Friday assorted links

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I had to pop over with a headline that amused but did not surprise me:

Hardcore parkour robots

There is no great stagnation.

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#2: "Life is like a video game." - @danielgross
If you're doing something difficult and you get dismayed, the video game has become too hard.
Have no fear.
You're just trying to do too much at once.
Like a video game, challenges can't be too easy or too hard.

???????

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3. Some good (and also not so good) discussion of that article on Twitter. I do think that "political correctness" is a rather nebulous term that means different things to different people. But other politically charged terms, such as racism and sexism, also seem to have similar issues.

Perhaps a more useful way to discuss this issue would be to frame it in terms of whether Americans prefer having stricter or looser norms about both the language and tone used in political discourse...

It is definitely an aspect that different people think of different things when you say "political correctness."

My own view is very broad, that it covers all of the tribal rules about what you can or cannot believe. But I know many people have much more narrow definitions.

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It means not being able to say things that some people find offensive, even if the number of people is very low and your intentions are completely innocent

“Churchill.”

PC twitter mob: “Thou must not utter that name on pain of banishment!”

Really? Can you show me where to find this?

Civil war statues. Pictures of guns. NRA tee shirts. Boy Scouts. Pro life. Founding fathers.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45789819

"Churchill."

Oh I see now.

Twitter "mob" is subjective, I guess.

We can have dueling twitter mobs! Like dueling bible verses.

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I don't understand the line in the Mounk thread saying that "traditional and devoted conservatives are far outside the American mainstream." Those are the only two groups identified as conservative at all. It begs the question of how the mainstream is defined, but suggests a structural bias in the construction of the study.

Does it? Properly done, you ask a series of questions that allows you to plot people on broad axes, and then you look for clusters.

Oh really? And how do you determine which questions are the "correct" ones? Easy! You just determine which questions best separate the population into the number of groups you want. Some people might have a problem with the circular logic inherent in such a scheme, but it wouldn't be PC to complain.

If you can show that the questions were obviously skewed with that intention, or if you have an alternate set of questions that show a different result, tear it up.

But you guys seem to be saying these questions are bad because of the result.

To clarify, I think I misunderstood the sentence. Those groups are described as outside the mainstream on the question of PC, but I was reading it that they were "outside the mainstream" of all American political discourse, which struck me as a difficult proposition to defend.

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The problem is that the traditional Conservatives and devoted Conservatives are not so far from "moderates" and "disengaged". Not compared with the 8% rich white left wing activist cluster for sure, or even how far the SJW cluster is from "passive liberals".

I think its a great little analysis in terms of reproducing political divisions that actually map the scene today, rather these categories like "strong Democrat" or "very Liberal" that give the false impression there's more ideological diversity and moderation at the sharp end of politically engaged young left wing than there really is.

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#3 is a nice article in a number of ways. Lots of interesting discussions could ensue, but to offer just one:

As one 40-year-old American Indian in Oklahoma said in his focus group, according to the report:

"It seems like everyday you wake up something has changed … Do you say Jew? Or Jewish? Is it a black guy? African-American? … You are on your toes because you never know what to say. So political correctness in that sense is scary."

This is interesting to me because my Bulgarian friend has similar problems with this sort of "which word to use" form of political correctness. I think he has even gone in circles a bit, reading up on what is Politically Incorrect, and then trying to discuss it with people on the train. Such things are especially hard for people who are not cultural natives.

My advice was to forget the words and just try to be gentle in your interactions, like Kwai Chang Caine, as portrayed by David Carradine, in 1970s TV's Kung Fu.

“My advice was to forget the words and just try to be gentle in your interactions, like Kwai Chang Caine, as portrayed by David Carradine, in 1970s TV's Kung Fu.”

C’mon, is it or is it not the case that this TV show, with Carradine in the role, simply could not even get made today, without shrieks from various corners that’s its the rankest cultural appropriation?

It's true that today having a super white guy playing a wandering Chinese kung fu master wouldn't fly, but isn't that kind of an improvement? The culture does change, and a positive change is that we have people portrayed in the media by actors of the obviously logical type needed.

