Sunday assorted links


For a guy who witnessed firsthand the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin sure didn't learn the lesson that too much socialism just doesn't work. I'm surprised Trump wants to be best friends with this guy.

"Putin sure didn't learn the lesson that too much socialism just doesn't work."

This is your comment about an article explaining how the Russian government's attempts at neo-liberal reform are unpopular?

'For a guy who witnessed firsthand the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin sure didn't learn the lesson that too much socialism just doesn't work.'

You do know what organization Putin got his start in, right? He didn't join the KGB out of a conviction to overthrow socialism.

The standard story is that Putin worked for the First Chief
Directorate of the KGB in "industrial espionage" in the DDR. Maybe he was trying to steal plans for the legendary tractors of Scho"nebeck.

At some point, if I remember correctly, he also worked for the Fifth Chief Directorate, possibly gathering information on dissidents and students. Maybe he was trying to steal plans for the legendary tractors of Scho"nebeck.

What's this have to do with pension reform in the Russian Federation?

Putting together the actual text being responded with a comment is a real challenge for some people at MR, it seems.

My comment was in regards to what was quoted in its opening - ''For a guy who witnessed firsthand the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin sure didn't learn the lesson that too much socialism just doesn't work.'

And if you think that any KGB directorate allowed opponents of socialism into their ranks and rise to the rank of rank of Lieutenant Colonel, well, what can one say? We do live in strange times.

However, it is true that being a Russian nationalist was not a hindrance to a KGB career, and that Putin was certainly in a position to learn from the complete failure of the Soviet state to retain more than remnants of the Russian empire after collapsing.

A failure that Putin seems to believe needs rectifying, as seen to a certain extent over the past couple of decades.

"if you think that any KGB directorate allowed opponents of socialism into their ranks"

Who made that claim? It's not unlikely that Putin, like many others, was a sincere socialist in his youth.

But more relevant to the present are the actual policies of the Russian government and popular Russian opinion about those policies. In particular, the real honest-to-God socialists in Russia don't get along so well with the government, to put it politely:

'But more relevant to the present are the actual policies of the Russian government and popular Russian opinion about those policies.'

You are right, of course. One assumes that Putin will not ask his Washington host for a tour of Langley or Ft. Meade, but these days, who knows? The Russians are likely to lap it up, and as for Trump's lap dogs - they lap up whatever they are told to anyways, as we have seen.

Because why think of just today, when the article clearly lays out the recent past in terms of Putin and his popularity - 'To find approval numbers this low, you would have to go back to January 2014. That would be the same January 2014 that immediately preceded Russia’s occupation of Crimea, the war in Donbas and the conflict with the West that crashed Russia’s economy but sent Putin’s popularity soaring.'

Putin released the info about pensions during the early stages of the World Cup and initially the reaction was mild. As the hangover of the Cup has dissipated people are starting to notice. Putin thought he could sneak it by without disruption.

4. Is a quantum computer less in thrall to the arrow of time?

Within the uncertainty, yes. It is why we have the gluon effect, the ability to swap order without quantization. The spectral energy gains to the gluon, and it can emit the surplus after swapping across quarks. It is a kind of oversampling from having three quarks, and it locks in the quark structure.

Unless it's Tuesday, in which case you have a royal fizbin

From that study about children of Lesbians:

"In conclusion, in a large, prospective study involving 25-year-olds with sexual-minority parents, there were no significant differences in measures of mental health between those who were conceived through donor insemination and enrolled before they were born and those in a U.S. population–based normative sample."

So I think TC's headline is mistaken. This is about children whose biological mother is a "sexual minority", and therefore much more interesting, insofar as mental health is significantly heritable.

"Children of lesbians" is biologically impossible unless it involves part-time lesbianism.

Or artificial insemination. Which is what is in the article.

Do you know what the words "biologically," "part-time" or your "artificial" mean?

Do you know what they mean? Starting to doubt you passed sex ed.

A woman can be a lesbian and use a sperm donor without trading in her lesbian card. This is a regular occurrence in the US.

"Biological parent" isn't clearly defined. Is a surrogate mother a 'biological parent'? It *is* clear that the surrogate has many biological (and probably some epigenetic) effects on the child growth and development. Is a mitochondrial donor (or donors!! - there are an enormous number of mitochondria (each with their own mtDNA) floating around in an ovum, if each were to be 'donated' by a different person, then there could be hundreds of thousands of donors per egg). I am very definitely NOT informed in this area, but afaik there is no theoretical reason that each of the 46 chromosomes couldn't also be donated by a different parent.
I suspect it is also likely that one mother could donate all of the dna in the fertilized ovum. That would seem to suggest the number of possible donors possible is between 1 and ~600,000 (without any dna scission and recombination; include that and the number is in the tens of millions).

