Re: Guest Post: Sam Harris / Ezra Klein

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I skimmed that and my only thought its that while it is possible to read Murray in such a way that he's not a racist, I don't believe anybody born on this planet who does so isn't a racist because for fucks sake look at the history of Bayesian priors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:43 AM
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The general reaction is that the e-mail exchange reflects better on Ezra Klein than Harris and that his decision to make it public is odd.
s/Ezra Klein/Noam Chomsky/g


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:54 AM
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The first time I heard about Sam Harris was in a conversation with someone who fits a benign version of the techno-libertarian stereotype: not actually libertarian, but also not that interested in politics, and with an individualist bent. I have no idea how much that description fits Sam Harris*, but it's the associative starting point I have when thinking about him.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:54 AM
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associative starting point
That's a funny way to say asterisk.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:58 AM
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You be the ass-to-risk. . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:00 AM
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2: Was my thought. He published that incredibly long email chain which reflected, I thought, really badly on both of them.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:02 AM
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I'm sympathetic to the desire to promote the ability to discuss potentially fraught topics without having to worry about triggering a social media freakout if you say anything that could conceivably be construed the wrong way.

But really, decades of evidence points to the fact that Murray is a polite, well spoken racist troll. That's his niche. If you put him at the center of your "let's try to discuss these difficult topics reasonably" campaign, you've pretty much scored an own goal.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:04 AM
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Sam Harris is a poisonous charlatan whose "End of Faith" was one of the worst (and most racist) books ever written about religion. It explicitly defends the waterboarding of Al Qaeda suspects and asks whether it is possible for "civilised" people to share the same planet as Muslims. There is no reason to treat anything he says in good faith.


Posted by: Nworb | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:21 AM
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Sam Harris is the "new atheist" star that I'm least familiar with. They all seem pretty obnoxious, although at least Richard Dawkins has written some good popular science books.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:25 AM
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9 is basically my reaction too. I had only been vaguely familiar with Sam Harris in the context of people saying "actually, Sam Harris isn't as awful as the other three horseman." Maybe he's not quite as awful, but still seems pretty awful.

Also I can't see why anyone would think they were going to come off as the more reasonable party in an exchange with Ezra Klein. Just thinking that shows you have terrible judgement. Appearing reasonable (and I think also being reasonable, it's not just an act) is Ezra's whole thing. He's a world expert at it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:36 AM
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Black people are stupid.

Change my mind.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:39 AM
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Too nuanced.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:40 AM
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"Also I can't see why anyone would think they were going to come off as the more reasonable party in an exchange with Ezra Klein. "

Harris has done this before. He has a massive blind spot for how well he comes across in email exchanges. Here is one with Chomsky.

https://samharris.org/the-limits-of-discourse/


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:46 AM
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I think it's also worth pointing out that even if it turned out that there are genetic differences in IQ between white and black Americans (which there's little evidence for anyway), that *would still be the result of racism*. That is it's much much more likely that any such genetic difference would come from 200+ years of white people killing smart black people than from ancient continent-wide genetic differences.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:46 AM
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13: Yeah, but I can totally see why one would think that about an exchange with Chomsky. (Not saying it about this particular exchange with Chomsky, just that Chomsky's brand certainly isn't being reasonable.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 8:48 AM
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Using this as an excuse to link to the Ned Block essay that he wrote after the Bell Curve was published, which is the best thing I have ever read on it:

https://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/block/papers/Heritability.html


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:01 AM
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The Bell Curve has a chapter called Welfare Dependency that argues that we should radically cutback on AFDC (basically for eugenic reasons). He testified to congress that we should radically cutback on AFDC. Then congress radically cutback on AFDC and Clinton signed the bill. I think it is underestimated how much he has already won.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1995/04/28/bell-curve-author-addresses-welfare/e5880671-b74a-48a2-8757-1b781c5b56ef/?utm_term=.6135b2868fd9


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:03 AM
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There is no reason to treat anything he says in good faith.

I've seen that reaction, and it may be correct, but I think my analysis is still relevant even if Harris wasn't operating in good faith. The more that we can think through what the conversation would look like, if everybody was being reasonable then the more it will stand out when somebody doesn't take those options.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say the good faith response by Sam Harris would have been to say, "I understand that there's a long history of bad science around racial differences in IQ and, for that reason, I understand why a casual listener might be skeptical of the conversation that I was having with Charles Murray. The reasons why I think Murray's claims are reasonable, and should be taken seriously are X, Y, and Z. I tried to make that clear on the podcast, but it is a subject that should be treated carefully and individual listeners can decide we were successful in doing so. But it was always my intention to be conscious of that context."

There are people who have noted that he did not chose that tack. But, at the same time, I feel like it's easy for his defenders to say some version of, "he was annoyed and to have said that would require either more presence of mind or more generosity than he was feeling at the moment." Sam Harris used the term "gaslighting" (which is absurd) but I think there are people who could imagine that somebody in good faith could still feel pushed into a corner by the original article, and that part of what needs to happen is to expand the awareness and comfort with the idea that a statement like the one I suggested above isn't a forced concession, it's just politeness (and, again, many people know that already).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:05 AM
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Reading it I was struck by how much I've internalized the ideas*** that we live in a racist society, most people will say racist things occasionally, if for no other reason than it's really easy to land on a racist trope or stereotype without thinking about it, and that the appropriate response, when called on it, is to think about why it could be taken that way, own it, and apologize. This is the same reason why people are encouraged not to call somebody a racist, but to call actions or comments racist. Because, in a healthy situation, that should be the starting point for discussion, not a conversation ender. But I can understand that it takes work to get to that point. I can imagine that many people think that being called racist is (a) terrible, (b) a claim that they feel racial animosity, and (c) that the appropriate and necessary response is to immediately assert that they do not feel racial animosity, and that it is wrong for them to be called a racist.

It's been pointed out that the personality trait that corresponds closest to "progressive" politics rather than "conservative" is Openness to experience. I think this makes the above dynamic a lot worse. Some people seem to actually enjoy being told they are wrong about things and actually enjoy changing their minds, based on extreme "openness" in their personality combined with high empathy for others. All of these people end up as left-wingers. And although they are not the majority of left-wingers, they try to do all the communicating on this issue, because they see it as so easy to change minds, but cannot communicate whatsoever with people who react to the idea of changing their mind like the idea of changing their entire identity.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:08 AM
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Using this as an excuse to link to the Ned Block essay that he wrote after the Bell Curve was published, which is the best thing I have ever read on it:

Thanks! Looking forward to reading it!

Skimming the opening reminds me of these tweets in this latest go-round.

But the general heritability of IQ has 0 implications for the causes of a particular group difference. I get it that saying, maybe the group difference is *partly* genetic seems like a moderate stance on a polarized topic, but that is an illusion.

Speculating in the absence of convincing theory or empirical evidence that a race is genetically inferior on a trait as important as IQ-- the partly is no help-- *is* the polarized view, the other pole being the belief that genetics has nothing whatever to do with behavior.

There is no scientific theory in which to frame the notion of partial genetic determination of group differences; no empirical evidence that strongly suggests it's true; no examples of other, less controversial behavioral traits for which it has turned out to be true.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:10 AM
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Sam Harris is being gaslit by mobs of accounts on Twitter! He's in romantic relationships with all of them and they're attempting to break his grip on reality so that he will feel even more dependent on them!


Posted by: Trivers | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:10 AM
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This is like the third time Sam Harris has gone and published a private email exchange thinking it somehow vindicates him but each time it's been an own goal as he comes off looking like an asshole. He's a stupid person's idea of a smart person, even more than this Paedorson fellow. There was a great back and forth between Bruce Schneier and Harris over a decade ago about profiling and Schneier just repeatedly hands Harris his ass, hung and dried, time and time again. Harris is a bigot whose whole schtick is to give bigotry a rational patina. He's a shitstain on public discourse.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:11 AM
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Also, what Nworb said in 8. Harris supports torture and genocide.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:14 AM
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I think it's also worth pointing out that even if it turned out that there are genetic differences in IQ between white and black Americans (which there's little evidence for anyway), that *would still be the result of racism*. That is it's much much more likely that any such genetic difference would come from 200+ years of white people killing smart black people than from ancient continent-wide genetic differences.

