Thursday assorted links


1. Well, apparently only when they have the benefits of living in the capitalist West, as noted in the abstract (with some uncertainty in the phrasing) - 'We find long-term implications of living in a specific economic system for individual dishonesty when social interactions are possible: participants with an East German background cheat significantly more on an abstract die-rolling task than those with a West German background, but only when exposed to the enduring system of former West Germany.'

One assumes that to make that meaningful distinction, they tested three groups - West Germans, East Germans that moved out of eastern Germany to live in western Germany since 1990, and those East Germans that remained in eastern Germany since 1990.

You could always read the study and find out. Anyway, I recall the amoral listlessness that defined the characters in East German novel "Der Fremde Freund"--and the main character in that was a doctor, so presumably she and her circle were somewhat privileged. Very much strikes me as a system where self-serving is better rewarded than honesty.

You mean I should somehow get around the publisher's acccess restrictions? I'm just not that interested in pirating the content, which seemingly proves I am not an East German who has spent a lot of time in the enduring system of former West Germany.

But if you have access, please do share the information, in a copyright conforming way, of course.

Wow - the article costs $35.95? Maybe East Germans just cannot accept the idea that paying for such information is a mark of honesty after enjoying the benefits of being part of the enduring system of former West Germany.

What has always struck me most about East Germans is how they repair things, instead of throwing them away. A virtue that these now 40+ year old East Germans share with the now 60+ year old West Germans.

Almost as if being exposed to modern capitalism causes one to turn into a wasteful consumer instead of a customer interested in buying something that lasts for decades, in part because it is repairable if one spends a bit of time and effort.

Let's encourage thrift by forcing businesses to build shoddy products that require frequent repairs just like the good 'ole days under communism!

Not sure if prior actually has problems with massively disposable consumer capitalism, whatever the nationality of the seller, so including by German retailers like Aldi who sell cheap and plentiful goods, or he's really indulging in his reflexive anti-Americanism and tilting at the windmills of US culture again (high consumption).

'Aldi who sell cheap and plentiful goods'

Aldi is an interesting case, certainly in the past (the last several years has seen a definite shift) - they tended to place large orders with suppliers they had a relationship with over years, and their customers expected a level of quality that a former Aldi competitor such as Walmart was laughably unable to meet. In part, this was a strategy designed to convince German customers that spending money at Aldi was not a way to buy low quality goods.

Basically, Aldi believed its German customers were looking for the best value, and not simply the lowest price. To put it a bit differently, shopping at Aldi is precisely the sort of thing many people do because they are confident of the quality of what Aldi sells, along with saving money.

Competitors such as Lidl, Penny, or Netto, generally not as much. However, as noted, generational change is occurring, along with the fact that Aldi has gone more or less global, as has Lidl. Nonetheless, at least in Germany until now, Aldi is not a good place to find low quality Chinese goods.

One could easily assume that over decades, Aldi was not a believer in massively disposable consumer capitalism as a business model. Even more intriguingly, one could even say that was the foundation for its profitable model. Everything changes, of course - the founders are dead, and the company is clearly changing (Aldi never used to carry any branded products, and no does, for one example).

Actually, you just get rich enough you don't have to bother trying to repair old appliances. Nice try, though.

Actually, you just rich enough, you can throw away your Porsche after it gets a flat tire.

Nice try, though.

Reading 6, I am reminded of claims after the Gulf War that Every Birth Defect In Iraq was somehow [handwaving!] caused by the Allied forces using depleted uranium shells.

In tank battles hundreds of miles away, but shut up.

Brown's argument doesn't seem particularly serious or plausible.

'depleted uranium shells'

The claims I remember involved those living in areas where tanks and other equipment were destroyed. And the problem with uranium is not really radiation (something far too hyped generally), it is the fact that is a heavy metal. And if you wish to spread a lot of such a heavy metal around, firing it as an armor piercing munition which causes further explosions in general will do a fine job distributing it in the vicinity.

Though most of the article basically says DU is likely not a major factor in birth defects in Kuwait/Iraq, one should note this section - 'Preliminary epidemiological studies carried out by community activists in the United States reported hydrocephalic births in a sparsely population rural are downwind of a DU-weapons testing sites. These epidemiological studies raised the possibility of an association between birth defects and exposure to DU. Hydrocephalus is also a component of a congenital malformation syndrome, Goldenhar syndrome, which was reported among infants born to Gulf Wars veterans. Overtime a number of serious health risks and dangerous conditions became linked to DU exposure. These included cancers of different types (leukemias, breast cancer, lymphoma, bone cancer), renal diseases, reactive airway diseases, neurological disabilities, birth defects and perinatal deaths among the neonates of veterans.