The headline refers to adopted children, but the study refers to children conceived through artificial insemination.

5. "Where evidently values are irrelevant, the distinction between friend and enemy does not exist and 'ruthless' is a term of praise."

One would think that a guy like Macaes who studied under Harvey C. Mansfield would peg Trump more as a crude Machiavellian. Machiavelli valorizes the ruthless politician Cesare Borgia and counsels against having real "friends" because friends are too costly (compare Trump's truculent rants about NATO "allies" sponging off of the U.S.), though doing things like sucking up to Russia and N. Korea with no apparent advantage are decidedly un-Machiavellian (which is why Trump is only a crude Machiavellian).

If you're looking for an economic theory to pin on Trump, neomercantilism seems more apt than neoliberalism.

The north koreans aren't lobbing missiles over Japan. This is good. The Russians haven't annexed the Baltics. I would like to know if poland is happy.

The Washington press core is absurd. Someone is going to make a serious error using the information they read and hear from the us media.

They werent doing that before, either.

"though doing things like sucking up to Russia and N. Korea with no apparent advantage are decidedly un-Machiavellian (which is why Trump is only a crude Machiavellian)."

I don't think Trump is Machiavellian (more visceral common sense shaped by decades in a very competitive industry), but in terms of his impact on your thinking, he seems to be very Machiavellian indeed.

You're sure that he is sucking up to Putin, and therefore weak and non-threatening to Russia, but while his words may give that impression, his actions have been the most hostile and threatening to Russia in many years.

For example, 1) his energy policy is helping the US take over Russia as the world's top oil exporter, thus threatening the 50% of budget revenue Russia gets from OPEC prices, 2) Russia has been brushed back in Syria (with the US killing 300 Russian mercenaries), 3) Russian ally Iran is being stripped of largesse and getting fenced in by US allies like Saudi Arabia, 4) NATO spending up, 5) US military spending up, 6) military assistance sent to Georgia and Ukraine, and 7) Germany publicly criticized for increasing its dependency on Russian energy.

All of these actions are significantly hostile to Russian interests. And yet, through his words, Trump has somehow convinced you he is sucking up to Putin. A poor man's Machiavelli perhaps.

#3 will nationalists take seriously the foreign consultant? In France, he's an English speaker. In Italy, he's no Catholic.

From a certain perspective he's as foreign as the scourge he wants to clean.

Not that Bannon will ever understand that, but as long as he is providing resources, there will be people willing to use them to their own benefit.

Proven by the very fact that Bannon is trying to get people elected to an institution they all claim to want to abolish.

And this is delusional - '“Soros and Bannon are going to be the two biggest players in European politics for years to come.”'

"Not that Bannon will ever understand that, but as long as he is providing resources, there will be people willing to use them to their own benefit."
Those are the i ternal comtradictions of the American System becoming more obvious. Brezhnev love to boast about how every "freedom fighter" group from the jungles of Central America wanted Soviet brotherly help.

As America gets overstrained, its Empirw qill colapse.

So what ? The party that the MSM call "nationalist" and "populist" in Europe are not nationalist, they are pro-Europe, but simply for an Europe in which each people decides to enter freely and can get out if things get sour (think Catalonia). And they consider, somewhat naively, the US as a fantasque child of Europe, always ready to help its elderly parents.

Their political adversaries are also pro-Europe. But they want an Europe under constraint, with Germany as its leader (and France as a faithful vizir). They are now, once again, feeling the cold air of their defeat approaching.


The Beast article is Useful Reading in a way that adversary publications often are. It tells us that the Enemy does not yet comprehend (or comprehends but cannot speak plainly) about the threat from the "populism".

They're still stuck in seeing it through the prism of the "Far Right". Heheheh.

Motl on that octonions article


Are you counter-signaling?

Not qualified to comment on the person or their work, but I do notice that some sentences in the *article* don't inspire confidence.

Wish someone would explain all this better. Where the hell is Joël when you need him?

I am here, but busy posting excessive and provocative comments on European politics. I am ashamed of myself.

