The New Yorker covers the Scott Alexander saga

Comments

Interesting piece. I'm not sure I buy the framing of this group vs that.

I think instead it might be that the rules of a highly interconnected digital society are still being worked out.

(And of course I still think net/privacy law has a useful role to play in that.)

I don’t think rules are being worked out. You have two or three tribes at war with one another and also with themselves.

The Grey tribe versus the blue tribe is the primary battle. Each side has power, intellectual heft, and the means to broadcast their message loudly.

The red tribe and Trumpers in general are really powerless in this struggle. They occupy Fox News and talk radio but they are really an outModed species that is clearly outgunned in this fight. They’ll eventually figure out they’ll have to strongly align with the grey tribe or they’re gonna get run over.

The blue tribe has its own war raging right now. When Noam Chomsky and Malcolm Gladwell have to teach the importance of free speech to the blue tribers, then internal conflict is obvious.

The real question becomes how does the shake out within the blue tribe work out and who ends up defecting to the grey tribe over the medium to long term.

The powerful identity-far left-authoritarian model of politics amongst the blue tribes millennials and gen Z cohort looks to be an unstoppable force for the rest of the blue tribe to contend with.

Would it help if we looked at it, not as a domestic political issue, but rather as an international comparison?

Europe has very formal legal frameworks for online rights and responsibilities. China just grabs it all and manages it as a totalitarian endeavor. America is somewhat regulated, but possibly more wild west than anyone else?

So yeah, I still see it more as a global transition to a digital environment.

By the way, related link:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3azvey/police-buying-hacked-data-spycloud

Even with privacy law that kind of thing is going to happen. Someone is going to try to launder dirty data into clean and then sell it.

Still, I say the more clearly delineated privacy rules are, the better they will be maintained.

It seems awfully strange to call the President of the United States powerless, in any context. As long as there's enough Fox News and talk radio and internet forum media to keep up the tribal feeling, they can keep voting and keep political power too.

In most arguments, Trump is the master of social media until it weakens your point, then you must say he is powerless.

He's an idiot, but that doesn't mean people don't listen to him.

For God sake he's got (almost) the entire GOP Senate bowing to him and carrying his water, and an AG who acts more like a mob lawyer.

This is one of the weirdest and most troubling delusion of the right. They are literally unable to recognize how much they've won. They seem trapped in being powerless victims.

Lol Trump is the most dead man walking President of all time.

Without Barr and the Senate Republicans, he’d be out of office.

Yeah, lol

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-07-09/coronavirus-deaths-increasing-in-states-with-resurgences

State level, anon. That’s where the policy decisions are made.

With the caveat it’s all subject to public choice constraints, which is why Newsom in California has thus far refused to make masks mandatory.

You are one weird dude.

You want us to accept the complete dismantling of federal response to coronavirus as a fiat accompli.

You deny my right as a citizen to ask for more.

It's a republic. We have an amendment about it.

https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-x

Trump's fortunes have undeniably turned since the Covid epidemic refused to go away.

I've seen no evidence that the GOP knives are out yet. But that can happen fast.

In any case, the idea that he and his followers are powerless is ludicrous.

But his perfect supreme court nominees seem to be turning his base supporters against him.

And the perfections of his perfect nominees has not yet been revealed.

Wait until the Satanic Temple school gets tax funding to give school choice to public school children, if Islamic society schools don't get tax support first.

And I'd love to convert Elon Musk to a religion of plural marriage because Trump's perfect nominee has opened the door to firing anyone who doesn't support plural marriage as practiced by Mitt Romney's grandfather.

I wonder how Trump's perfect nominees would come down on challenges to the court's interference in religious liberty in Reynolds v. United States, and The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States.

Without the Communist Party and the Red Army, Stalin would have been powerless.

The Senators comply out of fear of being primaried, apart from Barbara Mikulski who was already primaried, ran as an independent, and no longer fears this.

If Trump loses his sway on the base, the Senators have no reason to grovel, and will turn on him in a heatbeat. This far, Trump has been correct in his assertion that he could shoot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and his base would not turn against him.

" Trump has been correct in his assertion that he could shoot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and his base would not turn against him."

Trump said "I Could Stand In the Middle Of Fifth Avenue And Shoot Somebody And I Wouldn't Lose Any Voters".

I read he quote to mean that there are no Republican voters in Manhattan-- you're reading infers a much more nefarious intent. Interesting verbal Rorschach test.

I read he quote to mean that there are no Republican voters in Manhattan-- you're reading infers a much more nefarious intent. Interesting verbal Rorschach test.

It's not a "Rorschach test." Your interpretation is 100 percent uninformed nonsense. He was ***unquestionably*** making the point that his supporters were "loyal". (That's Trump's word, not mine.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTACH1eVIaA

Point taken. I had never seen the video and assumed it was one of his throw away lines. Even by his egocentric standards, that's a pretty unhinged statement.

Given who the other choice was, not really unhinged, nor illogical by his supporters. With Hillary in, that person would have been 'suicided' anyways.

Trumptards in 2020 still going 'But but but Hilary.'

I was disappointed by the article missing the four tribe in this fracas. The real enemy of Grey tribe is Green tribe. Green is older and can punch down harder and faster in the cultural arena but they can't count so I'm not too worried about them. Red and Blue fought to a standstill decades ago. Long live Grey tribe F the enviro ****bags.

The green tribe is really a faction of the Blue Tribe though.

Personally i think the Grey Tribe is less a faction of the Blue Tribe, and more the bastard offspring of both of them. People born into the Red Tribe and then transplanted into the Blue Tribe , who consequently never quite feel like they belong.

> Personally i think the Grey Tribe is less a faction of the Blue Tribe, and more the bastard offspring of both of them. People born into the Red Tribe and then transplanted into the Blue Tribe , who consequently never quite feel like they belong.

I’m not sure if this is true in general, but I relate to it strongly.

"The red tribe and Trumpers in general are really powerless in this struggle." Yeah, lots of people thought the same thing before November 2016

I disagree with this piece's not-so-veiled supposition that SlateStar and the rationalist community are stand-ins for technocrats aka 'silicon valley'. Many, myself included, are diametrically opposed to the valley 'intelligentsia' and everything they represent (and many have voiced this opposition on SlateStar). Keep in mind they're just as guilty of creating the framework for cancel-culture and engaging in it as their customers. Putting this in an 'old media' vs. 'new media' framework is disingenuous.

The entire piece is disingenuous.

This was interesting - "On Wednesday night, Srinivasan was yet again in an agitated state about another Times story, invoking an Atlantic article, by Tyler Cowen and the billionaire Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison, to urge his peers to start its own media operation, one that wouldn’t merely write articles about, say, attempts to go to Mars but organize the collective energy to get there. This new “decentralized tech media” would not be a commercial enterprise but “pure activism by technological progressives.”"

The entire piece was excellent. I'm more sympathetic to the New York Times's right to publish the truth.

Well we know how committed they are to that outdated concept (“truth”). *cough 1619 cough*

“Hurr durr the NYT got something wrong once and thus everything they do is invalidated.”

In other news, Sir Isaac Newton spent a shocking amount of time on alchemy and that’s why we no longer use calculus.

...This is a decades long pattern of getitng things wrong, then publishing a blatantly and purposefully wrong Education Cirriculum (1619 Project).

When called out, they effectively said, 'oh well.'

Don't downplay the dangers of historical revisionism and the current rise of a black inferiority movement they are creating.

Not disingenuous, just an example of the framing problem. The author can’t see this as anything other than part of the struggle between ‘old’ and ‘new” media, because that is the only important thing about this to them and thus the only thing they see.

