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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 29, 2024

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In between blogging about fursuit collections, former motte moderator TracingWoodgrains has started to blow up on twitter after wading into an ongoing feud between Steve Sailer and propagandist Will Stancil.
Something in the replies must have really upset him (possibly interactions with a number of replyguys making not-so-veiled threats about what happens to people who associate with bigots or question "lying for the pursuit of good aims"), because he suddenly got really invested in proving that the recent FAA-DEI scandal is real.

After giving up on conservative journalists and deciding to do the legwork himself, he's now posting PACER documents from the recent FAA lawsuit, proving that the FAA HR department sent black applicants a list of resume buzzwords that would get their applications fast-tracked, via the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees.

A few hours ago this got the attention of Elon Musk, and Tracing is promising a follow-up, somehow trying to juggle 1L coursework with doing more investigative journalism than the entire conservative media put together. Obviously one of these things takes more time than the other, but I'm sure he'll have a coffee break free for the journalism bit.

One reason I think this could be important is that it's going to paint a huge target on Tracing's back. Propagandists have been claiming that the FAA DEI story was fake, the test designed to favor black applicants never existed, etc. They're going to get very angry at this evidence becoming widely known, and tracing is in a unique position to spread it outside the right wing news ghetto that prevents most liberals from ever encountering facts like these.
I'm not saying it's certain they're going to go after his law school, but he's in a uniquely vulnerable position right now, with very few allies in a position to help him (and probably a number who will suddenly decide he's on the enemy side of the fiend-enemy distinction.) So if anyone is in the position to help if he needs it, maybe start reaching out early.

Unfortunately all of this is getting difficult to follow without a twitter account (I even have one, but they're not letting me log in right now for no apparent reason). It's going to get even harder as Nitter instances die off. If anyone has a reliable account and would be willing to make screenshots, I'd love if you could take over covering the story as it develops.

Edit: his effortpost is now out on twitter and at his blog. I'll copy it into a reply below in case the nitter instance goes down again.

Just a note, this has obvious parallels to colleges letting DEI departments screen out the 80% of applicants before any objective hiring process begins:

they recommended using a biographical test first to "maximiz[e] diversity," eliminating the vast majority of candidates prior to any cognitive test.

It's a very effective method of manipulating procedural outcomes, isn't it?

When NY Times starts investigating this page and wants to interview me as the one sympathetic-to-their-audience 'progressive' venturing into the lions den, I promise to tell them y'all are just misguided victims of radicalizing social media algorithms. Probably the best I can do.

This is actually a debate space to make progressives better at debunking alt-right trolls. TheMotte plays a critical part in deprogramming radicals.

(this isn't even necessarily untrue)

It is untrue because there are no progressives here…

I'm a progressive! (circa 2014)

Me too! (circa 300 A.D.)

You actually support Diocletian's reforms? umm, yikes.

Well, not many. Would you consider yourself a progressive, @guesswho?

No category label is ever fully accurate when applied to a person. But of the handful of major political labels we currently acknowledge in the US, it's the group I'm most likely to try to support, sure.

I used to be a token progressive on here but then I left because I took shrooms and decided hiking was a better use of my time than arguing on the internet.

Probably true, but heterogeneity of opinion keeps things interesting.

There are plenty of true-to-the-name progressives here, but few "progressives" who buy into the definition of progress as whatever it is currently most socially beneficial to clamor for. The latter seek validation rather than progress, and can get it far more easily on other platforms.

TheMotte plays a critical part in deprogramming radicals.

This is true. Shakesneer used to be a leftist if I remember correctly, and judging by the recent podcast he's joined the many people deprogrammed by participating here.

I was radicalized by interacting with the kind of progressive who calls people racist for not believing Jussie Smollet and then refuses to acknowledge the case ever again once it becomes apparent that they've made a booboo.

Good thing the mods don't consider this type of post antagonistic in any way...

  • -13

You know, it's just possible that had you waited to see whether or not we would mod that comment, after you reported it, one of us might have agreed with you that it was in fact antagonistic. But no, you reported it and then immediately posted a passive-aggressive whine about what the mods do or don't consider antagonistic.

FWIW, my personal metric is the "Shoe on the other foot" test. If a leftie said something equally snide about why he's been "radicalized" by righties, would I mod it? Eh, maybe, but probably not. Now if you feel that the comment was a personal dig directed at you, well... sometimes a jerk's got a point, you know?

I wouldn't normally report a comment like that (if I did, your queue would get pretty clogged up). I decided to do it after posting because I realized it was unfair to accuse the mods of a double standard when they could just be unaware of that comment.

I don't actually want you to mod people who are mean to me, but I do want you to hold me to the same standards you hold them.

The way you instead agree with them pretty much confirms my expectations, but w/e.

Well, yes, I think the point he was making was accurate (you did that), and I also think it was antagonistic. And if you hadn't been whining about how the mods are unfair at the same time you reported the comment, I might have made a comment about not being a jerk and grinding old axes, but now I'm just rolling my eyes since you have to push buttons as hard as you can, especially after you claim you "wouldn't normally report a comment like that." (The heck you don't.)

(you did that),

I of course didn't, but since that's a meme started on here by my #1 long-term stalker who also happens to be a mod, I don't expect people to be much interested in being careful about the facts of the matter.

(as per any slander, it's a bunch of lies and mischaracterization built around a true seed of a real event. You'd think 8 years of seeing the left lie about Trump and Trump lie about the left would make the pattern clear to people discussing those events every day, but w/e)

  • -11

Who do you actually think you're gaslighting here? The list of people eager to call you out after the hoax became obvious was practically endless, and the way you shamelessly feigned blindness to all of it was an instant meme with no moderator help required.

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I of course didn't, but since that's a meme started on here by my #1 long-term stalker who also happens to be a mod, I don't expect people to be much interested in being careful about the facts of the matter.

Hey, I'm not a moderator.

... as per any slander, it's a bunch of lies and mischaracterization built around a true seed of a real event.

Source.

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I of course didn't, but since that's a meme started on here by my #1 long-term stalker who also happens to be a mod, I don't expect people to be much interested in being careful about the facts of the matter.

@gattsuru is not a mod. He's not a stalker either, just unusually well-organized.

In any case, what's the response you're looking for with this comment? I'd like to provide it, if possible. I can't speak for anyone else, but I would like to be as careful of the facts as possible. I certainly am not interested in perpetrating lies or mischaracterizations. What's your understanding of events, and how does it differ from the description above? The original thread and subsequent threads aren't hard to find, and if there's a misunderstanding or a mischaracterization it shouldn't be too hard to demonstrate. Even if trawling the old threads is too much trouble, I'd at least be interested in hearing a more detailed description of events from your perspective.

It seems to me that this post, like many of your posts, is essentially a lament that people are treating you unfairly despite considerable forbearance on your part. I would like to treat you fairly; normally I would do that by responding directly to your statements, but given past experience I have some doubts that would be productive. So instead, I'll ask you directly: what sort of response would you like to the above? This is a discussion space, which means if you're posting here, we can presume you're looking for discussion. What should that discussion look like, in your view? What would be the proper way to proceed constructively? I can't promise that you'll get it from anyone else in this thread, but I can at least try to provide it myself, and maybe it can set an example.

To lay my cards on the table, I don't think you post in good faith, and believe that your general strategy is to push the edge of the rules as hard and as skillfully as possible, and then concern troll and play the victim when people push back. I think this has been your pattern for pretty much as long as I've been interacting with you, and believe I wasted a lot of time trying to have productive discussions with you before I got a handle on how your schtick works. If that model is correct, the next logical play would be for you to ignore this message and focus on the lowest-quality and most angry responses in the thread.

On the other hand, it seems to me that even if that is your schtick, the best response is to exert a bit of effort offering you what you appear to be asking for, and then make it clear that you probably won't take it. And if I'm wrong and you will take it, and we can actually have a high-quality dialogue, well, mission accomplished, as they say.

So, again, we have a clear disagreement here. You think you've been slandered, I think you are objecting to people pointing out your very real bad behavior. It doesn't seem to me that this disagreement should be unsolvable; people have criticized me for posts I've made in the past, and I've always been happy to discuss the issue with them at their pleasure, and will remain so in the future. So what's the proper way to proceed?

You'd think 8 years of seeing the left lie about Trump and Trump lie about the left would make the pattern clear to people discussing those events every day, but w/e)

When do you personally think the left has ever lied about Trump?

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It probably helps that this was an actual thing that actually happened here by a rather infamous, and since moved on, member of the "community". In fact, the person who called the blatant hoax a blatant hoax earned a warning or temp ban, I can't remember which.

It was very radicalizing.

You might see whining about a hypothetical strawman, but it's actually "Oh yeah, I remember that..."

It helps even more that the member of the community in question did not move on, and you are, in fact, talking to him.

Hahahahah. Oh boy did I ever walk into that one. Had no idea. Definitely adds a pretty amazing color to the whole back and forth.

Eh, not terribly true for me, unless "sort by new in reddit style threads on themotte," "read newest substack articles of people I run across" or occasionally, "look at the newest (not algorithmically generated) tweets for someone on nitter" count.