Seriously, after having read the popularization article, the criticism by Motl linked by Handle, and having skimmed some Furey's papers, in particular her thesis, I have not much interesting to say, as I really do not know enough about the standard model, but I feel in total agreement with Motl (and I find his blog's post very interesting): this looks like there is not much in it. I have not found any serious mathematical error, but it seems that she is always reinventing the wheel, until she starts talking of physics (and then I can't follow) and explaining a lot of deep physical phenomenon in two or three pages using very standard mathematical objects.

For instance, the chapter 3 is about what she calls the complex quaternions, or the tensor product (over real numbers -- she says over complex numbers in chapter 2 but that seems to be just a typo) of the algebra of complex numbers C and the algebra of quaternion H. This algebra is well-known to be isomorphic (that is, it is the same, mathematically) as a very banal algebra, M_2(C), the algebra of square matrices 2-by-2 with coefficients complex number. (This was known to Hamilton, who discovered quaternion in the nineteen's century). Is she aware of this fact? It seems so, because she mentions the Pauli matrices, which are just a concrete way to exhibit an isomorphism between "complex quaternion" and "complex two by two matrices". But she does not dwell on it.

Yet this shows that all the mathematical theory developed in chapter 3 is just banal and well-known linear algebra. And I join Motl in saying that the nice and surprising structure of quaternions, as a field (every element, but 0, has an inverse (a reciprocal) for multiplication) containing real numbers
has completely been drown when we pass to complex quaternions: there are only three fields containing the real numbers R (and of finite dimension over R) , R itself, the complex numbers C, and the quaternion H, of dimension 1, 2 and 4 (if we release the implicit assumption of associativity, we get one more, octonions O). On the other hand there are many matrix algebras, like M_n(C) of dimension n^2 over C (2n^2 over R) for any value of n. So while quaternions are a kind of surprising mathematical object fallen from heaven, part of a small series with only 3 items, complex quaternions are just a very standard type of algebra
(algebra of matrices) which exists in infinitely many versions. So Furey insists on the high specificity of the quaternion, while she is not really using it.

The chapter 2 contains a summary and philosophical discussion of the thesis, which an be read without much of a mathematical and physical background. I find it utterly non-convincing, but anyone can make
his/her own opinion. The link to the thesis is here:

Thank you very much. I may pester you on a comment thread again, around August 1! I enjoy the provocative comments too.

I too did get vibes of some reinventing of the wheel, but have been told that many big mathematicians opt to reinvent the wheel anyway because it is easier for them to work things out themselves than to read someone else. Moreover, I didn't see Motl saying "Look here, this sentence is wrong" (e.g., the bit about dividability drowning), hence felt uncertain.

But reading your comment, I now buy your impression, especially on seeing that Chapter 2 (hadn't had the initiative or courage to look up that thesis, but did so just now following your comment). Thanks again, including for those historical remarks.

5. Where have all the libertarians gone in the age of Trump? Did they ever exist? Have they always been LINO? Here is Douhat's revelation of the truth about self-described libertarians:

I'd agree with Douthat that libertarianism is an insufficient philosophy for human flourishing. I guess it's because libertarianism does not require people to think or act in particular ways, and wanting those around oneself to behave in emotionally comforting ways seems to be a common human craving.

I don't understand how a libertarian could support Trump and not have his/her explode though. That remains a mystery to me. As for Rand Paul, he probably has some libertarian principles but otherwise his actions can be explained by the fact that he's a practical politician who has higher ambitions.

Libertarianism doesn't try to be a philosophy for human flourishing. It's a philosophy of "stop using your 'philosophy of human flourishing' as an excuse for violently crushing the lives of actual human beings."

As far as "libertarianism’s tendency to devolve into purely interest-based appeals", it's quite fully as disingenuous as talking about "the Subaru Outback's tendency to be involved in fatal highway accidents". Oh, yes, sure, Subaru Outbacks are involved in a number of fatal highway accidents every year -- but someone who says that sentence is trying to take something true of all cars and imply it's special to one model. There's a tendency of all political movements to devolve into purely interest-based appeals, but libertarianism has no special tendency to that failure mode that justifies calling it out.

They went the same place they always were. Since libertarians are just conservatives of a different stripe it became trendy to identify as libertarian in the aftermath of the Bush administration's utter failure of conservative politics. Just a rebranding. Now that conservatives won elections people are no longer identifying as libertarian they can be plain old conservatives again. It was all a fiction.