What’s disingenuous is attempting to appear to be writing a balanced review of the affair, while the actual goal of the article is to cast all kinds of aspersions on SSC and ‘Silicon Valley’. Plausible deniability of incitement, indeed.

Yes he certainly mischaracterizes the response by SSC fans, which was very restrained for the most part

El oh el. Paul Graham has been dining off the old media vs new media frame for years.

> Not disingenuous, just an example of the framing problem. The author can’t see this as anything other than part of the struggle between ‘old’ and ‘new” media, because that is the only important thing about this to them and thus the only thing they see.

+ 1

In this thread

Prior drops a wall of irrelevant text

He lies right up front. He says the NYT web business model is not built on clicks. It is.
And “de-anonymize”? This is Nixonian language. Dox is the word.
He says conversations are “rightly criticized”. Not opinions or statements or claims: it is conversation itself that is the problem!
Bad article.

> He says conversations are “rightly criticized”.

Yes it was at this point that I realized this article was written by two different people. Somewhere in between the interesting beginning and the boring end is when the thought police arrived and started writing the second half of the article.

I wonder who he thinks the "monsters" are? (Steve Sailor *cough*)

It's a bad article because you disagree with it. Why don't you call them Nazis like you leftists always do?

I had a similar reaction, but I slogged through it, because The New Yorker used to mean something, but Gideon Lewis-Kraus is not a good writer (I mean, The New Yorker?) and not a critical thinker and his true motives shine clumsily through throughout, and he really hates that tech journalist and is very rivalrous with the whole SV scene and seems to think that people whose job it is to cover current events must insert themselves as players in those events at every turn.

Word people have this nutty idea that they can bend reality to their will with their words. Adorable.

In the end, it was a total waste of time, but he get a lot of the talking points out there that he wanted (e.g. Steve Sailer commented at SSC, and even our estimable host got an (unnerving?) mention.)

Stay safe Tyler. If you have to run a couple "our progressive future is shining and great" posts in the next few days, I get it.

The article was not very well organized. There were a bunch of curated facts of things that happened and a dose of the author's own biases but what was the point?

I suspect the goal of the NYT article would have been to "expose" all the wrongthink taking place at SSC. The New Yorker picked up the ball and took a swing at it anyway. Feels like a new front in an old war.

Do you think that the NYT will spike their story now that it will seem to be preempted, fair or not? My impression is that they never spike anything, e.g. that seven-reporter story on the leaked Trump tax return that found that Trump's accountant took a legal deduction.

"Stay safe Tyler. If you have to run a couple "our progressive future is shining and great" posts in the next few days, I get it."

+2, I can see that happening.

I kind of tend to assume that's what all that "Progress Studies" business was about. That and trying to corral some of the Progressives' radical impulses in at least somewhat sane directions.

Neither the editors nor writers see traffic data.

Sorry, dox is not a word. It is Internet slang that needs to be translated for New Yorker readers and other normal people.

The New Yorker doxxed the journalist. Be prepared for the howls of outrage.

In solidarity with the rationalist community, I am not mentioning the journalist's name on a leading economics blog, as it may harm his professional career.

Cade Metz, there I did it for you.

Let's be clear here, this hit piece tries to blame the "doxxing" on the SSC community, using pejorative language.

"but the former venture capitalist and cryptocurrency enthusiast Balaji Srinivasan, who has a quarrelsome Twitter personality, tweeted—some three hours after the post appeared, at 2:33 a.m. in San Francisco—that this example of “journalism as the non-consensual invasion of privacy for profit” was courtesy of Cade Metz, "

That's not a neutral way to tell the story.

Well, they did republish Cade Metz's name, what's that say?

No one was doxxed and Cade Metz doesn’t give a damn. This writer just did what all reporters do.

ITT: People who don't understand sarcasm.

Than the New Yorker when it come to droll - "Additionally, it seems difficult to fathom that a professional journalist of Metz’s experience and standing would assure a subject, especially at the beginning of a process, that he planned to write a “mostly positive” story; although there often seems to be some confusion about this matter in Silicon Valley, journalism and public relations are distinct enterprises."

Yes, the article positively zings with originality and wit.

Nobody does acerbic wit better than you. Though this was not bad. "But the rationalists, despite their fixation with cognitive bias, read into the contingencies a darkly meaningful pattern."

Though reading some of the comments above, one is forced to say its obvious banality is also hard to overstate.

Banal and incorrect. Would have been much more accurate to say

“two high profile Silicon Valley workers read into the contingencies a darkly meaningful pattern”

The replies to that tweet count as comments too.

Wanna see some “rationalists” finding dark patterns? Read Bret & Eric Weinstein’s tweets and the crazy replies.

Wanna see

"Finally, the business model of the Times has little to do with chasing “clicks,” per se, and, even if it did, no self-respecting journalist would conclude that the pursuit of clicks was best served by the de-anonymization of a “random blogger.” "

I think it's safe to say that the author here knows nothing of the business of journalism. NYT ads are, indeed, made more valuable by clicks, this was no "random blogger", and every journalist knows that sensationalism and controversy sells.

And whether or not there are any self-respecting journalists, I think it's also safe to say that journalists are *only* SELF respected.

Just two weeks ago on the Long Form podcast Dean Baquet said that he never sees traffic and analytics data, nor is it shared with reporters.

So why are they outing him? Before this fracas, I can't imagine knowing his name would drive many clicks even if the reporter was incentivized that way. I also don't buy the NYT is scared of his influence and being too far left/right or those other adversarial, almost conspiratorial, explanations.
I'm left with wondering why bother?

>The issue of the Gray Lady against the Grey Tribe, like so many conflicts that have recently played out on social media, is perhaps best viewed as an internecine struggle over the strategies of the Blue Tribe in an era of political crisis and despair.

Maybe this is a bit too simplistic. Maybe it is about denying the 'journalists' who are not impartial arbiters in these fights but active aggressors a place. Scott gave them a vigorous 'fuck you', I'm not playing.

Reading this article, although generally good, reminds me why I dislike the medium. Taking a sentence out of context from a forum where discussions go on for weeks and arguments go back and forth is utterly useless. Misleading or wrong isn't the right description. More like irrelevant.

> All of this was in part about money, and it was in part about culture, but, in the end, it was also about politics, and about the future of liberalism. The issue of the Gray Lady against the Grey Tribe, like so many conflicts that have recently played out on social media, is perhaps best viewed as an internecine struggle over the strategies of the Blue Tribe in an era of political crisis and despair. Everyone has skin in the game, and the stakes are high.

Imagine interpreting everything about the world through the lens of "What is good for my political party?" So cringe.

whoosh

In the article it uses Scott Alexander’s own definition of tribe as culture, not political party. In his words, a conservative in Manhattan who votes Republican is still part of the blue tribe.

"whoosh" what? it's not clear what you're responding to

Scott Alexander made the "egregious" decision to review the literature into innate biological differences between men and women and "uphold" some if it. Because remember: science shouldn't be upheld if it inconsistent with our ideology.

This author is a joke.

Scott Alexander is a joke. He picked a weak ass fake name. I figured it out. Actually Google did.

The joke is that the difference between having your name be googleable and having your name and pseudonym published by the NYT eludes you.

You should explain your thinking more because Google has a much larger userbase and it is going to be the first thing people use to learn more about any topic. Not the NYT.

To me it is more effective for Scott to cancel Google not NYT but his motivation could be bad feelings about them, not about effectiveness of staying pseudonymous.

