomination if I didn't think I could put duty first)

Paradoxically, it's that this is a mild violation (I wouldn't call it simply borderline) that I felt compelled to justify my statement. If it was glaringly ban-worthy, I'd swing the hammer with only mild regret.

In fact, I am more annoyed by the fact that he's compelled me to act against a comment I endorse, much like a 50's Sheriff shaking his head as he drags a KKK member he's had drinks with off to a cell. But The Motte is, as far as I'm aware, one of a kind, and if that's necessary to keep it the kind of place that drew me here 5 years ago, then I will put my disquiet aside and do as I must.

I am proud that my tenure here earned the endorsement of the people who voted for me, and then the approval of the previous mods, and I don't want to tarnish their faith in me. As for those who didn't vote for me, I can only hope to gain their retroactive endorsement through my actions. This forum isn't a democracy, but if the mods don't act in a manner that the users approve of, well, we'll eventually end up as the sole suzerains of a drinking club and an entirely unjustified AWS bill.

I find modding comments I personally agree with but consider against the rules or not conducive to the health of the forum painful

I think that's where the entertainment value comes from. "I do not want to do this.... but I must!" Who knew there could be so much drama in a single mod action? The only thing that could make it better is if you broke out to do a Bollywood dance number to express the true depths of you pain (can AI do that yet?).

Ok, I'm probably enjoying it way a bit too much. Keep up the good work, man.

The only thing that could make it better is if you broke out to do a Bollywood dance number to express the true depths of you pain (can AI do that yet?)

Yes.

It's certainly a better dancer than I am, I can only be coaxed into a shuffle with a few drinks on me.

And thank you, we've certainly had our differences in the past, so I'm glad that when I put on the badge and try to be an idealized version of myself, I haven't obviously fucked it up on the first go!

You guys got to vote?

Yes; a group of motte regulars elected a council to select a new batch of moderators, that's how he, netstack, and raggedy anthem got in. He was the last of the new mods to earn my vote, but after seeing the lengthy justification I am glad I voted for him.

I think you're looking a little too hard into something that was only really supposed to be a light-hearted and conversational addition about how even the instigators' allies have no idea how badly it's actually going, personally.

But okay.

Wow, I hope that when I finally snap and refer to some right-wing posters as nazis or w/e, I get such a measured and restrained response from the mods.

It's funny you should say that, Darwin (did I guess right?). A comment made by you ended up in the mod queue, and I elected to ignore it, and when I checked again, it was gone, indicating another mod has dismissed it. As I've elaborated upon above, I did find it antagonistic and uncharitable to your opponents, but within the limit of what I'm willing to tolerate without comment, at least once in a while.

You happen to have the dubious distinction of being so frequently downvoted that I and the other mods usually need to manually approve your comments, as I did for this one.

I am also aware, from reputation, if not personal interaction with you, that you have a tendency to toe the line and make comments that just barely avoid the point where we need to take mod action. That was the case from well before we move offsite. As our moderation guidelines make clear, we have the discretion of taking action even if no individual aspect of a comment is obviously bad, if the total is, especially when it's representative of a wider pattern.

Thus, you can interpret our/my seeming inaction as a form of action in itself. Try not to flame out or resort to name-calling, if you can avoid it, but until then I am more of a cautious observer. As usual, it is far superior to report antagonistic comments than to join the fun, though we definitely make allowances for provocation.

It's funny you should say that, Darwin (did I guess right?).

Yeah, confirmed that a few weeks back.

I'm more aware than anyone how frequently downvoted my comments are, and perhaps uniquely have the perspective to see that the number of downvotes is not very correlated with quality, effort, antagonism, or etc. I'm not surprised if there are correspondingly many reports.

I'm also aware of the 'reputation' (I find it intensely weird that strangers have strong opinions about me and try to stalk me across a decade of posts, I have no interest in being a 'personality' and just want to talk about ideas exclusively, but c'est la vie)

Whatever people believe, I don't try to toe any lines as any kind of game, that sounds incredibly boring. And I don't try to be any more antagonistic than the average poster here talking about wokies or BLM or trans or whatever; it always seems to me like this forum accepts pretty antagonistic stances as long as the targets are correct, and applies a lot more scrutiny if the table gets flipped. Which, again, I'm not even trying to make a game out of 'turnabout is fair play' or w/e, I'm a bad-at-reading-socialcues person trying to tone-match the attitude of the room and constantly surprised when people get mad about it.

Anyway, if you do see reported posts form me that you find ' antagonistic and uncharitable to your opponents, but within the limit of what I'm willing to tolerate', I would love to get a similar 'request and mild warning' and detailed explanation like you did for Astra here. That would help me a lot to understand what people are reacting to and expecting, before it blows up into something more serious.

I disagree that quality doesn't correspond with upvotes. Both from personal experience, and looking around at what gets upvoted in general.

it always seems to me like this forum accepts pretty antagonistic stances as long as the targets are correct, and applies a lot more scrutiny if the table gets flipped

The mods don't control the users, anyone can upvote and downvote as they please, and we're not like Reddit where you can get into trouble for upvoting Crimethink. But in terms of our own behavior, I do not see any significant or notable bias in what gets through or is condoned by the mods, and my existence as a humble user has been far longer than my odd week as a mod. We also make allowances for a good regular user who has an off-day, things that might get a new user banned for good might get merely a warning. Or at least a shorter ban.

If your opinions are unpopular, well, that sucks, but it's not a problem to be fixed, at least until the people reacting negatively also violate the rules in their responses.

Anyway, if you do see reported posts form me that you find ' antagonistic and uncharitable to your opponents, but within the limit of what I'm willing to tolerate', I would love to get a similar 'request and mild warning' and detailed explanation like you did for Astra here. That would help me a lot to understand what people are reacting to and expecting, before it blows up into something more serious.

I'll keep that in mind for minor violations, but as you must be well aware, the specific example of snapping and calling Right-leaning people Nazis (unless they are obviously and outspoken right-wing Wignats who advocate for discrimination against the usual targets of the original Nazis), is not acceptable behavior. For anything else, where you don't seem to be obviously trying to push buttons or stick to just the right side of the tracks, I'll try and point out what you can do better.

But of course, just because something is being reported doesn't mean the mods take action, and you are better off asking the people who disagree with you, I can't really speak for everyone who downvotes. And if the mods do take action, we usually make it a point in the first place to explain our reasoning. If Astragant had been reported but I considered his comment and pattern of behavior acceptable, I wouldn't have warned him in the first place, or explained anything outside my usual remit as a user.

Darwin. You're back! Good to have you!

Thanks!

Can you post some examples of this? I'm not saying that this doesn't happen, but it just sounds exactly like baseless triumphalism.

A casual twitter search:

https://twitter.com/bashfulfrogs/status/1720859992218050949

https://twitter.com/YTSirBlack1/status/1695378056372752826

https://twitter.com/ProfPButton/status/1657548089371049987

I mostly see these claims and corrections on KF threads themselves so this is just whatever twitter's search dug up.

I must confess, I have never learned how to read Twitter. Is there a guide somewhere? Where do you start, at the top or the bottom? Which message refers to which? I even find it hard to tell actual posts from advertisements, at a glance - which I guess is by design.