There is a possibility of genetic damage resulting from exposure to some forms of radiation emitted from particles such as those deposited by DU weapons. Animal studies firmly support the possibility that DU is a teratogen. The fact that DU was detected in the urine of Gulf War veterans 7–8 years after the war is substantial evidence of long-term internal contamination and tissue storage of this substance '

It seems as if this article too likely over-emphasizes the radiation hazard, while not really looking at uranium as a heavy metal, particularly in the amounts found around those areas where a large amount of DU munitions were used. However, it does point out that the DU munition use did not occur in a vacuum - 'The issue of disentangling the role of parental exposure to DU from that of exposure to other potential teratogens is serious and complex which needs to be resolved through extensive laboratory and epidemiological researches.

In Iraq exposure to other potential teratogens during 1991 Gulf War could not be excluded as the country was highly exposed to chemical carcinogens of relevance to the war. The retreating Iraqi forces set fires to Kuwaiti oil fields, and the generated smoke was carried by prevailing wind over Iraq The environmental damage was huge. The soot would have contained large quantities of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Similarly smoke and soot from burning crude petroleum generated toxic carcinogenic and teratogenic chemical substances like PAHS, dioxins, furan, mercury and sulfur far more than weeks during 2003 invasion operations.'

6. is pretty silly, but there may be a kernel of truth in the idea that rocking the status quo is not desired, as the article above, which details what Kuwait and Iraq (multiple times) were exposed, ends with this conclusion - 'As no enough data on pre 1991 Gulf War prevalence of birth defects in Iraq are available, the ranges of birth defects reported in the reviewed studies from Iraq most probably do not provide a clear indication of a possible environmental exposure including DU or other teratogenic agents although the country has faced several environmental challenges since 1980.' Basically, since we don't have reliable data before the first Iraq, there is no way to make comparisons - which is accurate, but still begs the question actually.

Unless you want to live in an area that was exposed to modern warfare, without concerning yourself that you are actually providing reliable experimental data for future evaluation, of course.

DU exposure

Maybe the birth defects are caused by the mother's exposure to a male relative - not uncommon in that neck of the woods.

That seems an insulting way to refer to American service members, just in case you missed this from the article (admittedly, it was actually in different paragraphs) -

'The fact that DU was detected in the urine of Gulf War veterans 7–8 years after the war is substantial evidence of long-term internal contamination and tissue storage of this substance'


'These epidemiological studies raised the possibility of an association between birth defects and exposure to DU. Hydrocephalus is also a component of a congenital malformation syndrome, Goldenhar syndrome, which was reported among infants born to Gulf Wars veterans.'

And I am guessing you completely missed the part about burning oil fields - 'The environmental damage was huge. The soot would have contained large quantities of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Similarly smoke and soot from burning crude petroleum generated toxic carcinogenic and teratogenic chemical substances like PAHS, dioxins, furan, mercury and sulfur....'

Yeah, I remember the Kuwaiti oil fields being torched as Saddam's forces were leaving. What an asshole he was.

Thank God he was kicked out of power.

And killed. Did you see the size of that noose?

I was referring to the locals

The article wasn't, when talking about DU and its effects on those that had been exposed to it, most definitely including Americans.

Brown's argument is perhaps questionable but Shellenberger's assertion that there is a scientific consensus that no one died from Chernobyl other than the ±200 people who died in the explosion and early cleanup from acute radiation poisoning is nonsense.

'perhaps questionable'

More than perhaps, in much the same fashion that claiming is there are 30 million people living in the U.S. without any legal permission is more than questionable.

One can certainly point out that 200 is low without starting to talk about 100,000 victims.

Anecdotal and likely not counted in the (estimated) 200 Chernobyl KIA was one young, adult male immigrant from the Chernobyl area who died of cancer in a Queens, NY hospital. My wife a now-retired ICU nurse was involved in his treatment.

Whatever your number of invaders, it's unsustainable. America already had surpluses of welfare-state beneficiaries and democrat voters.

There is no evidence that illegal immigration increases welfarism. There is no evidence of really any problems from illegal immigration. They're bailing out US entitlement programs by paying into them.