I don't know that his post will prompt lefty investigations here; it's not like he's acted terribly right-wing besides merely investigating the matter, and it's pretty egregious.

I assume he can flee to conservatives, even if he's not really one, for defense for this kind of thing, if needed.

That said, can you imagine the articles they'd write about themotte? (I suppose that would solve any evaporative cooling problems for the short term, but lead to large quality and moderation problems.)

Edit: Actually, maybe the anon (I believe?) account with enough biographical information to make doxxing not hard might be pretty attractive to some journalists. (How many gay-married ex-mormons in law school are there?)

It's kind of amazing to me that we've stayed under the radar for so long.

Really? This is a forum comprised of ~100 nobodies and maybe 3 D-list Twitter celebrities (Sorry, TracingWoodgrains and Kulak).

This is one of the least-important corners of the internet. A fun distraction at best.

Who knows. I’ve always been a fan of a Scott Summer quote that the top 10% read the NYT and the top 1% spend their time on some obscure blog/message board. The DEI and critical theory types were all obscure before they took over everything.

The rationalist were obscure before they took over AI and Bitcoin. New ideas come from people who skim the NYT but develop their mental models elsewhere. Mass adoption of ideas won’t flow thru here but the laboratories upstream of say a Hannania weren’t developed on big twitter followings.

I would say in past generations ideas like neoliberalism were developed in academia by a Friedman toiling in anonymity but my guess is that’s not where the big cultural ideas will come from in the future.

I’ve long wandered if anyone I know in real life posts here and there’s a few who seem to fit the mold.

I would say in past generations ideas like neoliberalism were developed in academia by a Friedman toiling in anonymity but my guess is that’s not where the big cultural ideas will come from in the future.

Neoliberalism (horribly vague word but the meaning here is clear from context) wasn't developed by (either) Friedman toiling in obscurity. There was an organised movement of classically liberal economists, founded by Hayek just after WW2, which recruited people like Milton Friedman and encouraged them to get involved in advocacy.

The Mont Pelerin Society is attacked by lefties as a vast right-wing conspiracy, but it was no more conspiratorial than any other professional network - it was just a professional association of like-minded politically-engaged economists that conducted its affairs in public. Arguably it is the prototype for the modern ecosystem of right-wing think tanks.

But to some degree neoliberalism was invented by a bunch of economists toiling away in academic semi-obscurity - the MPS was treated like a bunch of kooks (Friedman wasn't, but he was a serious economist because of his macro work, not his libertarian work) until the 1970's when suddenly there was a political need for what they were selling, and Reagan and Thatcher found a ready-made intellectual edifice to tell them both how and why to do the things they wanted to do anyway.

The Mont Pelerin Society is attacked by lefties as a vast right-wing conspiracy, but it was no more conspiratorial than any other professional network

Nah, I'm going to side with the lefties here. "No more conspiratorial" doesn't mean much, when these sort of organizations are plenty conspiratorial. I don't even know if there can be "just a professional network" of economists. Economists aren't plumbers, there isn't a neutral way to judge their practices, and any way they will associate themselves will have more to do with ideology than professional practices.

it was just a professional association of like-minded politically-engaged economists that conducted its affairs in public.

Oh come on, this is literally "it's not a conspiracy, it's just a group of people acting together toward's a common goal!".

Arguably it is the prototype for the modern ecosystem of right-wing think tanks.

How is it a prototype? This whole model of influence goes way back to how the Catholic Church gained it's influence over Europe, if not to ancient philosophers whispering into the ears of emperors.

and Reagan and Thatcher found a ready-made intellectual edifice to tell them both how and why to do the things they wanted to do anyway.

Not necessarily what they wanted to do anyway. I think someone (possibly Friedman) remarked how it was weird, and basically dumb luck, how someone like Pinochet would go for a market system, rather than more fashy ideas associated with military dictators. From what I understand he just wanted to be notAllende, and the Chicago Boys happened to be at the right place at the right time.

I am highly disgruntled at being linked with those in the company of a Twitter celebrity, even a D-list one. You take that back!

The mainstream media tends to avoid signal-boosting intelligent dissident voices. They want controlled opposition and/or clownish opposition. Much easier to write about Alex Jones or @420MAGAPepe1488 on X.

Similarly you don't see LibsOfTikTok engaging with Noah Smith. Much easier to dunk on the squad

The last time I saw Noah Smith get into a twitter argument it involved him giving an extremely common word (Growth) a novel and unintuitive definition and then "dunking" on people who didn't use it. I'd rather get into an argument with him than the squad to be honest.

We've stayed under the radar because we are very small. Even Scott is only recently on the radar and he's orders of magnitude larger.

What's with the concept 'radicalizing social media algorithms'? This is like that idea that 'Putin hacked the elections'... by putting ads on facebook or something? How can people simultaneously defend democracy and believe that the average person is the cognitive equivalent of a fast food public wifi network?

If democracy is so great, why do we need to ban doctors from posting their opinions online? Why do we need to prevent people from taking horse deworming medication but make sure they get to vote?

If AI is racist, if Silicon Valley companies, the most powerful, data-driven, progressive companies ever, still can't seem to make DEI quotas, then perhaps they have a point?

How can people simultaneously defend democracy and believe that the average person is the cognitive equivalent of a fast food public wifi network?

I've made a few effortposts on this topic, ussually around the question of 'shouldn't we just let only the smart people vote?'

The basic idea is that if you have a true and powerful signal and a large enough amount of data collection, you can be ok even in a system with humongous amounts of noise.

It's ok if the average voter is so dumb that their voting behavior is near-random. So long as it's not completely random and they're probabilisticly influenced by the true signal of 'good candidate' at least a little, then if we average over tens of millions of voters we can recover that signal with high likelihood.

(whereas choosing any nonrandom subsample of the population to do the choosing, like 'the smart/informed people', is more likely to produce an artifact since their homogeneity makes them more likely to be biased in the same direction by the same factors)

It's ok if the average voter is so dumb that their voting behavior is near-random. So long as it's not completely random and they're probabilisticly influenced by the true signal of 'good candidate' at least a little, then if we average over tens of millions of voters we can recover that signal with high likelihood.

This sounds rather like the "wisdom of crowds" argument — or at least adjacent to it. But, AIUI, that only really applies when the "noise" is unbiased; like in the classic "guess how many items in the jar," the average of people's "noisy" estimates converges toward the true value because people are equally likely to overestimate as underestimate. Does that still apply in voting? I think a case can be made that for various reasons — ranging from human cognitive biases to media institutions — the "noise" is not unbiased; the average "dumb voter" will tend to deviate from the "true signal" in particular directions, ensuring the aggregate "wisdom of the crowd" will be similarly biased away from the "true signal" in those same directions.

That is probably the largest falsifiable assumption underlying the rationale, that the noise is not normally distributed around the true signal.

The truest answer is 'that is possible and is a major weakness of the theory,' but, 3 mitigating arguments:

  1. We have a 2-party system, in which each side has arguments and narratives trying to push people towards their direction. Voting simulations tend to suggest that in this situation, or even situations with 3 or 4 parties, it is natural for those opposing parties to center around the true center of public preference, and pull in either direction away from it. Since both parties have roughly similar number of devotees (which is not coincidental, they will change their positions until that equilibrium is reached in the long-run, which is part of why it centers that way in real life), we can expect/hope that the noise produced by those things roughly cancels out. (of course this conflates 'central voter preference' and 'the best government', but that gets into deeper philosophical discussions of what a 'good government' even is, which we're eliding atm)

  2. Even if the population has net biases where everyone/the large majority are off in the same direction, these should be for specific issues or domains. Government is hugely complex and multi-faceted; it's possible for the government to be bad on 5 axes, ok on 10 axes, and good on 20 axes, or w/e. Even if there's some big universal bias that drives people away from the true signal on on axis or another, hopefully any axis without a singular such factor will still have pretty randomly distributed noise, and we'll do well on a lot of other metrics anyway.

  3. In particular, I was comparing universal voting to some type of restricted voting where (for example) only people with a certain IQ or passing a certain competence test or etc. are allowed to vote. While it may be true that the general population of all voters could be systematically biased in some way, it's still much more likely that a smaller group selected on a specific metric, which therefore has less cognitive and experiential diversity, would have a similar or stronger bias of some kind. If you are trying to avoid systematic biases, it's really hard to do better than huge random samples in a situation like this, even if huge random samples aren't guaranteed to be perfect either. (and ofc I personally don't think you're going to do better hoping to get lucky with a benevolent monarch or any other system humans have tried, but maybe better non-voting systems are theoretically possible)

Replying to myself to copy/paste one of those long posts, in case anyone is interested. Huge wall of text warning, with a lot of stuff that's probably too basic for the audience here:

This was in response to someone basically asking 'Wouldn't elections work better if only people who are educated on the issues and know enough to make good decisions were allowed to vote? Isn't it crazy that we let stupid and ignorant people make these decisions when they can't possibly know enough to decide well?'

My response:

So this is a really basic research methods question that scientists often have to deal with, mainly concerned with how to find a weak signal in a noisy data set.

Lets say that there's some 'correct' result for everyone election, the result that will lead to the best outcomes for the most number of people based on each of their individual preferences and needs, or whatever. The question is, what is the best way to arrive at that outcome as often as possible, or to arrive as closes as possible to it every time?