Posts are ordered top to bottom, as in replies appear beneath prior posts, and context appears above when a single post is being highlighted, as here. If there's a vertical line on the left between two posts, the bottom one is a reply to the top; if not, both are a reply to the highlighted post (the focal one in the larger font).

Thanks!

The same as any forum thread… start the top with the OP and go down…

Their first target, thematically enough for an anti-trans site, is DIY HRT,

Are they anti-trans, or just interested in a few laughs by stalking insane people making fools of themselves on the internet, a disproportionate number of whom are trans because of selection effects?

"Anti-trans" in the same way that most people are "anti-trans"; which is to say they don't want to instantly and unquestioningly cede all ground to and meet all demands of the trans activists. They have a distaste for narcissism, entitlement and child transitioning, again, in the way that most people do.

KF users, like 4chan users before them, are not mutants that exist only on the internet. They are all around you. They are your delivery drivers, bar staff and doctors. Cashiers and postmen. They are just normal people who want to talk about things you're not allowed to talk about in public. That's it.

KF has had an influx of TERF refugees some years ago. The tone of many trans threads has shifted from "Haha, look at this weirdo!" to wall-of-text rants about how this man in a bad wig is an insult to womanhood and a threat to bathrooms everywhere.

The trend has abated slightly after the site has been harder to reach for a while and Twitter has become more permissive, but calling KF "anti-trans" is somewhat justified.

I agree, a lot of the cattier TERFs (for whom the main pleasure was bitching about certain transwomen lolcows rather than gender-critical advocacy) migrated to KF after Reddit (and, for a time pre-Musk, Twitter) cracked down on TERF content.

In general, they were always going to lean a certain way just because of the relatively lax moderation around slurs, throwaway insults etc (this is probably the only hard-right-leaning community I've ever found online where fully polite discourse is enforced). In addition to famous transwomen, a lot of other big targets are 'breadtube' (ie socialist youtuber) content creators, some of whom are trans like contrapoints and philosophytube, but others they hate for other reasons (hbomberguy). So naturally there's a general loathing for that kind of socialist ideology.

In general, making fun of reactionary youtubers (which still happens on the farms, but is mostly less popular) is more a pastime of rationalwiki users and a few other leftist online communities.

In general, making fun of reactionary youtubers (which still happens on the farms, but is mostly less popular) is more a pastime of rationalwiki users and a few other leftist online communities.

This isn't actually true. A huge portion of the site is devoted to going after Ethan Ralph and his ostensibly right wing crowd, and there's another devoted to Nicholas Fuentes and his bizarre cult. They make fun of a lot of the online/internet right, it's just that nobody cares about the internet right getting bullied.

Just in general, you’d expect right wingers to be a little bit less frequently the kind of in-your-face weird and crazy than lefties because of greater conformism. But the trans thing is probably a bigger part of leaning right/mostly targeting left wingers, you’re right.

I'm not a fan of the TERFs on the farms, they seem to have an actual political axe to grind rather than just laugh at the absurdity of the trans people who are posted there. Almost all of these people would still be scorn worthy even if they weren't trans, that's just icing on the cake, but TERFs treat the transness as the main issue with such people when in reality it's little more than an afterthought.

Mixture of both? But internet weirdoes who are also lolcows are more disproportionately "trans" lately. It's the mind virus du jour.

If your goal is to milk lolcows, then very online transpeople would be a great target.

Well duh, if you’re picking insane people on the internet to stalk, you’d have to deliberately exclude Trans people not to get a very disproportionately trans sample. That’s basically what I said, but it doesn’t make kiwifarms ideologically anti-trans(although I doubt they’re politically correct).

Kiwi Farms isn't a monolith; there are some people on there who are sympathetic to transgender concerns. That said, the overwhelming majority are definitely anti-trans. I'm not implying that this means that the site is deliberately anti-trans or anything; it's a combination of their thread subjects being disproportionately transgender (as previously mentioned), but also the fact that many other gender-critical spaces elsewhere on the internet have been shut down thus funneling many would-be GC Reddit/Tumblr users onto the site, as well as the fact that many don't even care about trans issues and just want to laugh at weird people but have essentially been forced into caring due to the many attacks on the site (no doubt by the same activists shutting down anti-trans thought on the rest of the internet). If they were left alone, half of the anti-trans sentiment would disappear overnight.

I suspect that a trans movement capable of producing activists that leave kiwifarms alone also would not produce so many lolcows.

Associating the farms with the dissident right was always a bad tactic, it’s not that politically reactionary, some regulars are but it’s more in the vein of other classic internet institutions like the RPGCodex forums or 4chan (or, more recently, /r/drama) that attract dissident rightists but aren’t really for them exclusively. Most KF regulars are just apolitical bullies, and I mean that with the greatest praise.

90%+ of the farms is just a slightly more vulgar version of /r/internetdrama or a snallygaster-type effortpost on some obscure YouTube figure.

Somehow in this battle I find myself on the side supporting the autistic bullies versus the forces of globohomo, which just goes to show you how terrible I think the other side is. Imagine how bad you have to be that people who take a critical look at the conflict decide to side with literal manchildren who have nothing better to do with their life than bully people they will never know personally.

Btw, snallygaster is amazing, more people should sing her praises.

One is reminded of the Chinese parable where the penalty for being late is death.

This is absolutely irrelevant to anything you are saying, but man, I had forgotten how biting some of the earlier SSC posts are.

Age really does make congenial, erudite but uninteresting milksops of us all.

Oh I think Scott can still push out bangers when he wants to, his fiction is still just as good, it's more he doesn't want to agitate the powers that be much more, which makes sense once your public name is out there.

I wager it's more because he prizes staying in the good graces of his immediate social circle, if memory serves, the dude who happened to date (marry?) his non-binary ex Ozzy leaked private emails from Scott where he acknowledges his surreptitious belief in HBD, which is an unpopular stance to hold in the EA community (and partially taboo in Rat circles like LW). This would be obvious to anyone who read his OG blog, before SSC, covering his trip to provide medical aid to Haiti.

This isn't to deny that he probably didn't like the controversy from the NYT exposé, but from a more detached perspective, it didn't really do him any harm and a lot of good. He garnered a great deal of sympathy, even from his opponents, and his Substack made >250k annually shortly after he opened it. That is already median wage for a US doctor, and at this point I expect it's long eclipsed his regular income.

And he wasn't really susceptible to cancelation in the sense of being sacked and left unemployed, it takes quite a bit to do that to a doctor, and short of being struck off the register for gross malpractice, they have the option of doing private consultation or heading to places with good salaries but more flexible standards in who they hire.

Another reason I hold that opinion is because he still criticizes what might well be called essential elements of the PTB, such as calling for the FDA to be, if not delenda est, significantly reformed.

This isn't to deny that he probably didn't like the controversy from the NYT exposé, but from a more detached perspective, it didn't really do him any harm and a lot of good.

The things he posted after the expose were a lot more milquetoast. I'd say it did a lot of harm.

Harm to the diversity of his writing? Sure. Material harm to him, be it financially or through social ostracism? Quite the opposite.