If you Google his real name the blog doesn't (or didn't) come up. That was the key. He is a psychiatrist so its unethical for this personal writing and opinions to be readily available to patients who Google his name.

Now you know.

SSC was on the first page for me on Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.

I just googled his birth name, which I happen to know (which, by the way, is not Scott Alexander. Not assuming you don't know, but I just want to make sure we're on the same page). I found no references to SSC on the first page.

It’s not “unethical.” I’ve googled my therapist and read her writing.

Maybe he’s the one who cares more about traffic and clicks, and is concerned about losing patients.

Right, that's why he deleted the blog.

As far as losing patients. Well of course. Transitions of psychiatric care are damn dangerous. I routinely see patients in acute episodes when they have transitioned care. Managing psychiatric medication regimens is not easy and starting over with a new provider risks all manner of complications, up to and including death. Transition of care, obviously, needs to happen at times, but it is one of those risky things we try to limit whenever possible. Dead patients being a generally poor outcome and all.

Scott Alexander picked a weak pseudonym, then doubled down by advertising exactly how weak a pseudonym it was. Maybe it was ego. Maybe he didn't anticipate this level of success and attention. Whatever the reason, it was a bad move.

If his patients currently search for his real name in DuckDuckGo or any of the non-Google engines (interesting, right?), SSC shows up.

If the NYT had published the article with his pseudonym only, interested hostile readers could easily figure out the last name and use it to harass him.

His anonymity is a fiction.

It seems like any article drawing the attention of the NYT readership to SSC would have been problematic, with the actual name being making a marginal difference.

You believe there is no difference between having your name and pseudonym be googleable and having your name and pseudonym published by the NYT. Scott and many others believe otherwise. Whether he achieves the goals you ascribe to him is irrelevant. You should try to understand the actual goals he has with his pseudonymity and address whether he achieves those goals.

I didn't say no difference. I said it was marginal. If I was a rationalist, I would have a clever name for the argument fallacy you just used. So, I'll just assume you read my post very quickly and didn't catch that.

The only goals I've ascribe to him are the goals he has stated: 1) Protecting his safety and 2) protecting the integrity of his psych practice. Those are the two I highlighted:

Safety: People who want to harm him can easily find his info NOW. NYT publishing an article with only his pseudonym will draw attention to him, and the motivated can find his name easily. His real name makes a **marginal** difference.

Psych practice: If his patients search for his real name NOW (not knowing his blog or any NYT article), they can easily find out he has a blog and start reading it. They are unlikely to be reading the middle pages of the NYT and go "Holy crap, that's my psychiatrist!" The marginal difference is that if they read his blog, they can make an objective assessment of his beliefs, whereas the NYT article (with pseudonym or real name) will likely focus on his controversial opinions.

"If his patients search for his real name NOW (not knowing his blog or any NYT article), they can easily find out he has a blog and start reading it. "

This was not true as of a few days ago. Haven't tried recently.

I've never read this guys blog but now I know who he is. Thanks internet!

I don't see how the fact that SSC comes up when you search his real name would let you know that that was his blog, since SSC doesn't have his real name on it. Of course, if you read the blog you could put 2 and 2 together, but that's a different story. If you know who Scott is (as a patient) and you read his blog you'd figure out who he was without googling.

Safety: Most attacks against physicians' safety are not well thought out and occur in states of inebriation or psychosis. Trivial barriers to well functioning adults who comment on blogs with intelligent discourse are quite high to people who are drunk. Regardless since when do we believe that people who fail to meet one standard for protecting their own safety are simply asking for what little remains to be taken further away?

Psych: I am not a psychiatrist but I treat psychiatric patients in acute settings (i.e. having psychotic breaks). My understanding of the APA guidelines are that if you are discussing your patients in a HIPAA compliant fashion (de-identified being the technical term), your patients should not be able to readily link these de-indentified accounts to themselves with certainty. When discussing political and other views in light of this sort of de-indentified patient standard of care dictates that the patient not be readily able to find this dicussion. However poor Scott's operational security, it is in keeping with the standard of care guidelines the APA has for this sort of thing. The New York Times is not in keeping with these. Should the New York Times be allowed place Scott, who has consistently maintained himself on the allowed sign of the professional guidelines, on the wrong side?

Finally, what exactly are the rules? I maintain anonymity online for professional reasons as well. I have had credible death threats requiring police protection. Under what circumstances would it be appropriate for Tyler to unmask me should he locate my real identity? How can I engage in hobbies, like commenting on this blog, without risking some self-declared guardian of the public interest doxxing me. It is one thing if there were some clear defined rules and he did not do enough.

But there are not. And the NYT has repeatedly afforded anonymity to others with far less valid reasons.

We get you (or for that matter I) would do things differently. But the rules that are currently extant from the APA were followed by Scott. The NYT's reasons for not extending the courtesy to him that they extended to "Virgil Texas" are garbage.

Why exactly should the NYT be able to make up its own rules when the duly recognized governing body for psychiatric care in this country goes the other direction?

And again as somebody who has literally had cops around the clock outside my house, how exactly should I ensure that my anonymity will meet whatever standards random journalists or internet commentators deem sufficient?

"My understanding of the APA guidelines are that if you are discussing your patients in a HIPAA compliant fashion (de-identified being the technical term), your patients should not be able to readily link these de-indentified accounts to themselves with certainty. When discussing political and other views in light of this sort of de-indentified patient standard of care dictates that the patient not be readily able to find this dicussion."

I don't think your second sentence logically follows from the first. I agree that a psychiatrist should not write things in a blog (or elsewhere) that would allow a patient (or others) to identify the discussion with things that were said to the psychiatrist in confidence and that that would be a violation of professional standards. I have not read all of the SSC posts, but I think I've read enough to know that Scott Alexander has abided by these rules on his blog. However, the fact that he's been in compliance is an argument *against* his claim of patient privacy, not for it. If he's claiming his clients might identify themselves in his blog discussions, he had no business writing about them in that manner even under a pseudonym. I've also read enough to know that very few of Scott Alexander's blog posts have had anything to do with his discussions with patients. I'd venture a guess that less than 5 percent of his blog posts have anything to do with his patients' histories. Why should he enjoy anonymity with respect to those non-patient related posts? Should he have been mixing up stories obliquely related to patient histories with those that have nothing to do with them? Should he not have created a separate blog for those discussions related to his work as a practicing psychiatrist and those that have nothing to do with it? Would it have been a simple solution for Scott to delete from his blog only those posts in which he has a fear that his patients might be identified?

I have not yet formed a strong conclusion either way on this---I think it poses difficult questions and I can understand the dilemma the NYT editors face. On the one hand, I don't see any strong reason why the NYT should disclose his real name, but on the other hand, I don't have access to all the facts that might be relevant to that decision.

For me, the New Yorker article raised interesting questions that I had not previously thought about. I now view this in part as a conflict between traditional journalism and the new journalism of blogs and the internet. The former, including the NYT and the New Yorker, undoubtedly feel challenged. Why should they, in conformance with journalistic standards, write under their real names and their new competition enjoy anonymity? Should readers (and patients) be entitled to know about any conflicts of interest, sources of potential bias, etc? Other than that, I'm willing to let someone's arguments stand alone. I also fear that disclosing identity is an excuse to more easily "cancel" someone whose views don't always agree with.

You have to be able to use de-identified stories, a vital set of medical literature called case reports and case series are nothing but these sorts of things. Likewise they are absolutely essential for medical education and policy debate.