There are two main reasons this is a difficult problem. The first is that no one can see the future and it's impossible for anyone to truly know what the long-term consequences of any particular electoral outcome will be. The second is that it's impossible for anyone to truly know and understand the needs and preferences of all 350 million citizens and determine what the best outcome for all of them would be, even if they could predict it.

This creates a ton of uncertainty and disagreement about what the best electoral outcome is (who people should vote for), as we can see clearly at every election cycle.

In terms of statistical analysis, we would call this disagreement and uncertainty 'noise' - lots of disparate, high-variance, semi-random data about how people think everyone should vote. And we would call the 'correct' electoral outcome the 'signal' - the true result that we're trying to discover.

In this framing, an election is just a measurement, designed to try to capture the signal, and filter out the noise. Our elections tend to have a low signal-to-noise ratio, because it's so hard for anyone to know what the actual best outcome would be, and there's so much disagreement about what we should do.

As it turns out, scientists have been dealing with this problem in all kinds of domains since the invention of statistics, and they have a good handle on what works and what doesn't.

What you're suggesting is, basically, take a smaller number of data points from a restricted domain (people who pass the test), which you believe to have much less noise (less misinformation) and a much stronger signal (better understanding).

This is a good method in many domains - physicists, for instance, will go to great lengths to reduce noise in their experiments by shielding equipment or working far underground, even if this is expensive and limits the amount of data they can gather. If they can eliminate enough noise, they only need a very little data to confirm their hypotheses, because those hypotheses are very precise, and the systems they deal with are well-understood.

But the danger with restricting your domain and excluding subjects based on a specific criterion is that it can introduce bias into your measurements, leading you to very accurately measure the wrong signal. Physicists don't have to worry about this much, because physics works the same underground and behind shielding as it doe anywhere else. But any science that has to deal with people has to worry about this a lot, because people are very easily biased, and different groups of people can vary from each other in all kinds of ways.

In your example, it may be that people who pass your test know more about the world overall, but have some specific set of strong, incorrect beliefs that is currently in fashion among the educated classes, or was introduced to the curriculum they tend to study by the agencies that make that curriculum, or that concerns areas of study or ways of life (like plumbing or farm work) that the educated tend to have little contact with. And even if they have no systematically mistaken beliefs, their priorities and needs may still be systematically divergent from the rest of the general population - they may not appreciate the true needs of the poor, they may prioritize art and science over industry and safety, they may fall preferentially along one political or religious alignment, etc. Basically, as long as they have any systematic biases that make them different from the rest of the population, you cannot get the 'correct' signal from any type of measurement of them, because their 'signal' is something different that aligns with their biases. Their 'signal' may still be pretty good, but it can't ever be 'correct'.

How do scientists who deal with these types of problems try to measure the real signal amidst tons of noise, then? The answer is random sampling of lots and lots and lots of data points, averaged out with each other to converge on the correct signal.

See, when you have enough data points, it doesn't really hurt you much to add a 'noisy' data point (ie someone who knows nothing and acts randomly). Because that noise will tend to be randomly distributed, and cancel out with someone else who was randomly noisy in the other direction when you average everything together. So letting people with 'zero knowledge' vote is not a problem. The only type of voter that's a problem is one with 'negative information' - beliefs and preferences that actively drive them away from the correct signal. And even those people will tend to cancel out with people who have negative knowledge going the other direction... if you sample from every walk of life and every group, instead of limiting yourself to a single specific group with a tendency towards one specific flavor of negative knowledge.

Because the thing about a true signal is, that we expect it to have some impact on most data points, even if those points themselves have huge variance. Like if you give all the kids in one school platform shoes with 2" heels and measure their heights, there will still be lots of variance in height and there will be tons of kids in that school who are shorter than tons of kids in another school even with their shoes on, but if you take the average height it will still come out 2 inches taller, because the shoes still increased everyone's random noisy heights at once.

With elections, it's a bit more complicated, but it's the same idea. Maybe one person is an idiot about everything except farm policies, but they can tell a good farm policy from a bad one and that true information affects their vote. Maybe another person knows nothing about policy, but is a really good judge of character and will tend to vote for more honest and benevolent candidates. Maybe a third person has been through civil forfeiture and understands the reality of that situation much better than the average person, and lets that influence their vote when politicians make a proposal about it. etc.

Each of those people may have a lot of 'noise' in their heads about every topic other than the one they're good at, but that noise will be mostly random across individuals and will cancel out. As long as they have some knowledge or understanding that gives them good, 'correct' beliefs about the way to vote, and those beliefs influence their actual vote in some way, then that means they're being influenced by the 'signal' and will be adding true information about the signal to our data set when we measure them.

This is how psychologists, social scientists, and other scientists that deal with people and other complex and unpredictable phenomena, almost always design their studies: random sampling of as much data as possible, with statistical analysis to find the signal among the noise. It's simply the most practical and reliable way to go about things with situations this complex. And in the case of elections, that translates to allowing everyone to vote, and encouraging as many people to vote as possible.

It sounds counter-intuitive when you think about a single idiot voting. But when you think about that idiot as someone who only has one tiny spark of good information, and then think about the electoral process as adding the tiny sparks of tens of millions of people together to illuminate the truth, it makes a lot more sense.

true signal of 'good candidate'

Isn't the point of democracy that all candidates are 'good' candidates?

The alarming headlines about 'Russian bots' and 'radicalizing algorithms' are especially jarring. If 10 years of government work can be undone by a few hours of exposure to a Russian bot or an algorithm, perhaps your 'true signal' is not that true.

'Our glorious democratic education' vs their 'abhorrent authoritarian brainwashing'.

I suppose these media products are not to be taken at face value. Just an nth reinforcement 'you are a good person for not falling for the Eastasia propaganda'.

How can people simultaneously defend democracy and believe that the average person is the cognitive equivalent of a fast food public wifi network?

By redefining the word "democracy" to mean something much more disconnected from the views of "the average person"?

Attributing to stupidity that which is usually attributed to malice is helpful when you're not allowed to outright call your outgroup evil.

If the NYTs does do this at least someone should point them to https://www.vault.themotte.org/ it wouldn't take a journalist that long to get a feel for what the community values outside of picking some nuts in a community oriented around allowing nuts to cook.

That is a mistake theory recommendation, and the Times isn't running on mistake theory.

It'd depend on the reporter a think and what kind of story they can get out of it. "There are obscure forums where people are discussing wrong think" is a dog bites man story.

I doubt reporters are going to do that much leg work.

A number of users have reported this as "antagonistic" and I rather see their point. We've talked about your trolling before, and while I can appreciate its artfulness, even gentle sneering constitutes objectionable disdain.

You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic. Or, if you prefer--you're not venturing into the lion's den, you're just another lion. I don't know if you and I have had this particular discussion before, but I've had it with many others: I will always enforce the rules more strictly when the target of criticism is this space and the people in it. That doesn't mean we can't be self-effacing and self-critical, but it does mean that such posts require maximum charity and effort. This post doesn't really cut it.

Are you really serious about this?

Set aside whether I can state my actual opinions or beliefs safely, now good-natured, ironic, self-deprecating jokes are going to be taken as sneering and antagonistic by the mods as well?

I just got a day ban for I have no idea what, ignored it, now a warning for a joke that's obviously aimed at the foibles of my own tribe (The signifigance of choosing NY Times for the bit cannot be lost on anyone here, surely?), and which others are engaging with in that spirit.

If certain mods have made up their mind or are going to be swayed by number of downvotes and reports, then there's no behavior I can take that protects me. Sure, 'don't link to meme images' is an easy arbitrary rule to follow, I can remember that. But these last 2 times have been complete surprises that I cannot understand the motivation behind, and could not have predicted in any way.

We've transitioned from 'I expect to be held to a different standard, but if I keep my head down enough and don't make my points with the same tone that others use against me and my side, I'll probably be ok' to 'I literally cannot predict what the mods will interpret as antagonistic anymore, I may as well just post honestly and see what happens'.

So, yeah.

"Humor" is often a tough moderation call. I don't know if you have many interactions with children, but "just joking!" is not an uncommon protest from kids who want to say something they know (or suspect) they shouldn't say, because it is actually unkind, or otherwise objectionable, but they understand that humor can sometimes help one speak more plainly than is normally permitted. Well, most of your joke was basically fine. This is the specific part that I found troublesome:

y'all are just misguided victims of radicalizing social media algorithms

This is something people actually claim in earnest about their outgroup, particularly when their outgroup is the alt-right or something similar. So "come on, I'm just joking" becomes a convenient cover for reinforcing a weak man stereotype. If you didn't mean it that way, like... great! Now that I've pointed out the problem with letting "I'm just joking around guys" tempt you to make reductive claims about this community, maybe you can avoid the mistake in the future.