Or, the empirically supported answer:

The percentage of people who self identify as economically “conservative” and socially “liberal” has never been more than 5% of people.

It’s a tiny group of high IQ white males who think systematically and have college degrees. They barely register as a fringe element.

" Since libertarians are just conservatives of a different stripe"

That's a ridiculous supposition. Libertarian's are very much not conservatives. It's weird that anyone would claim they are.

Frankly, it's even a little odd to classify libertarians on the Right at all. But I suppose so much of the Left's dogma is hostile to the ideal of limited government that it leaves little room for much else.

1B. There is already an interesting theory of Loop Quantum Gravity from Abhay Ashtekar ; not sure how successful it has been.

5 seems crazy. Businesses may be ruthless, but only within the bounds of the law. Businesses cannot for example achieve competitive advantage by putting sanctions or launching military or cyber attacks on their competitors, which are all things nations do constantly. There are also antitrust laws that prevent businesses from getting too big. That means business competition is ultimately a good thing that benefits consumers, which is to say everyone.

International law puts almost no restrictions on what nations can do, and so nations have to restrict themselves. Unlike business competition, competition between nations does not benefit everyone, instead it leads to wars and domination.

The wars we've seen since 1945 have been intra-state wars, inter-state wars run by competing governments within one nation, and punitive expeditions. The wars which derive from 'competition' between countries have been few.

5 is too flattering to Trump. Trump has actually been trying to make the government less like a business. To take one example, the USCIS recently changed its mission statement because "we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms," because doing so "promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners."

5 is correct that businesses compete for market share--but they do it by delivering benefits to others, thereby attracting the most customers and the best employees. When neoliberals like me say the government should act more like a business, what we mean is that the government should stop treating people like a captive market and more like, well, customers. As demonstrated by the USCIS statement, Trump is moving away from that.

Of course USCIS shouldn’t focus on the applicants. The customer of USCIS is the American people not foreigners. Their mission is to enforce the law that the legislature has written.

The very idea that their mission should be to please/delight the applicants is folly.

Yeah, you see, the purpose of a business is not to satisfy its clients or make its employees happy, it is to benefit its owners. Doing the former things are often an effective strategy, but confusing your strategy with your purpose is always a major mistake.

So, if you argue government should deal with citizens as a business treats customers, you are implicitly designating someone else as the stockholders whom government is supposed to benefit.

4. I don't find this terribly useful, as we try to digest what actually drives the president this week.

I have been thinking about it a lot and trying to digest the news. The NPR interview with General Hayden was particularly good. What he says is, the Republicans in Washington (but perhaps conservatives in general) now recognize that Trump is "compromised"(1), but won't say so publicly. They would rather support a compromised "conservative"(2) than give any incidental support to liberals, even liberals of good character and standing. That is about as base and cynical a politics as anyone could imagine.

1. "Compromised" is a good word, covering a lot of grey area. It might be as light as Trump being embarrassed by Russian assistance, and not seriously addressing the risk for that reason. But note that in that light scenario he isn't giving 100% as a responsible public servant. Russia benefits from his avoidance (there is no coordinated executive branch response to, or leadership on, Russian dirty tricks, period). The darker shades of grey only look worse. Russia has knowledge of a little campaign coordination, or at the very worst serious crimes, and is applying leverage.

2. "Conservative?" I would prefer a conservative that pressed for a science driven EPA and more free trade, rather than less science and more tariff wars.

(A little rework for those not reading 384 comments.)

You read 384 comments and proceed to parrot democrat fan fictions. The typical American knows what is important and isn't concerned with whatever is preferred by extremist liberals and socialist democrats.

What the hell does your Trump obsession have to do with an article about quantum computing and causal models?

I just finished my hike. I considered possible answers while I was out there. I didn't really consider one quite so bankrupt as that.

If Trump is compromised by a foreign power this is the most important moment in American political history.

Who would even try to paint that as amy personal issue?

Oh, sorry. I meant 5.

By the way, as I get back, the TV is on in the house and Marco Rubio is busy saying that if Donald Trump doesn't understand that NATO protects us and maintains peace "we need to help him understand that."

Sadly there is more a simple explanation than that he just doesn't understand. It is that he understands and for whatever reason prefers a new world order. One more favorable to his buddy, and/or the guy the holding a little leverage, President Putin.

Maybe, if you are a good little girl, Santa Claus will bring you a new president (Pence) this Christmas.

