Friday assorted links


#3: I can see the point, I suppose, if you are trying to hire a mass-production kiddy into a mass-production subject in a mass-production university. But what if you specifically want someone as a source of scarce skills? Someone, perhaps, with a particular sort of experience?

A million years ago I was a mathematical modeller. There were damned few of us about. University departments approached me, not vice versa.

Still, I suppose that nowadays some young equivalent of me would look at university life and think "not bloody likely!".

Or how about deciding how to allocate time on the world's premier space telescope?

'This year, the institute decided to conduct a double-blind review of Hubble proposals, which hid nearly all information about applicants, including gender, from reviewers. Of the 351 male-led proposals, 28 were picked. Of the 138 female-led proposals, 12 were chosen. That translates into an 8.7 percent success rate for female researchers, and 8 percent for male researchers.

Under the new review system, the disparity that Hubble’s decision-makers had seen year after year had disappeared.

Priyamvada Natarajan, a theoretical physicist at Yale who led the effort, said she was surprised at the outcome. “I was ready to see a small change, but not complete parity,” she said.

But she wasn’t surprised that the years-long pattern had been broken. Research has found ample evidence that men and women are evaluated differently in the same settings, and the Hubble program is no different, she said.'

The disparity was documented in this 2014 paper -

Admittedly, the astronomers are still knocking on the office door. But without the person knowing whether they are male or female, it seems as if male and female astronomers are equally capable of submitting successful proposals to use Hubble for advancing knowledge.

"Of the 351 male-led proposals ... Of the 138 female-led proposals": as I said, mass-production kiddies for a mass-production world.

#3 "1/3 of it about Star Wars and the Jedi"

I think I'll pass on listening to that one. Star Wars is for children.


People who are reflexively contrarian make appalling movie reviewers.

...It’s treason then.

4. Thomas Edsall presents data (NYT).

Couldn't read the article, all the ad links jammed my computer.

U didn't miss anything of substance

just more "all of 2016 politics is explained by racial issues" - continuing to ignore the natural party swapping of the american political system, or that HRC was the most loathed democratic candidate in decades.
in other words more noise of the form "our side did not win it must be racism"

2: Ross is correct. Brain drain is the top issue that no one talks about. Nationally, internationally and from various constituencies.

Hmmm, totally dont see the connection.

But then i read everything looking at how it reflects free lunch economics and totally misses the zero sum reality.

He discusses populism and misses that the mass protest/revot is driven by those who want GDP to be higher from higher consumption, by the masses denied the right to increase GDP by the elite meritocracy who believe economies are not zero sum. Ie, the elites can get the highest GDP growth ever by taking money away from the 90% who lack merit.

He points to Trump who betrays the masses but does understand that he depends on the masses giving him lots of money who refuses to give themm because only one person merits getting money: Trump. Thus, Trump is a free lunch conservative populist epwho wants the masses given lots of debt by way of big government so they can pay really high prices for low cost stuff with high rents going into Trumps pockets, whether its eating junk food in a room of fake gold and glitter, paying lots of money to hit a cheap ball around with a stick, or simply for a hat with a fake history behind it.

Given there has never been a wall, and without a walll, a nation can never be anything but a shithole nation, when was America Great? When is Trump trying to return America to? 1491?

Trumps grand father would be banned from immigrating to Trump's America as well as two of his wives, which clearly means US born women are unacceptable Trump wives, and only immigrants meet his standard for wife.

Free lunch Trump gets the support of the conservative non-elite, non-meritorious, masses who oppose the standards Trump lives by while damning his own actions in speech, but claiming reports about his life is fake news.

Trump, like Xi, wants the fake news he spreads banned because the fake new media is spreading fake news by playing recording of Trump and the populist masses promising Mexico will pay for the wall, Trump is pround to take credit for shutting down government unless Democrats force those cheering masses to pay for. And if Democrats refuse to demand Mdxico pay for the wall, Trump will shutdown government and blame Democrats for blockinng Trump from building a wall paid for by Mexiico, by not taxing Trump supporters to pay for the wall.

