Appealing to your identity in making a point

In a post which is interesting more generally, Arnold Kling makes this point:

I think Tyler missed the important difference between taking identity into account and having someone appeal to their identity. I agree with Bryan that the latter is a negative signal. Opening with “Speaking as a ____” is a bullying tactic.

Many have had a similar response, but I figured I would save up that point for an independent blog post, rather than putting it in the original.  Here are a few relevant points:

1. If someone opens with “Speaking as a transgender latinx labor activist…”, or something similar, perhaps that is somewhat artless, but most likely it is relevant information to me, at least for most of the topics which correlate with that kind of introduction.  I am happy enough with direct communication of that information, and don’t quite get what a GMU blogger would object to in that regard.  Does the speaker have to wait until paragraph seven before obliquely hinting at being transgender?  Communicate the information in Straussian fashion?

2. Being relatively established, most of the pieces I write already give such an introduction to me, for instance a column by-line or a back cover photo and author description on a book.  Less established people face the burden of having to introduce themselves, and yes that is hard to do well, hard for any of us.  You might rationally infer that these people are indeed less established, and possibly also less accomplished, but the introduction itself should be seen in this light, not as an outright negative.  It is most of all a signal that the person is somewhat “at sea” in establishment institutions and their concomitant introductions, framings, and presentations.  Yes, that outsider status possibly can be a negative signal in some regards, but a GMU blogger or independent scholar (as Arnold is) should not regard that as a negative signal per se.  At the margin, I’d like to see people pay more attention to smart but non-mainstream sources.

3. For many audiences, I don’t need an introduction at all, nor would Bryan or Arnold.  That’s great of course for us.  But again we are being parasitic on other social forces having introduced us already.  Let’s not pretend we’re above this whole game, we are not, we just have it much easier.  EconLog itself has a click space for “Blogger Bios,” though right now it is empty, perhaps out of respect for Bryan’s views.  Or how about if you get someone to blurb your books for you?

4. I’ve noticed that, for whatever reasons, women in today’s world often feel less comfortable putting themselves forward in public spaces.  In most (not all) areas they blog at much lower rates, and they are also less willing to ask for a salary increase, among other manifestations of the phenomenon.  Often, in this kind of situation, you also will find group members who “overshoot” the target and pursue a strategy which is the opposite of excess reticence.  I won’t name names, but haven’t you heard something like “Speaking as a feminist, Dionysian, child of the 1960s, Freudian, Catholic, pro-sex, pagan, libertarian polymath…”?  Maybe that is a mistake of style and presentation and even reasoning, but the deeper understanding is to figure out better means of evaluating people who “transact” in the public sphere at higher cost, not simply to dismiss or downgrade them.

5. If someone like Bill Gates were testifying in front of Congress and claimed “Speaking as the former CEO of a major company, I can attest that immigration is very important to the American economy” we wouldn’t really object very much, would we?  Wouldn’t it seem entirely appropriate?  So why do we so often hold similar moves against those further away from the establishment?

How about “as a Mongolian sheep herder, let me tell you what kinds of grass they like to eat…”?

Then why not “As a transgender activist…”?  You don’t necessarily have to agree with what follows, just recognize they might know more than average about the topic.

To sum up, appealing to one’s identity possibly can be a negative signal.  But overall it should be viewed not as a reason to dismiss such speakers and writers, but rather a chance to obtain a deeper understanding.


Tyler, I know that this might be somewhat of a blurred distinction, but aren't sheepherders and Bill Gates appealing to expertise rather than identity?

Shh - some people seemingly only care about identity and status and virtue signalling, etc. (some of them apparently needing no introduction for many audiences), feeling that identity is a single quality which can be discussed in the abstract. Otherwise, this whole 'identity' discussion lapses into the farcical, as no one has a single identity.

And to illustrate without linking to anything but memory - 3 decades ago, riding my bike down Rt. 15 in VA, I stopped for another rider parked on the shoulder on the other side of the road off Rt. 50 (an intersection amusingly called Gilbert's Corner), something riders used to do in the pre-cell phone era. He said he just was taking a break to smoke a cigarette, and did not have any problems. We chatted for a bit about smoking and riding - yes, there are people who smoke while riding at 60mph - which we both agreed was basically insane. Though he noted that smoking was something he could not give up, thus the stopping at the side of the road. When he was done, Jim Vance continued riding south, while I continued north.

The main identity involved, at least in our eyes, was two people who rode motorcycles. Of course, there were a few other identities involved - black or white, for example. Or the type of motorcycles we owned - Vance was a passionate Harley rider. Or the fact he was an ex-cocaine addict. It is silly to reduce chance encounters in public settings (even ones involving potential career enhancement) to a matter of a single identity. And this was basically my introduction to him - 'Anything the matter?' It was already obvious we were both motorcycle riders, after all.

Elon Musk saying "as an immigrant who has founded more than half a dozen billion dollar firms, free movement of people and goods is important to business growth and success", is he appealing to identtity or accomplishment?

Given Elon overstayed his visa, violating the terms of his student visa, should Trump direct his citizenship be stripped based on his fraud in becoming a citizen? Would that action be based on Elon being more successful than Trump, his efforts to destroy the fossil fuel industry and create more jobs and wealth, or his identity as an immigrant?

+1. A good point. Musk is the kind of illegal immigrant America needs more of. Trump be damned.

What makes you think Trump would be against tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of Musk-like immigrants?

"Speaking as a ..." right away there's self-selection bias. I'm fine with picking a random Mongolian sheep-herder and picking their brain on Mongolian sheep herding restriction legislation but not a herder put forward by the Mongolian sheep conglomerate.

Sure, it's a bit different. But some identities have unique expertise. If someone were to say: "As a first African-american police officer in 60s and an open homosexual...", you would at the very least understand that this person has some expertise in being subjected to racism, homophobia and bullying of varying degrees. How else can he signal that quicker? That's exactly why some of the new "activists" try to invoke the same idea. They think that their perspective as a "pansexual dragonkin" gives them some expertise in being subjected to unfair treatment. Someone can argue with that, but that's how they try to make their point.

'or independent scholar (as Arnold is)'

Wait, you mean that being at the Mercatus Center does not create a connection to GMU? 'Arnold Kling is a Senior Affiliated Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.' 'At' is such a wonderfully subtle way to create identity without actual connection.