For example, I had a transgender patient with cancer, the pathologist needed to know chromosomal sex to know if Barr bodies would be present or not so when the inevitable push comes to replace "sex" with "gender" on all medical records I need to be able to discuss this in a HIPAA compliant manner. I can do that following certain guidelines. Whatever your or I think about the advisability or sufficiency of said guidelines is mostly immaterial, they are controlling for the profession.

Scott stayed on the right side of those guidelines. He believes the NYT might put him on the wrong side. Why exactly should we want the NYT to be the ones making professional calls about appropriate doctor-patient protocol?

As far as why should the NYT, in general, respect anonymity. Whyever not?

Is it not policy of the NYT to address people as they wish to be identified? After all do we not read about "Chelsea" Manning rather than "Bradley" and have we not done so even before that change was made the legal name or record? If we are going to honor the preferences for people's self-reference when it is merely about them hoping that society will share the conception of their gender, I see no reason to not use similar reasoning when it is due to a well founded safety or professional concern.

Ultimately I can think of nothing the New Yorker article would have gained by including a full name. If the NYT is willing to extend anonymity to "Virgil Texas", "Banksy", and every source in DC (many of whom have been flat wrong), I see no reason to not extend that courtesy to a professional with security concerns.

"Scott stayed on the right side of those guidelines. He believes the NYT might put him on the wrong side. Why exactly should we want the NYT to be the ones making professional calls about appropriate doctor-patient protocol?"

I really don't think you are responding to my comment. If Scott stayed on the right side of the professional ethics rules, nothing the NYT now does would change that. Again, Scott is being a bit too clever using the doctor/patient relationship to justify not revealing his real name. And, again, if Scott were so concerned about that he would not have mixed up his patient "stories" with the blog commentary on general topics and the content of the latter comprises overwhelmingly the vast majority of his blog .

I'm a lawyer. Do we get to use the same privilege/excuse?

I have been told by my psychiatrist friends that having the stories be something readily found when the patient just Googles your name puts you on the wrong side of the line.

The NYT is will make exactly that possible.

As a lawyer, exactly when did it become common practice to say that people who did not do everything possible to protect against an outcome are now fair game for every possible outcome? I mean I could be wrong, but I thought walking alone, late at night, while inebriated did not suddenly make it open season on rape and mugging as the victim clearly did not care because they could have done more. Am I wrong about this?

Further as a lawyer, could you direct me to the body of rules that tells me what is too much "mixing" and exactly which standard of "concern" is sufficient to be "so" concerned that anonymity should be maintained?

You are acting like Scott expected his blog to become international news media from the start rather that it being a niched community where people would respect his privacy. Perhaps that is naive, but last I checked we do not surrender our legitimate interests just by making errors.

As far as using the same "excuse", search me. What is your equivalent of "standard of care"? For us it is literally do what everyone else, but especially the professional organizations, say is enough. The John Edwards school of medical law has made it exceedingly difficult to abandon even harmful practices once they become "standard of care". For us, pretty much the only absolute safe haven is following the professional guidelines however asinine, outdated, or outright harmful they happen to be. Scott did that. What the NYT wants do is contrary to that. Our malpractice insurers, among other people, do not like what the NYT proposes. These all can add up to literally tens of thousands of dollars of burden to us and, depending on your accounting, more to our patients.

Which seems pretty silly for society to incur when the NYT has no problem saying to hell with legal names for leftist causes (e.g. trans-genderism), inside scoops (e.g. Banksy), criminals (e.g. prostitutes), and sources (e.g. basically whatever the tell-all accusation to date is that comes out of the Trump administration).

That's a pretty weak defense. Come on, there is no exception to the professional rules of conduct for improperly disclosing patients' confidences if you do so under a pseudonym. Not that I think Scott has (see above, and below) I think Scott worked pretty hard and successfully to make his blog famous. As far as "being a lawyer" pointing out where it says mixing your client's stories into a general blog isn't a good idea, I can point to the most authoritative and powerful source---good judgement and even common sense. As much as Scott is otherwise a very rational and persuasive blogger, his objective judgement is lacking, I think, when it comes to making a case that an exception should be made when he is the subject of a news story.

Again, nothing I've read on Scott's blog would indicate that any of his patients could identify themselves if they read all of his blog posts. Either he's done "everything possible" within the rules and he has nothing to fear, or he hasn't. You and Scott want to have your cake and eat it.

Oh please, Scott did not improperly disclose patients' confidences in any of his writings. There are formal requirements for de-identification that he appears to have met in everything I have ever read. But HIPAA and the law are not the full burden. Standard of care, according to some folks, goes down to some sentences are not allowed in the abstract of case report., though they are allowed in the body of the article. Similarly the question is not are these accounts wholly unsearchable (after all SSC is still archived online) but can they be found with undue ease. And again, common sense long left the medico-legal building. My malpractice insurer does not give a rat's ass if something shows good judgment and common sense. My malpractice insurer cares if it meets the commonly observed "standard of care" because that is the magical get-out-of-malpractice-with-a-cheap-settlement ticket.

And I agree Scott made choices I would not have done. But the rules are about how easily these things can be found. Given that this is the world we live in, where lawyers have made following arbitrary rulers a better malpractice defense than "common sense and good judgment", why exactly should the NYT post Scott's real name and not the hookers they interview? Why does Virgil Texas get a complete pass? Why are we treated to innumerable anonymous leaks out of DC about matters of actual grave important where the NYT never doxxes them even when they have been proven to be glaringly wrong?

Seriously when you talk like this it just sounds like "Your honor, she had it coming."

"Oh please, Scott did not improperly disclose patients' confidences in any of his writings."

Nor did I say he did. In fact, I said the opposite. And, for that reason, I argued that Scott doesn't have strong grounds for keeping his name secret on the grounds that it would lead to the disclosure of patient secrets.

"Similarly the question is not are these accounts wholly unsearchable (after all SSC is still archived online) but can they be found with undue ease. And again, common sense long left the medico-legal building. My malpractice insurer..."

At the same time you suggest "common sense long left the medico-legal building" you state a common sense/good judgment standard "can they be found with undue ease".

I think you are mistaken on several points here: First, this is not primarily a legal question of "malpractice"; rather, it is a question of ethics and whether Scott has violated the professional rules of conduct as set forth in APA rules. These are not rules created by "the law" or even lawyers; they are rules created by a body of psychiatrists who self-govern their profession. At the end of the day, it is his professional governing body, not lawyers, who are responsible for adjudicating any violation.

Second, n this case, I don't see any exception for revealing patient confidences by a psychiatrist who does so under his own name or under a pseudonym nor is there any hint of a rule that it's ok as long as it would be difficult for a patient to find out he's been compromised. For example, should it be ok for Scott or any other psychiatrist be able to drop off patient histories to the NYT anonymously rather than under his real name? There is no hint of a rule that suggests that a doctor can reveal inappropriately patient information so long as *he* (the doctor) can't be caught! If you are arguing differently, then you are yourself trying to read a "common sense/good judgement" interpretation into the general rule. And, that has long since "left the (medico-legal) building"!

Again, I've not made up my mind on whether the NYT should reveal his name. That would depend on whether there are good reasons for them to so based on the information they have. But, I think this discussion has helped me understand that the arguments you and Scott are putting forth really have little to do with the interest of patients and much, much more to do with self-interest.

"First, this is not primarily a legal question of 'malpractice'"
Insurers beg to differ. While not everything outside of the safe harbor of "standard of care" is malpractice, the odds of cutting large checks goes up dramatically and they put pressure on folks to stay within them.