No judgment on you at all for saying this, but no it's not worth pointing out, and no it's not more likely. Slavery did not have the characteristics of a controlled stock-breeding experiment that could possibly have created a genetically distinguishable breed of people. It was fairly short in terms of generations; it wasn't controlled at all; this is really not a speculation that makes any sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:15 AM
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I always get gaslighting and catfishing confused. Never hire me for illuminations. Or fishmongery.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:26 AM
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There was a great back and forth between Bruce Schneier and Harris over a decade ago about profiling and Schneier just repeatedly hands Harris his ass, hung and dried, time and time again.

Thank's for the reminder. I'd read that exchange but completely forgotten it was the same Sam Harris.

And, yes, Schneier says the sorts of things we would all like to imagine ourselves being able to pull off in a debate (and backs them up)

Schneier: Honestly, I don't care about the political correctness of this. Profiling is bad security. I understand that it intuitively seems obvious to you, and that your gut tells you it's better, but it's not. And I am going to continue to explain why.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:27 AM
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Rather, it was out of my growing concern over how fraught our conversations on politically charged topics have become.

This is a troll's argument. He's not actually arguing in good faith or trying to find out the truth. It's the argument of the forbidden fruit. It's exciting and true because it's taboo.

The Schneier/Harris debate is a bit long but worth your time. Harris does not come off well.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:29 AM
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And although they are not the majority of left-wingers, they try to do all the communicating on this issue, because they see it as so easy to change minds, but cannot communicate whatsoever with people who react to the idea of changing their mind like the idea of changing their entire identity.

This is really well said. That is, it seems super obvious but I've never thought of it at all this way before this moment.

Also, I feel judged.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:30 AM
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Before this dust-up I didn't know who Sam Harris was.

Now I believe he's an asshole and a bigot.

So no, not really helping whatever his cause was.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:30 AM
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Death rates from the middle passage alone were 25%-40%. Then 10 generations of high death rates from slavery plus families being broken up. Again no reason to think IQ specifically was affected, but I'd be shocked if there's not some genetic changes from all that death.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:34 AM
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The link in 16 is great.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:35 AM
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Death rates from the middle passage alone were 25%-40%.

Which I can't see any reason to correlate with intelligence.

Then 10 generations of high death rates from slavery plus families being broken up.

Likewise, as you acknowledge in your next sentence.

I'd be shocked if there's not some genetic changes from all that death.

It's the same amount of death as there has always been for everyone -- one each.

I know you really don't mean this in any negative way at all, but if you're going to be tossing around speculation like that it seems very very likely that the effects of slavery were to produce significant genetic differences between descendants of slaves in America and everyone else, you should be thinking closely about what exactly you think is the mechanism. How many generations? Precisely what qualities do you think were selected for? How exactly did that work (not 'death', 'death' doesn't have anything to do with anything. It'd have to be number of surviving children.) Were these selection pressures consistent over the whole population of slaves? If not, how much? Were there contradictory pressures for different sub-populations?

When you pick at it like that, doesn't it kind of obviously fall apart into implausibility?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:41 AM
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Wouldn't it be likely that intelligence would help survive and reproduce in an extremely brutal environment? It's not generally figured that humans evolved intelligence because of low death rates on the veldt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:44 AM
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I don't think you can make a good case that Russians are stupider after Stalin used things that correlate with intelligence as a selection criteria for his purges. But if you can, I might buy the book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:49 AM
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Yes, if it turns out that Black Americans have higher intelligence on average, then I'd also think that the more likely cause was the middle passage and slavery than anything about Africa vs. Europe. The point is that even genetic differences can't be separated from the history of racism.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:52 AM
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34: Russians are stupider because after the fall of the Soviet Union the smart ones all moved away! I 100% believe that the average Russian is dumber now than 30 years ago.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:53 AM
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I can't see why anyone would think they were going to come off as the more reasonable party in an exchange with Ezra Klein

A classic blunder, up there with Asian land wars.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:56 AM
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Oh man I'd forgotten about that Schneier "debate". Harris is so in love with his status as victim and so proud of his brave defiance of political correctness.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:57 AM
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Galaxy brain: Sam Harris is doing a service to good arguments by posting private correspondence where he gets his ass handed to him, serving a Simplicio-like role.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 10:07 AM
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I'd chime in about Harris coming off over and over again as a self-interested jerk who keeps getting butt-hurt, but it seems you've all done it for me. I pray Harris will be a forgotten man before long. He constantly wants to turn things into discussions about him and respect for him and his words -- ideas be damned.

Murray is much more pernicious, though hopefully soon forgotten as well. His schtick is so smooth and so practiced that it's easy for him to turn the unsuspecting into sympathizers. There are lots of good rejoinders to TBC, but I'm partial to the brilliant Cozma Shalizi, who takes it from a statistical standpoint:http://bactra.org/weblog/523.html. Ezra did a fine job, BTW.

As far as this post goes, I think it's important to recognize that almost ALL bigots are perfectly comfortable and friendly to individuals of varying colors, creeds, nationalities. What makes someone a racist or a xenophobe isn't how they treat their grocer or neighbor or kid's teacher. It's how they talk about all those "others" that they don't know at all and are happy to lump into a group for the purpose of abuse.


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 11:34 AM
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I think it's important to recognize that almost ALL bigots are perfectly comfortable and friendly to individuals of varying colors, creeds, nationalities.

I think that might just be true for bigots who went to graduate school or do media appearances.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 11:39 AM
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You means some of their best friends really are Jewish/black/women/gay etc?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 11:47 AM
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Yes, but not Jewish like _that_.

(Is there a cheat sheet for formatting somewhere?)


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:12 PM
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Basic HTML is accepted: <i>, <b>, <u>, <a>, <blockquote>, and a few others I can't remember--it's been brought up now and again in TFA but I didn't have any luck searching. Anything more complex will get stripped out.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:18 PM
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People can put hearts in the comments, but I've never figured out how as I have dignity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:19 PM
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Even if you pretend to have dignity, the commentariat ♥ you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:26 PM
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I'd heard bad stuff about Harris before, but I just read that Schneier article, and holy shit is he stupid.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:33 PM
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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling. 💛💙💜💚❤️


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:36 PM
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He's written some epically stupid things about philosophy in the past, too, along with the other dumb as a box of rocks things he's also known for. On the whole, it's a theme, when it comes to prominent atheists.*

* I mean, I'm an atheist myself, but most prominent media atheists do usually turn out to be thick, literalists with a racist and/or sexist bent.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 1:36 PM
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I think Christianity has it worse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:01 PM
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The article linked in 16 is very good and well worth reading.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:11 PM
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Wouldn't it be likely that intelligence would help survive and reproduce in an extremely brutal environment?

In a low-autonomy environment like slavery, I'd guess that being tough and lucky would be pretty much all of it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:14 PM
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I'm going to keep on repeating that slavery lasted for very few generations and wasn't anything like a stock-breeding program. The chance that it had any noticeable genetic effect on the population that survived slavery is very small.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:27 PM
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I'm personally dubious of arguments that African Americans descended from US slaves are genetically different from longtime USians who aren't, because we're literally cousins. You'd have to believe that differences in intelligence happened to assort perfectly with skin color, which is a straw I suppose some will cling to.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:38 PM
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I think its important that there be prominent atheists, because there are a lot of people having a tough time in the religion they were brought up in, and who need to get out.

It is good for society that these people have access to voices that say "actually, you don't have to believe that stuff." Or even to say "these particular beliefs are misguided/internally inconsistent because of X, Y, and Z."

I have no interest in consuming that content, but I'm glad its out there for people who need it. Unfortunately, it appears there is a structural problem in that the people who produce this kind of content tend to be assholes, and bring a whole lot of baggage with them.

And the problem is made worse because this baggage gets dropped on people at a time when they are vulnerable as they go through a change in identity between religious and not-religious. A fair number end up getting red pilled, perhaps in a worse place than where they started.

If "New Atheists" could be replaced with "Nice Atheists," that would be a good thing.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:43 PM
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Has anyone claimed that slavery somehow induced genetic mutuations? Or served as a selective breeding program for some characteristic I can't fathom?


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:46 PM
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"Has anyone claimed that slavery somehow induced genetic mutuations? Or served as a selective breeding program for some characteristic I can't fathom?"

there was salt/ hypertension hypothesis that hasn't really panned out

http://raceandgenomics.ssrc.org/Kaufman/


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:55 PM
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Has anyone claimed that slavery somehow induced genetic mutuations?

LB was initially responding to comment 14 -- and is completely correct. 52 feels like a weird comment to me.