Identity actually is important, isn't it? And give Kling full marks for pointing out he is not on the GMU faculty. though he has at least taught one course at GMU - 'ECON 100: Economics for the Citizen

Not available to economics majors. Broad introduction to economic concepts and how they can contribute to a better understanding of the world around us. Applies and develops concepts to current economic and social problems and issues. Less formal modeling than in the 103-104 sequence. May not be repeated for credit.'

And one has to appreciate Kling's delicate tact here - 'Most bloggers are self-referential, but for Bryan it’s an art form.' Probably worth having a Conversation about, right?

Well said. As someone who generally becomes skeptical when people talk at length about their own identity, I found your suggestions convincing! ;)

As a true redblooded American I believe we should deport foreign Chinese enemies of America like you.

Are you really an American? Or are you actually one of those perfidious Brazilians masquerading as a true American?

Does Gates (or you if accurate) ever introduce himself as an able, white cis-male? Is there a situation in which such an introduction would be helpful? I see authority-establishing intros as generally harmful. Listen to the argument, not the resume.

Maybe in a better world. In this world where people as ill-informed as I am (for example and on some issues) have no compunction to post then having some **relevant** authority is one reason to pay attention.

Isn't the entire point of an introduction to distinguish traits of yours that differ from the majority of the people in the crowd? To give a basic reason why you're on the stage and they're not, and the most relevant parts of your resume to the discussion at hand?

You wouldn't introduce yourself "As a carbon based complex multi-cellular Earthbound life form" either, not because is isn't true or relevant, because you're just wasting everyone's time.

Generally I agree with argument over argument with intro of authority, I'd rather look up who a person is themselves than have them tell me. However, its very strange to hear someone launch into a very technical talk about, for instance, cancer treatment or disease transmission, without first introducing how they've acquired this knowledge. "As a general practitioner...", "As the CEO of a large urban hospital", "As a researcher for the CDC", "As a former Playboy model who's child got a shot once"...

I think everyone here is blending very different introductions given with very different purposes into a catchall of the semantic phrase "As a [blank]..."

I think the problem is that people appeal to an aspect of their identity that is irrelevant to the topic under discussion: "As a cis-gendered heterosexual white male I believe that humans are causing catastrophic climate change." A more relevant representation would be: "Speaking as a progressive Democrat, I oppose any originalist Supreme Court nominee appointed by a Republican."

Is there an official list anywhere of Intersectional Pokemon Points?

Coming soon to a failed empire near you!

The intersection of 90% of people here is probably white/cis/hetero/male/rightwing/cuckold. Definitely cuckold.

I know people who go by they, as in gender neutral. Can't say hey man, say hey them. Why not? Because they could go to the bathroom.

"They" is not number neutral.

Visible minorities have an unfair advantage.

If you feel it is a great advantage, you can move to where you would be a visible minority. That would be the rational thing to do.

You're both right but talking about different things. Someone's outgroup status does indicate that there may be more to learn from this person than an ingroup member, but when an outgroup member starts off by announcing their outgroup status, that's a bad sign about the direction the conversation is going to go. It's a catch 22 for those who legitimately want to make a point that is higher credibility due to their identity but *don't* want to do the identify politics thing of acting like members-of-identity-group-X are the only ones who are allowed to have opinions on issues pertaining to group X.

If somebody introduces himself/herself/theyself by citing outgroup status, he/she/they are an actually an ingroup in The Current Year.

As Foucault said, most everything is about power. So "If someone opens with 'Speaking as a transgender latinx labor activist…'" they are probably doing it because they expect it to enhance their power in this situation.

So what? Is it also not power to open with "Speaking as a Phd Economist" or as Tyler points out having someone else introduce you as such or making sure everyone knows that's who you are first via blurbs, posters, etc. isn't also power?

But that's all really a trivial observation. Power means the ability to do something. It seems pretty clear if someone is speaking at some event, they are trying to do something. Buy their book, adopt their theory, declare them to be the smartest professor in the world, etc.

But then how does it provide power if someone opens with 'speaking as a transgender activist' or perhaps 'speaking as a weekend doomsday prepping gun owner' (it's a bit cliche to keep using the left for all your silly hypotheticals no?)

One possibility is to preserve power. The audience is filled with transgender activists or gun nut preppers so the speaker is staking out common ground with the audience so they receive their speech from friendly or at least neutral perspective.

the other possibility is the speaker is NOT speaking to an audience like that. Providing that information may be power in the sense that the speaker expects the audience to yield to transgender/doomsdayer as sources of great authority. Or providing that information may be a trigger. The audience may be alarmed by hearing something different they are not familiar with or something they are hostile towards. Regardless a good speaker can take that and work with it. For a good speaker attention is much more powerful than boredom.

Homework here is to watch Better Call Saul. Note the various 'cons' he pulls off on people. Some he approaches the victim as a friend but in many he approaches the victim as a person the victim will not like.

So it’s all a con? That’s what I thought. Those shows are all about exerting power. Does that make for a nice world? I don’t think so

I don't really know what to tell you. Humans are social species and social species assert power over each other in many different ways. If that really bothers you I guess I could advise you to apply to join a non-social species.

"FOUCAULT: But I would merely like to reply to your first sentence, in which you said that if you didn’t consider the war you make against the police to be just, you wouldn’t make it.

I would like to reply to you in terms of Spinoza and say that the proletariat doesn’t wage war against the ruling class because it considers such a war to be just. The proletariat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time in history, it wants to take power. And because it will overthrow the power of the ruling class it considers such a war to be just.

CHOMSKY: Yeah, I don’t agree.

FOUCAULT: One makes war to win, not because it is just."

This is what you're arguing, that it's human nature to crush each other, a right-wing sentiment if there ever was one.

You mistake power with crushing. When are told to overcome your fear of public speaking by visualizing the audience naked, that gives you some measure of power to maybe make a speech people listen too. But is that crushing them? Most of the time it's painful to watch someone who can't speak so the audience probably appreciates the trick gives you some power.

I am making no mistake,and yes I would agree that I am "crushing" people when I attempt to convince them: the point of power is to control and get people to do things they want, and that is what it means to "crush" someone, especially their will. "Crush" has no fixed meaning, its rhetorical deployments are limitless.

Perhaps we would like to reason together at times and reach a consensus rather than simply impose our will.

Imposing one's will is never simple. It always has a cost. If you're imposing it through force, well it takes a lot to get that type of power and defend it. If you are imposing it by convincing everyone to see it your way, that too takes a lot more than just a well reasoned argument.

You are confirming why I double check what they say. An appeal to authority is simply a way to get people to listen when they otherwise wouldn't.