And, I suppose, to take the meta up a notch--there is at least one moderator who has already raised an objection to my moderation here, so don't imagine yourself to be on the wrong side of the mod team or anything. Apparently a lot of people here think you are reddit user darwin2500, in part because you appear to have claimed to be darwin2500, even though on reddit darwin2500 implied (though admittedly did not outright say) that he had left this space and found it amusing that people still imagined him to be here. I do not know whether you are darwin2500; I am actually skeptical because you have yet to post anything approaching the quality and insight that darwin2500 brought to the old subreddit when he wasn't eating bans for various rule violations. But whoever you are, one way to get charity weighing more heavily in your favor in moderation cases is to post good stuff. It would also help if you developed a reputation for posting honestly, instead of a reputation for posting dishonestly. One reason your posts get so heavily reported is that you have taken on darwin2500's burden, whether you are actually him or not: darwin2500 was a notorious troll who repeatedly refused to engage honestly when it became clear that he was wrong about something. Whether you're him or not, that is a behavior you also appear to exhibit here.

In other words--the kind of self-critical humor that you were exercising was not, in fact self critical, as far as I could tell. If you'd been poking fun at yourself instead of everyone else, well, it would have been easier to let that slide.

ETA:

If certain mods have made up their mind or are going to be swayed by number of downvotes and reports, then there's no behavior I can take that protects me.

This is bullshit. No one on the mod team has it out for you; if anything, I think you have a couple mods acting somewhat protectively of you for "affirmative action" reasons. The behavior you can take that protects you is to follow the rules. In particular, I actually have very little time for moderation these days, so unless I see you trashing the community I'm very unlikely to moderate you. Stop imagining yourself to be separate from (much less above) the group, here, and you'll be fine.

This is something people actually claim in earnest about their outgroup, particularly when their outgroup is the alt-right or something similar.

To kill the frog: yes, it's the type of claim that people who read the NYTimes believe, and the joke is that I can trick them into being nicer to you with this obviously dumb narrative because they only operate on pre-approved narratives and this is one they're programmed to accept.

darwin2500 was a notorious troll who repeatedly refused to engage honestly when it became clear that he was wrong about something.

When it became clear to the people who already disagreed with me, sure.

But don't expect me to be persuaded by the one argument you find persuasive, any more than you are persuaded when I make the one argument I find persuasive.

Obviously you think you are presenting arguments and evidentiary claims sufficient to justify your belief, that's why you hold that belief. But the people who don't hold that belief didn't just tragically fail to be exposed to those arguments and claims, they're generally aware of them and still find the balance of evidence to go the other way. I know that about you, you should know that about me.

I acknowledge when someone here convinces me of something I didn't believe before, but it doesn't happen all that often because the disagreements are much deeper than that.

as far as I could tell.

Yes, this has always been the central problem between you and me.

Others seem to have gotten the joke, you take it as a directed sleight instead, and at this point I don't have much hope of convincing you otherwise. We've danced this dance a lot and it's tiring.

I will, however, keep saying what is true about my meaning and intention, whether or not it convinces you.

A transexual antifa paedophile arranged a hit piece on bronies with The Atlantic, and similarly David Gerard organized one with the New York Times. I can see it happening. It always seemed like your end game.

Okay, that was definitely antagonistic. If you got the impression from my exchange with @guesswho below that it's open season on him just because a lot of people have old grudges, you are wrong.

And blowing flames on old grudges seems to be your thing.

You are obviously an alt who's here to stir shit, and so far you've contributed nothing but trolling and knife-throwing. Banned for a week, and I'm going to recommend we just burn this alt next time you pop off.

Much obliged, but please tell them I'm one of the radicalising algorithms instead, I'm embracing aspirational identity.

We can't help ourselves, we are victims of systemic racism unearned privilege and white supremacist thinking 😔

It's ok, I still get jokes, and this was a good one. I don't understand how anyone could read it in any way other than obvious sarcasm. Just another tick in the "dead internet theory" column.

Tracing's effortpost https://nitter.adminforge.de/tracewoodgrains/status/1752091831095939471

A scandal at the FAA has been moving on a slow-burn through the courts for a decade, culminating in the class-action lawsuit currently known as Brigida v. @SecretaryPete, brought by a class who spent years and thousands of dollars in coursework to become air traffic controllers, only to be dismissed by a pass-fail biographical questionnaire with a >90% fail rate, implemented without warning after many of them had already taken, and passed, a skill assessment. The questionnaire awarded points for factors like "lowest grade in high school is science," something explicitly admitted by the FAA in a motion to deny class certification.

Mainstream outlets have given it sparse coverage, for reasons that will become clear shortly. Right-wing sources paid attention initially, but few ran follow-ups or took a close look at the court filings. So: What exactly is going on? How did all of this happen?

I am not a professional. I am a law student with a part-time job on @TheBARPod, a podcast about internet nonsense, and a side hobby of sticking my nose where it doesn't belong. I wanted, and want, to do a thorough report on this when I get the time. But the story is big enough, and spreading fast enough, that I want to make sure that people have access to accurate info as quickly as possible.

First, though: court filings are public records, but they are often expensive and difficult to obtain. Tools like RECAP help, but I was lucky to have people around me willing to pay the $80 in PACER fees for a few of the documents. This story is much larger than me and I do not want people to have to rely on me for it. Here are the court documents I have: drive.google.com/drive/folde… Most of the interesting exhibits are in 139. Please look for yourself if this story catches your interest.

With that out of the way, my current understanding of the situation is as follows. It will be dry at times; others can editorialize more:

Historically, the pipeline into air traffic control has followed a few paths: military veterans, graduates of the "Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative" (AT-CTI) program, and the general public. Whichever route they came from, each candidate would be required to take and pass the eight-hour AT-SAT cognitive test to begin serious training. This test was validated as being effective as recently as 2013.

The FAA has faced pressure to diversify the air traffic control for generations, something that seems to have influenced even the scoring structure of the AT-SAT cognitive test used for pre-employment screening of air traffic control candidates. Leading up to 2014, that pressure intensified, with the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE) leading the push.

To start with, in 2000, a three-member task force, including NBCFAE member Mamie Mallory, wrote "A Business Case and Strategic Plan to Address Under-Representation of Minorities, Women, and People with Targeted Disabilities," recommending, per the lawsuit, a workplace cultural audit, diversity "hiring targets" for each year, and "allowing RNO- [Race and National Origin] and gender-conscious hiring." They were advised by Dr. Herbert Wong, who helped the NBCFAE analyze FAA diversity data in 2009. Wong authored a report concluding that the FAA was "the least diverse agency within the executive branch of the federal government." Mallory and Wong were consulted as part of the 2014 test replacement process.

From there, the NBCFAE sent letters in July and October 2009 to the FAA administrator and the Secretary for the Department of Transportation claiming disparate treatment, adopted a strategic plan "advocating for affirmative employment, obtaining an 'independent valuation of hiring and/or screening tools,' and pursuing litigation," a "Talking Points" document pushing the FAA to address diversity, and the creation of a group called "Team 7."

In 2012, Team 7 members met with the secretary of the Department of Transportation, the FAA administrator, and senior FAA leaders to discuss diversity, after which the FAA commissioned a "Barrier Analysis" with a number of recommendations. Central to this: the cognitive test posed a barrier for black candidates, so they recommended using a biographical test first to "maximiz[e] diversity," eliminating the vast majority of candidates prior to any cognitive test.

In 2012 and 2013, the NBCFAE continued pushing this process, with members meeting with the DOT, FAA, Congressional Black Caucus, and others to push diversity among ATCs. By July 2013, the FAA created a "Barrier Analysis Implemention Team" (BAIT, and I swear I am not making this acronym up).

Around this time, the FAA decided to pause the hiring of CTI graduates pending the implementation of the biographical assessment. Neither the schools that ran the CTI programs nor their students were informed of this when the decision was initially made. A number of students, including the class representative, passed the AT-SAT (in the case of the class representative, with a perfect score), not knowing they would never get to use it.

In 2014, the FAA rolled out the new biographical questionnaire in line with the Barrier Analysis recommendation, designed so that 90% or more of applicants would "fail." The questionnaire was not monitored, and people could take it at home. Questions asked prospective air traffic controllers how many sports they played in high school, how long they'd been unemployed recently, whether they were more eager or considerate, and seventy-some other questions. Graduates of the CTI program, like everyone else, had to "pass" this or they would be disqualified from further consideration. This came alongside other changes de-prioritizing CTI graduates.

ojs.library.okstate.edu/osu/…

CTI schools were blindsided and outraged by this change. A report on FAA hiring issues found that 70% of CTI administrators agreed that the changes in the process had led to a negative effect on the air traffic control infrastructure. One respondent stated their "numbers [had] been devastated," and the majority agreed that it would severely impact the health of their own programs. The largest program dropped from more than 600 students to less than 300.

Concurrent to all of this, NBCFAE members were hard at work. In particular, one Shelton Snow, an FAA employee and then-president of the NBCFAE's Washington Suburban chapter, provided NBCFAE members with "buzz words" in January 2014 that would automatically push their resumes to the tops of HR files. A 2013 NBCFAE meeting advised members to "please include [on resumes] if you are a NBCFAE Member. [...] Can you see the strategy", emphasizing they were "only concerned" with the employment of "African-Americans, women ... and other minorities."