Maybe, but to get there Republicans might have to grasp their Alger Hiss problem.

"2. "Conservative?" I would prefer a conservative that pressed for a science driven EPA and more free trade, rather than less science and more tariff wars."

Trumps intervention into the workings of the EPA is to remove the partinism and to refocus the agency BACK to science.

@Rayward: " Where have all the libertarians gone in the age of Trump?"

... we are still here and we still don't like Trump (or Hillary nor oppressive government)

what's your definition of a "libertarian" ??
do you think Tyler & Alex are libertarians ?

(and congrats Rayward-- you finally posted a 'brief' comment here without using the first-person-singular

As I have commented many times, individual liberty flows from order and stability; libertarians have it backwards, believing that order and stability flow from individual liberty. That's not my insight, as David Brooks (channeling Burke) makes the point often in his column. As to your questions, they are better directed to Cowen and Tabarrok. I obviously appreciate their point of view, or I wouldn't be a devotee of this blog. My observation about Cowen is that observations about Cowen can't be accurate because his observations are clouded in mystery. My observation about Tabarrok is the same as my observation about our assistant priest some 40 years ago: he is earnest.

I'd say practical libertarians want the state to force people to be libertarian; in other words, maintain laws that allow people to speak freely and to prevent people from harming each other.

Maybe I'm not a good libertarian, but I've never believed that "order and stability flow from individual liberty".

As a post-libertarian, sympathetic to the ethics, I'd reluctantly agree. Though "force" is perhaps a loaded term here.

Order and stability can probably be achieved by both libertarian and non-libertarian structures. The historical record doesn't clearly favour one. I suspect, like Thiel, the libertarian structures can arise through circumstance, but are not stable in the long run.


I don't think that follows from the historical record at all. Order and stability don't seem to be more likely to be followed by liberalisation than by (ongoing) repression. Similarly, Chaos may bring new liberties or new repression. If you have any studies suggesting otherwise...

#5 Trumpism is the conclusion of neoliberalism? Perhaps Europe is just 20 years behind, if you believe Bannon or Macaes, but I would not bet on it.

To me, Trumpism is long overdue corrective to an obtuse form of neoliberalism. Trumpism shines a light on neoliberals who have buried their head in the sand. Values are hardly irrelevant, to the contrary Trump recognizes the most universal of all values is power. Human rights is just post-Christian Western religion, but power is something all countries and cultures understand. To neoliberals citizenship is purely a legal defintion, to Trump there are ethno-cultural conditions to it as well, as most of the world interprets it. In trade he recognizes that tariffs shape long term investment patterns and inevitably result in institutional drift, something lazy neoliberals have ignored in pursuit of their tractable models. Of course America had to lead the way on repudiating this paleo-neoliberalism.

However, I doubt a system as chaotic as Trumpism is the future for the neoliberal West. If we get a form of neoliberalism that elevates the free rider problem to the level of an existential threat, it will all have been worth it.

"the most universal of all values is power"

This is not actually a useful formulation. As most of history (and certainly every movie that has "good guys" shows) values of often find themselves in opposition to power.

We should still try to be the good guys.

2. The authors admit despite matching there was a significant difference between the groups on education. Page 13 of the Supplementary Appendix shows that 87% of the offspring sample had a college degree while only 49.4% of the normative comparison group did. Previous research (Blanco, et al, ) has demonstrated that mental health disorders are common in the 19-25 age population yet less than 25% overall sought treatment. This renders the "normative" screen-out of comparison individuals who had had a previous mental health treatment less than satisfactory. Based upon face to face assessments, the Blanco study reported that "Overall, personality disorders were significantly more common among individuals who had not attended college than among college students of the same age. When examined individually, avoidant, dependant, paranoid, schizoid, and antisocial personality disorders were significantly less common among college students than among non-college-attending individuals." Thus it would appear that the authors have more than ample reason to urge caution in interpreting the results.

It is kind of sad that the people who 5 years ago were saying "that's just virtue e signaling" are now saying "power is all that matters."

I guess they told us who they were the first time.

Citation needed.

There are loooaaads of references out there on this one. For instance,

Not calling out people for virtue signaling. Obviously that happens, as it should. It’s when people make no logical refutation but comment to signal tribal in status and paint themselves as morally superior. It’s bullshit.

What needs citation is people that call others out for virtue signaling saying “power is all that matters.”