... we're literally cousins

Somewhat tangential, the recent apology by National Geographic for their past coverage of race is worth reading (though difficult reading in some places).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:55 PM
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Has anyone claimed that slavery somehow induced genetic mutuations?

Jimmy the Greek ruined his career over such a claim in 1988.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 2:56 PM
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16, 51: That was well written and detailed but direct.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 3:10 PM
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55: especially in societies where being an atheist attracts public and official expressions of hatred and disapproval, like Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan and the US, being a publicly visible atheist means you have to be the sort of person who doesn't mind most people thinking they're a dick. Unfortunately this correlates (not perfectly but it does correlate) with actually being a dick.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 3:21 PM
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11.1 is entirely accurate. Black people are stupid.
PROOF
1. All black people are people.
2. People are stupid.
THEREFORE
3. Black people are stupid.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 3:25 PM
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61: And in societies where religion has no power and nobody cares if you're an atheist (the UK), being a publicly visible atheist instead of devoting your time to some more worthwhile cause means you have to be the sort of person who enjoys most people thinking they're a dick. Which correlates even stronger with being a dick!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 3:50 PM
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The two of them are clearly talking past each other.

This seems to give Harris too much credit. Harris is ignoring Ezra and spouting bullshit in response to him. Ezra confronts Harris's concerns head-on and is, if anything, insufficiently dismissive.

If you think that black people are inherently intellectually inferior to white people, you are a racist. If you think that racist views are inappropriately suppressed in the US, you are a racist. Harris and Murray are racists.

If they were intellectually honest racists, they would argue that racism reflects an accurate understanding of the world. They are too chickenshit to own up to the consequences of their arguments.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 3:58 PM
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32: Wouldn't we expect selection for hardiness to select for higher IQ, given how related IQ and general health are?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:22 PM
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62: For a moment I thought this proof gave me carte blanche to call ajay stupid, but then I realized that on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:23 PM
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65: No, goddamit! IQ and general health are pretty obviously correlated for environmental reasons.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:24 PM
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We wouldn't expect that slaves were 'selected for hardiness' more than any other population of humans whose ancestors evolved through hundreds of thousands of years of predation, starvation, and disease, I think mostly. Also, and I'm going to keep saying this, really very few generations. Talking about slavery as a plausible evolutionary event in the absence of any evidence for it is really strange.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:27 PM
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67: There are obvious interventions that affect both IQ and general health in the same direction. At the extreme, dying makes you score much more poorly on both. In a less extreme case, it would be surprising if health conditions that caused persistently distracting discomfort didn't also worsen scores on IQ tests.

And obviously there are also ways higher IQ might cause health, either by actually being better at life, or through privilege.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:27 PM
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Also 68, of course.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:28 PM
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And 67.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:29 PM
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I'm not interested in arguing about 68, as I really have no opinion on whether the middle passage was strong enough selection on an IQ correlate to show up; your point that this stuff usually takes very many generations seems plausible and I don't know enough to judge. But you said you couldn't see any reason why the middle passage might select for intelligence. That is a separate question from how strong the selection might have been, and is what I was responding to.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 4:35 PM
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72 -"Hey guys, let's speculate ignorantly about genetic origins of racial differences among American blacks! I'm super-smart, so I'm sure that this will be a productive and totally OK conversation."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 5:18 PM
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Folks, the Kingdom of Dahomey is not sending their best.


Posted by: OPINIONATED POLITICALLY INCORRECT POLITICIAN OF 1850 | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 5:37 PM
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This is a completely dumbass argument, and I want to step back and talk about Sam Harris' nonsense about the science of IQ being too taboo to talk about, because this dumbassery gets to what I think is reasonably disfavored, and that people like Sam Harris are reacting to as if they're being oppressed.

Speculating that descendants of American slaves are genetically distinct because of the evolutionary pressures of slavery is kind of disgusting, and it's the sort of speculation that racists love (even if you're speculating that maybe it made them better somehow). If you're doing real science, you follow it where it takes you, and researchers do. If you're bullshitting on a blog, why on earth would you come up with some incredibly attenuated argument that general health and IQ are correlated, and it's POSSIBLE that some of that correlation is genetic, and it's POSSIBLE that capacity to survive the Middle Passage is correlated with general health (this, really not simply obvious), and it's POSSIBLE that there was enough of a selection pressure to have a detectable effect on descendants of American slaves? These are all possible in the sense that it's possible that my Aunt Janet was a deep cover KGB agent in the eighties -- there's no way to rule it out, but no particular reason to think it's true. And bullshitting like that about the possibility of meaningful racial differences does mean you're being kind of an asshole, whether or not you intend to be.

I think people like Harris hear that "Bullshitting merrily about the possibility of important racial differences is a jerk thing to do" and mistake it for "Actual research on linked topics is being shut down."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 5:50 PM
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76

Halford was more concise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 5:51 PM
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73: I'm not the one who brought this up, and I'm not the one trying to make generalizations about American blacks. If you don't want to do that, you can just ... not.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 5:52 PM
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The IQ thing again? Jesus eternally recurring Christ.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 6:51 PM
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It's the gift that keeps on giving.


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:10 PM
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At least Christ only came back once.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:16 PM
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So far.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 7:56 PM
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One thing that always really super grosses me out about any conversation premised on there being a meaningful genetic distinction between US inhabitants we categorize as "African Americans" and US inhabitants we categorize as "white" ignores the fact that both chattel slavery and its successor systems of racial oppression have always included a significant amount of sexual terror visited by white men on black women. That this doesn't immediately deflate and end all of these discussions is ... disturbing.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 9:35 PM
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32: Wouldn't we expect selection for hardiness to select for higher IQ, given how related IQ and general health are?

No, not really, especially if the explanation for the Flynn effect that Flynn puts forward is anywhere close to accurate. NTM, "hardiness" is a pretty vague concept, not obviously directly related to "general health".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 10:04 PM
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83 "grit"


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 10:57 PM
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63 doesn't make sense at all. People don't like atheists in Saudi Arabia, the US etc. So to be a publicly visible atheist you have to not mind being disliked. Very few people in the UK mind whether you're an atheist. (Not many mind even if you are a formerly Muslim atheist). So you can be a publicly visible and vocal atheist without being widely disliked, like, say, Stephen Hawking, or Stephen Fry, or Martin Rees, or David Attenborough (agnostic), or Douglas Adams or Iain Banks or Hugh Laurie or Ian McKellen.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 4-18 11:12 PM
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The penalties for being a publicly visible atheist in Saudi are things like flogging -- in Pakistan or Bangladesh the unofficial penalty tends to be death. In the US it's to become a rich arsehole. One of these places is not like the others.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 1:39 AM
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Yes, NW, atheism is a sure route to riches in the US.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 2:07 AM
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Publicly visible anythingism is a route to riches in the US. That's how sleb culture works.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 2:12 AM
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That's not even right enough to be wrong. It's just mouth noises.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 2:22 AM
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your point that this stuff usually takes very many generations seems plausible and I don't know enough to judge. But you said you couldn't see any reason why the middle passage might select for intelligence.

This is very similar to a maneuver that Harris makes. Benquo acknowledges that it may be true that the middle passage couldn't have possibly selected for intelligence, but because Benquo doesn't know enough to judge, Benquo can identify reasons that the middle passage might have done so.

Similarly, Harris professes not to know enough to have an opinion on African intellectual inferiority. And because he lacks knowledge, it can't possibly be offensive to for him to provide cover* to someone with opinions on the subject that may or may not be correct.

(What I'm really saying is: 73 to Harris as well as to 72.)

*Actual Harris quote regarding Murray: "I felt a moral imperative to provide him some cover."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 5:22 AM
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That's what my trousers would say, if they could talk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 5:23 AM
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Some gripes with the OP:

Referring to Harris, Nick says "he has legitimate concerns that Ezra never responds to (more on that later)."

I don't think Nick ever got to "later." Did I miss something?

I'm generally not onboard with Nick's effort to be understanding about Harris' shortcomings. Harris is a public intellectual, and ought to be prepared to have his views publicly scrutinized. We're not going to be able to take him by the hand and lead him to reason any more than we can with Trump.

People like Harris need to be defeated and that's it. If they were amenable to reason, they wouldn't be where they are. I am, in principle, opposed to "de-platforming," but in any sensible society, people like Murray are simply beyond the pale, and are not to be offered a voice in forums at legitimate institutions. Likewise, I don't have any interest in persuading John Yoo that providing legal cover for torturers is a bad idea, or convincing Donald Trump that having parents born in Latin America doesn't make you unfit as a US judge.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 6:25 AM
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91: Well, actually, I would say that morality has nothing to do with it -- it is just my nature.