Nice to see them start fighting back. Even though it's mostly a tangential target.

I think there's a trans analogy here. People are superficially asking you to not say bad things about their situation, but they actually want you to think their own perception of that situation is correct, not just mouth the words. And every so often they make a demand that doesn't really fit the former and implies the latter.

I largely agree with you but, uh, doctors telling their patients to lose weight is, well, not covered under traditional etiquette(it is almost tautologically solicited advice), nor is it some sort of fat shaming- it’s doctors doing their jobs, which are to improve patient health and provide important advice to do so. I’m not discounting that doctors could generally improve their ability to do so, but health problems being downstream of weight issues is a real and very common thing that doctors have to recommend a course of treatment for all the time, and ‘resolve the underlying weight issue’ is in fact the most thorough treatment.

I think it's fair to acknowledge fat activists aren't just fantasizing about the shortcomings of the medical system. Doctors can sometimes focus on obesity at the expense of other issues. I've personally seen an obese family member's tumor go undiagnosed for a troubling amount of time, because the doctors all assumed her symptoms were weight-related. But I'm skeptical of the activist framing that this is all due to fat oppression and discrimination. Rather, doctors begin with the simpler or more common explanation, and obesity is a) very common and b) affects almost all body systems.

This is the standard "chasing zebras" narrative in medicine, and I've honestly never given it much serious consideration. We might hear about the odd obese person whose health problems were caused by something unrelated to their weight and carelessly overlooked by a GP, but for every one I'm sure there are at least 100 cases where the GP's snap diagnosis was right on the money. It seems the height of narcissism to demand that healthcare professionals disregard their training and ignore statistical fact (in fact, to demand that healthcare professionals administer substandard care to their patients) just because it makes some of them feel sad. (See also trans activists, who demand that healthcare professionals waste hundreds of man-hours asking 6-foot tall, bearded, broad-shouldered people if they are or have been pregnant recently.)

It's also demeaning to feel like you're in for a scolding every time you interact with the medical system, and this can discourage people from getting checked out.

Sure, but the same is true of smokers, drinkers, drug addicts etc. and no one expects me to take the Alcoholic Acceptance movement seriously or check my Drinks-In-Moderation Privilege.

Sure, but the same is true of smokers, drinkers, drug addicts etc. and no one expects to take the Alcoholic Acceptance movement seriously or check my Drinks-In-Moderation Privilege.

Oddly, if anything, as fat acceptance has grown, acceptance of smoking and drinking has shrunk.

Medical guidelines for what constitutes "acceptable" levels of drinking have been reduced to very low levels. A single glass of wine is now the limit of what is allowed under new British guidelines. Pointedly, the new guidelines also eliminate any difference between males and females.

The science on this is less than clear. For one, we don't really know if moderate drinking (2 glasses wine/day) is good for you, bad for you, or neutral. And certainly, men can safely drink more than women for many reasons, including higher body mass and the fact that they don't get pregnant.

Perhaps this a noble lie, that by advising people to drink 1 glass a day, they will reduce consumption from 4 to 3. If so, this is immoral and unlikely to work.

I think more likely it is politically motivated.

I recall reading a wine morbidity metastudy 15ish years ago. The results were astounding. Controlling for all relevant variables (age, income, race, sex, etc), the people who drank the most wine were the least likely to die. Really excessive wine drinkers beat regular wine enjoyers beat tea-totalers.

The study had a warning that they are not advocating drinking two bottles of wine a day. Sure, all evidence they could analyze shows that is peak human performance, but please don't.

And now more recently we have the ice cream study. Either the truths of human nutrition and health are rather counterintuitive, or health and nutrition science are largely shit. Replication crisis as academic disciplines.

or health and nutrition science is largely shit.

This is definitely it. Nutrition science since 1970 has been a disaster for the human race. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/share-of-adults-defined-as-obese?tab=chart&country=~USA

Smoking is bad for you. It's completely obvious in the data. Moderate drinking is not bad for you in the same way. Some studies say it is. Some say it isn't. Whatever the result, the effect size is SMALL.

Why does the British medical establishment even care about moderate drinking at all while their citizens are eating themselves to death? My conclusion: they're losers.

wine morbidity metastudy

I went searching and found this other one right off the bat.

Results: This systematic review included 25 studies, of which the meta-analysis included 22 studies. The pooled RR for the association of wine consumption and the risk of CHD using the DerSimonian and Laird approach was 0.76 (95% CIs: 0.69, 0.84), for the risk of CVD was 0.83 (95% CIs: 0.70, 0.98), and for the risk of cardiovascular mortality was 0.73 (95% CIs: 0.59, 0.90)

And yes, a risk ratio below one does mean an inverse relationship -- that is, more wine less risk.

But WHO has spoken.

I recall reading a wine morbidity metastudy 15ish years ago. The results were astounding. Controlling for all relevant variables (age, income, race, sex, etc), the people who drank the most wine were the least likely to die. Really excessive wine drinkers beat regular wine enjoyers beat tea-totalers.

Any chance you could find it again? I'd love to read it.

Oddly, if anything, as fat acceptance has grown, acceptance of smoking and drinking has shrunk.

Acceptance of smoking tobacco has shrunk. Acceptance of smoking marijuana has grown.

I doubt that we will eventually find marijuana to be significantly better for you than tobacco(although there is enough crap in cigarettes that it would shock me if they weren't worse than pure cannabis leaves).

Generally don't smoke leaves, mate. The good stuff concentrates in the flowering portion, the female sex organs specifically.

Low effort post really wants to be incoming. Instead I'm going to wax nostalgic and write another scrollpast.

Many years ago I got high for the first time with my good friend, R. Let's just call him R. It happens to be his real first initial, but whatever. I loved him dearly. Past tense not because my love has ended, but because he is dead now; I'll get to that.

R was the son of a very interesting father who probably once worked for the CIA in some capacity in the 70s. R's family, due to his father's interesting career, in R's childhood at least, traveled all over the world, in particular the middle east, and he had the tchotchkes and prints and flotsam of such trips all over his high school downstairs room (he was from a wealthy family and his "room" consisted of the entire downstairs.) R's dad--who treated him shamefully post-divorce until he decided he wanted to bond with his only son--had similar decor in his own home: Original folk-type paintings of sheiks, large brass platters on the wall, various brass tea urns and pitchers, حُقَّة, etc.

R told many evocative stories about his childhood travels, mingling these with reflection on the pain of his parents' divorce ("like getting shot with a shotgun in the gut"), his sadness at the inevitable loss of the childhood idyll, and his suspicion that he would, if he ever became a father, fuck up his own children (He never did. Either.) One memory of his that sticks, oddly, with me, I who may be the only one who has any memory of it now: He, his father, his mother, his sister, on some beach in Greece, happened upon an American woman sunbathing topless. They--his family, the woman--happened to be once-removed through some friend back in Alabama, and ended up cooking an octopus in the sand.

My own childhood memories were of sitting in a screened-in deck at a rented cabin in Gulf Shores staring at jigsaw puzzles and giving myself third degree burns upturning an electric pitcher of hot coffee. Less romantic.