What if identifies as Chinese?

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Caine was half Chinese.

You sure could make it today. People might roll their eyes a little if, say, Justin Bieber played Caine but there are plenty alternatives out there.

Hell, they have a Brit playing a Georgia sheriff in Walking Dead.

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And yet Marvel made the Iron Fist TV show last year.

I don't know. I think the problems with political correctness run deep and are sharp at the deep end - where you have deeply flawed ideas of history that propagate because they further the idea that POC or women made more intellectual contributions than they did, or that expropriation from POC mattered more than it did to economic history. Narratives that people are genuinely frightened to challenge even when they know they are wrong.

But I think the shallow end is overrated - just wear those dreadlocks (figuratively speaking) and style it out like Jeremy Lin and you'll have fewer problems than you think and use whatever non-deliberately offensive word you want and people will get it.

Good example! I thought I had seen something similar to Kung Fu recently .. Iron Fist.

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3. "Political correctness" is like the "death tax": it's a term that has been effectively associated with something to oppose. Never mind that a very, very small percentage of estates are subject to the "death tax", or that except for a few blowhards, a very, very small percentage of Americans have ever experienced "political correctness" (or even know what it means, other than it means they object to it). We are living in an era when words are used as propaganda not as communication.

Tax is collected when death occurs, it's a death tax (but for the very wealthy). Many Americans experience political correctness, I experience it every day at work, as does my wife. Students experience it. You need very few people to be vilified by the repercussions of defying politically correct standards for it to have a chilling effect on speech and relations across the country. Both terms deserve the negativity associated with them.

Ignore rayward. He lives in a bubble. Or better yet, ask him to dress up in a Hallowe’en costume and attend a party at Yale.

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If you give your money to charity is there a death tax?

If the tax only impinges when you give it to individuals maybe it really is an inheritance tax.

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Honest question - how do you and your wife experience Political Correctness at work every day?

I rarely think about it. We did have some guests over recently and they asked us to pray with them before dinner. I thought it would be rude to decline so we participated in the ritual. I don't really see this as political correctness, though it could be maybe.

At work we limit T-shirts to sport team names and colors only. T shirt messages can be fraught. I suppose this is political correctness. Is it a bad thing?

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1 was interesting. IQ+effort=merit seems very true. I don't see how the winners are keeping the losers down in America though (What are their "tricks" to being successful?). Just because a rich persons child gets rich too doesn't mean anything untoward is going on. It just means the child inherited their parents genetics and had a good environment. It makes their child have higher merit not anyone else's have lower merit. I agree that the moral righteousness that goes along with being successful is annoying but it doesn't keep many people down, if anyone, on it's own.

Here in California, where quite average people live in a million dollar home, and pull out a couple hundred thousand to help their kids get started in a half million dollar condo, it is very apparent that what can look like meritocracy from the outside is actually intergenerational wealth transfer on the inside.

How could this have happened in Progressive Utopia? I guess Californians are just greedy, bigoted, mean-spirited people.

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Over the US, that number is pretty low. Most people do not get this level of help, if any at all.

There was a study recently

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-wealthy-white-families.html

How does giving money to your kids hurt other kids? It doesn't, it makes your kids better off but has no effect on other kids. It's not zero sum. How is it morally wrong to invest in your kids? It's not, everyone should do it, especially black families according to your study. Is that the "secret" "trick" the poor are being denied access too? That you should invest in your kids so they have a better life and can support themselves? Mean whites hoarding their tricks from poor blacks.

This highlights a fundamental division, whether we think opportunity for the next generation should only be provided by their parents, or whether society has a role.

I will say that buying into a 'parent lottery' is moving away from equal opportunity and from a true meritocracy.

See Uncle Milton on the critical role of the family in maximizing incentives (especially at 1:45 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdiIjehHEAQ

Bottom line: If you want to promote socioeconomic mobility, promote intact families.

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What nonsense. Drivers Licenses. Public school diplomas. Hmmm, what else? Very little is zero sum. Potential jobs, potential mates, potential homes all are NOT zero sum. Ivy League entrance, medical school, law school, NYC (taxi) medallions, and on and on. Prison since the rich serve less time for the same crime (not to mention that prosecutors are less likely to indict the rich). Non-zero sum situations are the (fairly rare) exception, not the rule.