Posted by: Moby's Trousers | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 6:28 AM
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That's my socks, practicing ventriloquism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 6:30 AM
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Can I register a complaint against "de-platforming" as a term?

Also, Murray has obviously managed to write his books without interference. What he wants isn't free speech. He wants to have other people not call him racist regardless of what he says or how he defends it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 6:42 AM
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95.2: Klein is good on this:

I arrived in Washington in 2005. Throughout my time here, Murray has been a controversial, but prominent, conservative scholar. He has a plum appointment at the American Enterprise Institute. His recent books have been reviewed by the New York Times (indeed, his latest book was reviewed twice!) and have been much discussed on the nation's op-ed pages. He wins prizes, testifies before Congress, and appears on television.
Murray isn't even ignored by the left. My first job in journalism was at the American Prospect, a liberal policy journal, and I interviewed him for my first feature article. Later, at the same publication, I reviewed his book In Our Hands, a proposal to dissolve the safety net into a cash transfer. My wife is currently writing a book on universal basic incomes. Murray is quoted in it.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 6:48 AM
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But liberals look at him with scorn, which is the same as burning the First Amendment and shitting on the flag.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:04 AM
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I'm going to keep picking at this a bit, because I'm not sure if I've been clear. There are topics which are generally accepted as things that might or might not be true, and which under certain circumstances are legitimate and important topics of investigation: say, whether a political candidate sucks cocks behind the local gas station for five bucks a throw. That could be true. And if it was true, it would be important (in our current society with its attitude toward sex work, not that I'm necessarily endorsing that attitude). A reporter who received information that it might be true would be doing no more than their job by looking into it.

But anyone who wanted to have a vibrant public discussion of the fact that it really is possible that Political Candidate X sucks cocks for cheap, and voters should consider that possibility when thinking about who to vote for, without having a very strong factual basis for it would be dismissed as a flaming asshole, even if the facts were such that the possibility couldn't be absolutely ruled out. Open public discussion of the possibility of some types of facts that would be relevant and important if true, can perfectly well be pernicious, destructive, and fundamentally dishonest, even if nothing explicitly false is said.

Murray's that kind of asshole. He does not have strong factual evidence that there are genetic differences between human populations that explain different average measured IQs for those populations. But because the possibility cannot be completely ruled out, he really wants to keep on talking about it as if the possibility should be an important driver of policy. Thinking that he is a pointless and dishonest waste of everyone's time does not require that he be lying in any particular sentence he utters (I mean, he does say some things that are straightforwardly false, but not everything he says always is false), and does not imply that there's anything wrong with actual serious research into human intelligence and genetics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:08 AM
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I don't think Nick ever got to "later." Did I miss something?

Fair question since I wasn't totally clear and my position has shifted slightly during this thread.

The areas in which I could have sympathy for Harris were that the original article, while never directly accusing him of being a racist of promoting racist ideas, did cast him in an unflattering light. I could understand why he'd be annoyed at that.

I also thought that if somebody wasn't practiced at dealing with that particular set of issues it could feel like a tar baby in which the more one protested the worse one looked.

I was also willing to believe that he was acting in good faith. This thread has convinced me to lower my estimate for the probability of good faith but, as I said in 18, I think there's enough that's interesting about it that it's worth going through the mental exercise of asking what a good faith response would look like (and how that might fail if somebody wasn't careful) even if Harris wasn't attempting that.

I also think Ezra Klein did a really good job responding to Harris's outrage. For multiple reasons I think it was good that he didn't waffle at all in his response and was ready to push back. That's actually why I'm more interested in the Harris side of the equation (even though I don't care about him personally) because I think Ezra offered an excellent good-faith response.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:38 AM
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I'll add something else which isn't my thought but which seems like a good reaction. Looking at some of the reactions on reddit yesterday I say this about another atheist podcaster responding to the dust-up (also not somebody I know). The reddit thread isn't very good, but he makes three oberservations which I like.

1) He says that, as a much less popular podcaster than Sam Harris, he deals with a lot of cases of people speculating about and impugning his motives for talking about certain subjects. He says that he gets a fair amount of, "you're just saying that because you're jealous" or "because you don't like[X]" and that he can sympathize with how frustrating that is.

2) He observers that most (but not all) of the Sam Harris followers on twitter and reddit think that Harris looks bad in this exchange. He wonders to what degree that's because this represents a reversal and that Sam Harris is often in the position of coming across as the reasonable one while somebody else is visibly getting upset trying to respond to something Harris has said. He speculates that, for people who like Harris that builds up a strong heuristic of, "the calmer person is winning."

3) Finally he notes that, even though he agrees with Ezra 100% on the substance of the debate, if people are responding based on the belief that "the calmer person is winning" that's a dangerous standard to use because it has a strong status quo bias. In any debate the person who represents a privileged position in the status quo has the luxury of being calmer because they are protected by their position, whereas the person who is suffering in the status quo is (generally) not going to be calm because they're hurt and pissed off.

All of that is tangential to the specifics of the debate, but I thought it was a really good point.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:47 AM
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99.3 Phrasing.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:47 AM
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101: good catch. I agree that I should have picked a better image.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:50 AM
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But has anyone seriously considered the possibility that babies made of tar might in fact be empirically stickier?


Posted by: Opinionated Charles Murray | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 8:52 AM
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What the fuck was in your coffee this morning, Ajay?

There are celebrity atheists in the US who make a good living out of their atheism -- exhibit A, Sam Harris. They have no analogues in Islamist countries.
It doesn't matter how stupid or ignorant your views are, once you are famous for them in the US you can almost* always convert celebrity or even YouTube followers into money.

*Charles Manson an obvious exception.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:14 AM
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Not everybody is smart enough to invent a jar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:15 AM
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I don't know that honey babies are stickier than tar babies, but I know honey babies are sweeter, and look at these correlations I have based on data provided by the beekeepers.


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:24 AM
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100

"Finally he notes that, even though he agrees with Ezra 100% on the substance of the debate, if people are responding based on the belief that "the calmer person is winning" that's a dangerous standard to use because it has a strong status quo bias."

this is true but you can argue for non status quo positions in a "reasonable" manner. Chomsky is the reasonable one in this debate with Buckley:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYlMEVTa-PI

They stopped putting him on TV soon after this but it wasn't because he was "unreasonable".

He knows a lot on the issues though. Probably better to have someone like Turkheimer debate Harris or Murray.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:27 AM
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I was also willing to believe that he was acting in good faith.

"Good faith" is interesting to me in this context. I find myself tempted to give some credit to Harris for good faith because of his decision to disclose his correspondence with Klein despite how bad it makes him look.

Of course, he did so because he thought it reflected well on him. But in a way, that's of a piece with the stupid shit he says about race. Could it be that he's acting entirely in good faith, and he's just dumb as a fucking rock?

Sullivan is another racist that I am inclined to give some credit (perhaps too much) for good faith. Here he is misrepresenting Klein and rebutting straw men. But I often get the sense Sullivan is genuinely trying to work this stuff out, and he just hasn't got the brainpower to do it.

That sort of thing seems to be very common among white men of a certain age. No doubt it's genetic.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:27 AM
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I like Henry's discussion of Harris at Crooked Timber

http://crookedtimber.org/2018/03/30/sam-harris-and-the-ideology-of-reason/#comments

I am about halfway done the Mercier and Sperber Book he mentions and it is good


https://www.amazon.com/Enigma-Reason-Hugo-Mercier/dp/0674368304


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:38 AM
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What the fuck was in your coffee this morning, Ajay?

It's not his fault. He's just stupid. Or he's a dog. Both of which are inherited conditions.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:39 AM
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Did everybody else know what "sleb culture" meant? It took me a couple of minutes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 9:50 AM
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My apologies for the trolling, LB is right it's not appropriate in this context. I still think that given clear genetic differences that aren't Malaria-related, modern events are at least as plausible as ancient ones, but this isn't the right context for that argument and I don't want to restart it now.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:04 AM
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Regardless of my musings on good faith, I think I have one bit of evidence -- beyond the absurdity of their arguments -- that strongly suggests bad faith on the part of Murray, Sullivan, Harris et al. It's probably not a novel argument, but I've never seen it made before.