Unless, only Mexicans illegally working in the US pay taxes and none of the non-meritocratic Trump masses get paid enough to pay Federal taxes.

But if Trump gets rid of all the Mexicans paying ALL the Federal taxes, who will pay for maintaining the wall?

Perhaps by borrowing money and then declaring bankruptcy, but only after Free Lunch Trump is no longer president, but now hosting his next show where his tag line is "You're impeached!"

#4: "Jardina acknowledges that 'some scholars are critical of this framework' and 'argue that racial resentment entangles conservative principles, like individualism, with racial prejudice.'"

Of course they do. You can be a racial collectivist and be alt right. You can also be an individualist and still essentially be alt right; i.e. racist. There's no getting away from the conclusion that anything other than the specifically Progressive form of race consciousness and racial collectivism is racist.

The idiosyncratic and bizarre form of race thinking permeates so much of social science. It's a fraud.

A rare incisive NYTimes commenter, "Clayboy," offered this:

"As a Black American I feel that the progressive movement sets Black people up to bear the brunt of mainstream revulsion to progressive policies. The left frequently argues that the browning demographics of our nation will ultimately create a permanent electoral majority to mandate a progressive utopia of anti-capitalism, wealth confiscation and redistribution, mandatory identity politics and political correctness, and destruction of the norms that have made our society successful. In as much as most Americans don't want our country transformed in that manner, Blacks and other minority catch the brunt of the backlash. Because minorities so reflexively flock to Democrats, we are the pawns of progressives whose real agenda actually is antithetical to the interests of the Black Americans most mired in poverty."

3. Does this mean that academics cannot be trusted to compensate for bias(es) in the utterly rational worlds they live in?

Must academics resort to "anonymous recruitment" because even armed with their rationalist pretensions and crypto-socialist bonhomie they cannot overcome hiring biases?

Rationalism looks to be as puny as ever (--or could it be only the academic versions thereof?). Tsk.

"Caesar's wife must be above suspicion." Even if you don't have bias, you don't want to let people suspect you of having some. Anonymous admissions of students (admission officers don't have access to name, place of origin gender, age, or any personal information of the students) are easy to manage and actually used in many countries, for example France. Of course, it is the antithesis of American universities's method, which relies almost only on personal information -- race, gender, personal essay, extracurricular activities, social situation of the parents, etc.

Applying anonymity to the hiring of professors? If it was possible, that would be great, but this seems impossible in practice, and the article doesn't say much about how it would work.

#1 As someone who has actually seen several like-farms, I can tell you that Facebook and Amazon's review functions are completely broken. A 5-star review from a "verified purchaser" is pretty much believable 50% of the time, which means not believable at all.

#2 & #3 & #5 - Meritocratic bias vs. natural bias. Wasn't there some study done decades ago that showed that removing for all race/sex indicators still resulted in a selection cohort that was largely white males? I wouldn't be surprised if results from these bias elimination experiments (wherever they occur) get memory-holed, confirmation bias also happens to be double-plus-ungood. Also, the Jedi are a bunch of anti-meritocratic goons.

For certain categories of product, for now mainly those relating to mobile phones, Amazon is utterly unusuable since it is entirely impossible to predict what you'll actually get sent. I've eeven seen things which claim to be official apple branded products, and which carry a 'recommended by amazon' tag, turn out to be cheap chinese fakes.

if you believe The Bell Curve, it should be mostly Asian males.
I wonder how people would react to that? If our society was run by disproportionately Asian men.

I don't entirely believe in the bell-curve-distribution, but I agree that there would and should be more meritocratic placement for Asian men (and women) then we're seeing. Incidentally this is something that Harvard is dealing with right now.