After the 2014 biographical questionnaire was released, Snow took it a step further. As Fox Business reported (related in Rojas v. FAA), he sent voice-mail messages to NBCFAE applicants, advising them on the specific answers they needed to enter into the Biographical Assessment to avoid failing, stating that he was "about 99 point 99 percent sure that it is exactly how you need to answer each question."

Per a 2016 Yahoo Finance article, an internal FAA report cleared the NBCFAE and Snow of wrongdoing.

finance.yahoo.com/news/faa-a…

A few changes were made by 2015. In 2016, Congress passed Public Law 114-190, which among other things banned the use of biographical assessments as a first-line hiring tool for air traffic controllers.

People snubbed by the process filed dozens of lawsuits as a result, culminating in the class-action suit now underway as Brigida v. Buttigieg. In arguing to deny class certification, the defendants argued that the "underlying grievance--that they pursued college degrees in reliance on their perception that the role of the CTI program in the FAA's hiring process would never change--is not actionable."

In a moment with a certain bitter irony, black CTI graduates who were left adrift by this process are the only demographic left out of the class: while the plaintiffs tried to include them initially, the court denied certification until they were excluded. The class has been granted certification, and the suit is slowly rolling forward.

Finally, in 2024, @whstancil picked a fight with @Steve_Sailer, who like many in right-wing media had released occasional articles touching on this case. Their scuffle stirrred up enough attention towards it to catch my eye. @SashaGusevPosts, almost alone out of many who accepted my points and moved on, pushed me to look with a more skeptical eye. To win a petty bet with him, I elected to spend an evening digging into this. @raspy_aspie, who I shared early info with, drew my attention towards the initial exhibit I posted, and I went from there.

To get a bit personal for a moment: I was a day-one donor to @PeteButtigieg during his presidential campaign, impressed by his deep understanding and articulate defense of liberal principles. He has been saddled with a messy, stupid lawsuit built on bad decision after bad decision, from predecessors who--between a rock and a hard place in the impossible task of avoiding disparate impact while preserving objective standards--elected to take the easy road and cave to political pressure to implement absurdities. He has extraordinary power to end this mess in a moment and begin to make things right for those who were directly denied a chance at the jobs they had worked towards thanks to an arbitrary and perverse biographical questionnaire.

People will turn this into a culture war issue, and in one sense, that is perfectly fair: it represents a decades-long process of institutional failure at every level. A thousand things had to go wrong to get to this point, and if people want to harp on it—let them. But this is not a fundamentally partisan issue. Virtually nobody, looking dispassionately at that questionnaire, wants to defend it. Everybody wants competent, effective air traffic controllers. Everybody, I suspect, can sympathize with the people who paid and worked through years of education to have their career path suddenly pulled away for political reasons far beyond their control. I am confident that Buttigieg can see that just as well as the rest of us, that for many, it is simply the same neglect everybody else has shown towards the case that has led it to linger awkwardly unresolved for a decade.

There is nothing to be gained from fighting the suit further. It is a black eye on the FAA, a black eye on the DOT, and a black eye on our public institutions as a whole. People have paid shockingly little attention to it as it's rolled through the courts, in part, no doubt, because anything touching on diversity is a hot topic that becomes a culture war football in a moment. My instinct, looking at the whole mess, is that the DOT and FAA should publicly apologize, settle, and do their best to begin making right what was so badly broken

court filings are public records, but they are often expensive and difficult to obtain. Tools like RECAP help, but I was lucky to have people around me willing to pay the $80 in PACER fees for a few of the documents.

And then he uploads the documents to a random Google Drive folder, rather than telling his "people around him" to install the RECAP extension in their browsers so that they will automatically upload the documents to RECAP. This makes me pretty angry.

I now have purchased document 139 (memorandum in support for motion for class certification) and all its exhibits, using the RECAP browser extension so that they have been added to RECAP for public viewing at this link.

Sorry, you just explained it and I still don't know how it works. They'll upload it to the courtlistener website for public viewing when your extension uploads it to them? That's a really neat system, and looks a lot more official than a google drive link.

Normally, whenever you download a document from the federal government's official PACER website, you must pay ten cents per page downloaded, capped at thirty pages (three dollars). If you have installed the RECAP extension in your browser, then the extension automatically uploads to the third-party website RECAP whatever you download from PACER. (You can create an account on PACER and download stuff from it even if you aren't a lawyer.)

Dang. Why doesn't someone (maybe the government itself??) just do that for every single public-but-paywalled document?

Ten cents per page is a reasonable fee for an archivist digging up and photocopying some documents, but it seems wildly out of touch with the costs of hosting a pdf.

Realistically there is a small but hopefully-growing set of folks advocating to strike the PACER paywall completely. Perhaps the pricing made sense when it involved paper copies, but no other federal branch of government demands fees for seeing the law these days.

no other federal branch of government demands fees for seeing the law

To be fair, documents submitted by parties to a lawsuit are not "the law". The judicial opinions that constitute "the law" are uploaded to the individual courts' websites plus GovInfo, not just to PACER.

A full understanding of the opinions requires seeing the exhibits and briefs that inform them.

I anticipate significant unintended consequences from such a decision.

In the Google Drive folder, I shout at people to install RECAP. I went with the first guy who had PACER access, a stranger to me, trying to get into the story as quickly as possible.

People will turn this into a culture war issue, and in one sense, that is perfectly fair: it represents a decades-long process of institutional failure at every level. A thousand things had to go wrong to get to this point, and if people want to harp on it—let them. But this is not a fundamentally partisan issue.

This is, of course, a blatant lie. I understand why that lie is getting made here, of course- TW is trying to get liberals to pay attention instead of ‘lalala anti white discrimination isn’t a real thing in the real world affirmative action is just undoing prior discrimination I can’t hear you’. But it is still a lie, and it’s a lie that won’t work.

Obviously, we can imagine if the roles were reversed. But I think it’s more reasonable to imagine a different cultural group, and a specific one, that isn’t favored by TPTB. Let’s go with Mormons; they’re an actually unpopular group that probably does suffer from some light discrimination, and it’s readily imaginable to think that they could do something like that. Do you really believe that an officially-unofficial Mormon whisper network gaming resume acceptance in a meritocratic-for-good reason field like aviation would go unnoticed? How about requiring you to have lived rough in a foreign country(mission year) to sit for the exam when it’s totally irrelevant? Prioritizing applicants from a not-highly-regarded program at BYU because of probably technically illegal collusion between the LDS aviation association and the FAA?

Nobody will ever get punished for this and it’s all who/whom, and that’s a damn shame for the smart, capable blacks who already made it. It also sucks for whatever white applicants lost out. But it sucks even more for the people affected by the accidents.

It's not really a lie. If you, as Trace appears to, believe that most liberals wouldn't disagree with his conclusions -- creating a fake ATC exam for black union to cheat on is bad -- then it's more of a strategic framing. Jesse Singal's Signal Boost had the same sort of framing. "Gee, look how legitimate, uncontroversial, yet juicy and important this story is. Shouldn't Real Journalists be covering this very uncontroversial story?"

People like Singal and TracingWoodgrains use the soft, strategic framing, because they think they can walk some Real Journalists, Real Progressives, and so on back to a more honest(?) space. They, probably correctly, assume that journalists aren't touching it, because of the discourse. If there was no National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees involved in the story, and instead was the National Coalition of Italian-American Aviation Employees that cheated the hiring process for ATC jobs, then this may have been front page on the the New York Times 6 years ago. This is a terrible failure for Affirmative Action advocates, so it is needs to stay hidden, but it doesn't have to be that way

If you believe you can change minds for the better, then using a story few serious people will disagree with is a good way to walk the Overton Window a little closer to your ideal area.* Conservatives see this and, understandably, it makes them angry. Media, progressives, liberals, and the rest of us walked -- or were led -- into the political landscape we live in today. There has to be a way to walk and lead towards another place, right?

Let's say the Murder Is Okay party rolls into your town, organizes protests advocating for senseless murder, hangs up posters, writes long essays about why murder is okay, and otherwise directly and obviously advocates for murder. The extremists in the party genuinely do seem to think murder is okay, but can't fully act on their beliefs with laws as they currently are. The moderates think the extremists are just using figurative language and really mean that you should murder your flaws, or figuratively "murder" bad influences by kicking them out of your life.

Eventually a murder happens. The extremists in the Murder Party spend years hiding the murder and internally promoting the murderers, praising them for their actions. Finally the murder is discovered by people outside the Party, but surprisingly, everyone in the Party, including the "moderates", closes ranks around the murderers. Only people outside the Party seem to care at all. The extremists are still celebrating, and I have no idea what the Moderate party members are thinking, but they're going along with everything.

Yes, framing this as uncontroversially wrong is a strategic decision, but it's the wrong one. Really you're carrying water for the extremists of the Murder Is Okay party by framing this as a surprising outcome of their actions and policies, rather than an inevitable and intended one. This gives anti-Party members less ammo to attack the Party, and gives the Moderate party members a great excuse to keep their heads buried in the sand even while they continue to defend the Extremists. "This is not partisan; everyone knows murder is bad" is an outright lie, and one that benefits the extremist partisans who continue to support and advocate for murder, because the guys who gave them power are given a potent way to avoid any accountability.