Harris, echoing the others, offers five postulates that he says people like me are afraid to confront:

-Human "general intelligence" is a scientifically valid concept.
-IQ tests do a pretty good job of measuring it.
-A person's IQ is highly predictive of his/her success in life.
-Mean IQ differs across populations (blacks -It isn't known to what degree differences in IQ are genetically determined, but it seems safe to say that genes play a role (and also safe to say that environment does too).

If you accept these postulates uncritically, then it is necessary to do something that Harris, Murray and Sullivan refuse to do: You have to confront the significant chance that black people are genetically superior to white people intellectually. Harris's logic demands this.

Remember, we are postulating that intelligence is determined by genetics and environment, but we don't know the proportions. With that logic, it seems entirely reasonable -- even likely -- that, say, 150% of the measured difference between blacks and whites on intelligence tests is the result of environment.

In an environmentally neutral context, why should we suppose that black IQ wouldn't be much higher than white IQ, given what we know about the races' relative environments?

And yet, these racist fucks never allow for even the possibility of that scenario. It never enters into their heads at all.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:13 AM
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Omigod. I had been saving the Block essay linked in 16 for later reading, and now that I've started it, I see that he makes the exact point that I make in 113.

Never mind.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:19 AM
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I think Murray says he does know what percentage of IQ is explained by environment, that's the whole 'heritability' argument. He's wrong about it, but in that charming way where it's hard to tell bad faith from not understanding the statistics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:20 AM
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As far as I know, there is genetic variations among geographically dispersed humans. But those populations do not map into anything different societies have classed as race. If I want to find another race among humans, I suppose one might look at neanderthals.

I do not know much about the above. By the way, I am currently reading Twain's Puddinghead Wilson, which is about the social construction of race.

I do not know there is such a thing as IQ. There is no chapter on factor analysis and eigenvectors in the Bell Curve. But I think that would be critical for the argument.


Posted by: Robert | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:45 AM
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it's hard to tell bad faith from not understanding the statistics.

The statistical flaws in Murray's arguments were pointed out extensively decades ago right after The Bell Curve was published.

It turns out that it's difficult to bring a man to understand a thing when his position at the American Enterprise Institute depends on him not understanding it.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:49 AM
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108
Sullivan is another racist that I am inclined to give some credit (perhaps too much) for good faith. Here he is misrepresenting Klein and rebutting straw men. But I often get the sense Sullivan is genuinely trying to work this stuff out, and he just hasn't got the brainpower to do it.

I'm in the habit of giving Sullivan credit for good faith, but after reading that editorial I can't articulate why. Because 15 years ago the bar for "reasonable conservative" was set very low, I suppose.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:55 AM
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I went through a weird period with Sullivan. I became aware of him as the guy who publicized The Bell Curve when I'd independently decided The Bell Curve was awful, so I dismissed him from day one as either dishonest or an idiot. And then he was on the wrong side of the Iraq War, so also dishonest or an idiot. But I never bothered to read him much. And then a while back, when his blog wasn't behind a paywall, I started reading it for some reason, and damn he has a convincingly reasonable and good-hearted tone. If I'd spent any amount of time reading him on neutral issues before forming a strong opinion of him, I would be cutting him all the slack in the world. As it is, I'm just mystified by him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 10:59 AM
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119 IIRC he was on the right side of the torture issue. Which goes a long way with me although he is a racist war-mongering fuckwit.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:05 AM
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-Human "general intelligence" is a scientifically valid concept.

Re-upping the mention in 40 of Cosma Shalizi's clearly written argument that this concept is not especially definable or useful.
http://bactra.org/weblog/523.html


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:07 AM
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I finally realized during this thread that Sam Seder is the person I'm thinking of when Sam Harris comes up, and that's why I'm always surprised that he's such a prick.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:11 AM
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119: IIRC, he also claimed the culture was degrading and blamed this on the lack of male-only social spaces. Which is to say he blamed women when obviously the internet was the problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:12 AM
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If only women could have been kept off the internet from the beginning. I'd be a big-firm partner by now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:13 AM
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If only women could have been kept off the internet from the beginning. I'd be a big-firm partner by now.

And you can thank us all for helping you avoid that outcome.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:14 AM
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Size queen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:16 AM
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I finally realized during this thread that Sam Seder is the person I'm thinking of when Sam Harris comes up, and that's why I'm always surprised that he's such a prick.

I finally realized this week that the Kurt Eichenwald who embarrasses himself with stupid behavior on Twitter every month or so is the once-noted journalist Kurt Eichenwald. This may seem obvious, but what happened was that I did look to verify that he was not Kurt Andersen, since it would be so dispiriting to see Kurt Andersen behaving in such a way. So then, since I had conflated Kurt Andersen and Kurt Eichenwald, I re-categorized Kurt Eichenwald as simply a bizarre internet figure. No, it's the guy who wrote "The Informant"!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:18 AM
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I thought it was the president of Austria/Nazi concentration camp guard.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:19 AM
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Andrew Sullivan clearly has no need for, nor interest in women. They just don't matter to him and he is consistent about revealing that.

I was also over him when I read his own account that during his editorship of the New Republic, he was so messed up over his HIV diagnosis that he started rollerskating around the office in cut-off jeans, and I was just done. Why the fuck doesn't he have to be professional? I mean, I took an engineering job so I could wear jeans every day of my life, so it isn't like I care about professional clothing. But the rollerskating around the office sounds fucking annoying.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:24 AM
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Conservatism itself is suffused with bad faith. Not every argument is bad faith, of course, but there's enough of it around to set the bar a lot higher than it's been. If there wasn't an analogy ban, I'd say something about how voting for Trump doesn't mean someone is a racist, it just means they're ok with giving power to an outspoken racist.

Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. This truism applies to all those who would pretend to be neutral while arguing that there ought to be a platform -- their preferred platform -- for conservative views.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:24 AM
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Williamson out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:27 AM
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131: I hope you mean he was fired by the Atlantic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:28 AM
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And aren't referring to parts of Brooklyn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:29 AM
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If there wasn't an analogy ban, I'd say something about how voting for Trump doesn't mean someone is a racist, it just means they're ok with giving power to an outspoken racist.

You could just link to John Scalzi.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:29 AM
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He does mean that Williamson was fired from the Atlantic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:32 AM
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Now that I think about it, "Williamson" isn't a party of Brooklyn. It's William-something, but not Williamson.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 11:57 AM
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the Kurt Eichenwald who embarrasses himself with stupid behavior on Twitter every month or so is the once-noted journalist Kurt Eichenwald

I literally just discovered the first part yesterday. I don't follow him, so all I knew about him wrt Twitter was his thread about Trumpers sending him links to trigger seizures.

Does anyone know what the deal is?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:01 PM
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Kurt Eichenwald is a continuous source of entertainment. It's hard to believe he hasn't found a way to monetize.


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:03 PM
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Apparently, it's Williamsburg. I thought that was in Virginia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:03 PM
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115: One of the problems in dealing with Murray is that he's not worried about consistency. You're certainly right that Murray has made assertions about the degree of heritability, but Harris and Sullivan are also both correct that Murray has been continuously and publicly "agnostic" on the issue. From the Bell Curve:

It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not justify an estimate.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:06 PM
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140-in colonial Williamsbug, people dress as hipsters!


Posted by: dj lurker | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:18 PM
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uh, 139


Posted by: dj lurker | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:19 PM
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122: racist.


Posted by: Mr. F | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:45 PM
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Wasn't there some big kerfuffle over a gentile woman who decided, very publicly, that she wasn't going to date Jewish men any more because she'd had serious relationships with two and couldn't get them to control the weather for her?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:51 PM
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143: More specifically, anti-samitic.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 12:53 PM
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When a formerly rural area moves to install a public sewage system, that's anti-septic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 1:40 PM
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On "the enigma of reason": there are some books which I do not purchase because I think I was sufficiently informed by the research papers. I seem to recall some paper arguing that the point of language is not to make true statements about the world, but to get others to accept your dominance. Note the distinction between language and reason. Was this my twist? (Wittegenstein is endlessly fascinating.) were these the authors?


Posted by: Robert | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 2:19 PM
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120: IIRC he was on the right side of the torture issue.