Every dollar that the government does NOT collect in taxes is a dollar they can't spread around, so claiming the money doesn't "hurt" anybody if it is not collected is simply wrong. Although the definition of harm has to be defined.

Go back to China if you want communism. Transfers to poor people only create more useless poor people.

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Not entirely sure what your point is. If poor people want to be doctors or lawyers or go to Ivy League schools they can try and many succeed. Its kind of stupid we intentionally restrict supply of cabbies or doctors but people still have the same opportunity to do those and there are many other fulfilling and profitable things to do.

I don't agree with your assertions about crime, and at any rate only loses commit crime. Rich people that commit crime like poor people aren't going to be rich for long.

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"This racial inequality in wealth transmission also plays out in the rates of homeownership. About half the African-American grandparents in the study were homeowners in the 1960s, compared to 82 percent of white grandparents. But two generations later, rates of homeownership were higher for white grandchildren of those who did not own homes than for African-Americans whose grandparents owned homes."

So they claim 'A' and give evidence that supports '-A'. Does the rest of the paragraph not imply that these things are NOT transmitted generationally. Also a lot of what they claim seems to call wealth, what most people would refer to as values.

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Not to mention neighborhood conversations on how many thousand dollars are being spent on SAT test preparation.

Might as well set that money on fire. That's redistribution in action

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Liberals should be all about SAT preparation.

Actually liberals should be all in favor of ANY method of parents transmitting advantages that are proven to be 100% ineffective.

So by your logic, we should want more and more $s to be thrown down the test preparation hole. It lowers eventual estate values, creates a zero sum arms race for wealthy parents with stupid children, and is entirely ineffective.

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It makes for a greater understanding of noblesse oblige: under more caste-style systems, the upper class is expected to care for and support the lower class, because everyone understands that the lower class can not possibly rise above their station.

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#1 was very interesting. Quite a life, and begun in an age none of us can comprehend now.

I would say I am fairly meritocracy oriented, certainly as opposed to an inherited wealth aristocracy. But not to the degree that I believe an underclass is necessary or just. As society becomes richer, the social security system may be raised higher.

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3 - not surprise practically everyone does - there is both left wing and right wing political correctness - which both center around their respective favored constituencies. However, the desire to silence certain types of political speech for politically correct reasons is a tactic used far more frequently by the left, than the right. What's happening on college campuses across the country is evidence of this - speakers getting shouted down, riots against conservative speakers, walking out on certain professors, demanding resignations from professors voicing their opinions, etc. Also prevalent in the workplace - e.g. James Damore being fired from Google, in what was actually a pretty a-political memo, or more recently, facebook exec facing pressure to resign merely because he showed his face at one of the Kavanaugh hearings. Or how about if somebody didn't want to participate in "implicit bias" training at work, which is basically leftist political propaganda - you get fired no questions asked. The right simply does not attempt to silence the left the way the left does to the right - there aren't liberal speakers being shouted down on campus, riots of left leaning speakers showing up on campus, people getting fired from their jobs for making claims that are politically incorrect among conservatives, left leaning videos being shut down on youtube, droves of people advocating for violence against communists instead of nazis.

If you actually believe liberals have more of a tendency to silence opposing views, then I'll bet you didn't attend a parochial school. I don't dispute that "higher ed." tends to be left-wing (now days) but I was in school in the 60's. I can assure you that the "establishment" will use as much force as it can get away with to silence what it feels are threats to itself. A Conservative establishment is just as likely to silence its opponents (look at what Trump's doing) as a Liberal one is, arguably more so.

There’s certainly political correctness on both sides.

It’s a great weapon in the culture wars.

The question of who has the bigger weapon is this:

In 2018, what is true that cannot be said without being fired?

The answer is telling.

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Exactly, the point is that we're talking about "nowadays" rather than some circumstance transcending essence.