Where's the appeal to authority? "Speaking as a X" could just as easily be a hook for attention.

Regardless speakers have to figure out how to get people to listen to them regardless of the quality of their underlying argument. You can't pretend rhetoric isn't a factor here and we can just fall back on logic in speaking only.

Someone who begins with the phrase, "speaking as a transgender latinx labor activist..." is almost certainly following in the vein of "the personal is political." It is a claim that their personal experiences have been shaped decisively by a web of power relations involving a hegemonic oppressor responsible for a structure that defines what is knowledge and who is eligible to be a source of such knowledge. Hence the claims made by Bill Gates as a CEO are generally recognized as at least plausible whereas the claims of marginalized groups are routinely dismissed. Calling attention to their identity as a member of a marginalized group is an attempt to resist that oppressive structure and because it's ultimately about gaining power, it's characteristically a bullying tactic. (Of course, if it's all about power there is no reason for the oppressor to check his socially constructed privilege but instead to crush them.)

Bill Gates should introduce himself to Congress: “Speaking as the second richest man in the world, I can attest that immigration is very important to my net worth. So give Microsoft some more H-1B visas so I can get even richer at the expense of American workers."

Lump of work fallacy

Supply and demand effects prices fallacy

so many years ago we had half the population and almost full employment. Now we have double so we must have 50% unemployment.

*prices*, genius.

That's only true if Microsoft is actually lowballing workers. MS pays $152k for an engineer straight out of college and they have to or else their competitors like Google or Facebook will outbid them. Also, companies that don't compete with MS but pull from the same talent pool include hedge funds, investment banks, and trading firms, which also pay top dollar. On the other hand if you instead talked about Infosys, TCS, Wipro, or other outsourcing firms which by their nature pay rock bottom prices for labor because they charge rock bottom prices for their service, you'd d have a much better point.

They'd even pay higher if there was lower non-citizen competition. Simple supply and demand, my H1B friend.

Strawman alert! There's no salary Microsoft can pay that would prevent you from making that argument. Because you assume a priori that the only reason Microsoft would want to hire a non-American is to skimp on wages.

'As a feminist and victim of entitled frat boy Kavanaugh'

You know of a 4th person to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault? One assumes you have let the FBI know, as none of the other 3 publicly identified victims have used those words, at least if google is to be trusted when using those terms in a search string.

'even if it means suspending hundreds of years of legal/judicial practice—or else'

I believe that Kavanaugh's phrasing, while testifying to his qualifications to be on the Supreme Court, is 'what goes around comes around' - which you can actually see him say here -

Strangely, Kavanaugh seems to have forgotten this was another interview involving his suitability for being elevated to the Supreme Court, an institution that is not supposed to be dedicated to any partisan position at all. As was more than occasionally demonstrated by Scalia's devotion to the 1st Amendment for example, even though he personally detested flag burners -
Admittedly, contrasting those two clips, one can see how how even a few years makes a noticeable difference when it comes to the qualities represented by those nominated for the Supreme Court.

I contrasted those 2 clips. One of them is a calm interview about 1st amendment vs burning the flag. The other one is an opening statement at a hearing whereby one is accused of something he believes he hasn't done and even if he did that, it's irrelevant to his current position (I have supposedly bitten a girl in kindergarten.... I don't remember that, still I guess it demonstrates how I treat women?)

What is the contrast of those 2 interviews - each about something completely different - supposed to show?

'supposed to show?'

That when testifying in front of a Senate committee to demonstrate his suitability to embody the judicial temperament that marks those worthy of being named to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh was unable to display the poise that Scalia did in an informal setting. Obviously, the difference between those two is not in their politics.

Basically, when on TV, Scalia acted like a Supreme Court justice when talking about people he felt in the wrong, though fully entitled to their opinion. However, when testifying in the Senate, Kavanaugh demonstrated the sort of behavior one typically associates with a TV show. The contrast is profound - Scalia remarks that if he were king, he would ban flag burning, but instead, he is a Supreme Court justice bound to follow the Constitution, and not be concerned that flag burners are part of outside left wing opposition groups.

In contrast, Kavanaugh talked as if he were the sort of person he would enjoy the opportunity to take his own revenge on the 'revenge of the Clintons' that he includes when blaming others for his current problems.

I guess I'm old fashioned - a potential Supreme Court justice talking like Kavanaugh did in front of a Senate committee demonstrates, with utter clarity, why he does not belong on the Supreme Court. In pointed contrast to Scalia, a man whose politics could be considered quite well aligned with Kavanaugh's.

Judges are human, of course. It is simply, at least in the past, that we expected more from them than what Kavanaugh was able to muster.

There was no correct reaction. If he would have stayed calm, the left would have labeled him a dangerous sociopath. No way out.

'There was no correct reaction.'

Of course there was - to act in the manner expected of a Supreme Court justice, who are supposed to be able to put aside their personal feelings when making legal decisions that affect hundreds of millions of their fellow citizens. Clearly, Kavanaugh displayed in his own words in front of the Senate committee how incapable of that he would be.

'the left would have labeled him'

Who cares what the left would have labelled him? He was in front a Senate committee, a formal setting where he was offered the opportunity to show the sort of judicial temperament expected of someone worthy of being named a Supreme Court justice. The contrast with Scalia is not accidental, of course - Scalia was talking about his duty, as a Supreme Court justice, to go beyond his personal feelings and make a decision based on the Constitution. Kavanaugh's 'what goes around comes around' remark seems to be fundamentally different from what Scalia was pointing out. To put it differently, and in reference to Scalia, one could very easily see Kavanaugh wanting to be king, and not a member of the Supreme Court.

Given that the Democrats have acted with systematic bad faith and ill intent from the beginning, and made every attempt to destroy the guy and his family on national TV, some emotion was not out of place. I’d say he was fairly restrained given the provocation.

'I’d say he was fairly restrained given the provocation.'

Well, the 'provocation' was a woman accusing him of sexually assaulting him, and she did at least have some details, names of possible witnesses, and some at least background documentation (Judge's tales, and as it turns out, a former girlfriend of Judge's detailing similar behavior as that found in his writing), which was then supplemented by Kavanaugh's own calendar. That just happens to show a social event involving beer with the same people that his accuser had previously identified as being in attendance, and which can at least be reasonably fit into the already described timing of various events. Sounds like she, at least, was engaging in something other than a 'provocation.' And she has also been steadfast in defending an innocent man who Ed Whelan appeared to be smearing in defense of Kavanaugh. That politics are politics should not be a surprise to the man who proposed asking Clinton the following types of question in a legal setting - '“If Monica Lewinsky says that on several occasions in the Oval Office area, you used your fingers to stimulate her vagina and bring her to orgasm, would she be lying?”'