But I think their meritocratic achievement is also being hidden by the statistics. There are 3 factors. First, there are definitely signs of this meritocratic placement far above average within certain professions such as medicine, wet-lab sciences, engineering and computer science. Second, there are signs of meritocratic placement far below average for certain professions, largerly because members of the Asian cohort don't choose them. Third, there is a large cohort of the Asian population in this country that is transient.

My reaction? I believe in meritocracy uber alles. I believe in systems and people that work and can demonstrate their effectiveness to do so, regardless of race or sex. I believe any selection that includes consideration for race or sex of any kind is instantaneously un-meritocratic by definition (as in a condition of force majeure).

I would not react negatively in the slightest to a meritocratic "society run disproportionately by Asian men" but I don't see that this would ever happen for several of the reasons that elude to above. Their influence is growing, and this is interesting because it is in spite of institutions - like the Ivy League - that are quite clearly working disproportionately hard to keep them out.

Imagine that. Institutions of higher education - edifices of affirmative action and "colorblindness" - trying to keep meritocratic achievement from happening. Disproportionately. Huh.

It's easy to not be threatened by something you don't think is going to happen. But leaving that aside, in the context of Douthat's article, that would put you one the side of the technocratic elite against the populist masses ala Trump. I assume you think that todays current technocratic elite are not really the people who merit being in the technocratic elite, and that if society were restructured I guess there would be more white men (and asians) in the technocratic elite and fewer women and minorities. But it's also highly probable that there would still be a meritocratic "proletariat" full of working class white men just like the current populists. Do you imagine that in a purely meritocratic society, those working class white guys are going to like being ruled by Asian men better than by women or black guys?

Your assumptions about me and what appears to be a class-status-Marxist lens you're viewing our world through (proletariat, ruled, elite, populist, masses, working class, etc.) aside, I can imagine in a purely meritocratic society being a society where someone looks at anyone and says, "Yes. It makes sense how they got there." In a purely meritocratic society, the logic of the system is self-evident.

Incidentally, let's rephrase that sentence.

Do you imagine that in a purely meritocratic society, working class black guys are going to like being ruled by white men better than by women or Asian guys?

Yes. In a purely meritocratic society, they should like it better, and that is most definitely not a racist statement under those criteria.

Gotta admit when I read the part about Asian bosses, this scene from Back to the Future comes to mind:

I suspect that you and Harvard would have different definitions of "merit," and that this might explain some of your incredulity.

Possibly. You know what's certain? Asians, Tyler, lawyers, some Harvard staff and alums, and probably a judge or two will also have different definitions of "merit" than Harvard.

Harvard, Yale, and many others are a meritocracy in the same way Guess is a good brand of jeans.

Isn't this already the case? If you look at the demographics of high-ranking tech and financial people, who make our society run far more than anything the federal government does, South Asian men (about 0.5% of the population) are wildly overrepresented. But they're from a high-achieving, often wealthy immigrant group in which the parents frequently emphasized education in STEM, so it shouldn't be surprising.

"Wasn't there some study done decades ago that showed that removing for all race/sex indicators still resulted in a selection cohort that was largely white males?"

Yep, spoken by Trump.

But in the real world, the only time white men get picked overwhelmingly is when the criteria is looking like an ideal while man. Its ironic that this test was advocated by Hitler who would never pass his test. The irony that Douthat struggles to explain, but can't because he misses it.

#4: 'In survey experiments, Carney and Enos substituted Lithuanians and other nationalities for African-Americans so that the first resentment question would ask for agreement or disagreement with the statement: 'Lithuanians should work their way up without any special favors.' Their conclusion:

The results obtained using groups other than blacks are substantively indistinguishable from those measured when blacks are the target group. Decomposing this measure further, we find that political conservatives express only minor differences in resentment across target groups. Far greater differences in resentment toward blacks and other groups can be found among racially sympathetic liberals. In short, we find that modern racism questions appear to measure attitudes toward any group, rather than African-Americans alone."

This is interesting. So liberals give a wider range of responses about who we should be a sympathetic to. For conservatives it's fairly uniform. This is what they mean by colorblind is the new racism. You absolutely should be more patronising/sympathetic toward some groups than others, if you're on the left.