The actual structure today of what are called "Liberals" as described by this study is as follows:

a mostly passive block of liberals that are politically unengaged and informed

an older traditional Liberal group that has some ideological diversity and is rational and low conformity (and actually more ethnically diverse than the third group I'll come to) but which is rapidly dying off

finally, a younger group who they call "Progressive Activists" who basically are the relatively rich, irrational, angry SJW ideologues they're stereotyped to be, with an actual 99 v 1% ideological diversity on most polarizing issues (generally more polarized than the counterpart "devoted Conservatives" cluster, which is anyway slightly smaller, older and less rich).

The present day environment is that the only hyper conformist, hyper polarized, hyper engaged cluster that is mainly aged 20-40, and hence out in strength on campuses, is the "Progressive Activist" SJW cluster.

Further on conformity: "Pressure to conform. The segment that reports feeling the most pressure from individuals of their own political ideology is the Progressive Activists, at 42 percent (compared to 29 percent average). Progressive Activists also feel more pressure from their party than others (41 percent v. 30 percent average). 61 percent of Progressive Activists feel that Americans pressure each other to think and talk a certain way about issues, while only 37 percent of Devoted Conservatives felt the same way."

In the abstract this cluster believes in free speech and are against authoritarianism... But their actual dynamics are cynicism about rational argument, anger, high levels of conformity and ideological uniformity, so argument often goes to the authority and free speech in actual practice is honored in the breach. It shows that vaunted anti-authoritarianism and free speech credentials mean very little in the face of rage, conformity, tribalism and an ideological commitment to a Critical Theory which is deeply skeptical of free and open rational dialogue.

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Except, of course, the Progressive Activists (disproportionately people who have spent more time in the fetid atmosphere of academia) who are usually the leading edge of where liberals eventually end up and who are the outlier regarding PC: only 30% regard it as a problem.

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#3 Is PC in these studies acting as a proxy for the stress of ambiguity? Only the educated and rich are insulated from the volatile nature of the modern day hyper-competitive identities market. Only the rich and educated cheer when a Cambodian actress wins a prestigious award, as she ascends to their class. The rest of the masses wince and grumble as they do when only one of them receives a promotion.

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3. Joke heard back in the 90s: "In the year 2000, the term 'politically correct' will no longer be politically correct."

Some broad-based ideas can be generally agreed to: Don't mock people as a matter of course, don't insult broad groups that people can't decide whether they're a part of or not. Be considerate. I'd say that most people agree with this. As such, there are a number of slurs and terms designed to insult that you refrain from using in day-to-day conversation.

However, that still means that these specific words morph over time. "Haha, you're handicapped!" "No! Don't say that, that's rude! Say 'physically challenged' instead." "Okay. Haha, you're physically challenged!" It's not the term that's politically incorrect, it's the derision in the first place. Most kids would never say "retarded" today; they'll just say "autistic" instead but change nothing else.

But then you've got groups that are just trying to come up with the next generation of insults so that they can get back to insulting without others catching on. A lot of the alt-right meme machine is trying to do that again and again.

But on the other hand, there are those that keep trying to "teach" that more and more words are slurs to be avoided. I remember meeting one person who insisted that "stupid" was a slur, along with any other term that might indicate a lack of forethought on the part of someone ("idiot," "moron," "dumb," etc.). Of course, they were just as dismissive and hateful toward everyone anyway, and were promptly laughed out of the chatroom.

So really, we've got the same thing we see in many places: two hateful groups on either end, trying to maintain the right to insult and dehumanize others while denying it for the majority, and that very majority that just wants both groups to shut up and treat other people with a general, baseline respect.

That pretty much sums it.
The basic concept of PC in the sense of "let's have some norms about what sort of stuff it's ok to say in polite society" is *good*.
The problem comes in when people try to use it to control the terms of debate, for instance by smuggling assumptions into the words people are allowed to use to have a discussion, or by making certain words forbidden, even if used non-pejoratively. Terms like "homophobia", for instance, are intentionally constructed in order to smuggle in the idea that being anti-gay is a mental disorder. I am pro-gay rights and I can see this. The same thing is happening on the right where people are trying to deny others the ability to use the word "racist" or "fascist" to describe things that actually are racist or fascist according to commonly held definitions of those words.