Nonetheless, his restraint was not that of someone who should be serving on the Supreme Court, as this quote from the transcript (from the video linked above) demonstrates - 'This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about president Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque, character assassination will dissuade confident and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country and as we all know in the political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around.'

This is not the temperament that one expects in a Supreme Court justice, to be honest. He was not at a trial defending his innocence in a court of law with the threat of being deprived of his liberty at stake, he was at a job interview to show that he would be worthy of being entrusted with the responsibility of making legal reasoned decisions concerning matters that affect all Americans.

Everyone is welcome to make up their own mind, but that public display must have been profoundly disturbing to those currently serving on the Supreme Court. Say what one will about Scalia, but no one can point to him essentially promising that his opponents would have their turn to get what is coming.

(And wow, did anybody else hear about what Kavanaugh said was being said about him? Because I completely missed all of this - 'And then -- and then as no-doubt was expected if not planned, came a long series of false, last-minute smears designed to scare me and drive me out of the process before any hearing occurred, crazy stuff, gangs, illegitimate children, fights on boats in Rhode Island, all nonsense reported breathlessly and often uncritically by the media.' Was he really wasting his time reading such ludicrous charges, and assuming that anyone reasonable would take such things seriously?)

There was no correct reaction. If he would have stayed calm, the left would have labeled him a dangerous sociopath. No way out.

There's right wing morality distilled to its essence.

Since the left isn't going to go along with us, it doesn't matter what we do anything and everything is in bounds.

I suppose in a year or two SC nominees will stand up and throw their poo at Democratic Senators and we'll be told "Well Kavanaugh just sat there with his pants on and you still opposed him".

"Speaking as a ...." is a very helpful and constructive way of saying "I am taking a completely biased position and you should treat it as such"

As I follow up comment, I agree 100% with this, except for the final question:

" If someone like Bill Gates were testifying in front of Congress and claimed “Speaking as the former CEO of a major company, I can attest that immigration is very important to the American economy” we wouldn’t really object very much, would we? Wouldn’t it seem entirely appropriate? So why do we so often hold similar moves against those further away from the establishment?"

Bill Gates's comments here would and should be taken as an indication of bias. He is speaking on behalf of large corporations.

However when someone says "Speaking as a transgender latinx labor activist…" we treat that as if they are declaring themselves magic and perfect.

So, I would reverse the final question - Why can't we apply this same logic approach to bias confession as we get further out from the establishment?

It seems totally obvious that identity could be either helpful or not-helpful *in theory*, and I would accept this claim without any argument at all. Also, this claim is totally irrelevant to any argument involving the use of identity in the *actual real world*. Arguing that something should be so in the *actual world* on the basis of the statement "I can imagine a world in which ____ is true" seems totally stupid to me. On the one hand, the actual world is something that we know can in fact exist (because it does exist), which functions in all its stunning complexity, which we can examine and test, and which matters because we must live in it. On the other hand, a world one can "imagine" may or may not be feasible, can be computed in 10 seconds by a human brain, is subject to no imposed constraints, no impact on the experience of human living, has more in common with a dream than any slice of reality.

How many times have I seen on Twitter something like, "it is not the job of a black woman to educate white men" in response to an argument against the black woman's claim? Many, many, many times.

On the other hand, one can imagine a Mongolian sheep herder saying, "As a Mongolian sheep herder, let me tell you what kinds of grass they like to eat."

Putting aside whether it is a bully tactic, power play, or whatever...

Your Bayesian calculator should be whirring in overdrive based on what immediately follows after the identity statement.

“As a Latinx trans labor activist, I see on a daily basis the difficulty of trans workers in Latinx neighborhoods to find work in the formal economy.”

Ok. Maybe Xe has direct personal experience that translates.

“As a Latinx trans labor activist, voting for Republicans is an act of violence against me.”

Yikes. Ratchet down the probability that the person is stable and has anything worthwhile to say.

This is America. We credit Bill Gates with knowledge well beyond that of the founder and CEO of a large software company. He knows how to run a software company, but does he know anything about the major issues of the day? Anything more than an economics blogger? Or an entitled white alumnus of Georgetown Prep and Yale? Many of the fine folks who voted for Donald Trump did so not because he is a loudmouth bigot, but because he ran a large real estate business, is a master negotiator, and is a billionaire. Even assuming that's true about Trump, how does that qualify him to be president? For the same reason it qualifies Bill Gates to comment on the major issues of the day. Here's an essay by Neil Irwin in which he explains in simple terms the Invisible Recession of 2016, which profoundly affected our country's and the world's future, yet the experts who are supposed to notice such things as they are happening didn't:

You will often read in legal opinions regarding expert opinions offered in evidence that "conclusory statements offered without explanations of the reasoning and analysis behind of them are of little probative value." That applies to Bill Gates and to transgender activists. If Bill Gates wants to offer actual examples of how immigration benefited Microsoft, that might be useful, but a journalist who had studied Microsoft might offer the same information just as usefully. (Neither of them would be offering more than anecdotes, but maybe enough anecdotes qualify as data.)

'Neither of them would be offering more than anecdotes'

Gates had much more access to Microsoft's internal operations and data - he would have most definitely been in a position to offer something beyond anecdotes, at least while running Microsoft.

Being in charge of a company you had been involved in founding is a bit more than mere identity, and one is fairly confident, that if he had felt it in his interest, Gates would have been able to offer the explanations of the reasoning and analysis behind his 'anecdotes.'

Very possibly. My point is that Gates would have to offer actual examples and statistics, not just say, I'm the founder of Microsoft, and that makes my opinion incontestable.

"Being a bit of a chump, albeit one who had proved an unusually adept businessman, ..." might suit Gates. But I don't expect ever to hear him say it.

Nor do I expect him to say "Having been a computing tycoon without being a shit like that Jobs fellow ....".

One doesn't hear, "speaking as a transgender latinx, I think that the transgender undocumented latinx population is increasing."
One usually hears: "speaking as a transgender latinx, you are oppressing me."

Really? How many times in the last week have you listened to someone tell you that they are being oppressed? You must exclude all examples encountered through conservative media.

Does the Nytimes count as conservative media?

No, please list the articles you read in the NYT in the last week that spoke about someone being oppressed.