Yes. He had a very good piece where he caught the NYTimes in an obituary for a Korean war pilot who had been captured using "torture" to describe the exact same techniques that they were calling "enhanced interrogation techniques" at the time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 3:49 PM
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This thread is bring back memories of the days of James B. Shearer. To me, independent of any of the specific content of his (or Murray et al) on the point, is the overriding question of 'Dude, why do you cares so much?" I find it nearly impossible to get to anywhere close to thinking there is any good faith from that vantage point.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 3:58 PM
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I think we should call the position "White Apologetics".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 5:35 PM
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|| So, this is pretty good, if you want to read about some kids. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 6:36 PM
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99.3, 101, 102: Not just a better image, NickS. I'm sure it wasn't intentional on your part, especially in this context, but for many, regardless of the details of the phrase's origin, "tar baby" reads as a straight-up racial slur.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 04- 5-18 7:04 PM
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147: Probably the same authors, yes. This page by Mercier summarizes, with links to various papers.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:52 AM
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knowing nothing about him I am perfectly willing to believe that he doesn't feel any personal racial animosity
y


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 3:22 AM
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149: The valueless pursuit of science. Duh ;)


Posted by: abia | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 5:54 AM
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152. Can we still talk about briar patches?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 8:38 AM
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156. They're a thorny topic.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 8:59 AM
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You prick.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 9:03 AM
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99.3, 101, 102: Not just a better image, NickS

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to emphasize here. I had used "tar baby" to mean "a difficult problem which is only aggravated by attempts to solve it" (the OED definition from your link). But as soon as Barry Freed pointed out that it was a poor phrase to use, I agreed. I should have found another way to communicate that idea.

Is there some additional issue that you were trying to highlight?

y

Three reasons: (1) Basic interpretive charity; I don't know much about him so I was going with the benefit of the doubt. (1a) To some extent I'm echoing Ezra who said the same thing. (2) As I said in 18/99 even if you think Sam Harris is just behaving in a racist manner it's worth thinking and talking through how to read the exchange and how it could go better if somebody wasn't racist. (3) In the paragraph you quote I'm making a bit of a distinction between how somebody perceives themselves and how their actions look to other people. I would certainly wager that Sam Harris doesn't perceive himself as feeling racial animus. My point was that, from the outside, it doesn't really matter if somebody is intending something in a racist way, but I can understand why there's a natural impulse to respond by saying, "I'm not a racist"(as I perceive myself) and that it's worth figuring out how to move the conversation past that.

In some ways that takes us back to my use of "tar baby." I didn't intend it to have an racial connotations. As I say above I was using the term in a way that was directly in line with the conventional definition. Yet, that's not the only thing that matters. It was a poor choice, and I wish I'd caught it myself before posting that comment.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 9:39 AM
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The various ways different language is used across different cultural groups is important to keep in mind. For example, I've found that asking Jewish people how they control the weather almost always results in hurt feelings, but asking them what they know about meteorology doesn't have the same difficulty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:08 AM
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Sam Harris's main concern is holding on to a freedom to have and promote beliefs that have illiberal consequences, if he thinks that's what science dictates. The problem is that the prior concern is actually what "plays the master" epistemically. He'll entertain whatever bad science (social or natural) is around to buttress the idea that reality and progressive liberalism as a normative project are at odds. He doesn't need to commit to believing the bad science, entertaining it is enough, because entertaining it accomplishes the goal of keeping "rational illiberalism" an open option in the cultural conservation. The bad faith is that what he really wants in this debate is to preserve a safe space for people to be illiberal assholes (either globally or on topic x, y, z) and be thought epistemically brave for it. He doesn't care about getting the actual science right and publicizing it (but he cares that he be thought of as doing this). The freakouts are likely a result of him sensing he's being caught out in the charade.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:18 AM
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Doh. That s/b "cultural conversation".


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:22 AM
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"140
115: One of the problems in dealing with Murray is that he's not worried about consistency. You're certainly right that Murray has made assertions about the degree of heritability, but Harris and Sullivan are also both correct that Murray has been continuously and publicly "agnostic" on the issue."

Murray believes that estimates of the heretability of IQ can be made in general but he does not think the mix of genetic or environmental contributions to racial differences can be estimated based on the current evidence.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:42 AM
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To me, independent of any of the specific content of his (or Murray et al) on the point, is the overriding question of 'Dude, why do you cares so much?" I find it nearly impossible to get to anywhere close to thinking there is any good faith from that vantage point.

That's always been my feeling. I'm a world class time waster but why waste time with these particular dudes. I'm sure 161 is completely accurate, but the underlying motive for these types (this was true of Shearer as well) seems to be pretty simply "Mom always said I was SUPER smart and black people aren't as smart as me and why won't other people just admit it."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:45 AM
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I think it's more like "my privilege is justified by science" or "my lack of privilege is explained by liberals blocking teh science." I don't want to make assumptions about the love their mothers had for them or let it sound like there's not self-interest driving the reasoning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:00 AM
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Yeah, that's definitely better. The "I feel that I am super-smart" goes somewhere in the mix though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:02 AM
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Yes, we're all very convinced of your intelligence.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:03 AM
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Good! I certainly am, so it's nice to have things in common with others.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:06 AM
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Wait, maybe you was being sarcastic. Agggh! Emotional roller coaster! Destroy everything!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:10 AM
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||

I need a new laptop and think I've decided on a Surface Book 2. It'll be for home and work, used primarily for MS Office, web, and watching stuff; no gaming or heavy duty graphics or video. The cheapest config is Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD.

That seems quite adequate to me, but I usually run things into the ground before replacing them, so I'll be using this for many years. Is it worth getting a faster chip or more memory? (I have a good Seagate external drive that I can use for extra storage if needed.)

Thanks in advance, nerd friends!
|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:18 AM
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Cinnamon and sugary and softly spoken lies


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:18 AM
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Realistically, you should always assume you'll be running SAS and MS Office. 128GB is just barely sufficient.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:22 AM
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Max the memory is my advice.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:23 AM
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A little gossipy tidbit I got from my statistics professor is that all the complex math purporting to analyze heritability in The Bell Curve comes from Murray's coauthor Herrnstein, who died just around the book's publication, and on his own Murray likely doesn't even understand the math well enough to be able to get why it's not saying what he thinks it does.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:31 AM
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I have a Surface Pro 3 with 256GB. It runs basic programs and RStudio like a charm.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:31 AM
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That great if you're slumming.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 11:53 AM
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Why don't we just load SPSS while we're racing to the bottom.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:03 PM
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170: 128GB is really too small even now, and files are only getting bigger. It'd be worth the extra $150 to go to 256GB, I think. The bigger issue is that the i5 in the SB2 is the older, dual-core model; the newer i5, like the i7, is quad-core, and it really does make a big difference (perhaps especially for general multitasking stuff and having lots of tabs open). But going to the i7 means going from $1350 to $1850, and that's a lot. (I'm assuming you're talking about the 13", not 15".)

If you want a 2-in-1 in the $1350 range, I'd strongly suggest looking at either the Lenovo Yoga 920 (14", but with super narrow bezels; lighter than the SB2) or the HP Spectre x360. The HP is somewhat cheaper; you could get i5/8gb/256gb with standard 1920x1080 screen for ~$1000, and could bump it up to i7/16gb/360GB w/ 3840x2160 screen for $1300, and that includes a pen. The Lenovo is $1200 for i5/8/256/1920x1080; +$200 for 4K screen, +100 for i7, +100 for 16GB RAM. I know Teo got last year's Spectre, when it was only dual-core, and I think he likes it.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:14 PM
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159: Thanks for responding, NickS. I just didn't think "I should have picked a better image" was enough of a mea culpa for a phrase I frankly found shocking, especially in this context. I also thought it was possible you weren't aware of the cultural pervasiveness of the racist interpretation, which is why I went ahead and pointed it out. I'm not looking for any grand self-mortification or anything--if 159.3 had been 102, I probably wouldn't have said anything in the first place.

DaveLMA's 156, on the other hand, can fuck right off.


Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:14 PM
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Oops, forgot to link to the HP Spectre review.

Anyway. For the same price, both HP & Lenovo would be noticeably faster than than the SB2. They're both lighter, too, although heavier than the detached-tablet part of the SB2 alone (though that has a *very* short battery life -- not really feasible for all-day). The HP & Lenovo also have (slight) more ports: an extra USB-C, and both are also Thunderbolt, which the SB2 doesn't have.