Anyway the first time I enjoyed the intimate ministrations of Mary Jane I was probably 17 or so years old. This would have been circa 1985. Rocky had reached IV. Brazil had just come out. It was the year of The Breakfast Club. Don't you. Forget about me. The first time I got high, possibly smoking whatever parts, possibly the female sex organs but I doubt it seriously: I felt nothing. I sat there over our board game of trivial pursuit ("Who killed Jabba the Hutt?" So easy as to be laughable, but these were the days before you could look anything up in five seconds) and, after smoking at least one shared joint and taking several hits off a water bong, asked: "What am I supposed to be feeling?"

I have since learned that this is not unusual the first time. One expects the drunk, the alcohol buzz. It's different. I would get high many times after this, though always only with R. This was as much about naïveté as trust: I didn't know anyone else well enough to know whether they got high, or when, or how often. I knew R well enough to know all of the above, and also to be invited along. I remember he would sometimes share a joint with me and then have to be somewhere else--his social life was always very active. He eventually became some sort of crystal meth dealer, which, contrary to my own understanding of how the world should work, altered his social circle such that he did not have to hang around with the likes of me, but was often surrounded by extremely confident and well-dressed people: leggy women, beautiful female French exchange students, sardonic boys with what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of witty comments and, ever ready, subtle putdowns. In other words, The Rich.

I remember sitting on a rock in a creekbed, midnight. My parents were long asleep, not knowing where the hell I was but trusting that I wasn't doing what it was I was, in fact, doing: Getting high with my feet dangling in the water. Everything was funny, or extremely important, or beautiful. R had a cassette deck with batteries and he took it out and made a recording of us talking on that creekbed, sitting on that rock, and I still have this recording--it is, alas, on the same cassette that he made it, in a pile of cassettes my wife periodically urges me to toss: For we have no cassette player. When I read reddit comments or any ripostes of the young, I sometimes remind myself of this: Someday they, too, will have memories they cannot access simply because they don't have whatever the future equivalent is of a fucking cassette player.

R and I stayed friends for many years. Have I mentioned he was fat? He was. I remember walking through supermarkets with him and his picking out the Snackwells and counting the grams of fat (not, in those tender years, concerned with the sugar). He lost the weight, then gained it back, then lost it again, then gained much of it back. It kept going like that. Fast forward through time, through his great lake parties, his girlfriends, both true and not, his studying to be a chef in Italy, his eventual marriage to the woman I think, in my worst moments, may have been the instrument of his death. His last email to me of his health problems--liver failure. Or maybe it was kidney failure. Or both.

When I flew home to see him in his hospital bed the doctor assured me his brain was already so full of ammonia that he would have no idea of what was going on. And yet when I had entered the room no more than twenty minutes earlier, R had grasped my hand, sat up, and looked at me with what I can only describe as anger. That he was being kept alive. That he had been reduced to this bloated mass surviving only because of machines. Or maybe he was still pissed at me for something I had done 20 years ago.

He died, had a funeral, I delivered the eulogy, the mic didn't work, then probably three years later his dad was reduced to a bedridden shadow of his former robust self. I remember holding his hand at his makeshift bed in his house while his home nurse gave us a moment. "I commune daily with R," he said, speaking of his son, my friend, the guy I had many times gotten high with. "He speaks to me," he said. I had my doubts. I, who in the years since R had died had tried all manner of ways to get in touch with him--astral projection, lucid dreaming, everything but paying a village shaman to do us a seance. Because I loved him, and he was gone too soon, and to this day getting high I remember him--though of course to get high in Japan will land you in all sorts of hot water. And so I don't. And this isn't some opsec bullshit. I truly don't. Not that it matters to any of you.

But if I did, and when I someday surely again will, I'll ask whoever it is I get it from for the female sex organ of the cannabis. So thanks for the tip, is what I'm saying.

Edit: Leia. Princess Leia killed Jabba the Hutt. Of course she did.

Wow. That's a heck of a story, bud. Thank you for sharing.

Bravo, honestly. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed that, and I hope you have a good night. Thanks so much for sharing it.

My understanding was that no one really thought smoking marijuana was better for you than smoking tobacco, possibly even worse, if you smoked the same amount. But tobacco smokers smoke way, way more than marijuana smokers, so in practice marijuana is a lot less dangerous. And edibles exist.

Cigarette smokers smoke way more than potheads. Pipe and cigar smokers probably smoke about the same. It makes sense to regulate cigarettes as a highly addictive substance with ruinous health consequences(because that's what they are for the majority of users) while treating marijuana more leniently on the basis of less-addictive. But pipe tobacco and cigars don't fall in the same category.

My understanding was that no one really thought smoking marijuana was better for you than smoking tobacco, possibly even worse, if you smoked the same amount.

I have encountered this exact view a couple of times "in the wild," as it were. Specifically, based in the earnest belief that, while tobacco causes cancer, marijuana cures cancer — and that the reason it's been kept illegal for so long is because "they" don't want you to know that, so that Big Pharma can keep people endlessly paying for their overpriced "treatments" rather than the true cures Nature provides us.

oi M8, u got a license for that second glass of cab sav??

Britain puts the rest of the world to shame when it comes to nanny state nonsense.

For one, we don't really know if moderate drinking (2 glasses wine/day) is good for you, bad for you, or neutral.

They've gone and put out a few meta-studies which swear that any amount of alcohol is bad for you, and now they're just following their own science.

Other meta-studies are murkier but the WHO has spoken.

A single glass of wine is now the limit of what is allowed under new British guidelines.

The guidelines always included "Don't drink every day" and the guideline was expressed as a weekly total. So it isn't one glass of wine a day, it is two glasses every day you drink (or three if you are a man and using the pre-feminist version of the guidlines).

"Glasses" should also be in inverted commas, because for typical strength wine 2 units is a 175ml glass - that is now standard for wine by the glass in pubs and restaurants, but it is bigger that a glass you would pour for yourself after buying the bottle. Two "glasses" of wine per wet day is closer to half a bottle, which is what the French always held out as a reasonable day's drinking even before modern booze-scolding.

Pointedly, the new guidelines also eliminate any difference between males and females.

That, I agree, is silly. OTOH, my parents will spend more effort ensuring that a decent bottle of wine is divided exactly evenly between them on any other marital conflict.

Two "glasses" of wine per wet day is closer to half a bottle, which is what the French always held out as a reasonable day's drinking even before modern booze-scolding.

We don't have to go very far back before 1/2 bottle a day (375 mL) would be considered a very modest amount indeed.

In the 1950s in France, there was a campaign to try to limit people to 1 liter of wine per day! That's 1 and 1/3rd full size bottles and nearly 6 times the current British recommendation.

https://vinepair.com/articles/french-anti-alcohol-art/

politically motivated.

By whom? Is the temperance movement still active and significant?

I can certainly see safetyism in general as a strong trend in politics, but it seems to pop up in all but the most libertarian political camps.

By whom? Is the temperance movement still active and significant?

There's actually a strong streak of it in feminism, or at least feminism-in-tech. Not surprising considering how temperance has always been connected to feminism, ask Carrie Nation.

Nanny state health departments are blue coded since Covid.