This is just a 21st century version of the argument from authority and should be treated as such.

Very true, but it's quite a switch. We've gone from "I am expert so you should do what I say" to "I am in the certified victim class so you should do what I say."

The difference is between gained identities which may or may not provide relevant expertise ("As a mechanic, here's my thoughts on your car problem"), and essentialist claims based on innate characteristics ("As a latinX, here's my critique of american society"). The first may or may not be relevant, depending on whether the field of expertise linked to the identity is a governing one. The second is not and can never be relevant unless one accepts the essentialist argument that all people from discrete race/sex/sexuality groupings are identical in significant ways.

It is important to listen to what other people say. It also is fair to weigh moral preening in your consideration of what they say.

Ideas must stand on their own.

TC: women in today’s world often feel less comfortable putting themselves forward in public spaces. In most (not all) areas they blog at much lower rates

What about instagram? Twitter? Vlogging on Youtube? Authorship of fiction? I can't say that's the case for most of those. They seem female biased, and I don't think that's an argument that males feel less comfortable putting themselves forward.

You find few women on most discussion forums and blogs on history, politics, science and econ, but that seems to me because of different time management strategies.

When it comes to history, politics, science and econ, women tend to choose either to be the professionals (who discuss topics in a professional sphere) and competently so, or to be just not involved at all. It's very binary. The hobbyists who have some interest in the history and current events, without going down the professional route, tend be male.

There's just a different weight on how leisure time is used, in the sense of a general female bias towards using to build a more aesthetically beautiful life as against other interests (intellectual interests and physical culture).

Whether that's to the credit or demerit of women as a whole is another matter. You can argue either way, that the amateurs generate more heat than light and have no value, or that civil society should not leave these matters only to the professionals.

Nice point, thank you.

The issue is if someone is speaking about experience or about identity.

For instance, I often hear about people speaking as "a black man" or as a "single mom" and then when we get to the substance of their discussion it turns out that they were born to well off parents, attended an elite institution for all their schooling, and hold jobs well into the top 10% of the income distribution. Their personal knowledge of life for the majority of "black men" is often vastly inferior to the knowledge of white men who have more exposure to the median or lower black population. Likewise, the single mothers who get writing gigs almost invariably have no experience with the typical struggles of single motherhood.

People who have the typical experiences of a group tend not to need to make such claims; they simply relate salient experiences rather than make an thinly veiled appeal to authority. In my experience people playing off the group identity almost never relate details that enrich the listener but instead dictate conclusions.

People who try to hard are so often the least informed about actual facts on the ground.

First comment I've read that isn't from the front lines of our current culture war, but actually a study of communication.

Yes. Also, people have multifaceted personalities and might be speaking from one facet and want to make that explicit. So Bill Gates says, "Speaking as the former CEO of a major company. . . .", he might be trying to (earnestly or disingenuously) dispel any notion that he is rather saying what he does as the benefactor of a large foundation with global reach and some kind of equalizing of outcomes mission.

You might ask for parenting advice from a mother of 5 who's day job is as an early childhood development researcher. Do you want her to answer, "what do I do when my child is afraid of the first day of school?" in the ideal, as the researcher, or do you want her practical compromise as a working mom? Helpful if she tells you which hat she's wearing when she answers, no?

Appeals to identity are either vacuous or helpful. The vacuous cases, "as a jock/goth/burnout/junior achiever (and I see this pret a porter identity stuff as the next level of ersatz personality as the high school tropes), my uniform is [blank]." are highly formal training exercises for people who haven't individuated yet. They are like playing scales, necessary as practice but not interesting.

People who are spontaneously engaging in the subtle art of communication should be differentiated from those preforming the cruder exercises you see in the culture war (and beyond). Appeals to identity may be beautifully employed in fine conversation. I could illustrate with several eamples, but as a reader who skips over longer comments, I'll refrain. <-!

"Speaking as a prominent economics blogger I think that arguing in good faith is for dorks. Now let me demonstrate how to strawman and nitpick"

"Then why not “As a transgender activist…”?"

They way such invocations are used today is absolutely to signal that you have to agree or you will be considered an evil person. That would make me uninterested in conduction a conversation with them, regardless of what they know. I also find that any actual knowledge that their claim may signal is counteracted by the bias and ideological blinders they signal at the same time.

You are being a bit disingenuous. Stating your identity in the intersectional worldview is about setting the oppressor oppressed hierarchy of the conversation. It isn't about describing their experience or expertise, it is about telling you that you have no experience or expertise, and worse that you are a perpetrator of oppression so you better listen.

A mongolian sheep herder identifying himself as such if about expertise or experience. A woman doesn't have expertise as a woman except in her own life, just as a man doesn't. I don't speak for men, I can only speak for myself. As the Mongolian sheep herder speaks for himself as a sheep herder, his experience, knowledge and stories. There may be commonalities. You confirm that by talking to another Mongolian sheep herder.

I would disregard the head of the Mongolian Sheep Herder's Association as a lobbyist. Maybe having something to say but as an individual, but as a leader of a group everything said would need filtering.

I didn't see anyone addressing the obvious problem with such speech. It is an appeal to stereotype and suggests that being a self-identified member of group X provides/entitles/allows/authorizes/validates whatever random opinion I may set forward here on whatever topic. It is virtually *never* used alone (in order to identify), but always used to justify some opinion (or by inference, invalidate those of others).

'It is an appeal to stereotype'

Not always, as noted by Karol in the very first comment. If someone starts out by saying 'I am a Ford mechanic with 15 years experience ...' and then the person continues to give an opinion about what is wrong with your Ford, this is not an example of that being a self-identified member of group X which provides/entitles/allows/authorizes/validates whatever opinion they have concerning the mechanical problems of a Ford.

Though not raised by you, the same example shows that identity need not be an updated appeal to authority - some people actually do know what they are talking about when starting out by saying 'I am a Ford mechanic with 15 years experience ....'

Sure is a bit closer to the mark, however. If a German Ford mechanic was in the U.S., the differences between a typical German Ford and a typical American Ford are not trivial (think the lack of F350s in Germany, for example - there are 12 available for sale in Germany at Autoscout24 currently, which says it has 2.4 million cars available for sale).

Stop using your obviously chinese name as an identity for political leverage over us regular Americans.