This needs a cite or it’s pointless, baseless partisan accusations.

I'm not going to name someone who's not here, but careful readers might have picked up on it.

And certainly as I say, the political arc has been from attacking virtue signalling to celebrating power.

More on my theme,

So once again you have no logical point or refutation.

And you link editorials where the author agrees with you and in which there is no logical point being made.

Great, at least you’re consistently not using logic.

Gosh, maybe I should think nothing and complain a lot.

"Gosh, maybe I should think nothing and complain a lot."

Isn't that what you've been doing?

Actually I've been linking a lot of sources and I have been remarkably patient.

Should have been "link nothing," as opposed to

(without naming any MR regulars who may not be here on a Sunday, of course)

Seriously folks, while there might have been some posers, criticisms of virtue signalling rapidly became criticisms of virtue.

I am not the only one who noticed the game.

People would actually do something to solve some problem, and critics would say "oh no that isn't enough you must do more." Ever increasing and finally impossible amounts were demanded. Until all effort was finally signalling.

That had the net effect, for years, of degrading virtue. And now we get the Trumpian embrace of power as the end game.

Hopefully that is just situational, and if the Republicans ever get a leader again who has personal virtue they will again applaud it.

But that ain't happening soon. Somehow they have to square supporting a president who cavorts with pornstars and power is all they've got.

My personal experience of people who talk loudest about their virtue are complete hypocrites when it comes to actually making notable sacrifices or demonstrating real empathy. I don't pretend to superior virtue. Unless you have some spectacular real world achievements to your name, you should not either.

Why does the left hate the virtue signalling label. Because it's accurate. It's intolerable to their self image of themselves as better people. Well, I've got new for you; thinking that you are a better person is probably a good sign that you're not.

Anyway, I'm not particularly impressed by what your label as "virtue"; tautologous incoherent empathic mush that it is. When you can generate an ethic more advanced than parti pris hatred and da feelz, then you might presume to lecture the rest of us.

Well, if you could step back, you could see that you made my point. Positive change doesn't require "spectacular" commitment, just broad commitment.

"Look at that guy, driving a Prius, pure virtue signalling."

"Actually a Prius significantly reduces carbon footprint."

"Footprint! If he cared he would not be signalling with a hybrid, he'd give away all his possessions and live in a cave."

It has become that kind of game.

Here's a deal: I'll believe that you are broadly virtuous if you'll return the complement. Let's agree both sides are broadly virtuous, but might have different interpretations of what's relatively important an the effectiveness of certain actions.

Stop pretending to moral superiority and signalling and we can talk.

I never said superiority. It sounds like you are really on a different wavelength.

It seems like the division is between people concerned with accomplishing things in the real world, and people measuring emotional investment. It's kind of a role reversal.

If someone is happy that they just bought efficient light bulbs, someone else might try to shoot them down by saying it's all about their mood, but the first person should say "no, it's all about the light bulbs."

" Let's agree both sides are broadly virtuous"

+1, it's only the hyper partisans that are convinced that the other side is acting in bad faith.

Why do you guys keep bringing "sides" into this?

When you use "virtue signalling" you are attacking a specific item, like a "I recycle" button.

It should not be about which side "owns" recycling, it should be about how effective and positive the effort really is.

In today's environment there are pluses and minuses to different sorts of recycling and that's where the productive conversation should be held.

'Why does the left hate the virtue signalling label. Because it's accurate.'

We have had this discussion, without involving left or right.

Someone who tells the truth is telling the truth - that fact is independent of anyone claiming that telling the truth is actually virtue signalling, and not a matter choosing to not lie.

That the world is full of hypocrites is a trite truism, of course.

Well, obviously, a virtue signal can be a factual claim. "I drive a Prius" etc. They're not exclusive.

To grossly over-simplify, the Left regards the right as "Evil" and the Right regards the Left as "Stupid". You know this.

Everything we have learned about ourselves in the last 5 decades through economics, Evo-psych, applied anthropology, and political psychology....has not favoured the Left view. (Though to be fair, it mostly makes the Left look more like "victims of tribal cognition" than the initial Right critique of "stupid").

To be a bit fairer, both Left and Right are guilty of all the usual tribal cognition and in-group biases. We all read Hanson. We're all equally fallible.

But recognising these biases (i.e. propensity for virtue signalling, our corruptibility, our limitations) is far more destructive to the Left View than the Right View. The Right is more emotionally comfortable with having a "fallen" nature than the Left, where moral virtue is a much, much, stronger part of self-image and group identity.