I doubt it. The movement isn't really about big chairs and if it succeeded in big chairs, people that fail romantically and professionally because of their appearance aren't going to be satisfied that they at least have bariatric toilets everywhere. Even maximal reworking of the physical environment to protect people from the consequences of being fat will fail to change the general perception that fat people are unattractive and exhibit a character flaw in their appearance.

I agreed with the general thrust of your original post.

We might hear about the odd obese person whose health problems were caused by something unrelated to their weight and carelessly overlooked by a GP, but for every one I'm sure there are at least 100 cases where the GP's snap diagnosis was right on the money.

And from the fat person's perspective, they go to the GP saying "I have this new issue; I've had this body type my whole life, so that part is not new." and the GP is ignoring their history.


(See also trans activists, who demand that healthcare professionals waste hundreds of man-hours asking 6-foot tall, bearded, broad-shouldered people if they are or have been pregnant recently.)

Well, that question has been on every medical history form I've ever gotten because they don't print different ones for men and women.

And from the fat person's perspective, they go to the GP saying "I have this new issue; I've had this body type my whole life, so that part is not new." and the GP is ignoring their history.

  1. The obese person may have gained weight since their last GP visit and may not have realised it (or may be in denial about it).
  2. Many of the health problems faced by obese people are cumulative and progressive, and don't just show up the second your BMI tips over from 29.95 to 30. This is the same self-serving reasoning as "I've been smoking a pack a day since I turned fifteen and I never had so much as a cough, so my current chest pains can't possibly be caused by my smoking."

Well, that question has been on every medical history form I've ever gotten because they don't print different ones for men and women.

My father was getting a Covid vaccine in 2021 and the nurse was completing an intake form in which she verbally asked him the questions on the form and filled in his answers for him. She asked him if he'd been pregnant recently. In his 60+ years, he'd never been asked this question by a medical professional before. See also this article about a blood donor clinic which used to ask "for female donors only have you been pregnant recently?", but changed the form to ask all donors that, even donors who'd already explicitly stated that they were male and hence incapable of getting pregnant. (They changed the form back to its non-pseudoscientific version in response to public outcry.)

And from the fat person's perspective, they go to the GP saying "I have this new issue; I've had this body type my whole life, so that part is not new." and the GP is ignoring their history.

And from the smoker's perspective, they go to the GP saying "I have this new issue; I've been smoking since I was in high school and I've never been coughing up blood before" and the GP is ignoring their history.

But the overall framework of fat oppression presupposes that the core of the problem is the way society treats obese people, and the movement’s primary goal is to reduce messages that inflict shame. This shame, activists argue, is the main source of suffering for fat people.

A particularly extreme version of this may be Carleton University's Fady Shanouda:

A Canadian professor who specializes in "fat studies" claimed that aiming for an obesity-free future was "fatphobic" and blasted the "biopolitics" agenda as an attack against fat people.

Fady Shanouda is an associate professor at the Feminist Institute of Social Transformation at Carleton University in Canada. Shanouda "draws on feminist new materialism" to examine the intersections between "fat studies, "colonialism, racism…, and queer- and transphobia."

The Critical Disability Studies scholar wrote that it was "fatphobic" to have a public health conversation and to tamp down on obesity, according to a Monday article in The Conversation.

In particular, Shanouda believes the marketing of the drug Ozempic – as a method to combat obesity – was the latest example of fatphobia in the culture.

"The latest wonder drug… [was] invented to help diabetics regulate blood glucose levels, but has the notable side-effect of severe weight loss. It has been heralded by many to culminate in the elimination of fat bodies. The fatphobia that undergirds such a proclamation isn’t new," Shanouda said.

The professor lamented how the effectiveness of obesity treatments could eliminate "fat activism" and "the fat liberation movement."

He added that treatments for "the so-called obesity epidemic" were "steeped in fat-hatred."

"Elimination of fat bodies." Shanouda talks about a drug that helps people lose weight — one they voluntarily take — with the sort of language I usually see used to talk about things like ethnic cleansing. I'm not sure how much Grandma's rules of politeness address that.

A Canadian professor who specializes in "fat studies" claimed that aiming for an obesity-free future was "fatphobic" and blasted the "biopolitics" agenda as an attack against fat people.

In this edition of "The Woke Are More Correct Than the Mainstream", I find myself agreeing that I am "fatphobic" and that I hold positions that could reasonably be described as biopolitics of opposition to fat people. I do believe standard platitudes about how it would be better for fat people if they lost the weight, that they'll be happier and healthier, but if I'm being as bluntly honest as possible, I just have contempt for people like Shanouda. Shanouda eats himself into disability, then claims that disability as an oppressed status and makes a professorial career out of it. Yes, my biopolitics are against everything he stands for, people should strive to be fit and healthy, and governments should generally not subsidize disordered lifestyles.

My grandmother grew up in southern Texas, and also followed these rules. She also hosted holiday get togethers, and always enforced the "no politics or religion" rule, aside from niceties like singing traditional Christmas carols, or presenting a theologically neutral Thanksgiving prayer.

I haven't followed fat acceptance very carefully, and mostly hear about the sillier examples online.

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of people are still reasonably polite, and never ask something weird and rude like "where are you really from?" or complain about strangers weight in front of them, even as they're being crushed on a 6 hour flight between two much heavier people.

I've met some people who seem nice enough in person, but come across as very rude online. The Grandmother's Etiquette Guide seems like it needs to have some things worked out about things like (generally non-conversational) email lists and social media, because of the whole dynamic around some people soapboxing in those spaces, a few people responding positively, and a bunch of other people quietly thinking worse of them, but not really knowing them well enough to say anything. I would like to be able to wield something that's the internet equivalent of a mildly disapproving stare or awkward silence.

Think of all the other subpopulations for which progressives write highly specific codes of etiquette. 10 Things Not to Say to Pregnant Women. 15 Common Microaggressions Against AAPI. Now imagine that these codes are replaced by Grandma's simpler, more scalable etiquette that recognizes where respectful behavior truly originates: not in feelings, but in habit and training.

If I were to be a touch ungenerous, I would say that these things emerge because many of their writers and audience are incredibly socially awkward and lack the sensitivity or experience to intuit appropriate behavior. And not just for what they might do/say, but for what other might do/say to them. If I were to be less generous, I would say that these things emerge because some people are looking for an excuse to get offended. If I were to be more generous, I would say that these things emerge because many people were not socialized into a culture of dignity and courtesy. Or the socialization didn't take, or carried with it an unspoken assumption that these standards of behavior only applied to the right sort of people. It is certainly not difficult to find people who openly delight in meanness (especially online, where a lot of our instinctive filters aren't functioning).

(If I were to be honest, I think all three of these things are true simultaneously).

None of the ideas you describe as "Miss Manners" etiquette are alien to my or most of my midwestern middle-class millennial peers (though I would hazard to guess we all picked it up from our parents rather than writing). However, I think you are right in saying that there is an effort to promote sentiments rather than behaviors. The goal is to get past polite toleration (which very much has its limits, as you note) and into actual acceptance. We might not call someone a fat fuck to their face, but as you also note there are a thousand little social indicators that being fat Not OK. And now apply the same concerns to, e.g. LBGT acceptance. (Though ironically, that may be more attainable, given that even notional allies of Fat Acceptance tend to not-so-secretly think that being fat is bad).