Why? The thyroid cancers from fallout number a couple dozen according to recent study IIRC.

6. So it's all a giant conspiracy? Can't detect any health effects from Chernobyl? Let's cherry pick data from some obscure Belarussian scientists to prove that there was a massive cover up by the international scientific committee.
At least this is the familiar paranoia of the left, that I am used to. it feels like 1992 again.

Also, racism-free paranoia.

The shadow of a grain of truth in no 6 is that the first American nuclear tests were IIRC kept secret and did expose people to fallout, with health consequences that I am unsure of.

What I am sure of is the dire consequences to the people of Kazakhstan whose country was used as a nuclear testing ground by the Soviets for a very long time with dire, directly measured consequences.

1. This reminds me of an explanation of bad behavior, such as Social Security fraud, in the film "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia." It was that the coal companies had cheated their workers on a regular basis, so they just followed the example with everybody else.

1. Super interesting. Show how corrupting the effect of living in a system where people need to cheat to survive. If your livelihood depends on working the system and not on productive effort, people will learn how to work the system, and not how to be productive.

I wonder how this translates to large bureaucracies. Seems like productivity is harder to measure, so politicking get extra importance.


In a startup you work, in a big company you kiss butt.

This corresponds to my experience in post-communist Hungary.

In a market system, doing good and doing well are largely synonymous. Because effort and reward are divorced in a communist system, the principal is separated from the agent. Thus, complying with one's assumed agency -- retail clerk, employee, citizen, taxpayer -- is assumed to be 'naive' and all ostensible public motivations are perceived to be cynical.

Once a cynical mindset takes root, it is essentially impossible to eradicate--because trust is fundamentally violated. I could go one on this topic for a very long time.

This could have implications for us race relations. It's hard to eradicate the cynical mindset among African Americans which arose due to segregation. Maybe living under him crow could share some similar effects to living under communism.

The implications are not related to race. They are related to governance.

Prohibitions and resulting black markets are the primary driver of institutionalized racism. That is, about half the violent crime rate in US inner cities is attributable to prohibitions in drugs. It literally defines those communities.

I actually have papers on both these topics simmering in my computer. For the governance part, I use Puerto Rico's power authority, PREPA, as a case study. I worked a lot with communist-era SOE's in Hungary. I would rank PREPA, by the standards of a socialist society, in the top third of bad. Anyway, principal-agent problems are most prevalent in western societies in governance.

If you're interested in the pathology of black markets, here's our assessment of victimization of migrants attempting to cross the US southwest border illegally. Analogous effects can be found in inner city communities wrt drugs.

And here's our white paper on addressing illegal immigration. I would make a bet that we'll see this picked up by the White House in the next month or so.

reconstruction is a constant. as far as what effect reconstruction has on art, for instance, it is negligible. Denver, Ohio, Detroit, homogenous markets perform better. there are Catholics and Protestants and Shias and Sunnis, Hispanics and Mexicans so the issue isn't always "legal" but situational. Water lead failures are higher in big cities (Cincinnati) than small cities in Ohio.

I glanced over the paper and it seems interesting. It looks like you would expect the Visa's to auction at $3.50 per hour. That would give native low skilled workers a little bit of breathing room, but not a lot.
From your document you expect that this would cover the existing 11+ million illegals in the US plus a gross import of 250-450K per year.

Do you think this would exacerbate the long term wage stagnation low skilled workers in the US have been experiencing for decades?

"native low skilled workers a little bit of breathing room, but not a lot..."

The prevailing minimum wage -- that people actually get -- is around $10 / hour. A legalize and tax system for migrants should bid the visa fee to a level such that pay to unskilled migrants should come out around that $10 level, of which $6.50 goes to the migrant (the 'Relocation Wage') and $3.50 / work hour to the US government. That's where the numbers take you. That helps support unskilled US wages, but it's not a panacea.

It would cover in the initial phase 6 million undocumented Hispanic workers and 2 million of their dependents. Of the now 10.3 million (Pew's latest estimate), those 8 million Hispanics workers and dependents come from just four countries: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The program in its early phases would cover just those four countries, which is all you really need to close the southwest border. No India, China in this round: too big, too heterogeneous.

I am less than convinced of the negative effects of migrants on wages. Certainly, when there is slack in the labor market and the border is enforced, wages will be artificially depressed because migrants are trapped in this country. This is arguably true from 2008 to 2017 or so.