The problem comes in when people try to use it to control the terms of debate,

Like how discussions of ethnic group differences are almost automatically labeled out of bounds?

Not exactly the same thing. Some things shouldn't be the subject of open public discussion because doing so might have some really bad consequences for society. But that discussion can still happen, say, behind the paywalls of scientific journals.

I certainly understand the point that you're trying to make here. Do you feel that cultural taboos against such discussion are the best way to protect society from those really bad consequences? I worry that these taboos conflict with other cherished American ideals, such as free speech.

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"because doing so might have some really bad consequences for society"

Every society before us has had the same thing, ideas that are so off-limits that holding them up for debate is verboten by powerful interests and the majority of society that acquiesce: the truth of the Mosaic law, the divinity of the emperor, the existence of God and the ascension of Christ, the biological supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon/Aryan race, the natural right of the nobility to govern, the final truth of the Marxian conception of history and the primacy of the class struggle, the weakness of the slave justifying his servitude, the revelation of Quran through the final prophet Muhammad. All of these were highly protected as their challenge could "have some really bad consequences for society" through destabilization and consequently carried potential punishment, including sometimes official punishment including death, and we cheer people for having challenged these norms and strictures.

"Bad consequences" is not stopping anyone anytime soon. And I am not speaking of race/IQ, it applies to all manner of theoretical, academic, and critical inquiry. Conservatives would have banned intersectionality back in the 90s if they were worried about destabilizing society. Evangelicals in the 80s would have banned queer theory and LGBT groups for the same claimed reasons.

+1

The history of prior societies seems to offer clear evidence that banning taboo speech outright through legal means is a bad idea, and that having harsh punishments for taboo speech is also a bad idea.

But with that said, having certain cultural norms that make some topics relatively taboo to talk about may not necessarily be harmful. It seems to me that there is a delicate balancing act here between norms and laws.

It's also worth asking whether successful societies tend to rest upon foundations that are ultimately more of a myth than reality. I think Tyler may have said before that great societies are often founded upon false myths, but that belief in the myths may be the very ingredient that helps such societies flourish?

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+1 to Hazel.

Milo: why do we need to care about ethnic group differences, other than as an academic exercise? It's plausible that the 'average' black person has a lower IQ and is taller than the 'average' Chinese-American. OK, so what?

I think it is important to study group differences (ethnic, gender, or otherwise), or at least to remain agnostic about the possibility of group differences, because many folks on the left seem to use "inequality of outcome between different groups" as prima facie evidence of unjust structural discrimination. That does not necessarily follow, and it seems rather dangerous to assume that it does...

The US Supreme Court uses disparate outcome as a measure of (unjust) discrimination.

That might not be set in stone. It certainly doesn't follow from the constitution, and if broadly applied, NFL and NBA would be in trouble, when a class action suit by girly white guys who didn't make it sues for the back pay they should have received without a racial bias against whites.

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Because the people who complain the most about "inequality" of outcomes ignore the connection between such differences and those unequal outcomes. That's what Thomas Sowell, for example, has been saying for decades (though he's regards IQ as more variable and favors cultural explanations), and yet it is routinely ignored. Instead we get the constant chorus of the white, patriarchal, heteronormative, cisgendered, ablist, etc. power structure being almost entirely responsible for what they assume should be the just outcome, namely, strictly proportional equality.

Well, we don't want those average differences to become feedback loops which perpetuate themselves, either. The answer has always been to treat people as individuals and let the chips fall where they may. But if you publicize that "group X is on average Y" then people don't get treated like individuals - you introduce bias.

+1 again to Hazel.

To Anon7: we can and should fight identitarian extremists, but that doesn't mean it's so bad to try to open up opportunities for marginalized groups. You don't need to study "group differences" to do that. If there's no female movie directors, make an effort to find the best ones. If there's no black firemen, do the same. I am aware that some say it's a monstrous tragedy that there isn't exactly the same proportion of every group in every field. That doesn't make those people correct.