Whats missing from the story about your grandmother is the key component that everyone knows what she is doing. They know that they are being shamed for being fat, even if she is not voicing shame. And they feel the shame. She doesn't talk about her diet, she simply demonstrates superior behaviors, and the granddaughter knows they are superior and feels shame for not living up to said standards.

Yes, the shame is known ant a societal level and so it doesn’t need to be emphasized by any one person, as that would be unnecessary and rude. Certainly, people can and do say only polite words while their tone and demeanor implies the disdain, but those people would only be worse if they considered it appropriate to simply say their actual thoughts.

The problem with so many activists is they are not simply trying to encourage kinder behavior toward some group, they anre attempting to change what is considered acceptable/desirable/healthy regarding stuff that is straightforwardly bad, like obesity.

The “ableism” stuff regarding say banning any reference to sight/blindness or the fact that there is now the “R slur” are other examples. Obesity is just far more of a problem because it’s an increasing epidemic where choice/behavior is involved.

I've lived most of my life in the state of Virginia, and I feel like this kind of courtesy never went away. The public fights I heard about and sometimes experienced were often in other states. The North East was particularly bad during COVID. The puritan ethics that exist up there say that public shaming is not only ok, but necessary and good.

I often find reasons to like my own culture and dislike the culture of others. Its definitely motivated reasoning some of the time.

Those rules were either honored in the breach or didn't bear much weight. People got the message that being fat was bad, even if it was communicated by what pointedly wasn't said rather than by what was. And these rules (at least among peers) didn't have the asymmetry that current fat acceptance does. Complaining about the discomfort one's fatness resulted in would be as unacceptable as pointing out the reason for it.

Aren't most etiquette rules easily broken and frequently honored in the breach?

I think most frequently, breaches are used to contest and/or enforce a social hierarchy; it is acceptable to breach etiquette to an inferior's disadvantage, and unacceptable for the inferior to call the superior on the breach. Which has some bearing on the fat issue, as someone gaining weight would lose status in the hierarchy and thus open themselves up to unpunished rude behavior.

But in addition to that, the etiquette rules always left a way (at least for someone with enough social status) to get one's point across, whether that be plausibly-deniable catty remarks or perhaps even exaggerated efforts to "help", e.g. "Oh, honey, that chair just isn't very sturdy, and I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself, why don't you sit in that one" (when the chair in question is fine). The fat acceptance people don't want that. They don't want weight gain to lose them social status, they don't want to be told (even implicitly) that being fat is bad, and they want to be able to demand accommodation for their fatness.

But if their goals are not realistic or achievable, as I don't believe they are, then I think I'm offering a better deal than they'll get from the oppressor/oppressed framework.

The oppressor/oppressed framework offers them everything, if they can get the right position in it. Nobody gets to say anything about their weight, or treat them in any way badly due to it, and they have to be accommodated in every way.

Medicine will continue to show that obesity is unhealthy, which will give everyone psychological permission to maintain their aversion.

I want to believe this, but I feel that time has shown that the oppressor/oppressed framework is more than capable of overruling the science. There's a lot of research on IQ, heritability, innate gender differences etc - and people just continue to spout verifiable, known lies that accord with the framework in question.

I suspect the fat acceptance movement won’t have the same success, partly because it isn’t innate and partly because medical advances will make being thin easier for most fat people to attain. Didn’t @self_made_human talk a few months ago about some new diet pill that seems to work wonders? Once almost anyone can become effortlessly thin, fat acceptance advocates will probably be seen the same way we now view anorexia advocates.

Ozempic? It works great, both for weight loss and more surprising applications like treating addictions and impulsive behaviors. They haven't even discovered any real adverse effects, barring loss of muscle mass with the fat (as is the case for most rapid weight loss techniques, including dieting or fasting), and believe me there are plenty of attempts to find a reason it can't just be taken at face value, or must be "too good to be true".

The only knock against it I can muster is that it's still expensive, but it'll get cheaper, there are other drugs in the same category that work even better, and eventually it'll become a generic or commodity alternatives will show up.

I don't think the Fat Acceptance movement ever gained widespread momentum, ahem, but it's going to die out from its adherents ending up sheepishly not fat, or the worst of them will literally die.

partly because medical advances will make being thin easier for most fat people to attain.

As I noted in a reply upthread, at least one "fat acceptance" activist professor has attacked Ozempic as an example of "fatphobia" — "the elimination of fat bodies" even:

"What makes this moment different from the others, however, is the dangerous rhetoric in which it is lodged. This rhetoric elevates the banal and commonplace fat-shaming that fat people must endure and resist to an unprecedented level," the professor added.

The professor lamented how the effectiveness of obesity treatments could eliminate "fat activism" and "the fat liberation movement."

He added that treatments for "the so-called obesity epidemic" were "steeped in fat-hatred."

I also don't think the fat acceptance movement will have any success - but mostly because fat people are actually viscerally uncool and status-damaging to hang out with. I just don't think their disrespect for science and material reality is going to be what does them in, because observably false beliefs can survive just fine in society without any serious pushback.

I think of etiquette as a subset of a much larger principle that’s best exemplified in Confucian thought. The idea of seeing yourself in relationships and that those relationships are reciprocal is really to my mind the secret sauce of civilization. Depending on the specifics of the relationship, certain things might well be considered rude in one place and perfectly okay in another. It’s perfectly okay for an elder to give advice to a junior member of the group. Telling a kid to eat reasonable amounts of food is perfectly acceptable because your role as an older adult to not eat the entire pizza. From a relative stranger, the same advice becomes an insult. A kid telling an older adult not to eat like a pig is off putting because of the relationship. Strangers obviously have no relationship to the fat person at all and are free to say anything they want, although they shouldn’t necessarily say such a thing to the person or within obvious earshot. Doctors are supposed to talk to patients about health, and in fact if they’re not, they’re neglecting their duties because that's the relationship you hired him to protect your health.

All fine and good but what if you think some large institution is systemically violating grandma's rules by building airplanes with too narrow of seats? The rub is when demands are made of others and individuals are crushed by society's immense gears.

This is an indictment of having gears that large. Not of the finite power of courtesy.

Large institutions may be necessary for modern life, but is modern life really instrumental to human flourishing? And insofar as parts of it are, do those parts really require large institutions?

I've long been convinced universities are not just superfluous but actively hampering g the pursuit of knowledge for instance, and those exist precisely at that size that becomes too large to remain personal.

A properly ordered society doesn't have humans as replaceable cogs of a machine that could ultimately run without humans. Either remove humans or remove the machine.

Perhaps true but from the perspective of the progressive it's intolerable that any are oppressed and large gears are the mechanism by which they're able to crush oppressors. You can say they shouldn't but that's a values disagreement.

I am indeed not opposed to nature because I know one opposes it at their peril. Which is of course not something I share with progressives.

That said, the vision of most progressives for the future is rarely that cynical. Most just think that if we turn the knobs of the great machine correctly we'll get Star Trek. There is an unstated faith behind the idea of systemic injustice that a just system can be made.