In short, I think that this:

using a story few serious people will disagree with is a good way to walk the Overton Window a little closer to your ideal area.

is very misguided. People need to know just how far the Overton Window has stretched to the left. The way to convince people that their side has gone too far is to show them that their side has gone too far, not to tell them that the extremists on their side aren't actually on their side and can safely be ignored.

The trick is, specifically, to cast this behavior as "nonpartisan" when it was obviously extremely partisan. Doing this allows the partisans who made this happen to be safely disavowed by the rest of the party in public, while privately they continue to be hired and given enormous amounts of power. It's an even more dishonest version of the motte and bailey. The motte is that obviously their actions were despicable and we can't condone that and they're getting fired immediately and this doesn't represent our party. The bailey is that we do condone that, they're getting promoted, but in public we'll have to act sad and have the government fine the government a few million dollars, and next time the people we put in place to do the same thing will be smarter and their actions harder to catch. @TracingWoodgrains, whether he wants to or not, is doing a masterful job of constructing the Motte for them.

If you disagree, please show me anywhere that any moderate or progressive criticizes the people who put these people in power, rather than sadly lamenting the unforeseeable and inevitable circumstances that inexplicably led to a coalition of extremists being given the reins of the government.

Yes, framing this as uncontroversially wrong is a strategic decision, but it's the wrong one. Really you're carrying water for the extremists of the Murder Is Okay party by framing this as a surprising outcome of their actions and policies, rather than an inevitable and intended one.

Those dastardly murderers.

People need to know just how far the Overton Window has stretched to the left.

I understand the frustration, but I'm not sure why people need to know this to change their mind. I suspect left-right framing is about the fastest way to not change minds, which is why so many people, even those adjacent dissidents like Freddie deBoer, always take the time to say their not-a-conservative mantras. That this is a requirement to have any sort of movement in a rightward direction for progressives may very well be a flaw of their own making, but I do not blame people for respecting the fact it is a reality.

It was predictable that we'd have racial interest groups engaging in racial spoils when we decided racial preferences were a good thing to institutionalize. I mean hey, if the price for increased diversity is every once in awhile some dirty union takes advantage and gets caught, that's a price worth paying. The fact that the Federal government is actively defending a lawsuit about it is unfortunate, but that's what lawyers do, ya know?

The not a problem to actually a good thing pipeline is a problem. Do you have any examples of more effective aggressive methods of moderating progressive beliefs in the past? Practically speaking, dissidents on the left don't keep reach, influence, or stay on the left. 'That's what a conservative would say' is a powerful antibody. If we go back in time 48 hours, rewrite TracingWoodgrains post for maximum effect how would you change it? Who would be the speaker? I'm not a person out there exists that can deliver what you want to happen.

Apologies this is all I have time to respond to at the moment.*

I understand the frustration, but I'm not sure why people need to know this to change their mind. I suspect left-right framing is about the fastest way to not change minds, which is why so many people, even those adjacent dissidents like Freddie deBoer, always take the time to say their not-a-conservative mantras. That this is a requirement to have any sort of movement in a rightward direction for progressives may very well be a flaw of their own making, but I do not blame people for respecting the fact it is a reality.

For the purposes of this discussion there are two groups of people:

  1. Partisan conservatives, and open-minded moderates, who recognize bad behavior coming from the left and are willing to condemn it.
  2. Partisan progressives, and close-minded "moderates", only willing to condemn bad behavior if it's not coming from the left

Your claim seems to be that some people in group 2 can be fooled into condemning bad behavior if they're told it's not coming from the left. I don't think this is accurate--whether the issue is framed as partisan or nonpartisan, they will recognize it as partisan, and close ranks accordingly. This is already happening at the federal level and is why everyone involved is still employed. Those who don't close ranks are already part of group 1 and are willing to hear out your claims even if they are partisan claims.

So I don't think calling this stuff "nonpartisan" fools anyone in group 2. I do think it fools some people in group 1, who are eager to find any excuse not to be seen as partisan. "I don't have an issue with the left, just with opportunist extremists who say they're on the left," they'll say, conveniently ignoring those who deliberately put those "opportunist extremists" into power and are still enthusiastically supporting them now that their "opportunist extremism" has come out.

This means that framing the issue as "nonpartisan" does nothing to convince people in group two, but does give them a powerful defensive weapon to use against group one. Moderate progressives were the ones who put these "nonpartisans" into power. Calling the issue nonpartisan fundamentally distracts from that inconvenient truth. Parties must take responsibility for the power which they give to their extremists.

Those dastardly murderers.

The point of the name is that the extremists are very forthcoming about their values, yet the moderates support them anyways.

Do you have any examples of more effective aggressive methods of moderating progressive beliefs in the past?

The biggest example I can think of is the expulsion of NAMBLA from the ILGA in the 90's. As far as I can tell this happened due to external pressure from group 1, not because people told those in group 2 that expelling NAMBLA is "nonpartisan."

If we go back in time 48 hours, rewrite TracingWoodgrains post for maximum effect how would you change it? Who would be the speaker? I'm not a person out there exists that can deliver what you want to happen.

My central point is that the Left has always been advocating for this sort of thing. It shouldn't be surprising that this is what happens when they're given power. Drawing attention to their success stories, e.g. the situations where they've been able to enact their preferred policies, is inherently partisan. They want to do this and way more and the only reason they haven't is because even this is barely skirting the line of legality. "Maximum effect" defined by me would focus on the systems that put these extremists in power, and the fact is that those systems are nothing special, just the results of moderate amounts of progressivism. So "maximum effect" means being maximally partisan, and trying to paint people like Pete as consciously supporting this kind of policy.

Knowing what you know, does this paragraph sound honest to you?

To get a bit personal for a moment: I was a day-one donor to @PeteButtigieg during his presidential campaign, impressed by his deep understanding and articulate defense of liberal principles. He has been saddled with a messy, stupid lawsuit built on bad decision after bad decision, from predecessors who--between a rock and a hard place in the impossible task of avoiding disparate impact while preserving objective standards--elected to take the easy road and cave to political pressure to implement absurdities.

I don't believe for a second that these people were put "between a rock and a hard place." This is what they wanted and they went way out of their way to get it. Framing them as innocent victims of circumstance is not a nonpartisan attempt to reach understanding with those on the left, it's a partisan attempt to cover for those on the left, and should be seen as such.

I understand the frustration, but I'm not sure why people need to know this to change their mind.

Because it doesn't do any good to have people turn against one policy that's already been rescinded. They need to turn against the people pushing this stuff, and those people's general philosophies. Being mealy-mouthed about it makes that impossible.

In practice, as long as the "Murder is Okay" party has what amounts to a direct line into the hearts and minds of the Moderates, it really doesn't matter how you put it. You can't move them by argument, they're not responsive to argument, they're only responsive to the signals they get on the Murder is Okay line. But if they were responsive to argument, softening the argument to such an extent would make it worthless.

The not a problem to actually a good thing pipeline is a problem. Do you have any examples of more effective aggressive methods of moderating progressive beliefs in the past?

Chris Rufo and libs of tiktok had a fair amount of success.

Something like the affair of the casseroles?

That showed up as haha-fun-trivia on one of Scott’s link posts. It was so outlandish! What a crazy conspiracy!

But this is not a fundamentally partisan issue. Virtually nobody, looking dispassionately at that questionnaire, wants to defend it. Everybody wants competent, effective air traffic controllers. Everybody, I suspect, can sympathize with the people who paid and worked through years of education to have their career path suddenly pulled away for political reasons far beyond their control. I am confident that Buttigieg can see that just as well as the rest of us, that for many, it is simply the same neglect everybody else has shown towards the case that has led it to linger awkwardly unresolved for a decade.

And TW is still pushing mistake theory. Yes, no one wants to defend that questionnaire. The people who developed it and ran it don't want to have to. However, they also don't care about and won't actually sympathize with the people injured. They really do want more black Air Traffic Controllers, and they don't care much how they get them. We've seen this over and over again; DEI pushers will engage in open discrimination (as with the recently canceled race-based internships at NYC financial firms) when they can and covert discrimination if they think they can't do it openly. Their goals are what they say they are -- more people in favored groups being allowed into the positions they gatekeep for, and fewer people in unfavored groups.

Good point. We might as well argue that "everybody wants clean, safe and efficient public transportation", "everybody wants mentally ill homeless violent drug addicts off the streets", and yet we know what the reality is on the ground.

Looking forward to seeing the fuller version. This looks pretty terrible.

I hadn't realized that this was a thing that had stopped in this form, though I'm sure that that sort of thing is still happening everywhere, even if not this exactly.

Disparate impact needs to go.

Everybody wants competent, effective air traffic controllers.

I know we do our best to not typical-mind around here, but goddamn, when it's staring you right in the face and they are telling you exactly what they think, to deny it in this manner is like watching someone deny the walls they're walking into. From the suit alone and the tireless, documented efforts of the NBCFAE, it's clear that the competency and effectiveness of air traffic controllers mattered less than if they were African-American or not.

I remember TracingWoodgrains' attempt to try and start an offshoot of The Motte he believed needed to exist with "less of a right-wing slant". I remember thinking that the attempt was idealistic, misguided and naive at the time. It's nice to know that he hasn't changed that much. I wish him all the best, but when the leopards eat his face I won't be at all surprised.