Recall that experiment showing that Democratic politicians were more likely to change the way they spoke in a less complicated direction for black audiences. Republicans spoke the same way in front of every audience. The Edsall piece is getting at why that is.


Michael Gerson called this the soft bigotry of low expectations which doesn't entirely capture the phenomenon, just dances around it. But yes, they're not colorblind at all, they are in fact almost obsessed with it.

I don't think that being more sympathetic to some groups than others is what is meant by "colorblind is the new racism".

When people object to the term "colorblind" what they are objecting to is the way that term entails failing to recognize the history of racism and the effect it has had on black (and white) culture. "Colorblind" is like saying "I'm pretending none of that slavery and segregation stuff happened". if you look at it from the perspective of a black person, that might seem kind of offensive, because your basically refusing to see them for who they are. Black people want to be seen as having a unique culture and history, not as white people who happen to have black skin.

"Colorblind" is like saying "I'm pretending none of that slavery and segregation stuff happened"

No, 'colorblind' means treating a job interview or an admissions dossier as if you're looking at a person bearing skills and an individual disposition.

It also means not treating your school or your workplace as a social work project, particularly a social work project designed by a tiresome Canadian scold.

'It also means not treating your school or your workplace as a social work project'

Strange, considering that segregated schools and workplaces were the norm in a place like Virginia until the early 1960s - not that such segregation was considered a social work project, right?

Hazel Meade is right. It is apparently extremely easy to forget that the Commonwealth of Virginia was actively trying to prevent the birth of someone like Obama in 1964 through anti-miscegenation laws.

Not that such laws were social engineering, it seems. And in modern terms (and definitely in this comment section), one could make the argument they were colorblind, as they equally prevented those citizens classified as white from marrying those citizens classified as black, and naturally, vice versa.

It was wrong then and it's wrong now.

Judge individuals as individuals.

Of course it was wrong then - but nobody called it a social work project when there were explicit laws determining where you could live, who you could marry, or where you could go to school, all backed by the power of the state.

It was actually a social justice project. If people were allowed to live, work, etc. wherever they wanted, the result would be one where the descendants of slaves were equal to the descendants of masters and that was obviously wrong. Government had to step in to fix things.

People who use the phrase "social justice" today just have a different conception of what it means.

Strange, considering that segregated schools and workplaces were the norm in a place like Virginia until the early 1960s - not that such segregation was considered a social work project, right?

No, it's not strange and you're trafficking in non sequiturs. I'm hiring a goddamn desk clerk in Rochester in 1990, I don't care what they did in Virginia in 1948.

Hazel Meade is right. It is apparently extremely easy to forget that the Commonwealth of Virginia was actively trying to prevent the birth of someone like Obama in 1964 through anti-miscegenation laws

It's very easy to forget for anyone who has practical objects, because your references are irrelevant to anyone's practical objects. It's hard for you to forget because it's an essential element in your unending and pompous exercises in self-aggrandizement.

'I don't care what they did in Virginia in 1948. '

Um, try 1967, when Loving v Virginia was decided. Only after that was it legal for a white woman and a black man to marry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But then,why reference 1948 at all when responding to a comment that has this in its first line - 'like Virginia until the early 1960s.'

'your unending and pompous exercises in self-aggrandizement'

Well, you have certainly successfully pilloried a decidedly anonymous poster at this comment section. Congratulations on your well earned victory at the pillory.

There are lots of people, conservatives included, ready to live MLK's dream, but there are also fakers, with tells. Like say, refusing to boldly repudiate actual KKK endorsements. Good people on "both sides" etc.

No, the real frauds are people who hold a politician responsible for what's said by random individuals to which he has no connection. He won't dance to your tune and shouldn't, because you're trash.

It is actually very easy for moral people to distinguish themselves from the KKK.

There are piles of examples of good old Republicans doing it. Stand with them, instead.