This does not mean they are wrong, of course; it just means that many members of the left have a bit of an emotional journey of self-acceptance before they can join the rest of us lobsters.

And stop dealing with it at a top-level tribal versus tribal level.

Admit that the Prius in the light bulbs are good and small in concrete ways, and bus using them demonstrate small but real virtue.

Virtues that are small and common are actually more important to a better world than virtues that are rare and spectacular.


I would, but I'm a luke-warmist, and the Prius fails my cost-benefit analysis which says it comes at too high an opportunity cost compared to other altruistic gestures to improve human welfare. I'm sure you're sincere about it; but I think you're wrong.

Here we are again. You're wrong. Not evil.

I had a Prius. I gave it to a niece. I hear that with 185,000 miles on the clock, it is still turning in 50 MPG on every tank.

I think that blows away all of the pessimistic models that were floated at the cars introduction.

But then part of what I'm saying revolves around generosity. I think you have to find something that is wholly wrong in order to say there is no good in it.

Say, opposition to GMO?

Oh, it's a perfectly reasonable car.

But it's not a good (cost effective) solution to AGW, if that weighs heavily with you.

So, basically, we should all strive to think of ourselves as bad people, so we can be happier advocating policies that hurt other people.

No. We should all strive to think of ourselves as fallible. That the other side is acting in good faith and are often correct.

That most of all we should be humble enough to realize we'll probably never be any good at managing other peoples lives. That we should be cautious about forcing people to do things they don't want to do.

And also cautious about not allowing people to do things they want to do.

How does that not conflict with the assumption that the other sides is "virtue signalling" ? Maybe the other side is actual sincere in their stated beliefs and is not just doing it because they want to appear to be moral.

The horrible thing is that they probably are sincere a lot of the time. They don't realise they're signalling group conformity. Lobster brains.

But really, as JWatts says, don't write assuming that you have better intentions than other side. That will fix most of the problem.

You're definitely a mixed up dude if you think conformity in Good Deeds somehow degrades Good Deeds.

I didn't say that abd it doesn't follow logically. Try reading rather than projecting your moral superiority, again.

So, you're better than them, because YOU are above virtue signalling, unlike them?

It's like the critics who say "virtue signaling" have become postmodernists.

Someone may make a small donation, take a small action, or even just offer moral support.

The attack is that these acts are not about their concrete assistance, but all about the mood of the actor.

It's some kind of radical deconstruction of the action, rather than taking it at face value.

I believe that such actions are often both sincere and virtue signalling, (at least when conspicuously displayed).

See the horror of it? Not. Mutually. Exclusive. Categories. Lobster brains.

This is why the discovery of secret charity is so valuable. There's an interesting paper to be written here.

and EVERYTHING WENT BOLD because I missed a /

I think we should keep our eye on the ball but virtue signalling was invented as a criticism to degrade someone's claim or action.

You are wanting it both ways if you are saying it can be worthy, and worthy of criticism.

Perform your prayers and charity in secret. Don't ascribe to yourself superior intentions or ethics. It's not hard.

I was much impressed by the dishonesty of this from the Wash Post:-

"reneging on pension promises is difficult in just about any country. Social Security is considered the “third rail” of politics in the United States, untouchable no matter how strong the argument may be for changing its terms. Changing the terms of U.K. public-sector pensions caused wave after wave of strikes."

Re #2. We need to remember that any study that did find a correlation between lesbian parents and mental health problems would not be published.

#2. A. Children NOT adopted. B. Mothers self-selected for study (and artificial insemination is not only expensive but also suggests that mother wasn't completely psychotic during treatments, psychosis is moderately heritable...) C. IF your parent was atypical AND it was widely believed that may cause emotional problems in their children, should we expect your responses to a survey on your mental health to be typical? D. 77 children, talk about lack of statistical power....

"B. Mothers self-selected for study"

I got to that point and realized the study was largely pointless. Your dealing with a highly biased sample and can't reach any broad conclusions.

Conservative faith based science there. Pretend the data is there but liberals just won't let you find it because, well, math is hard and they won't do it for you.