Let me see if I understand this

1: we must increase diversity of ATCs

2: let’s impose AA style quotas

1: no that would cause backlash

2: what about a final exam that’s actually a biographical questionnaire?

1: what, and only hire people with black-sounding upbringings? too blatant

2: but what if the right answers to the questionnaire are random but we separately and secretly tell the people we want to hire how to answer?

1: let’s do it!

Is that really it? Tell me I’m misunderstanding this!

See here:

https://www.themotte.org/post/851/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/183748?context=8#context

They didn't use stereotypical black-sounding answers. The test was totally rigged.

Is there any way to impose consequences for the lies required to pass the test? You get a bonus for saying you were unemployed--how many of the people who passed were actually unemployed? I'd hope to use that to reverse the damage somewhat.

That's true, no need to be vindictive. I think we have a shortage of qualified air traffic controllers anyways.

Colluding to cheat your classmates out of a job seems like a fireable offence to me. It's actually more straightforward than the usual DEI case because (per other comments) you won't even pass by having a stereotypical 'minority' background, you basically have to cheat to win. Firing such people isn't vindictive, it's restoring justice to a really screwed up situation.

And at best it's hating the players, rather than the game.

I get that it's a little cruel, but if the lesson people take away is "when you hear about something like this, you're better off blowing the whistle rather than taking advantage, because otherwise you'll be blacklisted for life" I think that's a step towards a better world.

It's really blatant. If I summed up the Biographic Assessment right, there are 28 actually-scored questions, with 179 possible points. To pass, you need a 70%, or 126 points, meaning you can miss no more than 53 points. EDIT: maybe 114 minimum score, and 65 missed points?)

30 points are the "lowest scoring class" grades (15 for science in high school, 15 for history/polysci in college), 3-4 points go for not playing a lot of different high school sports, 2-5 points if you worked too much or too little during your last year of college, 2-10 points if you were unemployed too long or not long enough before applying, 5 points if you took the wrong number (1-6 hours) of art/music/drama/dance, 3 more points if you had three years of formal training.

I dunno if "random" is the right word, but it's pretty close. You lose 2 points compared to someone who had been unemployed the last three years if you didn't submit formal suggestions to your boss, but three formal suggestions would cost you 8 points. Peers describing you as a person who "takes chances" is worth points, rather than costing them. You lose a point for "Baccalaureate-transfer oriented" rather than "Other" to describe your aviation coursework, which is just a mess.

It's possible for someone to pass without the answer sheet, but I don't think the model air traffic controller would.

If the class allegations are true (and they seem well-evidenced!) the Biographical Assessment was issued before you could even attempt the AT-SAT, rather than a final exam. Worse, you could only take the Biographic Assessment once; while some questions like "how long unemployed/how long training" change over time.

EDIT: I'm not sure on the 70% number. I could have sworn I saw it leafing through this stuff yesterday, but I'm not seeing it now. The plaintiffs cite a FAA e-mail saying the pre-cognitive-testing weedout would filter out 70% of applicants (139-24), but the grading rubric for that comes with the Biographical Assessment Answer key says that the score calculation was...

= 70 + (((((Sum of all answer scores in the Biographical Assessment Section - 105.88)/13.25) * 2.5) + ((AT-SAT score - 69.82)/7.62)) * (30/7.48)) - 6.25

(yes, literally: that 30 divided by 7.48 is at least not my typo.).

With the final score requiring the output of that math equation of 70, and the Biographical Assessment score at or over 114. 114 is a weird percentage (63.68%) of 179. Might have been selected as the outcome of picking the second-'best' answer in every scored question, although I think someone actually being in that category would be impossible for college/no-college reasons.

I don't know the range for the (non-cognitive?) AT-SAT score mentioned at the end of that score weighting sheet is, but assuming that the final metric is taken against 70 as a number rather than a percent of something, a perfect Biographical Assessment score would let you pass with an 86, and a minimum 114 Biographical Assessment would require a score of 180 on the other test.

= 70 + (((((Sum of all answer scores in the Biographical Assessment Section - 105.88)/13.25) * 2.5) + ((AT-SAT score - 69.82)/7.62)) * (30/7.48)) - 6.25

What kind of formula is that??? They could've written =0.757BAS + 0.526SAT - 53.122 and removed six numbers. Heck, they could've set it to =BAS + 0.694SAT and set the threshold to >=162.6 to pass instead of 70 (assuming I didn't mess up my algebra, of course).

I think you are not

This test feels like it is cartoonish. To the point where it was either the KKK who were assigned to boost AA and decided let’s make black people say they suck at science and then go collect our bonus for boosting AA or some senior dude just got pissed he had guys not on merit and created a test so dumb it wins a lawsuit easily. Basically got pissed at the politicians.

There has to be less obvious ways to cheat on an exam than this.

It only looks this way because you've rejected blank-slatism. If, instead, you believe that all groups and maybe even all individuals are born with the same cognitive abilities and that observed differences in measurement are a product of either biased testing or oppression/oppressor dynamics in their lives, this is a good test. If you start from that premise, finding people who had terrible science scores in high school is a filter for finding the people that were most oppressed, not a filter for people of low cognitive ability. I promise you that I have encountered people that insist that the only thing you can learn from racial differences on a test is how biased that test is towards different racial groups. Whether they truly believe it or no, I couldn't say, but if the approach taken here follows logically from it.

See my comment here:

https://www.themotte.org/post/851/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/183748?context=8#context

The test was not designed to filter for kids bad at science. The test was designed with arbitrary answers to filter out everyone but those with the cheat codes.

Yeah, I see that now.

I think my post above is still worth noting for people that have never been exposed to that worldview, even though this specific instance seems more like plain corruption than a genuine disagreement between parties.

Take a look at Trace's follow-up thread:

https://x.com/tracewoodgrains/status/1752197404768571629?s=20

I remember when this story came out years ago. I remember how it got covered by conworld and how it got ignored by MSM.

The story at that time was like you describe: Obama admin wanted more black recruits, so they made up a questionaire that would favor blacks. With such expected answers as doing poorly in science.

What Trace makes clear, and was never covered well even ten years ago, is that this was much more malicious. The test was rigged. The answers were impossible to get right by accident. The only way to pass this test was to cheat by knowing the right answers, which is exactly what the union did.

Look at the questions after "bad at science". That question asks "what was your worst subject in high school". One of the very next questions is "what was your worst subject in college". Here, the answer is completely different: you're supposed to answer "public history". Each of those questions is weighted to 15 points, for 30 points total (out of a few hundred or so). So you're not passing this exam unless you know exactly what the answers are supposed to be.

Agreed it gets a little less cartoonish after the initially are you bad at science question and just becomes you need to cheat to win.

There has to be less obvious ways to cheat on an exam than this.

Yes, but why bother when you know you can cheat obviously and the institutions will have your back?

To the point where it was either the KKK who were assigned to boost AA

"Aspects & Assumptions of Whiteness & White Culture in the United States" put out by the National Museum of African American History. An info graphic sandwiched between the the following two paragraphs:

Direct and violent forms of racism that promote white supremacy have been on the rise in recent years. These acts are more directly linked to white nationalism.


White supremacy is an ideology where white people are believed to be superior to nonwhite people. This fallacy is rooted in the same scientific racism and pseudo-science used to justify slavery, imperialism, colonialism, and genocide at various times in throughout history. White supremacist ideologies and their followers continue to perpetuate the myth of white racial superiority.

Some hallmarks of Whiteness & White Culture:

*Self-Reliance

*Emphasis on the Scientific Method

*Objective linear thinking

*Adherence to rigid time schedules

*Plan for future

*Delayed gratification

*Decision-Making

Note: These ideas have been around since at least 1990. [PDF]

I think it was on /r/stupidpol where someone said "Since I don't get to decide which side of the race war I'm on, I'm glad I'm on the side the plans for the future."

Those are not actually the only two options.

Sadly, for the 'Third Side', it finds itself falling into the very same trap it laments the 'good' side falling into.

Steve Sailer isn't a racist. He's just correct about the wrong things. Calling him a racist is just an appeal to the mercy of the 'good' side.

The 'good' really want to replace Cpt. Sully with Cpt. Shaniqua. Sailer is not wrong or racist for pointing this out.

The 'good' dress up their efforts that pervert the meritocratic process and discriminate against the more qualified to lift up brown people to a level they don't deserve by using pretty looking brown ladies in advertisements. Sailer correctly points this out and mocks it. He is not racist for doing so unless, of course, you presuppose the browns to be better than they actually are. Which makes you not just racist but also wrong.

The 'Third Side', spearheaded by the likes of TracingWoodgrains, can't handle this. I don't know why. Though I'd theorize oversocialization, social status and the trauma of watching Civil Rights propaganda took their toll on them like it did everyone else. In any case, if I had to read 5 paragraphs of excuses and 'well actually' every time a racist had been proven right before I could allow myself to acknowledge it, I'd start thinking inward as to why I'm doing this to myself. Because this entire rigamarole is absurd. It would take less effort to get through the cognitive dissonance of a 15 year old.