You really have no choice but to study group difference not only to combat the intersectional identitarian extremists (not all of whom are extremist) but also as a means of legal defense in cases involving "disparate impact" discrimination.

The population geneticists think they have this figured out, but you want them to keep studying because they don't give you the answer you want?

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/biologically-race-only-skin-deep

You love to attack straw men, so please do tell me what answer I want. And group differences include more than biological race.

Your retreat is noted.

The fact of the matter is that "group difference" types have stopped following modern science starting about 10 years ago when masses of genetic data came online and did not support their theses.

I noticed that you say "more than biological race," immediately following a link that there is no such thing.

You sir, have a science problem.

You attacked a straw man because you assumed that I was making a claim about biological race in first place (I'm guessing because you think I'm some sort of "alt-right" type rather than a "neocon cuck" as they like to call us). If you weren't so intent on moral preening, you would have noticed that I cited Sowell, who has never relied on biological explanations.

You're more tedious than prior in posting links, as if anyone like myself who been in and around academia for his entire adult life hasn't come across the debate about different theories of "race." And just to stir the pot, I note that contrary to your claim, the science is not as settled as you suggest, especially if the "folk" definition of broad discrete races is excluded, so I'll do a prior and post a link to wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)#Biological_classification

That is hilarious. After going on and on about how this is not about race "just to stir the pot" you return to it.

You also have a deep logical error. You claim:

"You really have no choice but to study group difference not only to combat the intersectional identitarian extremists (not all of whom are extremist) but also as a means of legal defense in cases involving "disparate impact" discrimination."

None of that makes any sense for something that is insubstantial, cultural, fluid and not rooted in biology.

In other words if it's not biological you are throwing away desperate impacts which do have social remedies.

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Also funny that your first few posts on this page were rampant trolling attempts, and then you wonder why I really can't take you seriously.

"How could this have happened in Progressive Utopia? I guess Californians are just greedy, bigoted, mean-spirited people."

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You may be right that publicizing average group differences will increase bias and harmful feedback loops. I suppose this may partly depend on the general public's knowledge of statistics. If the general public is not very numerate (and Americans generally do not seem to be!), then your case is stronger.

Perhaps the current state of general murkiness and ambiguity about group differences is a sort of "Straussian equilibrium" to this problem. Everyone is equal, but it may be best to not probe too deeply into what we really mean by "equal"...

'it may be best to not probe too deeply into what we really mean by "equal"...'

I don't really get that. We are equal in our humanity.

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Garbage. Which is more discouraging... “on average, people from your group have lower IQ and that may explain why you are unsuccessful” or... “there’s a massive, impenetrable power structure stopping you from being successful”?

Many people happily play games when they may not be the best on the field. Nobody wants to play a game they think is rigged.

This is literally what is happening... people opting out of “the game” because they’re indoctrinated into thinking it’s rigged, to their own detriment, while other, completely average people, get along quite well just by following the rules.

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HM, you know that this is not a solid footing.

On the first grounds, if we really were to be ignorant of all group differences, then differences like overrepresentation in jail or killings by police or underrepresentation at elite schools would fall down the memory hole, as those lead to inferences that would reflect badly on individuals

But you know that this is not practiced and won't be practiced. Social justice pressure groups do not want it to happen.

In practice the only group differences that do get dropped down the public memory hole are those that are upstream of trait differences and cast doubt that downstream social divergences in outcomes are attributable to racism or discrimination or social bias. This really distorts the models of reality people hold!

On a separate note, disregarding group differences doesn't just lead to an absence of bias at the low end, but creates new bias at the top end. People are gonna have a bias to be less sympathetic to the Asian applicants in the Harvard case, if they believe there's no group difference in educational effort and that Asians are on the system distribution as the mass of the population. And that's a form of bias that's unfair to the individuals in that case.

The same also holds true of Whites and Blacks in the USA - if you assume they're on the same distribution on traits, you will have a strong bias to see a lot of outcomes as looking like "white privilege" that isn't. This also will also negatively affect individuals by creating stereotypes and images.

Not talking about group differences does not result in clearly more just outcomes on the individual level.