1. So a theory of quantum gravity is needed because one could think that in the distant future people will figure out experiments that require a theory of quantum gravity to be properly explained. All right, so that means that for everything that we have observed experimentally so far in our universe a theory of quantum gravity is not needed. Hence, for all practical purposes our current pair of physical theories (General Relativity and the Standard Model) already represents a theory of everything that we currently observe. I guess this might explain why a fully satisfactory model of quantum gravity has not been yet developed: there does not exist empirical grounds for validating or falsifying such kind of theory much less any direct use for such theory given the current state of technological development of our civilization.

Actually, no, our current pair does not actually represent a theory of everything we actually observe.

It's not true that General Relativity "describes gravity perfectly everywhere we've ever looked", whatever that idiot author of the linked Forbes article says. Galaxies rotate faster than GR says they should, and galactic clusters separate faster than GR says they should. (An astrophysicist, as the author bio claims the man is, should know that.)

That's why we have those big honking fudge factors called "dark matter" and "dark energy" in the cosmological models, where they have to make up 95% of the mass-energy of a universe that obeys GR. And those fudge factors do not correspond to anything in the Standard Model.

So, GR and the Standard Model together do not accurately describe our observations of the universe on the scale of galaxies and larger. Given that basic reality, thought experiments on any more obscure points really aren't all that relevant to making the point that we need new theories.

I'm not a 'we're all living in a Matrix-like simulation' guy, but if we were, the breakdown of all the models at very large and very small scales would be possible evidence of it. The simulators maybe didn't think they had to program things that far down and up.

Yes it's like in the Truman Show, the set was never designed to be indistinguishable from the outside world if Truman really started to scrutinize things.

He's my insane theory of the day, not along the simulation lines, but along multi-verse lines.

What if not only are there infinite multiverses, but those multi-verses aren't discretely separated? Like if you move around in space, you could actually be moving through multi-verses as well. In other words, if you move from point A to point B, the past changes, and events unfold slightly differently because of the different state of the universe at that point in multiverse space. Since you're still moving forward in time, you can't really get back to the same timeline you'll just enter a different multiverse at the same physical address. But as you go forward in time, you might notice that other people's versions of history are subtly different, or that there are events happening which seem to violate causality. They don't really violate causality, but their causes are coming from some other part of the multi-verse space, so you can't see them. And other people's versions of history maybe actually really happened that way - in their multiverse, so there's no concrete truth of history exactly because there are infinite universes there's only sort of a probability distribution of histories, essentially the distributions of multiverses across which we're distributed in time and space. And all of the histories in that distribution are sort of "true" but we just think of the mean of the distribution of "what actually happened" as the "truth".

This is what living in America in 2018 is doing to me. Please help.

If that Trump Doctrine text did not have major use of all caps, then it was missing out on how our president is currently presenting his doctrine -


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018

I doubt the Iranians are too worried - they will just take their cue from Putin, who seems to know what really Trump thinks.

I think on Iran Trump just goes with the feelz of his base. Russia seems to be the one exception to that rule. Like he actually personally likes Putin for some reason and is willing to take political risks to be nice to Putin, for some reason. It's too bad he never visited Tehran.

It's possible that Trump's friendly relationship with Putin might have some silver linings. Upending the normal state of relations between the West and Russia could potentially lead to better relations and more opening up of Russia. It's sort of that reverse-psychological approach where in order to get someone to be open to change you have to first make them feel secure that you aren't going to try to change them. Like if we all let Putin know that we're not going to intrude on stuff Russia consider's it's "back yard", like the Ukraine, or try to orchestrate a popular revolt against him, that maybe tade relations would improve and Russia would be more open to Western commerce. Like the China model - as opposed to the Orange Revolution.

Of course, I could also just be deluding myself.

How many journalist has Putin killed again?

Is there really a bright side to the president United States buying into that kind of thing?

'course it is completely unfair of me to mention that our president is blind to that journalist killing as he (no shit) talks about American journalists as the enemy of the people.

Stop with the apologies.

1. I won't even pretend to understand the slightest bit of what this article says beyond complex numbers, but Pi is not a rational number as she states in her video.

Fine, it is a verbal typo, but considering some of the scathing professional criticism of her work, she might want to consider editing simple errors.

Aside: I studied quite a bit of math as an undergrad and I'm in awe at how difficult the field gets beyond even upper division math. Reading her work and the criticisms by Motl left me feeling like the vast majority of us are at the mercy of both professionals and crackpots, and being a crackpot is certainly easier to attain. The limits of human cognition may be our undoing.

#3: Bannon is my hero. The linked piece is spinning against him. Italians will love Bannon! Make Italy Great Again!

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