However, there is no correlation between more restrictive policies towards migrants and relative unemployment rates, which should correlate to wages (at least people are working, so wages > 0).

The poster child for this is Arizona. Arizona brought in stiff laws and cut its migrant labor force in half. It has kept numbers down by shutting down businesses found to use undocumented labor (demand suppression in a black market -- yes, it works.)

But here's the thing: Arizona had the 16th best unemployment rate in 2007, when it brought in the new anti-immigration laws. Today, Arizona has the 45th best unemployment rate. It is a veritable train wreck. Indeed, of the seven states which brought in anti-migrant labor measures in the 2000s, six have worse unemployment rankings than they did prior to implementation of restrictive legislation.

Only South Caroline has fared better. Indeed, it has shown the very best improvement in relative unemployment rates since 2007. On the other hand, try to find its crackdown on migrant labor, and one is left with the impression of lots of make believe, and less serious enforcement. I can find no trace in the press that SC is closing non-conforming businesses. Instead, one finds this: "Yet enforcement is spotty. Only 2 percent of businesses in South Carolina were audited in 2017, and 17 percent of that sample were found not to be using the system. None of the scofflaws, however, were fined. The Cato Institute has alleged that only 59 percent of Arizona employers checked a worker’s documents against federal databases in 2017."

So, those who suggest that Mexicans steal jobs, well, I can show you a graph that says exactly the opposite, here:

"So, those who suggest that Mexicans steal jobs,"

Mexican's don't steal jobs, but increasing the supply of low skilled labor puts downward pressure on low skilled wages. That's basic supply and demand.

The 3 factors of increased global trade, automation and importing low skilled labor has resulted in decades of stagnant wages for the lowest 20th percentile.

That's what I mean. Segregation was a problem of governance in the past, which affected mainly black people. So that past long-term period of living under segregation may have had effects on black culture which continue today, independent of other present day governance issues such as the drug war. In the same way that living under communism affected the culture of East Germans.

Hmmm. Not sure I agree.

As German youth grow up on a functioning society, that propensity to cheat should diminish over time. It already had in important way in Hungary by the time I left in 2005. Functioning markets will fuse principal to agent--they did in Hungary, at least to a degree.

The US has had functioning markets forever, so it's not clear to me that inner city problems stem from the same source. They are clearly linked to prohibitions and black markets.

But I could be convinced with suitable argumentation.

I would have to look it up, but I remember a link on Marginal Revolution about a month ago which discussed this. That the attitude towards work in some black communities was descended from a time when participation in a segregated labor force signified participation in a rigged and unfair system, thus not working was an act of resistance.

OK, but when a working market is established, principal and agent should be re-united within two generations. Unemployment is very low in Hungary and Germany. Cynicism doesn't mean you're not working; you just don't believe anything anyone tells you.

Let me give you a specific example from the early 1990s.

I was flying on Malev, Hungary’s state-owned airline, from Budapest to New York. The entertainment system was down. The stewardess told me this had just happened and would be repaired when they landed. Six weeks later, I was on the same aircraft back to Hungary, and the entertainment system was still not working. And the flight attendant said that it would be fixed just as soon as the plane was on the ground in Budapest. So that entertainment system had not been operating for weeks, probably months, and the flight attendants had to repeat that same lie over and over again, every flight, to dozens of people each time. It is not pleasant for proud people to lie to their customers over and over.

Why wasn’t the system operating? Because Malev was state-owned and therefore worked to a (national) budget constraint rather than to maximize profits. If it had been private, there would have been no NY flight, because Malev lacked the economies of scale to operate the route profitably. But the government wanted the flight for prestige purposes, so it existed, but operated at the level of subsidies the government was willing to supply – which was never enough. So how did management compensate? By skimping on non-essential maintenance and capex. Hence no entertainment system.

But then, for the stewardess, who was the client? In a market economy, it is the paying customer and you want to keep the customer happy for competitive reasons. So you make sure the things like the entertainment system work. By contrast, for a state-owned airline, the customer is the government. They are the ones paying for the flight, but they are not the passenger. As a result, the flight attendant was trapped between the objective function of the government – to operate an unprofitable route subject to a budget constraint – and that of a profit-oriented airline, to insure the satisfaction of customers.
One can only imagine how cynical this made the crew on Malev. When your employer turns you into a serial liar and destroys the pride and pleasure you get from your work, that takes a toll. And it creates incredible cynicism. Nothing is what it appears, no one can be trusted. Welcome to socialism.