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The word homophobia first appeared in print in an article written for the May 23, 1969, edition of the American pornographic magazine Screw, in which the word was used to refer to heterosexual men's fear that others might think they are gay.

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Hazel Meade says "...people are trying to deny others the ability to use the word "racist" or "fascist" to describe things that actually are racist or fascist according to commonly held definitions of those words" -- the "commonly held definitions of those words" are "not Progressive" and "vigorously anti-Progressive", respectively.

+1!

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Marginal Revolution went from meritocracy to the intellectual capacity of blacks in less than 30 comments, because of course it did.

That's why even broaching the subject of PC is a right-wing dog whistle. At the very least the topic is adjacent to things adjacent to things adjacent to racism.

How come whenever there's a 'dog whistle'. only leftist hear it?

How come that statement you just made is total crap?

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#: "He was the most eminently practical of men," we are told ... and yet despite all these "institutions" he serially founded, for which he presumably raised the funds for whatever salary he chose to take - he did not manage his money well enough to afford train fare to London in his old age, and so very reluctantly accepted a peerage, with its train pass and per diem. Well, I guess there's practical - and then there's practical like a fox.

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#1 was enjoyable and well-written but Michael Young's work still attacks the same tired strawman. If meritocracy can be summed up by "I.Q. + effort = merit”, and assuming, over your lifetime, that IQ is static (its not) and that the value placed on your effort is static (its not)... then yes: it can create a more entrenched class structure than one which doesn't base Merit on IQ + Effort.

But for him to then complain about how the pie is sliced implies that society's pie is static, or at least "_____-ocracy regime agnostic", which it isn't. Meritocracies actively grow the pie larger, faster. To ignore that fact is to ignore why humans implemented them in the first place.

Not only is "I.Q." not strongly related to competence, but neither is effort. In public discussion, merit is assumed if results are positive. Sure, I doubt if anyone with an I.Q. of 50 is likely to find the cure for cancer or start the next trillion dollar company, but the idea that merit is something that actually can be (semi-) quantified and used to predict outcomes in most real world situations is a pipe dream.

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Young is dead, so that would explain why he is no longer updating his priors. However, the author of the article seems to agree that some version of meritocracy is important for the sake of efficiency and growth. Young’s real objection seems not to be to meritocracy, but rather any system that assigns moral value and consideration based upon a person’s place in the social hierarchy. An engineer probably should be paid more than a cashier, but just because the engineer is paid more doesn’t mean that they should be treated respectfully while the cashier is not. Nor does it mean that the engineer should have legal rights and privileges unavailable to the cashier, or that the institutions of society should be configured to give the engineer more power and say than the cashier.

+1 Just like on the road. The Jag doesn't get to run red lights any more, or gets to drive faster than the Honda Civic.

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4. One of the things that surprises me the most about the modern world is that there are so many "journals" that would be of so much interest to so many intelligent, insightful, and honest people ... on subjects in which they are interested .... and so many, not all, but almost all, of those journals remain hard and expensive to access, apparently because the mid-income people latterly associated with those journals, in legally sound but philosophically obscure ways (Explanations of such things are technical and fascinating to those who profit, but technical and not so fascinating to those who do not) seek to milk every dollar out of every institution they can ....

and not a single "rich person", of which there are so many, has just ever once said - look I am an amateur classical scholar, why shouldn't I just send a big check to the best classical journals to pay them to be free, worldwide - because I want other classical scholars and other would-be classical scholars to be happy about this small thing, access to the scholarship of 7 and 8 decades ago ---- ditto for the better mathematics, linguistics, economics , old master arts journals.

Instead, the rich people lavish billions of dollars every year on half-wit politicians in order to get the words of those politicians, boring as they are, into even more places.

Am I the only person surprised by this? Why, for God's sake, do you have to pay money you might not have to read that article that seems interesting on the question of whether Callimachus actually felt the emotions he described - that article that was published in the 1930s, whose author is long dead, along with his editor, along with every single one of his colleagues, and with every single adult subscriber who received, in the mail, the journal fresh from the press, on some given day so long ago .....

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