Talk to me about Farrakhan or Sharpton and Obama. Let’s see if you’re principled or not

Farrakhan is a blatant racist, obviously.

But how you go from a blatant racist to a media fraud (who is not particularly notable as such) to a former president is mystifying, unless you are seeing something that is more black and white, of course.

Google crown heights riot

It is actually very easy for moral people to distinguish themselves from the KKK.

There is no 'the KKK' and there hasn't been since 1949. There are a mess of klanlets which have a combined membership of about 2,000 and no influence whatsoever.

You're not in a position to evaluate what a 'moral' person would or would not do. You are not a moral person. You're a posturing jack-wagon.

'and there hasn't been since 1949'

You are really fixated on the late 1940s.

I'd disagree, T to the P, on their influence. Crazy people can nonetheless be cunning, and that goes for people in Klan get-up who know the media is enchanted by the idea of their existence. David Duke may largely be a media creation but he is not without pernicious influence on the Ewells of the world.

#6) That title needs a colon! 2018 Non-Fiction: My 15 Favorites

Someday we'll get a non-fiction list spotlighting those rare tomes that dare to appear without a colon in their title.

2. It is interesting to reread this, and reconsider it, in light of the Mattis resignation letter. James Mattis presumably is an "elite" by meritocratic definition, but guided by morality and sense of service. He was defeated (in this round) by a populist guided by anything but.

I think the lesson is that we should have meritocratic civil and military services, but we must both expect and support moral and dedicated service from them.

We are perhaps back to Michael Lewis and The Fifth Risk. We should expect and support people who know what they are doing.

Because to defeat knowledge by calling it "elite" obviously ain't working.

As I mentioned yesterday, reining in American overseas adventurism may be a good candidate for "both populist and good" policy.

And just look at the bipartisan establishment outpouring against pulling out of Syria. Maybe the experts and elites are right, but they have s really shitty track record and are obviously self-interested in keeping the machine running.

You should probably read how this went down. No plan. No study. No cost benefit. No notification of allies. Not even prior notification for Departments of State, or Defense.

It happened suddenly in a phone call:

It's the kind of shit show that I expected starting two years ago, but your confirmation bias still blinds you to what exactly is going on.

So stuff your attempt at a fig leaf.

You've been screaming "shitshow" at the top of your lungs for two years now. Don't change.

I'm not even taking a position ("Maybe the experts and elites are right..."), so much as trying to draw intelligent rebuttal from someone familiar with the intelligence and foreign policy apparatus.

But it's really frustrating as a citizen to have to rely on self-interested parties that double as dubious "experts" in this area. You got Ike in the background all "military industrial complex" and even ole George with "foreign entanglements".

1) It's not confirmation when it turns out you are right.

2) The complete absence of rational, expert, process the same the point here.

Exactly the wrong time to grumble about "elites."

Missing word. It is not confirmation "bias" when, as you say, someone is early and consistently right.

To be clear, I too support disengagement, but not by way of shit show.

As Maxine Waters said about Trump firing Comey: Comey needed to be fired, I just didn't want Trump to do it. If Trump does it, by definition it's a shitshow, even if I agree with it.

So you think firing Comey and then getting caught telling the Russians that you did it to end the Russian investigation was not a shit show?

Note also that this was the first of a series of very bizarre and unprecedented "President in a room alone with Russians, no other Americans present."

(Comey is a weird dude, in maybe a prideful Boy Scout way, but that doesn't mean he's not useful. A government with rule of law needs Boy Scouts.)

> Amazon has escalated its war on fake reviews, sellers have realized that the most effective tactic is not buying them for yourself, but buying them for your competitors — the more obviously fraudulent the better. A handful of glowing testimonials, preferably in broken English about unrelated products and written by a known review purveyor on Fiverr, can not only take out a competitor and allow you to move up a slot in Amazon’s search results, it can land your rival in the bewildering morass of Amazon’s suspension system.