"At the end of the day, it is his professional governing body, not lawyers, who are responsible for adjudicating any violation."
Nonsense, there are innumerable cases where the state licensing board has said that a physician acted with good judgement even outside of "standard of care" only for that same physician to be tried in court and lose large sums. It is further routine for the bulk of money to never see the light of either a court or a licensure board. Insurance companies pass their costs on to the docs who then pass them onto the patients. If you fail to follow whatever "standard of care" was established in a case by a lawyer and the jury he won over, your insurer may jack your premiums and your employer may discard you because you are pulling the entire pool's premiums up. This can be even more vicious if you are self-insured.

Anything that makes it the licensing board or the courts is wildly atypical. Most of the day to day changes to practice behavior happens because admin or insurance demand it.

I mean frankly, it is entirely possible that Scott asked his insurer what would happen if his real name was doxxed and the insurer replied he would see a four or five figure increase in premiums if he did not take proactive steps.

The interest to patients come in a level up from here. Suppose Scott ends up in a bad place with regards to standard of practice. His practice (no idea but going with typical stuff) decides that the settlement payments will be higher because he is nationally known and is no longer in compliance with standard of care. Their margins are not high enough to pay him to continue. He quits and goes to work someplace that does not care (e.g. IHS, the various psych units in the criminal justice system). His patients now transition to a new psychiatrist.

By the numbers their risk of death and adverse events just increased dramatically. The new physician knows the patient less and is going to be slower to pick up on failing treatment. In the psych world, failed treatment all too often means suicide. Likewise, patient vocabulary and even body habitus are much better measured with a long baseline. So again if side effects start showing, it is harder for a new physician to pick them up. This is particularly hard with psych patients as they often report feeling better when the meds are off (e.g. bipolar patient starts taking an herbal supplement that increases cytochromes which increases drug metabolism of some drugs while slowing others, and overall throwing things out of whack leading to building mania), have inconsistent symptoms (e.g. somatization), lose their trust in their physician (e.g. schizophrenia with paranoia), or their ability to communicate symptoms (e.g. psychotic breaks).

I mean sure, in a more perfect world all these professional and monetary concerns would do jack all to how patients are treated and their life expectancies. Instead, though, we have a system where fear of stepping outside of "standard of care" means that keeping practices solvent often means shuffling personnel in ways that are highly deleterious to patients.

Is anyone going to have their dark secrets outed by Scott's blog becoming more well read? No. Are they more likely to die if his employer cannot afford the consequences of the NYT creating a "standard of care" headache? Yes.

Remember, in medicine the cheapest option is always to let the patient die. Anything that adds costs to the system, like malpractice threats, will often end up with some action that increases risk of patient death.

Sure and Vivian, I think there's a misreading of a significant part of Scott's concerns regarding his patients connecting him to SSC. I don't think it's at all about standards of care (which are extremely lax in psychiatry if you get right down to it). It's in the nature of being a good psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist it's crucial to maintain a certain anonymity. The treatment is not about you and your beliefs and attitudes, it's about the patient. Patients are generally eager to project their fears and aspirations onto you, and their defense mechanisms often include looking for ways to invalidate your ability to treat them. Pretty much any specific information that a patient might learn about their therapist can undermine therapy and treatment in unexpected ways.

For example, a patient struggling with a difficult conventional marriage with issues of infidelity in their partner, who then discovers Scott lives in a polyamorous community, may suddenly feel that Scott can't empathize or take seriously their case. That's a very concrete and unimaginative example, though one I pretty sure would come up. I can think of scores of examples in which patients reading Scott's blog would taint and alter their treatment relationship with him. And none of that speaks to the issue for his employer. Having a psychiatrist who is a mini-celebrity, who writes long, thoughtful posts that are commented upon by leading magazines and newspapers, is not really part of their business model nor them mission. I guarantee they don't want the publicity, and that publicity would disturb many of their clients.

The article actually isn’t bad at all. There’s a lot of good reporting in there. I found it informative and definitely learned a lot about the situation.

However, because it’s the New Yorker, Lewis-Kraus is stuck using a very sympathetic blue tribe frame. He makes thinly veiled arguments that Slate Star Codex was an implicit promotion of racist theories because they didn’t censor alt-right writers. It’s such a self serving frame but totally predictable when you consider that it’s an article in the New Yorker.

I agree, and I'm pretty surprised because it seems like he's read a lot of SSC and probably has been reading it for a long time but has really disliked it the whole time?

Don't be so surprised. I read this trash blog and its comments section every day, have for years. Reading is a sick addiction.

I don't think it implies that at all. It attempts to present a neutral perspective over whether or not there is something untoward about tolerating racists in the comments section.

It does say something along the lines of "okay so these are mostly white men who are debating from a position of safety something that they have never personally had to bear the costs of (despite all the talk of skin in the game). "

Which, personally, I think is a fair criticism. That doesn't justify ruining the reputation and life of a person who as explicitly stated his does not agree with those guys, just because happens to tolerate their presence in the comments.

Quote: "It attempts to present a neutral perspective over whether or not there is something untoward about tolerating racists in the comments section. "

Your argument is complicated a bit by the current fashion of 'canceling' anyone we choose to call 'racist' and we define the terms as we go along. If I call you racist right now, Tyler must remove your offensive remarks immediately.

Well, clearly not, since I've been called an anti-white racist by numerous people on the alt-right over the last few years and I havn't been banned yet.

Can anyone define this nebulous alt-right?

It seems to be the buzzword du jour and used for anyone who deviates from the approved Democratic party viewpoints.

It's hard to imagine what the relevance to the reporter of the last name could be.

I hope that the article will be published without de-anonymizing Scott Alexander, as I am very interested to know what all the fuss is about. Is it a generic article about Silicon Valley's interest in a rationalist blogger? Is it a hit piece on someone perceived to have the wrong political opinions (hard to believe, I always thought the blog was center-left)?

If the article itself is going to be a subject of controversy, it ought to be made public.

Yeah, the NYT article, if it ever sees the light of the internet, will be extremely well read. It's prejudged enough at this point that it will be more of a mirror than a lens. (And, if enabled, the comments section will be epic ;).)

This stimulated my mind rigorously.

I know it when I see it.

unf

And I remain eternally grateful having never encountered SSC, regardless of the times it was linked to here.

Why? Because you know you couldn't cut it in a comment section where the average IQ is about 140?

Maybe because having never encountered it, "that..lacunae" has saved themselves about 10-20 hours of life reading internet comment boards?

I'm curious about this-- how do you guys know your IQ scores? I went to fairly upscale public schools in the bay area, in Atherton and Woodside, and I remember taking lots of standardized tests, but nobody ever told me my IQ. Is that just normal now, everyone gets an IQ score? Who administers the tests and keeps the records? Serious question.

Probably imputed from standardized test scores.

Makes sense, but where do you see the score? How do people learn what it is?

FWIW, mine was shown to me (but only in the presence of my parent) by my HS guidance counselor. I believed at the time that it was determined by the annual progress tests which were administered at the time by grade, and most definitely not imputed by the SAT or similar.

Here is a SAT I to IQ Estimator: https://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/SATIQ.aspx

The average commenter on SSC is a person without many friends who has been told all his life that he "knows how to write" or that "he is an analytical thinker". When such a person posts there, his (and it always is a his, with the exception of a few women on the spectrum) sophomoric analysis of the world around him is reinforced by compliments from fellow sophomoric thinkers. The effects have escalated over the years, and these sad lonely people now think they form (or think they once formed, before "the man", a.k.a. the NYT, busted up their playground) a "community." It is not funny at all, although Moliere once wrote a play (les faux amis l'appelle une comedie) about bluestockings that would be more or less appropriate.