"Let’s not pretend we’re above this whole game, we are not, we just have it much easier." It does seem easier to talk to members of your group, and it helps to have a community to establish your credibility with your group. As for communication between groups, I wonder if it is necessary/ honest/ beneficial to acknowledge one's identity as being outside a group when communicating between groups. (Don't we distrust politicians because they so often present themselves of members of every group?) Although Kling says "as a X" is a bullying tactic, and although I think that can sometimes be the case, I suspect many are actually revealing the value system from which they think about things in order to make communication in difficult inter-group contexts easier. It's surprising to me that Kling, who has written about three political axes, is not connecting his thoughts on this matter to that one. Finally, it may be that inter-group communication is harder than people realize and the temptation to dismiss "as a X" appeals stems in part from frustration.

Although Kling says "as a X" is a bullying tactic, and although I think that can sometimes be the case, I suspect many are actually revealing the value system from which they think about things in order to make communication in difficult inter-group contexts easier. It's surprising to me that Kling, who has written about three political axes, is not connecting his thoughts on this matter to that one.

I think it's ironic that Kling is doing what he wouldn't accept from left wing speakers. Why is saying "As a X" a bullying tactic? Because King will say there's unspoken assertions of "you can't criticize an X". But did the person who said "AS a X' say that? No. Well then? Well other people who criticized other X's have themselves been bashed for being biased against X's. Well ok but who is going to get criticized for being biased against X's? Someone who never says anything negative about X's or someone who does? Did the actual speaker say "you can't criticize me because I'm an X" or are you just reading that in because you're extending cases of other X's to that particular speaker?

Suppose we turn the tables...."Trump voters are racists". Can we say that? Ohhh no very bad you can't do that. But we can point to numerous racist things said by various Trump supporters from guy in t-shirt at rally to Trump's birtherism. Nope can't extend that to all Trump voters not fair.

This entire comment is word salad mixed with a tribal defense.

Let's condense then. "Speaking as an X" is a bullying tactic only if the speaker actually asserts you are not allowed to disagree with any X.

To claim it is a bully tactic the other 99.9% of times Kling and others like him do, is to read words into the speaker's mouth that aren't there.

This is something Kling and many like him would not permit if the shoes are on the other side. "Trump support is racism", for example is probably something Kling would reject unless you were speaking only about a very particular Trump supporter who is very clearly racist and limit your remarks only to that person...

My stance is much more simple and less tribal. IMO "speaking as an X" is simply a rhetorical hook to get the attention of the audience.

You’re being obviously disingenuous.

If I say “As a veteran of the GWOT, my experience had led me to believe.... about the war in x” then the phrase acts as a clarification of how my views have crystallized based on experience within the specific topic of discussion.

If I say “As a veteran of the GWOT, I disagree with Trump” then although literally true, it’s an implicit argument from authority (to liberals a victim group, to the republicans a trusted group).

It’s bullshit.

“As a sexual assault victim, I reject Brett Kavanaugh” is ridiculous because a random woman who says she’s been sexually assaulted has no intimate knowledge of the actual alleged assault. It’s tribal affiliation and stupidity all the way down.

Evaluating arguments based on identity of the speaker is what is wrong. Tyler is being incredibly Straussian here.

Nope you're full of shit.

Your two examples of the veteran, in reality, would probably be given by the same veteran. Speakers are often giving the same speech over and over again and what you depict there are the types of variations that creep in.

Your example of the sexual assault victim is the same thing as above.

Let's get down to it. Why does the veteran say he believes X about the war? He is saying he made observations in his service, observations that you cannot simply make by reading reports about the war and these observations lead to the conclusion of X. He isn't saying you cannot access this information as a matter of tribe. He is saying if you had done what he did you would have seen the same thing and reached the same conclusion.

The assault victim, likewise, sees in Ford signs that she is familiar with that lead her to believe her claim. Maybe it's the pitch of her voice, maybe it's some of the verbal tics in how she speaks about it, whatever it triggers the mark of familiarity.

Or she might be saying having seen how horrible it is, she cannot accept anyone who did it as a SC judge period.

Those are strong claims but subject to being wrong nonetheless. Veterans have come to differing conclusions about war in general and specific wars in specific so we know there's no magical shared knowledge among vets that leads to unquestionable conclusions.

Evaluating arguments based on identity of the speaker is what is wrong.

Triple bullshit. Let's imagine for one second you disagree with either the vet or victim and then you hear some website has discovered the speaker was never actually in the service or she was lying about being a victim. I guarantee your reaction is not going to be "I don't care, I only evaluate arguments dispassionately so the speaker means nothing to me"

I take the following view:

Bill Gates: Here you have speaking from authority. The subtext is "I've run a multibillion dollar company that employees hundreds of thousands of people and probably millions more indirectly. I know something about what's needed for people to have jobs. Do you?"

Transgender activist: Conservatives, I think, are hearing "I'm in the special group of people you have to bow down too and can't criticize". But to be honest conservatives often seem to be the type of people who figure out a bit too old that professional wrestling is fake. Consider what exactly does it mean when you are listening to talk radio and the right wing host introduces a clip as 'from a transgender activist...'? The context is "hey stupid sheep who keep me rich, I just pushed the 'boo and hiss' button so get off your asses'.

My take?

Transgender activist/doomsday prepper/ gun nut/person with 15 kids -

I don't view these as assertions you must follow the person. I view them as 'hooks'. The currency of a speaker is attention and whether you're hawking snake oil at a carnival side show or trying to get the academic community to accept your novel theory, you need to get attention. "Hey here's something you aren't used to seeing" is a good hook to get attention. The human brain shuts off paying attention to the familiar but snaps on for the novel. Hence 'exotic' is such a good market word but 'standard' not so much.

Using someone else's identity to frame their remarks works pretty differently--there it is often a way or trying to undermine their stated position. ("This speaks the entitled white male.") or ("Here's what the feminazis are saying.")

Other times it can be an appeal to authority. ("Dr Putzenbaum, from the institute of intelligent falling, explains the flaws in our common view of gravity.")

One thing I know I have done, especially when speaking to people with higher expertise, is to preface my thoughts with "speaking as a.." to lessen expectations rather than to raise them.

You're sitting with people who are having a conversation you are somewhat following, learning a lot, and suddenly someone turns and ask you what you think.

Saying "speaking as" can position your thoughts as perspective rather than competition.

What's interesting is in that setting you can grab more attention rather than less. Bunch of theoretical physicists are chatting and you chime in with "speaking as a guy with a degree in basket weaving"....odds are you're going to get a lot of attention from them. Granted 80% of them may be paying attention because they expect to hear something amazingly stupid and the other 20% might be thinking "Gee I wonder if this will be a real life Good Will Hunting event about to happen" but you got their attention.