Markets in everything: writing obviously fake weaponized reviews in Amazon.

Fortunately, the career (and indeed existence) of Michael Young's son, Toby, is sufficient to disprove the premise of his book.

2. "Meritocracy: can’t live with it, can’t live without it." - Tyler Cowen

2- I flat-out refuse to give clicks to the guy who wants to ban porn. I have my dignity! :-D

3. "But Pia Pakarinen, Helsinki’s deputy mayor for education, said that she expected anonymous hiring to catch on, including in universities.
'It is important to remove personal details about applicants if we want to improve diversity and fairness,' she said."

She simply takes for granted that anonymous hiring would result in more diversity. It would be amusing to hear what she has to say if universities become less diverse because anonymity protects men and other undesirables against biases like hers.

See above about allocating Hubble telescope time. And the word you are looking for is parity.

1. All giant tech companies are creepy as hell and everyone should be scared of them.

#2. I was startled to see the mention of SAT scores as a metric for merit. Perhaps I fundamentally misunderstand what most people mean by meritocracy, or perhaps these guys are just confused. I do *not* agree that the guy who can bench the most, run the 100m the fastest, or score higher on the GRE has more "merit". Merit is context dependent, isn't it? For a "job", with varying and various contexts, does "merit" have any quantifiable meaning? I guess the best we can do is apply Bayesian statistics to particular jobs and applicants. ... Of course, the question is more complex than that: should be admit to graduate school those who are most likely to acquire their degree in the shortest amount of time? Is accepting candidates based on "merit" a rational strategy for an entry level job? The article assumes "merit" is a personal characteristic, with which we can rank everyone on a one dimensional scale. This is a ridiculous interpretation of what meritocracy means, imho.

I think the claim can work even if symphony conductors, pro athletes, and judges arrive by different metrics .. it is about their attitude after, about the non-elite that didn't pass the filters.

He's arguing that meritocracy can reduce compassion among the selected

Judging merit requires a metric.

Metrics are defined by those claiming to have merit. By criticizing the SAT, you are claiming to have greater merit than those who created the SAT.

On what metric do you justify by your claim of merit?

You should simply argue no one has merit as everyone is equal, and thus selection would best be done by random lot.

6: Has anyone read the book that he recommends, _Chesapeake Requiem_?

I'm undecided on whether I should try reading it, because while good work is always admirable, if it's about a sufficiently small and un-influential group then I don't need to worry about being ignorant of them.

Some groups such as the Cajuns and arguably the Gullah are ones that pretty much any well-informed American should know about. Whereas it's optional to learn about other groups, e.g. when Mark Helprin's _Winter's Tale_ was published my roommate (from NJ) told me that the Baymen in the novel are based on actual communities of people who make their living from the coastal waters. But I haven't felt compelled to learn the real history and culture of the Baymen.

OTOH if the experiences of the Tangier Islanders contain important lessons for the rest of us then we should learn about them.

Another way to put it: there are differences between the people who live in say Down East Maine and those who live in Key West FL. If one wants to understand the USA then it's a good idea to be aware of the various communities and sub-cultures in this country. I hadn't even heard of Tangier Island before reading that review; am I missing something by not knowing about it and its residents?

#3: Oh, nothing feels better when in the middle of a long-term research project the female partner says "Sorry, I'm having a baby, going on a maternity leave for 6 months." Maybe even in a Nordic welfare state these biases exist for a reason?

I was under the impression (I could be wrong) that in the Nordic welfare states, the fathers take paternity leave.

Both parents, obviously. Or, in a possibly better phrasing, the fathers also take paternity leave.

Germany is similar at this point.

They also have excellent free all-day childcare so you can take that 6 months and make it 2 weeks. But big government is the devil, right?

#2. I don't see meritocracy and populism as opposite. In a democracy, the people is or should be the one and absolute sovereign -- call this "populism". The president, the congressmen, the judges, the administration and faculty of public or public-grants-receiving universities, the high-ranking military, etc., are its servants. And the people, like any self-respectful master, wants the best possible servants -- that's meritocracy.