The writer himself is an engaging, young, overweight academic person - someone who would have liked to be a student into his 40s, at least - who has very little understanding of his fellow human beings.

If you are reading this, Scott, listen up. You have a very charismatic personality and you can be happy in life. But you are nowhere near as intelligent or informed as you think you are - at best, you are a counterfeit counterweight to the projects of ***** and his ilk. Stop sucking up to whatever image you have of your old professors and stop trying to say things that would have gotten you a good grade from that sad mildly progressive retinue. Lose a few pounds, find a nice wife, start a family, and stop giving a shit about people who try too hard to sound smart.

And no, nobody cares about the "rationalist community," anymore than anyone still cares about the Dead-Heads of yesteryear who still refuse to listen to jazz or classical music. Step away from the bongs, Dead-Heads! There is a big big world of non-stoned music out there!

(for the record, he banned me when I told him he was kidding himself if he thought he understood anything at all about the detailed technical aspects of our little coronavirus friend from Wuhan. I explained in detail why he did not know what he was talking about. As far as I can tell, he didn't like that. I still respect the guy, but trust me, he is not anywhere near as bright as his fans claim he is).

Can you point us to a more intelligent comments section? SA used to highlight the best comment of each week. Some of them were fantastic.

Where did I say that the good comments there were not very good? I pored over that comment section dozens of times and was never disappointed ---- there was always some good insight.

But ....

Listen, crackheads, if someone studies quantum field theory for a few decades, and then decides to drop into a comment section on a "popular book" about quantum field theory, that individual is going to leave some very good comments.

Shake, toss the dice, shake again, and eventually you are going to have a "really good comment section", but - and this is an interesting point, but not the main point ------ NOBODY commenting there realizes that they are basking in reflected glory when their comments are pedestrian: WE ARE ALL QUANTUM FIELD THEORISTS ABOUT SOMETHING, but even QUANTUM FIELD THEORISTS are not defined by their level of wit and insight when they are commenting on QUANTUM FIELD THEORY. THEY ARE DEFINED BY what they are when they are being human.

Rinse and repeat, and try and remember that some people, like me, get the score: I spent more time in the military teaching people how to fight and more time in civilian jobs teaching people how not to ruin their lives than you can imagine.

My good-hearted point was, belonging to a randomized community that is optimized to give specialist praise when a specialist has a good moment, and where ALL ASPIRE TO REFLECTED GLORY, is no way to live your life.

Lose a few pounds, work out, find a woman, start a family.

I don't know if I can make it any simpler.

But I am in a good mood tonight, so I will try.

I have known people who expected to win a Nobel Prize one day, I have known people who have had admiring books written about their thought processes.

People who make the most celebrated internet and twitter stars of today look like the background stars and starlets in old Three Stooges movies.

You are just human, my friends. Trust me, I know how their spouses (the Nobel prize expectees, the objects of the admiring books) looked at them when they remembered they were not GREAT HUMAN BEINGS and FORGOT that their purpose in life was to be a friend, whether intelligent or not, to the people who cared about them most.
BE A HUMAN FIRST BEFORE YOU STRIVE TO IMPRESS SOMEONE AS A UNIQUELY RATIONALIST AND INTELLIGENT PERSON.

(for the record, if you understood what I was trying, in my good hearted way, to say, you do not need to worry about what your IQ score. Whether you agreed with me (I hope you did) or whether you felt consternation or an indignant desire to disagree - either way, if you had a fairly good idea of what I was trying to do there, don't worry, your IQ score is high enough.
And there were no tricks - I was simply expressing my opinion.

TLDR - if you understood and agreed , trust me, your IQ score is high enough. If you understood and disagreed, ditto....

... although I would work on your priors if that is the group (the disagreeing group) you find yourself in. Maybe start with a good introduction to "What was wrong with Nietzsche" and move on from there .... "wisdom has a price greater than the price of rubies" ... trust me on that. I know the score.

porque mejor es la Sabiduria que las piedras preciosas

y todo cuanto se puede desear,

no es de comprararse con Ella.

Reina Valera 1960.

Memini.

I love how invested you are in proving how much smarter you are than the average SSC reader. Perhaps you should take more of your own advice.

Greg, you seem to be annoyed.

Would it help if I told you that I have no doubt at all that you might be a genius, a greater genius than I ever will be? Seriously, that was my first thought on reading your aggressive comment, and it was a good thought ....

Let me add this, Greg. You are right to "love" what you think I am invested in ..... you are right to love what you think about me, even if you have no idea about the hell and suffering I willingly went through to be the kind-hearted person I am ..... .... I have rarely met someone who was not an awful lot better at philosophy after meeting me than that person was before they met me. If you want to insult me, you are going to have to try an awful lot harder (please don't though, that is a bad place that you do not ever want to be).

I know the score, Greg. I am a lot older, and have seen and experienced a lot more, than I let on.

If I feel a little kind-hearted to the average SSC commenter and want to tell them that they can me much better, well, feel free to call me out on that.

But like I said, you don't want to know how much I have gone through to know what I know.

I am sure you are thinking "motte and bailey" but what you should be thinking is this:

what would I think if I, too, had seen and been through what this guy has seen and been through? (or vice versa - you see, I have my faults, but I am not arrogant at all).

Thanks for reading.

These neutral, noncommittal words were ominously interpreted, taken as a clue that the reporter might be working on something other than a light, flattering story.

New Yorker writer pretends he's never heard of the practice of "befriend and betray" in journalism. Shhhhheeeeeeeeeiiiittt. That's rich.

Also, motte-and-bailey is a tactic, not a fallacy, ya twit!

Rationalist wiki calls it a fallacious argument style, so maybe we can agree it is two things at once?

Okay, I'm prepared to admit that there are people who utilize it who are too stupid to realize what they are doing.

If people are going to use their pitchforks on the New York Times when they haven't done anything yet then doesn't that give them a reason to do some doxxing?

Yeah. His tantrum appears to have backfired, at least for now.

Yeah. His tantrum appears to have backfired, at least for now.

Where is the "tantrum"?

https://slatestarcodex.com/

"If you resist, we'll just hit you harder."

"If people are going to use their pitchforks on the New York Times "

What pitchforks? I've seen people complaining on line that the NYT's reporter has said he's going to do it. I don't know of any actual violence or direct physical threats of violence. Did I miss something?

What saga? The sage of his C____u___ckoldry?

I often have trouble finishing Scott Alexander's posts because of their great length and he's an excellent writer, so I'm not going to finish this nobody's mile-length article. I did get to the point where said that the NYT is not going to "doxx" Alexander but to "de-anonymize him", LOL.

"Your honor, I did not cut off my wife's head. I just decapitated her with an axe."

I often have trouble finishing Scott Alexander's posts because of their great length and he's an excellent writer, so I'm not going to finish this nobody's mile-length article.

And I'm not even going to start it--this month, anyway-- because it would cost me $12, plus having to cancel my New Yorker subscription at the end of 3 months. :-)

P.S. I wonder why no publications have terms like: "Pay $5 to read 10 articles over the next 3 months"?

You should have read the rest because it basically says "ok, there's some offensive commentary in the comments section, but Scott Alexander clearly disagrees with it, and this group of people has their own weird culture where it's permissible to not instantly ban racists but to engage with them. What's so bad about that?"

I am amazed that people take this stuff seriously. It reminded me the Blues and Greens Fights in Byzantium.