And if you understand this, then you also understand everything you need to know about US public education.

In any event, that’s what I mean about the propensity of socialism to divorce the principal from the agent. I don’t know that its comparable to what I’ve witnessed in the inner city black community.

Lead poisoning?

Unfortunately I can't read you papers at the moment, cause I'm in ubuntu right now and your blog doesn't seem to load right in firefox. :(

Yeah, the website host, SquareSpace is a bit squirrelly. Good service, but very Chrome-oriented.

That is, about half the violent crime rate in US inner cities is attributable to prohibitions in drugs. It literally defines those communities.

It isn't.

What percent of inner city violence is linked to drugs or gangs or both? It's comfortably 50%.

I'm not sure how any of this makes sense when applied to the West though. Perhaps Hungarians have got better with "more capitalism", but the populace of America and Britain have probably got worse with the continued march of more capitalism, more deregulation and more free market economics.

Certainly in the sense of less trust, more cynicism.

It seems plausible that like people are idealistic if the system seems to reward honesty and virtue, and cynical if the system seems to reward corruption. Communist bureaucracy admittedly inevitably fails to reward honesty and so encourages cynicism.

However if capitalism consistently encouraged virtue, then where did all these weird purse clutching Libertarians suspicious of every established institution supporting every form of collective welfare even come from?

(The easy answer out of this is to say that the East Germans and others who become cynical Communism are responding to real features of their system, while Westerners who become cynical under capitalism is just false consciousness, snowflake syndrome and so on. This though, seems to lack teeth and integrity as an argument.).

"the populace of America and Britain have probably got worse with the continued march of more capitalism, more deregulation and more free market economics."

That's a lie. We're richer than ever, and improvement has only started to slow down lately because of various government interventions.

"However if capitalism consistently encouraged virtue, then where did all these weird purse clutching Libertarians suspicious of every established institution supporting every form of collective welfare even come from?"


Richer by certain measures, mostly not baseline cost of living ones (home ownership has peaked, wage has not increased relative to costs of subsistence and housing, to a great extent meaning the pattern of poorer people with smartphones).

Bu anywayt we're talking about trust and cynicism, not shifting to income and redefining virtue to suspicion and cynicism is vice in ex communists and virtue in consumer capitalists. And all the data points to a decline in trust, fair dealing and civic virtue through the Anglosphere under more deregulated, more free market consumer capitalism. (Unsurprisinging to see Libertarians immediately shift from character to wealth though. One they understand very intimately, the other they do not).

"more deregulated, more free market consumer capitalism. "

1) Wrong. The US is less economically free than it was 20 years ago.

2) Less trust might not be a bad thing. Maybe there's an optimal amount; too much can be bad.

Re housing: there is no reason home ownership can't decline. To the extent that rent/mortgage costs are high, it's because of zoning and other restrictions. Alberta and Texas don't have so much of these problems. Let us build damn it!

#2--Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott. This is pretty much the only book that made an impression on me in graduate school.

#6 "Brown claims nuclear weapons testing fallout resulted in...declining sperm counts among men all around the world..."

But I thought the story was that sperm counts have been slowly but steadily declining since the 1950s? Shouldn't they have stopped falling when the above-ground nuclear testing stopped, or at least within a few years afterwards? What then accounts for the continued fall?

The legacy of irradiation.

Scott's "Seeing like a state" is indeed an excellent book. After I finished it, I was seeing everything like a Scott for a while. I also rather enjoyed "The art of not being governed". Bought "Against the grain" a while ago, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

Many of Charles Tilly's books and articles also made strong impressions.

I was going to mention Seeing Like A State as well on similar grounds (that afterwards the world looked like a different place). It's just outside the 20 year range, though. In the same category, I'd also nominate Charles C Mann's 1491 and 1493.

No Robert Cialdi or Daniel Kahneman? Some of the books in the original list look like books that academics *wish* were more influential.

#1. My personal experience with East German (attempted) cheating was when visiting a Prussian castle in August of 1990, during the 2 state but open borders period.

At an East German pay toilet, the cashier tried to wait me out, not giving change, hoping I would just walk away. But he did phony up the change when asked.

On the other hand, this was not very different from the service level I experienced in West Berlin, walking into a pub selling pizza for lunch, the cashier ignored me and other potential customers for a couple of minutes. My overall impression in Europe is that the Danes and the Dutch pride themselves on great customer service, the others not so much.