I can accept liars who just ignore these things or tow the party line to not lose their jobs. At least they know what they are. But the 'Third Side' is not that. It genuinely believes it's honest and standing up for truth. When in reality truth rests with the likes of Sailer. There's nothing 'more right' about not mocking the perverted and shameful nature of modern DEI. There's no respectability in claiming that, whilst the Emperor might not have any clothes, it might be because he was sleepwalking, and not because he is vain and has poor judgement. It's just groveling at the feet of those with power.

Is your point is that if "strong HBD" is right you can't be racist or that Sailer isn't negatively biased against black people? Because I seriously doubt the latter. And I don't see the former either, you can still be discriminatory against people with intellectual disabilities.

My point would be: If "strong HBD" is right, what does being 'racist' even mean, and why would it be bad to be one?

It's not just that we can be discriminatory against people with intellectual disabilities. We actually are. We make rules, laws and train professionals to deal with all sorts of people who fail to meet whatever standard society sets. Does that mean we are 'racist' against those people? Should we let people with Down Syndrome play with power tools on a construction site because we are not 'racist' and don't want to perpetuate 'harmful' hiring practices?

Should we let people with Down Syndrome play with power tools on a construction site because we are not 'racist'

how is it relevant example? on constuction site, only workers are allowed and workers do not 'play' with tools but do what they're expected to do.

Steve Sailer isn't a racist. He's just correct about the wrong things. Calling him a racist is just an appeal to the mercy of the 'good' side.

Sailer is only correct insofar as one presumes that the "Social Sciences" are rigorous and scientific. A dubious presumption at best if you ask me. I see Sailer in much the same way I view Scott, Proffessional-class academic-types of west coast Jewish descent who hasn't quite wrapped their head around the true implications and scope of what they've stumbled upon.

They still think that "studies show"...

The truth is that it is all lies, all of it.

The truth is that it is all lies, all of it.

What I don't understand is how deep you think this goes. It's hard to try to have conversations with you about a lot of things because I can't figure out where the common ground is from which we might begin.

Proffessional-class academic-types of west coast Jewish descent who hasn't quite wrapped their head around the true implications and scope of what they've stumbled upon.

Could you elaborate? What are the implications and scope that they don't see?

I think it goes from the lowliest undergrad, to the president of Harvard. I get that this sound radical to some people, but I don't think that "sounding radical" necessarily equates to incorrect.

The implication is that they still think that's air they're breathing.

It's going to get even harder as Nitter instances die off.

What's happening to them?

People are being dramatic, they periodically go down but come back up again after a while, I never had to rotate between more than 2.

I guess there's some arm's race between nitter and twitter. For a while it even looked like nitter won, and twitter won't be doing any more fuckery, but they must have changed something again.

People are not being dramatic. There was indeed an arms race, but twitter just shut down the functionality core to nitter. The dev behind nitter has given up and declared nitter dead. The instances still working will stop working soon.

Oh damn...

Nitter is probably actually dead this time. (Zedeus is the primary maintainer, and has never called it dead before)

The last way left in was a guest-account system used by an old version of the Twitter Android app. Nitter was hanging on by creating thousands of these rate-limited guest accounts using a network of proxies.

Twitter shut down guest account creation 5 days ago. Guest accounts expire after 30 days, so some instances might keep going for a little while, but will all be dead within a month.

I'm really glad now that I have an old school account that doesn't need my phone number. All these loops one has to jump through are anoying.

Bravo to Trace, I suspect this investigation will gain traction, he should embrace it and maybe we'll see him on the Tucker Carlson podcast soon.

It's been interesting watching this argument continue to unfold between Stancil and Sailer, and it's still going on. A couple weeks ago we had the CW thread about BAP saying that Sailer-style race-realism is a dead end and the right-wing should embrace the myth of colorblindness. This thread shows why that conclusion is wrong. HBD is not a mythological replacement for progressivism (and that is actually what we need), but this thread shows it's needed because it's incredibly disruptive to the liberal mind.

BAP and some others on the DR who are critical of HBD-focus rightfully point out that liberals and the establishment are not driven by the factual belief in racial equality. They are driven by other myths and what is essentially a religious impulse to achieve racial equality as an ideal they are striving for. When confronted with truthful arguments demonstrating HBD they can react in various ways, lashing out in public HBD denial like Stancil is doing here, or privately coming to accept it but publicly avoiding the topic altogether. But ultimately, accepting HBD as true wouldn't necessarily change their minds, this FAA-DEI scandal is an artifact of conflict theory and not mistake theory. They have different ideals, ideals that mean diversifying ATC (however that's accomplished) is a good thing, and their minds are not going to change by being presented with HBD arguments, no matter how respectfully those arguments are presented.

But this also explains why public debate and DR emphasis on HBD is necessary. Although this FAA-DEI scandal was driven by an idealism rather than mistaken belief in non-HBD explanations for racial inequality, recognizing HBD functions as a significant disruption to the underlying ideals that are accepted by almost everyone without question. Trace says that this nasty conversation is just a sad failure of two people to exchange ideas productively, or who are cynically just trying to build their own brands. It's more significant than that, Sailer is slaughtering sacred cows in the public square. That has an important place even though it is not a replacement for the harder task of building a replacement civic religion for this nonsense.

Stancil shows the incredible difficulty liberals have in reconciling HBD with their ideals. Sailer's dogged commitment to that topic is not going to help the other side resolve their factual errors in their worldview (as Trace may hope), it's going to weaken the foundation of what is essentially religious ideology. And yes, ugly spats in the public square are how that happens.

It's been interesting watching this argument continue to unfold between Stancil and Sailer, and it's still going on. A couple weeks ago we had the CW thread about BAP saying that Sailer-style race-realism is a dead end and the right-wing should embrace the myth of colorblindness. This thread shows why that conclusion is wrong. HBD is not a mythological replacement for progressivism (and that is actually what we need), but this thread shows it's needed because it's incredibly disruptive to the liberal mind.

This is also proof that no press is bad press. Did Stancil lose? Yes, if you have to resort to calling your better-prepared opponent a Klansman then I think that is an admission of defeat, but he also got a lot of fans who agree with him. So both sides benefited. I think it shows how weak or ideologically motivated the anti-HBD arguments tend to be. Anyone had the opportunity to shutdown Steve but no one rose to the occasion.

When we were having the atheist culture wars of the 2000s, the side representing Christianity may have earned more followers after some public spat with an internet atheist, for example. But that wasn't a victory for the Christian side. The victory for the status quo of the religious order is there is no debate, because it's beyond the pale to even consider this a question that warrants argument. So even if a Christian won some debate against the atheist, he still lost by virtue of debating something that only works if it is taken as true on faith.

Stancil is falling into the same trap. Maybe he gains more followers than Sailer. But his followers are being increasingly conscious of and exposed to a debate they were previously not aware of (and a debate they cannot win with the scientific methodology they hold in high regard). That lays the groundwork for real seismic shifts in ideological thinking down the road.

"No press is bad press" for growing a personal brand, maybe, but for maintaining a civic-religious ideology certain things have to be so true they are beyond debate. Then when you start debating them in the public sphere the cracks begin to show in front of an audience that had never even previously considered the debate at hand.

Anyone had the opportunity to shutdown Steve but no one rose to the occasion.

No they didn't - where's the actual counterargument to HBD? If you want to shutdown Steve you either need to beg/force(presumably with legislation) Elon Musk to ban him, or present a factual and robust counterargument to HBD. The problem is that even if this robust counterargument exists, nobody has ever seen it - and I don't think it does exist.

I don't know what Stancil actually thinks, but he is very much not honest and not acting in good faith. He's focusing on attacking the weakest and nastiest replies in an attempt to stigmatize and inoculate people against racial discourse, in an effort to help out the left. He minimizes engagement to what he thinks he can get a dunk with, because his goal is to delegitimize.

Where did Trace say that it was the two of them trying to exchange ideas productively?

Honestly the most interesting thing to me is How does Elon Musks have some much time to be involved in every single twitter controversy. The amount of twitter stuff he’s involved in is like a typical unemployed sleeping in moms basement always online level not a guy whose like CEO of 3 companies. Makes me curious if he’s outsourced all the CEO stuff yet and just tweets or if there is some dude with a job title that is Elon Musks professional tweeter.

And Tracy should be getting a NYT article in about 72 hours including all of his personal information.

I don’t know, many of us have jobs and spend hours here every week, seems possible Musk might do the same. I also get the feeling he spends relatively little time with his kids, lives alone and so doesn’t have family obligations most of the time.

At this point I can easily see his life going something like

5 minutes checking up on each of your companies: 4hrs
Hyping up investors: 7hrs
Shower + food+ anime: 1hr
Aww yeah twittertime: 8hrs
Sleep: 4hrs

More fairly, the man probably spends a lot of time being driven around, sitting on planes, etc. where there isn't much else to do except txt and tweet.

More fairly, the man probably spends a lot of time being driven around, sitting on planes, etc. where there isn't much else to do except txt and tweet.

I am sure he has a top-of-the-line teleconferencing solution in all of his vehicles, so he can talk to any of his executives or engineers and access any internal document whenever he wants or needs to. He's just a big fan of shitstorms on twitter.