I guess I am just a provincial Grey, but I would not be shocked if one day a Belisarius appears and violently gets rid of all this bullshit.

I am amazed that people take this stuff seriously.

Publishing the last name of someone, against his explicit request, who has already received death threats, is not serious?

Free speech for all! Erm, and shame newspapers that try to name public intellectuals.

Thank goodness someone's looking out for the interests of the bullies. If we start to draw moral distinctions, there might be less bullying, and who wants to live in that world?

Free speech is for everyone. You want to cancel bullies?

Free speech for people ranting about women, American Indians, or other groups incurring the wrath of MR comments. No free speech to name a public intellectual. Never mind one who also happens to tell stories about his patients online, that's just icing on the cake.

He followed professional best practices in combining and changing patient stories to the point of unrecognizability.

What a weird angle to push. Of course they have the right to publish his name. The question is whether it’s moral to do so, not whether it’s legally permissible.

We can only hope they did. As for the morality, the message of the Harper's letter was that America's strong legal supports for free speech were insufficient if the society and culture did not back it up. If that can be true for opinion, and it surely is, why not for fact?

If freedom of expression is the desired end state, then that frames the moral question as well.

Does doxing Scott increase freedom of expression or diminish it?

I would say the answer is clear. Doxing Scott reduces freedom of expression, and shuts down an inherently valuable place in which to exercise that freedom.

If the Bostonian learned Thomas Paine’s identity, publishing it would decrease freedom of expression, not increase it

Ad absurdum, when we criticise ideas, we risk pricking the conscience of the author, so we should cease debating ideas. Where to draw the line? Dr ? is a public intellectual, perhaps the dean of Silicon-Valley-thought. To name him is no grave wrong if done accurately. If we draw the limit of freedom upon protest by one, we draw it upon protest of all, and that is the timeline that terrifies me. As for place, his readers have Reddit.

I appreciate the good faith argument. Almost seems....SSCish. But I digress.

I don't see a reductio ad absurdum here at all. Criticizing ideas is not the same as outing a pseudonymous author who will likely face an immediate termination in employment.

We should welcome the free expression of criticism of SSC or Scott Alexander. He's in the public sphere and his writings are in the public sphere. They should be and are subject to the vagaries of public discourse just like any other public writing. You should be completely free as an also pseudonymous writer to debate him in the public arena.

Doxing him adds nothing to the conversation. It does, however, add a steep price to free expression, namely the loss of employment and potentially ruinous financial consequences.

In a better world, outing him would mean nothing. But in the real world, and as someone who takes consequentialism seriously as a moral theory, outing him reduces freedom of expression and seriously injures several innocent people to include Scott and his patients.

When faced with a moral decision in which you actually have agency to decide the consequences, outing him adds nothing to the world but decreases both freedom of expression and puts patients at risk.

We should work out why they're not the same. Why in a moral sense, we should definitely limit freedom to publish fact to protect one person's current employment contract, on their word that they are at risk as a result of their actions. But then not to support another person's safety on their word by limiting the freedom to speculate on matters of opinion, perhaps due to characteristics over which they had no control at all, like their nature, or even their sensitivity to criticism.

Why in a moral sense, we should definitely limit freedom to publish fact to protect one person's current employment contract, on their word that they are at risk as a result of their actions.

As far as I know, not a single person is arguing that government at any level should limit the NY Times. The NY Times should limit itself.

Why?

1) Because publishing his last name *reduces* public discussion of issues...which presumably is the exact opposite goal of the NY Times.

2) Because publishing his last name might not simply get him fired, it might even get him killed (since he's already had death threats).

3) There's absolutely no need for it. His last name is not germane to any of the issues that have been discussed on his blog.

4) The NY Times has refused to publish names in the past in similar situations.

Well, here's the broader issue, which has a tie-in to the Harper's Piece.

The Times must decide which side of the battle over free speech it is going to come down on. Do they want to join the social justice mobs in silencing even people whose only "crime" is a resistance to banning all forms of offensive commentary? Or do they want to join the signatories of the Harper's letter ? By publishing Scott Alexanders name, they would be aligning themselves with the censorious mob ... .rather than the liberal elite. They would be handing Alexander to the mob, not even as a sacrifice, but as an active participant.

+1 for Hazel and Mark. Just because they can doesn't mean they should.

Quote: "Because publishing his last name *reduces* public discussion of issues...which presumably is the exact opposite goal of the NY Times."

Thanks for that! The thread needed some humor

Quote: "Because publishing his last name *reduces* public discussion of issues...which presumably is the exact opposite goal of the NY Times."

Thanks for that! The thread needed some humor.

?

Where was the "humor" in that?

But then not to support another person's safety on their word by limiting the freedom to speculate on matters of opinion, perhaps due to characteristics over which they had no control at all, like their nature, or even their sensitivity to criticism.

I see where you are going with this. You're drawing a parallel between Alexander's situation, and that of perhaps a transgendered person by not limiting the freedom to speculate about transgenderism in the workplace. In both cases someone's career may be "harmed" by potentially arousing hostility among coworkers (or patients) to their person.

Although I think there's a deeper distinction to be drawn, at least one distinction I can see is that in this case, Scott Alexander is not having his liberty to speculate about offensive subjects curtailed, he's having his liberty to tolerate offensive commentary in the comments section of his blog curtailed - by being threatened with consequences we usually reserve for the actual offensive commenter.

Free speech for all! Erm, and shame newspapers that try to name public intellectuals.

1) You ever see "Absence of Malice"? Did the newspaper in that movie do anything wrong at any point?

2) Here are a list of the pseudonyms used by people involved in the debates on the U.S. Constitution:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pseudonyms_used_in_the_American_Constitutional_debates

Would you say a newspaper at the time would be proper to publish the names behind the pseudonyms?

3) Scott Alexander has already received death threats. If the NY Times publishes his full name, and he or anyone he knows is harmed (e.g. killed, assaulted, threatened with physical harm) as a result, do you think the NY Times would be blameless?

Of course any newspaper would have properly published the names of people influencing public policy.

It's not at all clear to me that by discussing fraught topics online on a blog made Scott a "people influencing public policy" only 7k people stood up to be counted for Scott that's not influence that's a you-tuber who's been demonetized.

That seems a response to point 2 - "Here are a list of the pseudonyms used by people involved in the debates on the U.S. Constitution:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pseudonyms_used_in_the_American_Constitutional_debates

Would you say a newspaper at the time would be proper to publish the names behind the pseudonyms?"

Of course any newspaper would have properly published the names of people influencing public policy.

Complete BS. Here is a list of pseudonyms used in the debate about the Constitution:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pseudonyms_used_in_the_American_Constitutional_debates

Not only did the newspapers at the time not publish the names of the people behind the pseudonyms, to this day the names behind a few of the pseudonyms aren't known.

And in fact the NY Times hid the name of "Virgil Texas" even though the guy does live podcasts (so his face is clearly visible):

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/us/politics/bernie-sanders-chapo-trap-house.html

It feels like an attempt to scoop the times. "there I've written about it better than the times could and didn't use his name. Can we move on now?"

+1.

Agreed. By writing the article about SSC without exposing Scott Alexander's real name they're stealing the Times thunder. The Times piece may eventually come out - but if it does, and if takes a more condemnatory tack, it is likely to spark an internecine struggle within that particular Blue Tribe cohort. The New Yorker is basically saying 'Are we really going to eat our own like this?' (Straussian subtext) by writing an actually balanced article about Alexander rather than a hit piece or an "expose" along Koch brothers lines . (Remember it was the New Yorker that wrote that one).