Unfortunately it is not the case. Every single attempt for now more than 200 years has been frustrated and billions have died on that altar. And yet we now live in a world more unjust and unequal than ever.

To any who still want to try I ask: what makes you think you are any different to all your predecessors who made a worse world in the name of a better one?

I think framing morality/ethics and its many subsets such as etiquette as top down is compelling and effective (religion). But the modal mottizen is better served by viewing it bottom up, selfishly.

In that morality is that which allows groups to flourish as some form of optimized equilibrium for the longest of times. Etiquette is the aesthetics of that which facilitates the above.

If you apply "I should act such that this person is going to be more likely to invite me to the next party or that this person is more likely to make me a job offer", you might just arrive at grandas ethics.

Well, except if you're with a group of people bonding by bullying someone, you perspective implies I should start bullying them too...

ETA: though, I do admit, definitionally that taking the selfish perspective does "better serve" you

Well, except if you're with a group of people bonding by bullying someone, you perspective implies I should start bullying them too...

This is a strategy followed by countless schoolchildren worldwide for centuries, so you wouldn't be alone.

Sure, I'm just pushing back against what @f3zinker said:

you might just arrive at grandas ethics.

This is false. [ETA: unless you think grandma condones bullying, I guess...]

She does, generally. She is, in fact, doing it her whole time while maintaining the air of politeness. Who gets complimented and who does not. Who she asks if they want another serving of pasta and who she does not. Etc. Schoolchildren are often more blunt, but they must be, they are 8 years old and they don't have the subtle touch of a 65 year old grandma intimating to her daughter that her granddaughter is fat.

No law is perfect to the letter. The spirit of the rules would certainly prohibit backhanded insinuations via second helpings just as it prevents backhanded compliments--in fact I'd argue that clause does cover such a situation in letter, but that is debatable. Nonetheless, calling someone fat isn't okay just because you don't use the word fat.

The spirit of the rules would certainly prohibit backhanded insinuations via second helpings just as it prevents backhanded compliments

No, it doesn't. The spirit of the rules is to maintain Grandma's standards while not being outwardly aggressive about it.

Indeed. The world doesn't work without rules enforcement. It can either be through social condemnation, or police force.

Interesting take. Nonetheless, we should acknowledge that the letter of the law prohibits implied insults, does it not? One such insult is illustrated, but it seems obvious there are innumerable forms such an insult could take. So we are left with two propositions: either the clause applies to all such implications, or it applies specifically and only to compliments given directly to an individual directly and exempts other forms of breach not specifically mentioned. The latter would support your premise of "secretly evil", I suppose, but it makes me wonder why outlaw backhanded compliments in one specific use case, and not outlaw, for example, complimenting the horse fatty rides riding for its perseverance? Is it that complimenting the mount is less obvious somehow? I think not. Thus I'm forced to believe implied insults, of whatever form, are prohibited by the letter of the law.

Although the question of the spirit of the law seems moot, given the explicit callouts in the text, I'm curious if there are other laws which you believe have a spirit diametrically opposed to their text? If we want people to stop at a given intersection, should we install Yield signs, or no signs? I don't quite understand how this works.

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I think the script component is also immensely valuable. I’m increasingly convinced there is no “authentic” interaction except perhaps among those closest to us.

In general we can either have a script or we can track everyone’s status to know how to act as you allude to above. Interestingly I think that’s one lens to use for the identity fixation phenomenon. It seems to me something like that is unavoidable if we decide to throw out scripts and be “authentic.”

I remember my first time abroad alone in college for the summer. I was groggy from the flight and found myself eating a home cooked meal at my host’s house with his wife and I realized I had no idea what to do or how to behave!

Fortunately I had a script I could use. What I thought was irrelevant—say thank you for the meal, eat a sizable amount to show appreciation, offer to help clean up, etc.

What a relief to not have to re-derive from our relative statuses what to do so as to not give offense.

I think it’s a combination of our worst tendencies but also a fallback plan.

If we’ve systematically criticized and torn down anything that could be worth making even the smallest sacrifice for, if nothing is worth putting ahead of yourself, where else would you wind up?

You may not offer unsolicited advice. Presume that other people are competently managing their own lives as they see fit. If they want your thoughts on their relationships, finances, or dietary habits, they will ask.

Interesting. My upbringing was basically the opposite. I was told by my parents (and culture more generally), that if I saw someone doing X to achieve goal Y and I really truly believed that instead of X it would be better to do Y it was my duty to let them know this and the fact that this was unsolicited means nothing.

Imagine you see someone trying to open one of those child lock medicine bottles where you have to push them in first, wrangle the cap around a bit and then twist to open them. However they don't seem to know this and you've noticed them for a while trying to twist the cap and open it and it keeps on failing, and they don't know why. They haven't asked you for help but anyone can see they are clearly frustrated. Pretty much nobody would say it's a bad thing to go and tell them how to open the cap, even though technically it is unsolicited advice. We just take this concept and scale it up to apply to many more things.

Now whether they choose to follow my advice or not is completely up to them, and I shouldn't try to change what they do, but my duty is to let them know and what they do with this knowledge later is purely for themselves to decide. On the Day of Judgement I will be able to say before God that I did what was required of me at that point in my life to help my fellow man and thus I was indemnified from whatever happened to that person afterwards, e.g. if they were swimming in waters I knew to be shark infested I have a duty to tell them they should get out ASAP, if they don't and then get eaten I am not morally responsible for what happened in a way I would be if I saw them swimming there and just went on with my day giving them no warning.

I guess this is yet another example of the cultural differences between the west and my homeland. It's pretty small on its own but when you have many dozens of such things they add up very quickly.

You say: Don't give unsolicited advice.

We say: It's your duty to give unsolicited advice.

See, in the twist cap situation, I would always lead with, "may I offer a suggestion?" When they inevitably agree, you're now offering solicited advice. You've engaged them in asking for your help, which makes them inherently more open to accepting it. "Don't offer unsolicited advice" doesn't mean "speak only when spoken to." And of course etiquette always takes a back seat to actual danger.

Sure, but I expect in the West if you are in a situation where e.g. a fat woman is complaining about her dating life and you go "may I offer a suggestion to help?" and when she says yes you respond with "I think it would help to lose weight to improve your odds" it is still seen as unsolicited advice. Sure you can say it's rude, but lots of things are rude while not being unsolicited advice, however this response will still get seen as unsolicited advice even though you did the whole "may I offer a suggestion to help?".

And of course when I say we give unsolicited advice in our culture it's usually crouched in such language too, it's very rarely "you should do XYZ" straight out, it's almost always "may I offer a suggestion?" and if the other person says no then your duty is still discharged, they rejected your offer of help, you are no longer liable and can go on with your day.

I think it would help to lose weight to improve your odds

The obvious difference here is that almost everyone already knows this, probably including the person you're talking to, which is not the case in the bottle-cap or shark-infested waters examples. Indeed, the latter two aren't actually unsolicited advice, they are unsolicited unknown information which is very different.

There is almost no-one for whom 'lose weight' will be novel and actioned advice.