If you're willing to go up to the i7/256 SB2 model, though, it's pretty amazing.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:22 PM
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TL;DR: If you're only willing to spend $1300, get the i7/16/360/4K Spectre x360; if less, drop down if needed to the i5/8/256 Spectre x360. If you can go up to $1600, the i7/16/256/4K Yoga 920. Only if you are willing to go to $2300 or whatever it is would I go for the SB2, since then you can get i7/16/512.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:32 PM
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170: I have the Surface Pro (5, but they've stopped using numbers) with the new i5 mentioned in 178, 8GB ram and 256 GB memory. I"ve been very happy with it so far (6 months). When I was doing research, the consensus seemed to be that between the new i5 and the i7, only fairly serious gamers or people who do lots of video editing would notice the difference.

I do a decent amount of stuff with Python and Mathematica as well as visualizing the output of simulations, and it holds up just fine.

I think the main issue with the Surface as opposed to a laptop is that you can't really upgrade or extend things later on. You decide what you want when you purchase it and then that's what you've got.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 12:35 PM
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182: The Surface Pros are *all* 7th-generation, dual-core (whether i5 or i7). It's true that i5 vs i7 doesn't matter much within the same generation, but dual-core 7th-gen i5 vs quad-core 8th-gen i5 is a big difference, and 8th-gen i7 adds (a bit) to that big difference. I stand by what I said: now that the 8th-gen is available, especially if you tend to hold on to computers for awhile, it's worth getting a quad-core.

Also, the Pro is not the Book. The Book is a little more powerful at the low end, a LOT more powerful at the high end, but correspondingly more expensive at both. Also heavier and bigger. Larger battery life with the keyboard, less battery life purely as a tablet. Because of the size and weight, the Book is more comparable with non-detachable 2-in-1s like the Yoga 920 / Spectre x360, rather than the Surface Pro or competitor detachables.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 1:44 PM
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Thanks, everyone. Very useful.

I got more interested in the Book than in the Pro because the latter is a little flimsy for actual laptop use and the battery life for using as a laptop is more important to me than for just the screen.

I do really like the idea of the screen being detachable, but it may be that if I had something lighter like the Yoga I wouldn't feel the need to detach. I'll check that out.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 2:25 PM
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I know Teo got last year's Spectre, when it was only dual-core, and I think he likes it.

Yeah, I like it well enough. There are things that frustrate me about it, but I think they're common to recent computers in general rather than specific to this one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 9:06 PM
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I have a Surface Pro 3 with 256GB.

This is the exact machine I have. Its a good computer, though I would not buy it again for reasons of its non-repairability and disposable keyboard.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 9:46 PM
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185: What frustrates you?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:16 PM
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No CD drive, only one regular USB port (but two mini-USB ones), plus Windows 10 is just annoying in various ways compared to earlier versions. None of them are huge problems.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:45 PM
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On the plus side, it's very light and portable, with good battery life, and the touchscreen is handy even though I don't use it for much.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:46 PM
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Thanks.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04- 6-18 10:47 PM
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188-189: Yeah, unfortunately DVD-drives are basically dead for everything under about 5lbs, and 1 USB-A + 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt + microSD is, sadly, pretty good for the ultraportable segment. The Surface Book 2 has only 1 USB-A, 1 USB-C (*without* Thunderbolt), plus its own proprietary "surface connect" port. The only ultraportables that still hold on to dedicated HDMI/displayport outputs (so you don't need dongles for e.g. projectors) tend to be the business models, which are always more expensive (and/or larger/heavier) than the consumer equivalents. The Lenovo X1 Yoga, for instance, is basically the business version of the Yoga 920, but has 2 USB-A, 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt, plus HDMI, plus ethernet (sorta--needs included dongle, kinda stupid), plus card reader, plus pen that stores inside it. But the X1 Yoga is $1500 for i5/8gb/256gb, $300 more than the comparable 920, and you can't get as high-res a monitor on it; even the Thinkpad X380 Yoga (similar to X1, but 13" not 14", only 1 Thunderbolt port, screen not as high quality, a bit heavier and thicker) is $1400 for i5/8/256.

That said, yes, if ports are important to Sir Kraab, I'd suggest the Lenovo X380 Yoga (or Yoga X1 if you've got the money).


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 3:15 AM
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Sorry for so much spam on this topic. I've just spent way too much time comparing 2-in-1 laptops, as you all can perhaps tell.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 3:17 AM
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Windows 10 is just annoying in various ways compared to earlier versions

I'm dreading this, as well as being forced to use a newer version of Office.

On my home laptop I'm running XP and Office 2003 and everything is just dandy. But the laptop is ridiculously heavy for traveling and slowing way down and the battery lasts about 30 minutes and not worth replacing at this point. It's a 15" Lenovo (full keyboard! with number pad!).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 7:21 AM
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x.t., your spam is very welcome.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 7:22 AM
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Posted beneath the X1 Yoga review under "related stories":

The puzzling case of two women who lost their hair after eating bitter squash

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 7:34 AM
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Don't eat the laptop?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 7:36 AM
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Windows 10 is a fine OS in many ways, marred by a few dumb decisions on Microsoft's part. The Start menu has been ruined and needs to go back to the way it was before Windows 8. I hardly even use the thing anymore. Also they need to stop pushing Windows Store Apps and Cortana needs to die.

Basically, everything that Steve Balmer attempted to do to make Windows more like Apple has failed and needs to be removed.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 7:48 AM
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___________ is a fine ________ in many ways, marred by a few dumb decisions on Microsoft's part

New mouseover Microsoft motto.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 8:00 AM
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I think the whole problem is when "programs" became "apps."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 8:12 AM
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197-199 are all very true.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 9:54 AM
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Maybe it would help if we reinstated the practice of putting the letter "e" in front of internetty words. eFacebook. eTwitter. eBitcoin. eEbay.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 9:59 AM
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I think we should go back to talking about the "information superhighway."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 10:11 AM
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How is the pen writing on that Spectre you recommend, xt? I need a new portable for teaching, and being able to reliably and clearly write on the screen and provide copies of what has been written to my students is my top requirement. I've been using a Surface Pro 2, but a lot of things on it died more quickly than I'm used to (the keyboard is unreliable, the pen is occasionally spotty, EndNote has a nasty habit of quitting spontaneously mid-lecture). I've been looking at the Surface Pro (5) as a replacement, but if one of the ones you recommend is better, I'm all ears.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 2:36 PM
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The other option was to hope that a new Surface Pro (6?) with 8th gen comes out before September (when I'll need it).


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 2:38 PM
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Honestly, no idea. I had a Surface Pro 4 as a work computer for a year, and that was fine -- I often would use the stylus to mark up screenshots, and never had any problems. I'd sort of assume that everything at that approximate generation or later would be equally good, but that's really just me pulling it out of my ass. The site I'm linking here for the Spectre has kind of frighteningly comprehensive reviews, so if there's issues with the stylus I'd assume they'd mention it, but I don't recall them and I'm too drunk now to recall, so whevs.

Anyway: take it for what it's worth, but I would trust that site for comprehensive reviews, and if you don't, Surface 4+ are def reliable for markup.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 04- 7-18 4:29 PM
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Sweet. Thanks!


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04- 8-18 2:46 PM
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This thread proves conclusively that the internet is the worst when it's used for discussions of racial science and not entirely bad when it's used to share reviews of consumer electronics. That said, I still think it's at its best as a delivery mechanism for images of kittens.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:00 AM
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The internet, like a cat's reproductive tract, is a series of tubes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:04 AM
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The podcast is up. Unsurprisingly it doesn't seem like it was terribly productive, but on reddit it seems that it got Harris's fans back on his side because Ezra talked about racism.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:14 AM
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It's very hard to prove that racism isn't a problem unless you establish ground rules that prohibit talking about racism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:16 AM
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I just started reading the transcript, and it makes me glad to have been following this story because, at least through the opening statements, Ezra is saying exactly what I would want to have said.

It makes me think that my commentary is mostly irrelevant at this point, but I'm happy to recognize the places in which Ezra comes up with much more careful framing of similar ideas.

I'm sure the conversation will become less productive as they move past their initial prepared thoughts. . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:31 AM
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Harris is just amazing. He says that he doesn't have a strong opinion about the science, but that people who disagree with Murray are dishonestly led astray by their political biases, and that it is completely out of line and slanderous to suggest that Murray might be led astray by his political biases. That someone can say those three things in the course of an hour and not immediately burst into flames from the shame of it is astonishing to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:55 AM
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I read the original Vox article and Ezra's piece and the Ezra/Harris emails and this whole thread and the Schneier debate... Now there's a two hour podcast. Frankly there aren't two more hours in my life for this bullshit. Harris is a fucking dimwit. Case closed.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:58 AM
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There's a transcript of the podcast if you wanted to read it rather than listen to it. Not that there's any reason to, you seem to have gotten to a solid understanding of what's going on without it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:59 AM
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212: That's why he earns the big bucks.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:28 AM
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Maybe some braver soul could pull out a passage from the transcript where Harris makes a single good faith point of merit? If such a thing is possible.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:00 AM
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This bit seemed to reflect a somewhat accurate perception of reality?