#6 It's amazing how resilient the earth, and life on it, is. We have either man made, or natural disasters and things seem to recover much more quickly than expected. I think everyone was surprised how well the BP oil spill went a few years ago.

The recoveries are faster than the general public expects - not faster than what scientists expect.

talking about savages. There is little moral difference between "Hinduism", cannibalism and Islam. We are talking about systems dedicated to the destruction of civilization. One must remember that "Hinduism" teaches there is no objective truth, only expediency. Instead of worshipping the real god, one worships this devil for money or that devil for political success, one worships that devil in this village and that devil in that other village. It teaches that truth is not important, only tradition, i.e. politics. If a devil was worshipped in this village, those who don't worship it must be persecuted because objective truth must take a backseat to tradition (i.e. chieftain rule).

#5 Greenies deserve black eyes.

Strangely, a member of a political party that opposes the Greens disagrees - 'No form of violence is ok. Ever.' - Paula Bennett, deputy leader of the National party

"Strangely ..."

Strangely, I don't give a rat's patoot. All politicians should live in fear of their constituents.

When people fears their government, it is tyranny, when the government fears the people, it is harmony!

My prediction is that US presidents without secret service would behave better, and also would not catch and release criminal border crossers.

'Strangely, I don't give a rat's patoot.'

Which is an obvious indication you are not civilized enough to live in New Zealand, where the idea of anyone having to live in fear is considered a sure sign of barbarism. Particularly politicians, as apart from the prime minister, none of them have any security details at all. As noted here - ' Many commented on the fact that the attack was possible only because New Zealand's MPs were so accessible to the public.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the attack showed New Zealand couldn't take that for granted.

"We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible - and that's something we should feel proud of. We are after all, here to serve people. But today's events really show we cannot take that for granted," she said.'

What just might be sadly ironic is seeing whether the person who did the punching is mentally ill, not that you would likely give a rat's patoot about that either. Particularly as you seem to feel that violent attacks are justified merely because politicians should live in fear, which is essentially insane.

You are a man (?) of many words and evenore time.

NZ is the bugout shelter most favored by the super wealthy.


Have you ever been clocked (punched) in the face?

#3 Srikanth K is usually good, but he has some misconceptions about Christianity. Many of the Protestant faiths are more like Hinduism than he realizes: Locke was a devout Christian, but believed precisely because of his Christianity that tolerance of other religious opinions and even religions was required. His picture of "Christianity" is more akin to Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism.

but believed precisely because of his Christianity that tolerance of other religious opinions and even religions was required.

Count me skeptical. Protestantism has, traditionally, been more fanatical and intolerant than Catholicism (most Protestants don't call themselves Evangelicals without reason.) Religious tolerance was a political, and not a religious, imperative in the countries of Western and Northern Europe that were devastated by the Thirty Years War. Such tolerance could also have a decidedly anti-Catholic bent, as in England and America, where different Protestants sects needed to tolerate each other to more effectively practice anti-Catholic bigotry.

(Even today, I believe the Southern Baptists have some clause explicitly calling for the conversion of Hindus.)

There are commonalities between Christianity and Hinduism, but we need to look for those in Catholicism and Orthodox faiths, which is exactly the opposite of what you think. Those Christian traditions have mystic and monastic elements that people of the Dharmic faiths can more easily relate to, whereas the fanatical Protestant fundamentalists feel somewhat "Islamic". In southern India, the order of the Shankaracharya is more than 13 centuries old, a lineage that can be compared to the Catholic Papacy.


Activism, activism, activism, “Bowling Alone” (interesting), activism, Sir Bernard Williams (brilliant), activism, “Homo Deus” (good coffee table read), activism, “Seeing Like A State” (interesting), activism, Pinker (worth a read), Danto & Damasio (interesting).

Not bad, but 50% is far left activism.

I wouldn't go that far, but the inclusion of The New Jim Crow, which is barely scholarly in that it ignores all contrary evidence, and Killing the Black Body, which operates on a narrative-driven critical race theory basis (the critical race theory primer itself is worthwhile given how far this field has branched out), make this list highly suspect, more propaganda than research. And David Harvey is a Marxist, but at least he's a scholarly Marxist.

2. A North American canon? What sad and pathetic lives US academics must have in their tiny incestuous bubble.

Seems like one of Scott Alexander's less fruitful musings. Why isolate the Clean Air Act of 1990 on a trendline without reference to earlier iterations of the Act?