Going off topic some, were there ever actual degrees in basket-weaving for the taking? Or was that just the point of the joke, the hyperbole? I could see a basket-weaving course being offered at lots of unis, but a whole degree?

"Speaking as an X" is useful if being an X has some bearing on the discussion, either in terms of specific knowledge ("Speaking as an electrician, I really recommend you don't reach behind that missing panel on the breaker box and touch the bus bar." ) or in terms of having some skin in the game ("Speaking as a citizen of Cantfinditonamapistan, I'm very upset about the bombing of my country by American drone operators who got confused about where their target was and bombed us instead.")

But in conversation, it seems like it's an attempt to grab some higher moral status: ("Speaking as a woman, I find your decision to wear socks with sandals intolerable.")

"speaking as a homeowner, I'd really like to get more on that circuit, but I'm not sure it's safe.."

Using "speaking as" to frame your own level of expertise and your desire.

Higher moral status or in this case simply speaking from authority of higher knowledge?

"Speaking as a doctor, you shouldn't be having that coffee at 10PM if you're complaining that you can't get to sleep"

"Speaking as an electrician, you shouldn't cross those two wires"

In your example note how odd it would sound if the statement was "speaking as a woman, triple blade razors are overrated for beard shaving".

I see in other comments that people are threatened by "speaking as" framing as a different world view or perspective.

I consider that fragile, ymmv.

yeah, when these so-called "libertarians" have their brittle egos shatter into a thousand little pieces because someone somewhere holds a different opinion you really wonder if they truly understand what liberty and free speech really means.

Dear Tyler Cowen:

You've made a distinction between appealing to identity to inoculate assertions from rebuttal, and "self-introduction" to establish the right to speak.

In either case, the result is the same: you are about to get told. Which is fine if you respond very well to that sort of thing, and find a feeling of guilt a valuable accessory to learning (maybe that could be the next New Math?), and are immune to the need to respond.

But surely the distinction between that, and conversation, or exchange of any sort, is obvious.

I'm not a member of Facebook or Twitter, but Speaking as an Outside Observer Too Congenitally Lazy and Anti-Social to Be Part of That, what I see play out on such forums among people who reduce themselves to attributes (color, gender, sexual fetish, lately-realized autism, etc.) and reduce others to what they perceive to be their hostile opposites - is always hectoring, punctuated with in-group high-fives. "What you need to do is stop talking." "Why are you still talking?" "[Group x] just needs to listen."

I believe that - possibly excepting you, TC, and the sort of perennial fanatics who would have worn hairshirts once upon a time - people find one-way hectoring hard to take, after a point anyway. It will eventually wear thin with those pretending to enjoy it; and then the folks who have gained power through this tactic will have a choice to make about the means by which to maintain their power, and enforce all that salutary listening.

P.S. I follow your blog because you bring a lot of interesting stuff to my attention. You moderate it very, and mysteriously, well (except for that time the commenters broke you). But Speaking as an Economics Dummy and a Conservative, your identity as a libertarian who keeps running up against the limitations of being a libertarian, whatever that is, and an economics professor - actually makes it less probable that I would follow you. Unless that identity is somehow connected to your hosting skills and link curation ...

Speaking as someone with an obviously higher sense of self confidence, I find that ridiculous.

You had me at "as."

Yes, in TC’s blog’s case, there’s a “there there”: a tangible benefit to us readers based on his skill in finding — and commenting on — interesting articles from a broadly libertarian perspective. His honesty in signalling his intellectual affiliations differs from the intersectional listing of attributes that are designed to establish dominance and power. Good post Peri.

It is just so good that someone who calls themselves "god of thunder" is worried about dominance and power of others.

Classic. Try amore little outward humility with a little more internal self-confidence.

Not that you’d care, because you just want to hurl insults, but as it happens I’m Scandinavian and “Thor” was my favourite movie. But some other poster was using Thor, so I went with G of T. Meh. Guess it means more than I thought it did.

Wasn't Thor the strongest good? No, that's right he was the dumbest.

First he complains about dominance and power, and then when he's encouraged to have more self-confidence, he thinks he's being insulted.

GoT: God of Thunder? Game of Thrones? Guns on Target? Gin on Tonic?

If I dominate you its because I'm evolutionarily superior to weaklings like you. Darwin would be proud.

"If someone opens with “Speaking as a transgender latinx labor activist…”, or something similar, perhaps that is somewhat artless, but most likely it is relevant information to me, at least for most of the topics which correlate with that kind of introduction. I am happy enough with direct communication of that information, and don’t quite get what a GMU blogger would object to in that regard." you give MORE weight, or LESS weight to an argument prefaced by a declaration of identity?

Yeah...that was a trick question: either way, you are accepting an /argumentum ad auctoritas/, an "argument from authority" ("Believe me, because my identity entitles me to claim superior knowledge").

Arguments from authority are meretricious, as anyone who reads this blog should be aware. What counts is the argument: the facts put into evidence and the connective tissue--the logic--that binds them together into a conclusion.

Who is making the argument is irrelevant. If their identity, their experience, their education are contributing factors to their argument, those--and only those--should be made part of the argument in the form of facts which support the argument.

Wouldn't a Bayesian just use "speaking as" as a framing, and one more node in the knowledge network of a claim?

No one is required to accept a claim.

I think we are mixing up logic and rhetoric here. Logically it doesn't matter who a speaker is, they either have good arguments or not.

Rhetoric is a different matter. A speaker has to get the attention of the audience, keep them engaged. Logic is related to that but lots of things that are not logic come into play too.

Sometimes a speaker's identity is necessary to the topic inasmuch as it relates to knowledge or experience inaccessible otherwise. If I see two people go and have a private conversation (about...let's say yams for argument's sake), and I want to know what that conversation was about, I have to ask someone who was present—the fact of their identity as someone privy to the conversation is an absolute qualifier.

Conservatives are fearful and easily intimidated, thus interpret introductions of anyone as different from themselves as bullying.

I suppose that would explain their demands for "safe spaces" and trigger warnings.

Exactly how many times have you heard a request for either a trigger warning or safe spaces directly from someone making it? What's the ratio of actual requests to you hearing about it in conservative media?

Speaking as someone who had to go get a graduate “degree” recently, it’s high. And this isn’t Evergreen State. For supposedly the best and brightest they are disturbingly coddled and infantile for their age.