Overstepping definitely exists and there are lots of ways in which it happens, one way I mentioned above was e.g. trying to get people to actually follow the advice you gave them, thiis is looked down upon quite hard.

There's no offense taken when you presume to understand someone's most personal circumstances better than they themselves do?

Using an example from your own culture (Machiavelli's The Prince):

Nor, I hope, will you think it presumptuous that a man of low, really the lowest, station should set out to discuss the way princes ought to govern their peoples. Just as artists who draw landscapes get down in the valley to study the mountains and go up to the mountains to look down on the valley, so one has to be a prince to get to know the character of a people and a man of the people to know the character of a prince.

It's more that the advisors aren't seen by the advisee as knowing their personal situation better than they do, the advisor is just saying what they feel is best for you (the fact that they give up their own time to even give you the advice in the first place is a small act showing they care, it's cheaper for them to save their own time and say nothing) from what they are able to see. Like the artist in the valley looking at the mountain, they may be able to see something about you that you have overlooked, even though you have a far better idea of the exact details of the situation.

There is minimal expectation for the person being given the advice to follow it, and people often freely ignore the advice they have been given by randoms (because of course, the random doesn't know much about you, you might be doing X because X' is unfeasible for some other reason they don't know but you do, so when they tell you to try X' you thank them for their advice and continue doing X),

Equally this isn't seen as insulting towards the random person who's advice you just decided to ignore because everyone knows and acknowledges that you have more information about the situation at hand than the person giving you advice. Note that this is often even true in the case of solicited advice, that too is often freely ignored by the person who asked for the advice in the first place because it doesn't work for them and isn't seen as something particularly bad by the culture beyond a slightly higher expectation that you will follow the advice because you were the one asking for it in the first place.

Going to 50 different people, asking for and getting their advice and then ignoring everyone's suggestions is definitely looked down upon, it's perfectly possible for the first 3 people that they gave you bad advice, but it's far far more statistically likely that if you don't take the advice of 50 different people the problem is with you rather than them. On the other hand ignoring 50 people who gave you unsolicited advice is seen as far less bad, because all 50 of them might not have seen the reason why X' is unfeasible for you.

I personally try to at least give a small justification for why the advice they gave me wouldn't work when I'm put in such a situation, and then other person, their duty discharged, goes on with his day. Repeatedly pestering the same person multiple times with advice on the same thing they don't take is most definitely seen as overstepping though, and looked down on, generally it's fine to give 1 piece of advice, maybe 2 if you really know the person well and like them, before moving on with your life, more is seen as excessive but of course the closer you are to the person you are giving advice to the more you can do here.

Interestingly financial advice is the one type of advice I do not give to anyone, not even those close to me. This is because if the advice doesn't work out they will blame you, while if the advice does work out they won't thank you in anywhere near a proportion to how much they would have blamed you in the counterfactual. "Buy index funds and don't touch them" is where I leave it at (incidentially this is also how I invest my own money).

And of course, certain things really are beyond the pale, telling people "you should have at least 4 kids" is not gonna fly unless you're their parent or grandparent or your argument is so high level that it would apply to basically everyone (in which case it isn't personal advice any more). Interestingly though far more people can get away with "you should have at least 2.2 kids", probably because the argument behind giving the latter advice does not rely on much specific factors about the person you are giving the advice to, so it really doesn't matter you don't know them well at all. I have been told multiple times I should donate my sperm to a sperm bank though, completely out of the blue...

It's not just Western media. There's a lot of complaints about MILs in some Asian societies as well. I've heard many examples of MILs ordering their DILs around and some DILs fighting back and correcting expectations.

It's interesting to hear stories of how things have changed over the past few generations in some countries. A funny story; i knew a couple with a young kid who lived in the US. His parents lived in China and had nanny cam access to some of the rooms. They couldn't stop offering unsolicited advice about what to do so much that the US couple threatened to shut off the nanny cam if they didn't stop.

See here for examples: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/culture/2023/12/135_130229.html

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2016/07/11/korean-mother-in-laws-mantra-please-cook-for-my-son.html

I've heard stories of MILs ordering their DILs around and some DILs fighting back and correcting expectations.

Oh we have this problem as well, very very massively. another issue is that the husband still sides with the mother over his wife in marriage, which leads to strife between him and his wife. I wouldn't say it's merely an unsolicited advice problem where the wife can ignore the advice and everything is fine, it's the MILs literally ordering the wife around and treating her like a servant, which shouldn't be seen as OK. I suppose it's more fine when you have actual servants she can order around so the wife doesn't have to do everything herself but if you don't it makes the wife's life hell.

I like to think when I get married my mom won't be like that to my wife, but every man probably thinks that way...

"My mother or mother-in-law keeps telling me how to parent!"

This to me is crazy, maybe complaining about the mother-in-law is somewhat justifiable but if you believe you yourself turned out alright and had a decent childhood then your mother has a certified track record in raising children which means you should probably listen to what she has to say (same with mother in law, your chose your partner so you probably think they turned out alright, hence your mother in law has a certified track record as well). What makes you think that you, on your own, can do better than them? They are your elders, they have earned the right to give advice on raising children by successfully doing the same themselves. Lack of filial piety is another major issue I have with the western way of life.

And then these very same women who don't trust their elders will happily leave their offspring with daycares and nurseries for hours each day to be raised by randoms for whom you have minimal idea of their suitability to raise children beyond passing some government mandated training courses that teach god knows what.

I can understand this sentiment when you're raising your 5th child and have the fresh memory of dealing with 4 children while the knowledge from your elders is more dated, but doing this for your first child is madness (I assume most of these letters come from first time mothers or the like, mostly because there are a lot more of them than 5th time mothers and also because by child 5 your mother/in-laws probably won't still be offering advice as you've documented to them already that you can handle things).

When I end up having children my plans are to leave them for a while with either my or my wife's parents precisely for these reasons over throwing them into daycare, it's cheaper and very likely better, plus having a young child around the house again will light up the lives of its grandparents.

It is kind of backwards, but medical and safety recommendations have changed in the last thirty years. My parents were told to put me on my front to sleep and they were at a loss to help me with getting my first baby to sleep. Today there is a huge campaign where "Back is best" and babies are laid in their bassinets on their back.

It has also been 20 years since they last held a baby and I don't think they remember most of it. They also thought things like spanking a six month old for crying was ok, and that babies cried to get sympathy and attention.

I guess I turned out ok and I survived to adulthood (despite my mother at one point handing me off to a complete stranger because the stranger said she looked tired and offered to help.) But is it complete hubris to hope I can do better?

I agree with some of what you say, but that's very charitable to your in-group and very uncharitable to your out-group. I could just as easily cite "The Nurture Assumption", reference things like people having fucked up parents, and that people turned out all right in spite of their parents. Or maybe they turned out poorly even though their parents were decent people.

And then these very same women who don't trust their elders will happily leave their offspring with daycares and nurseries for hours each day to be raised by randoms for whom you have minimal idea of their suitability to raise children beyond passing some government mandated training courses that teach god knows what.

What's wrong with this? You frame it in a very negative way, but millions of kids in the US go to daycare. Is it really that bad? For the most part, I think people should figure out what's best for them and pursue it.