I'm reminded of idiots who reason that because the Endangered Species Act has had some partial successes, we don't need an ESA anymore.

You can’t say “freedom”
And walk on down the street
As if you just said
Have a nice day,
‘cause nobody will believe you.

>> “It is just not true that the scientists try to minimize the effects of radiation,” Thomas added. “ It would actually be against their own best interests to do this. They are mostly academics and are required to produce large amounts of money and papers for their Institutes. You would be expecting them to argue for larger effects of radiation as the more serious the health consequences the more the money flows.”

You don't say!

It seems to me that the new canon is a bit biased. With the possible exception of "Bowling Alone," every book cited is highly "progressive" in its politics.

Are we to conclude that all the influential books are written by progressives?

Or maybe that a book that doesn't express progressive sentiments won't be influential or regarded as influential?

Maybe non-progressives have abandoned the humanities, leaving the field unchallenged. They go into STEM fields, economics, law, and business. Well, you can see that none of the books on the list were in STEM fields, economics, law, or business. Nor political science or international relations in the more usual boundaries of those fields. Nor biography.

If that list of influential books is right, I have to wonder why all those parents cheated and paid money to get their kids into schools where they won't learn anything useful.

Are you going to cry?

A monoculture hurts us all *wipes away a tear

Yay intellectual diversity!

Do you want a pacifier and a safe space?

Better Angels (which I've reviewed in a respected publication) is not progressive, except in a 19th century Whiggish sense. Pinker is the most conservative Democrat I've run across, except for maybe Alan Dershowitz.

#1...Please. They're simply less adept at cheating and being able to sniff out the parameters of bullshit behavioural tasks. Personally, I'd be a lot less likely to cheat or lie to the Stasi than my local cops.

2. The list is ridiculous beyond belief. Where is Foucault, for one thing? All books in English? More like a list of good-thinking bland stuff

OK, OK, Foucault is not eligible because I missed the last 20 years bit. But it does not cancel the fact that the rest is very bland

Foucault has been dead and buried for 35 years and the sooner forgotten, the better.

3. Unlike the west we larded our religion up with a whole bunch of class and caste signifiers so that when you stop believing in the most laughable cosmology in the world you don’t actually attack Hinduism because you would be disrupting your caste privilege.

Is this something to brag about? Also there is one group who has markedly maintaining their respect for their religious heritage despite their growing atheism. This same group often manned the barricades for the liquidation of Christianity’s influence in Western life. How did that happen?

NM that his example of Jefferson is actually a perfect example of what he claims an Indian skeptic is. Jefferson wasn’t some edgelord atheist he made repeated outward deference to Christianity even while he didn’t believe it.

It is just funny how, around here, Brazilian Evangelicals, who support democracy and bold economical reforms, are considered evil, but those who defend caste privileges are praised by the the bieb-pensants. Such is life in Modi's America.

If you weren’t an ironic troll you’d be my favorite person here Thiago.

Thank you, but I am neither ironic nor a troll.

You are a persona adopted by a mid-level chartered accountant in Des Moines, and nothing you say will convince me otherwise.

You are also a strangely delightful attraction of the MR comment section.

Not Des Moines, Dayton OH.

And yes this place would be lessened without Thiago to play with.

6. Kate Brown also published an article on "why Kazakhstan and Montana are nearly the same place". Her Chernobyl book is a sensationalist garbage, driven by hostility to science (fashionable among historians), her ideas about grass root knowledge etc. etc.

Here is a review saying everything that needs to be said about her book:

Excellent read. Thanks for the link.

1. The mechanism they claim is not really proven but the effect is certainly real. Alberto Simpser has work for US showing the grandchildren of immigrants tend to have attitudes towards cheating and opportunism which tend to match those of their grandparents' home countries.

#6: the USSR acknowledged 600,000 people worked as Chernobyl "liquidators". More than half a million people working on a dangerous environment where accidents happen. If the working environment had a fatal injury rate above industries such as construction, that already counts for several thousand deaths.

They rotated people out to avoid exposing them to too much radiation. The reason the number is 600,000 is because so many people were rotated through. They didn't have 600,000 people working there simultaneously. The deaths were mainly early deaths of firefighters before they figured out that they had to rotate people out to keep them from getting radiation sickness.

If this punching episode has "rattled" New Zealand, I hate to think what the murder today by white separatists of more than 40 people in two mosques has done to them.

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