Especially since I listen to NPR, not Rush Limbaugh, so the denominator in your ratio is almost zero.

But I agree in a general sense, this is almost entirely an Internet and university phenomenon. But recently it’s started to leak into tech in a substantial way.

Larry Summers was fired for saying something that is trivially true and inoffensive. The Google engineer was fired for saying something that is trivially true and inoffensive.

Speaking as someone who is socially intelligent enough to not ever question the zeitgeist at work, I “find it problematic.”

There’s a new Catholic Church in town, and it loves inquisitions and excommunicating heretics. And you can find it in the mirror.


Oh come on, James Damore made the Classic tickets are of applying "means" to individuals."

"Damore argues that greater extraversion and agreeableness, on the whole, would make it harder for women to negotiate and stake out leadership positions in an organization, and that higher neuroticism would naturally lead to fewer women in high-stress jobs."

But then if you are "speaking as" an ideologue you don't really care about those details.

lol, speech recognition error.

"classic bigot's error"

Damore also wrote about the variance in women, and how there were many qualified women. Using means to answer questions about sums isn't poor math.

"Damore also wrote"

This is actually the key to understanding the controversy, and how it can be long lived. People defending and people concerned with the memo quote different things.

So take that as your will, but if you say he was railroaded, you should probably look at the actual criticism not the other stuff.

Damore had it coming. He wrote a memo that went viral challenging a major policy initiative of his employer. He failed to communicate his message efficiently as you point out different people end up focusing on different parts of his memo. His memo antagonized those he was trying to supposedly convince and reinforced those he claimed to not support (racists, sexists etc.).

Writing is an act of communication and failing to communicate has consequences. Just because someone is an engineer doesn't mean communication doesn't matter.

"We need to start a conversation about [X]"

"Here are some thoughts on [X] with less than perfect nuance."

"Burn the heretic"

It is impossible to communicate if we are not willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to those who disagree with us. Likewise there will never be a conversation of significance if we cannot hear hurtful things without needing to ostracize and excommunicate those who are making human mistakes.

You assume an employer wants all the employees to really communicate. Why do you assume a company builtin board is really the open forum it promises? You should be aware that reading between the lines at work is something you have to do.

"Reading between the lines" is a wonderful way to illegally discriminate against people with autism spectrum disorder, various shizophrenic type pathologies, and many other psychiatric conditions.

We cannot have calls for dialogue and mutual understanding while also excommunicating those who follow through in very human ways.

"We cannot have calls for dialogue and mutual understanding while also excommunicating those..."

The legal doctrine is called employment at will and it's the norm in the US. You can be fired for any reason at all or no reason. Only if you can show you were fired for falling into a few narrow categories (race, gender, religion etc.) might you have a case.

illegally discriminate against people with autism spectrum disorder

You'd have to show he was fired because of mental disability. Does he even claim to have a mental disability? Last time I heard he claimed he was fired because of the memo he wrote. Firing someone for a disability is still ok if the disability impacts their job. If your employee sends death threats to the President because he is schizophrenic, you can fire him.

Just like Fonzie 'jumping the shark' which led to the demise of "Happy Days" this post and the referential ones may signal the end of blogging. The three of you should get back to doing economics which I suspect is what you were originally trained for rather than being pop psychologists.

Of course the Internet gives everyone a platform so I'm not sanguine that the above advice will be taken.

>appealing to one’s identity possibly can be a negative signal.

Ok then. Thanks so much for clearing that up.

You're missing the point, again, by a very wide margin. The point is the difference between facts and feelings, as it usually is. I realize Democrat voters like you hate to make the distinction, and in fact rely on confusing the two to make your arguments. But here goes.

You should give extra credence to the sheep herder who is telling you about sheep behavior.

You should give negative credence to the "activist" who is saying how much certain policies hurt peoples' feelings.

Got it?

Didn't think so....

how about;
im a sociologist here to read
your brain scan

Just for fun I put "speaking as a" into Google, top auto-complete results are
nyt (?)
white male
(nothing, blank)
former baby
child of the 90's
leader pdf
leader judith humphrey
leader judith humphrey pdf
third person

So does Kling agree then that we are being plagued by bullying from white males, former babies, children of the 90's and the infamous Judith Humphrey?

Word salad and tribal.

Dude, your comments aren't good enough to be read as reruns...esp. reruns under the same thread!

"Speaking as..." give me information I can reflect on or reject. Either way it's good to have. I can respect the authority of the speaker if I choose to, or I can recognize possible biases that the speaker may have. Additional info is no loss.

4) Fortunately, it's not difficult to find women authors in countries other than the U.S., who are able to speak in a normal classical liberal voice without being attacked by the left and ignored by the right.

It's more commonly a bullying tactic. Recent example: women claiming to speak as victims of sexual assault who accosted Sen. Flake in the elevator. They demanded that Sen. Flake vote against confirming Kavanaugh or else he's not taking victims of sexual assault seriously. It was pure demagogic emotional blackmail, but mission accomplished.

Because it's clear Flake had taken sexual assault seriously up until that moment so chewing him out was just so unfair.

lol at "emotional blackmail" man you Trumpies are the world's biggest victims. so unfair! waaah!

"women in today’s world often feel less comfortable putting themselves forward in public spaces. In most (not all) areas they blog at much lower rates"

Because unlike their close circle of doting friends, the internet is a wild and wooly place where people actually challenge you on your facts and logic.

It must be very uncomfortable indeed to put one's ignorance and illogic out for public comment and expecting complete agreement.

"I'm An Internet Writer, And I'm Tired Of This Ubiquitous Headline Formula"

"""Once upon a time, when you saw a headline in a newspaper opinion section about a historical topic, you might automatically assume that the author was a historian. These days, everyone on Twitter is an amateur historian. ... Identifying an author’s academic or professional credentials in a headline is a way to advertise their authority in a generally nonhierarchical online world."""

At the bottom of the article there is a quiz to see whether you can match the first, self-identification part of some real credential-establishing headlines with the second, opinion-stating part of them.

Have rarely agreed more with a set of arguments.
A number of people will make the case that some of these are introductions to expertise rather than identity. It's a distinction without a difference if what we're looking for is for a deeper understanding gained through experience personal experience. And as you say, one always has the option of disagreeing with what follows. The introduction is still perfectly legitimate.

This post deserves a link to the next day's post (, which explains why informational asymmetry makes "Speaking as a woman..." a valuable signal for many men to listen attentively when the subject of conservation is sexual abuse.

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