1. A peculiar quote from the article:

> “Compliance,” she is fond of saying, “is the foundation of growth.”

4. Edsall and all the academics he quotes are interested in only one dimension of racism: white against black, and that only one-way. So he cites a number that purports to measure white anti- black resentment: .68. But no such number is cited for black resentment against whites, or Hispanics vs. blacks, and never, ever, any resentment involving Asians one way or the other viz. any other group. The only number worth mentioning is white resentment against blacks. I wonder why this is. Could it be that the resentment numbers in other directions involving other ethnicities are not so mellow as .68? Would that entail the academics trying to explain why any other ethnicity expressing resentment toward whites is entirely justified, but only white resentment against blacks is evil? And in other contexts aren't these same academicians arguing that there is no such thing as race, it's only a social construct? How does white privilege and resentment explain the Chinese government's persecution of Chinese Christians or Tibetan Buddhists? All of this needs to be understood in order to bring Democrats into power in the US. What is the social scientific basis for making this a research priority? It's just groupthink.

Chris Dillow (stumblingandmumbling blog author) has written alot about Meritocracy.
1) June 2016 - review of James Bloodworth’s book, The Myth of Meritocracy.

and 2) On anti-meritocracy

2. Let's rephrase the issues South at describes in another way: Our open access orders result in a functional decrease in meritocracy. In the good old days when status was more ascribed and status shifts less possible for achievers, populist groups, could be led by talented individuals who were "trapped" in a lower class strata. Assuming the see groups inevitably will obtain power, when they did, they had "merit". Thus is our open meritocratic society actually destined to be functionally less meritocratic. (In short, meritocracy means, less merit in populist movements, and so less merit in governments. A "paradox" of meritocracy).

This is akin to the problem of "Demostacking" in that it has a similar issue of growing democratic impotence of some particular tendency due to excessive self sorting into a particular class or locale.

(Assuming the premise there is a 20th and 21st century increase in the degree to which talent aligns with the Establishment and is "co opted". Which I doubt).

1. Thanks for posting this. It is tremendously important to understand.

Libertarians need to confront this conundrum. But they mostly seem to ignore it

As a very little guy myself I had no trouble getting outraged about the Amazon Circumlocution Office craziness, but I don't see that there's a constituency that will push back. 6 million anonymous sellers? People made hardly a peep when Walmart came for the businesses of people they actually knew.

I have found Amazon reviews to be pretty useful: gadgets*, kitchen items, women's clothing. With the latter, there's a sizeable community of women who've made a hobby of writing up detailed analyses of the goods, starting with whether the sizing is at all standard, whether the fabric content matches the description, whether the seller was helpful in replacing a wrong or damaged item, even posting pictures of themselves wearing their new sweater or shoes or carrying their new bag. Amazon is brilliant to get all this copy free and I guess it wants to protect the integrity of it?

*I once bought at the hardware store one of those timer thingies for lamps or Christmas lights, and it never worked, and I never bothered about it again. But the other day, I had a fancy to have my wreath lit up when we're away, so, in the same store, I asked if there was anything new in the timer-light way. "These manual ones are still the best," he said, pointing me to the same item I'd bought 15 years ago. I went home and looked it up on Amazon. Review after review: "didn't work, never worked, worked once and quit ..." I guess the honest reviews keep a perennial dud from getting booted off of Amazon.

Between the planted phony reviews, self-selection bias of legit reviews, misleading counterfeit and poseur products, deliberate opacity of sellers who want to make it difficult to comparison shop, and overall incompetence of poor copy writing and laziness by sellers who don't give AF, the review system has very nearly become worthless.

#3 - still trying to figure out how i would list the ~10 papers that I had when I applied to faculty jobs and remain anonymous. As a scientist, I’ve seen that publications are a major way that we measure applicants (I was on a bunch of hiring committees after becoming a professor).

Simply bizarre!

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