The public perception of my publishing those emails was that it was not a good look for me at all. Most people who came to those emails cold thought I was inexplicably angry and that you seemed very open to dialogue and it just, people had to do a lot of work to understand why I was pissed, and most people didn't do that work.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:03 AM
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Not completely accurate -- the bit about not doing the work is still bullshit. But he seems to have recognized something accurate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:03 AM
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I don't like the idea that it's a question of bravery or openness or whatever. Life is short. There's no reason to believe that wasting time in that fashion would help anyone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:03 AM
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"Brave soul" was a euphemism for "underemployed masochist."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:18 AM
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This bit seemed to reflect a somewhat accurate perception of reality?

Also this:

My fuse is pretty short. I am the first to admit that. If I treated you unfairly, attributing bad faith when you were just led by a sincere conviction that I had made an error, or that you were arguing for something that was so important and that I wasn't seeing it, that is on me.

and I suspect this is a an accurate statement of what Harris thinks he's doing (and I also think he's dramatically underestimating just how difficult it is to think about things, "that are true that stand a chance of being universal" and that if he had thought about that he would have more humility, but I think that he honestly wants to be doing that).

Your accusation that I'm reasoning on the basis of my tribe here is just false. I mean, I spend, this is the whole game I play, this is my main focus in just constructing my worldview and having conversations with other people. When I'm thinking about things, that are true that stand a chance of being universal, that stand a chance of scaling, these are the kinds of things that are not subordinate to a person's identity. They're not the things that will be true by accident of birth, because you happen to have been born in India and are Hindu, right? I mean, this is the problem I have with religious sectarianism. This is the problem I have with nationalism or any other kind of tribalism that can't possibly scale to a global civilization that's truly cosmopolitan, where when you're reasoning among strangers, you have to converge on solutions to problems that work independent of who you happen to be.

I mean, this is why John Rawls's veil of ignorance thought experiment was so brilliant. To design a just society, a great heuristic, is to think of the society you would want, not knowing who you're going to be in it. That's the perfect nullification of the logic of identity politics. You have to figure out what would be good for everyone before you realize what the color of your skin is.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:20 AM
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Oh. I'm not going to do it regardless.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:20 AM
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Thanks for responding, NickS.

And thanks for 179. I do appreciate you saying something when my original comment bothered you. I want to know that and I'm glad to be able to respond.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:24 AM
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221.2: It's sort of infuriating the way that Harris wants to pretend that he and Murray are Scientists, when they're obviously not. It's probably not true, but I'd like to think that most actual scientists would have a little more understanding of the balance between "pure thought" and actual messy work that goes into real science.

Of course there are people who on the one hand are real scientists, and on the other hand have a sideline thinking big thoughts online (Scott Aaronson comes to mind). The requirements of actually getting work done though can limit just how annoying they can be though.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:31 AM
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It's sort of infuriating the way that Harris wants to pretend that he and Murray are Scientists,

Yes, and I do think LB at 212 does a good job of pointing out the absurdity in what he's saying.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:34 AM
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Yeah, though it annoys me even if he what he were saying was right. Like if he was a real scientist he'd be spending his day tracking down last-minute recommendation letters that have to come from someone famous, but are last minute because the nominee also has to be reasonably famous and it's hard to get them to decide on things, and not spending hours recording a podcast about his feefees. And maybe if that's what he was spending his day doing he'd be a little more aware that science is done by flawed people and often has little to do with rationality. Go get some actual work done Sam Harris!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:46 AM
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I can't believe this thread is still going on. I haven't read any of the Klein/Harris or anything else Harris-related, just skimmed a little, because while sometimes people are wrong in ways that make discussing their wrongness worthwhile, Harris' function seems to be a vacuum that just sucks up energy for nothing.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 9:51 AM
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226: Do they need anybody to run statistics for them so they have time to record podcasts? Asking for a friend.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 10:03 AM
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Doubly relevant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 10:44 AM
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With typo for old time's sake.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 5:30 PM
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Doublely?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 5:35 PM
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Harris is just amazing. He says that he doesn't have a strong opinion about the science, but that people who disagree with Murray are dishonestly led astray by their political biases, and that it is completely out of line and slanderous to suggest that Murray might be led astray by his political biases. That someone can say those three things in the course of an hour and not immediately burst into flames from the shame of it is astonishing to me.

I just realized there's another layer of shamelessness to it. In the e-mail exchange Klein said "I think that if you want to do a discussion deep on intelligence, you should bring on Nisbett, or one of the other experts in the article." to which Harris replied (emphasis mine), "The conversation I propose we have wouldn't be narrowly focused on the science of intelligence. I stand by what I said in my intro to the Murray podcast: The science that I claimed was uncontroversial is, in fact, uncontroversial. What I propose we discuss is this atmosphere wherein many otherwise sane and ethical people reliably become obscurantists and attack anyone who demurs as an enemy, fit only to be silenced."

Then, in this conversation, Harris's main contention was that all that matters is a dispassionate assessment of the data, "Okay. Ezra, again you can't conflate his views on social policy with an honest discussion of empirical science. Those are two separate conversations. You can agree about the data, or disagree in a good faith way about the data, and have a separate conversation about what to do in response to the data and then disagree in a good faith way about that. "


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 5:38 PM
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Wait. Him, not me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 5:39 PM
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Justicification.

Which is actually pretty great.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 5:39 PM
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232 is a good catch. It's bad faith all the way down with Harris.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:22 PM
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If a member of Trump's cabinet walked into a press conference, dropped trou, shitted into the floor, and then wiped his ass with a baby bonnet that he stole from a baby just then, I'm not certain that would be a Top 5 scandal for this week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:24 PM
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Prove me wrong, Secretary Pruitt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 7:46 PM
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Final thought about Sam Harris. I have no idea what he actually believes, but part of why I have found this whole thing fascinating is that I could imagine myself in my early 20s making an argument like, "You can agree about the data, or disagree in a good faith way about the data, and have a separate conversation about what to do in response to the data and then disagree in a good faith way about that." and feeling like it was a strong point (and perhaps been a jerk about it).

Thinking about myself then I also remember that I would occasionally get impatient talking about some obvious horrible thing going on in the world (like racial discrimination) because my response was, "there's nothing intellectually interesting about this. It's obviously bad, it should stop, but there isn't much to say about it compared to a case in which there are good arguments on both sides." As I've gotten older I recognize that (a) most of the important goals _are_ about figuring out how to stop some obviously bad thing that's been going on for a long time and (b) even if that part's obvious, I still have no idea how to accomplish those goals and that I mostly feel sad and humbled how little I do to make the world a fairer place.

That's tangential to the conversation but I can recognize how tempting it is to want to use one's energy for more fun things than trying to put some small amount of weight on the scales in the direction of justice.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-18 8:55 PM
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On topic: Yglesias wrote a whole article on Murray. I didn't real it, but the headline seemed good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 5:30 AM
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Holbo many years ago identified a key Harris/Murray strategy, the the two-step of terrific triviality.

Holbo explains:

Say something that is ambiguous between something so strong it is absurd and so weak that it would be absurd even to mention it. When attacked, hop from foot to foot as necessary, keeping a serious expression on your face. With luck, you will be able to generate the mistaken impression that you haven't been knocked flat, by rights. As a result, the thing that you said which was absurdly strong will appear to have some obscure grain of truth in it. Even though you have provided no reason to think so.

In this case, Murray contends that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites, and he and Harris complete the two-step by arguing that Murray is merely saying that a person's IQ is predictive of success in life; that mean IQs differ across populations; and that the role of genetics in this isn't known. That's all Murray is saying! Why are people calling him a racist?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:30 AM
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239: It is good in a characteristically Yglesias way -- not a thing in it that's remotely surprising if you've been paying attention and you have a lick of sense, but when you listen to people talk about issues like this, it is clear that most of them aren't paying attention and have no sense, so Yglesias is meeting a need. And he's super clear.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-10-18 7:56 AM
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Huh. Surprisingly William Saletan has a good take on the whole matter.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-28-18 1:52 PM
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