It occurs to me that this particular article might be counted as "shots being fired" in which the New Yorker might be signifying it's alignment with the authors of the Harper's letter and simultaneously firing a shot across the bow of the Times, chastising it (in straussian fashion) by not publishing Alexander's name, and publishing Cade Metz's name instead.

Using Metz’s name was a nice touch. The “newsworthiness” BS isn’t selling any more. The closer things get to doxxing Metz where it counts, the more he’s going to have to back off. “People have been making threats toward the NYT journalist and his family! They’re part of the story now! Let’s interview each of his kids and get quotes from each of them about whether they feel safe having a father who’s such an object of hatred for so many. Include their full names, photos, addresses, and daily routines of course — we strive to inform our readers about all the news that’s fit to print donchewno.”

It’s a thorny issue, for sure, balancing free speech against privacy. But the smug, self-serving hypocrisy of Judith Miller’s alma mater is a little too much to bear this time around, and I’m glad people aren’t bearing it.

That for years after that Mayer article, links to the New Yorker were filtered from this comment section.

I think Scott Alexander successfully Streisand'ed his pseudonymity away by making a scene didn't he? The rage of a thousand nerds online didn't help either.

Probably not because his concern was that someone (a patient) might google his real name and find the blog. Not that someone who knows about the blog might find his real name.

It's Schroedinger's Blog! Widely read enough to warrant an article by the New York Times, and another by the New Yorker, but obscure enough to keep unwitting patients from accidentally discovering that their shrink is King of the Nerds.

He knew perfectly well (even before SneerClub people started spreading his real name as far and wide as possible, which they of course did because they are evil). The point of the self-immolation was to make the NYT pay a price for their supposed 'policy':

"After considering my options, I decided on the one you see now. If there’s no blog, there’s no story. Or at least the story will have to include some discussion of NYT’s strategy of doxxing random bloggers for clicks."

Another reason to dissolve the NYT.

from the article: "The blogger Scott Aaronson, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin"

What am I missing here?

What am I missing here?

What you're missing is that Scott Aaronson is not the author of the blog "Slate Star Codex."

The author of "Slate Star Codex", Scott Alexander, is a psychiatrist. Scott Aaronson is a computer scientist, and the author of the "Shtetl-Optimized" blog:

https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/

Anyone with an Internet presence will find it difficult to stay anonymous. Even Q-anon will eventually be unmasked.

Anyone with an Internet presence will find it difficult to stay anonymous.

True, but that says nothing about the morality of the NY Times publishing Scott Alexander's full name, against his express request, and after he has provided several good reasons why the NY Times should not do so, e.g.:

1) "I also worry that my clinic would decide I am more of a liability than an asset and let me go, which would leave hundreds of patients in a dangerous situation as we tried to transition their care."

2) "The second reason is more prosaic: some people want to kill me or ruin my life, and I would prefer not to make it too easy. I’ve received various death threats."

3. Anyone who has been to a psychiatrist or used the services of one knows that some of the psychiatrist's patients may be dangerous - having nothing to do with that person's online identity and beliefs, and everything to do with the nature of mental illness and psychiatric treatment.

Yes, I don't think this one is a close call. If the NY Times publishes Scott's last name, they will have done something unquestionably wrong.

I see a dead newspaper, the New York Times.

Anyone with an Internet presence that intersects with social media.

Pamela Jones did an excellent job of remaining anonymous. And yes, there were journalists who were extremely eager to publish her name.

And here is her final post, from 2013 - "The owner of Lavabit tells us that he's stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too.

There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum.

What to do? "

At a basic level, nobody has been anonymous on the Internet for a couple of decades, but governments are at an entirely different level than a journalist using a search engine to find your real name.

Unfortunately this all proves that you can’t win a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. If they come after you then you are in big trouble.

It also proves that Pamela Jones was not stupid . She never left an abundance of clues for the spiders to weave a web of information from, being fully aware that the tech industry, who buys bits by the petabyte, is never to be trusted.

She was also legally aware enough to remain a non-public figure, but that is another discussion, of course.

Fair point, but note that the implicit equivalence between the NY Times and patent/copyright trolls is not I think where they want to be.

That is a tremendously insightful and well written piece. And not particularly condemnatory of Scott Alexander, nor does it expose his real name. Bravo to the New Yorker.

Pretty downright hilarious that the "rationalist" crew that were part of SSC fall into the same cognitive burn-it-down tailspin that they despise so much in other groups. Introspection has no place in the online world.

It is beyond disgraceful that the New Yorker, which prides itself on fact-checking, should so purposefully defame as "racist" a thoughtful and reasonable blogger like Steve Sailor.

Because the New Yorker does pride itself on fact checking.

Though you may believe that this Sailer quote is not racist, who knows what lies in the heart of men? - “in contrast to New Orleans, there was only minimal looting after the horrendous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan—because, when you get down to it, Japanese aren’t blacks.”

Several years ago I gave Sailer a shot and read his Obama book. He spent half of it saying Obama is "obsessed with race." Pot meet kettle.

What did the actual explanation of the looting in New Orleans turn out to be?

Black people loot, white people find.

"The controversy centered on two photos and their respective captions. One from Associated Press photographer Dave Martin showed a young black man wading through water while holding a bag and a case of soda. The accompanying description stated that he was “looting.” A second photo from Chris Graythen for Getty Images showed a similar scene, but this time it was a white couple clutching bags of food. Their actions were labeled as “finding.”

The difference, according to one photographer, is that black people smash windows to grab electronics. compared to white people finding things. Odd how the picture of the black person did not actually depict him carrying electronics. Or how the backpacks of the white people obviously could never contain anything of value they just happened to find.

I enjoyed the meta-irony in this passage:

"As Paul Graham pointed out, in a 2017 tweet, it was unfair to condemn the entirety of the tech sector based on a few bad actors. “Criticizing Juicero is fine,” he wrote. “What’s intellectually dishonest is criticizing SV by claiming Juicero is typical of it.” (The obvious irony—that people like Graham nevertheless feel free to write off the entirety of “the media” on a similarly invidious basis—seems lost on many of them.)"

Yes that was one of th few parts of the article that really landed for me. I am given to writing off the the media in general for... reasons but this passage makes me wonder how much of that disdain was generated by the bad actors. It sure would be nice if there was a blogger who wrote thoughtful long form essays that dug into the details of a situation... oh well THANKS NYT.

Another voice of reason silenced. The NYT knew exactly what they were doing. I never thought my country would be ruled by totalitarian thugs with no respect for the first amendment. But, if the polls are to believed, that is where we are headed.

Interesting and, the sneering tone aside, good description of the SSC readership. The failure was to report what the Times actual reason for wanting to publish Alexander's name, Until there is at least a plausible speculation about the Times's motives, less plausible speculations will flourish.

I believe the reporter told Scott that it was policy. Even though the routinely refuse to name sources, mostly to cover up the fiction of the story.

The article does discuss the reasons why members of SSC's readership might be suspicious of the Times motives in publishing his name, and doesn't treat them as inherently insane.

I am very saddened to find that your standard for a fair and balanced, well-written piece is merely to not treat your opponents as _inherently_ insane.

Does anyone remember something from a few months ago regarding some leftist writer or other writing about an apparent perception that there was a presence of racists in the SSC subreddits, and/or some action Scott Alexander took to distance himself from those subreddits or discussion? I vague recall something about that happening not long ago, but have not had the time to dig it up.

As good and balanced an article on SSC as good be written, and yet look at the comments above: the vast majority of SSC fans still think it was sneering, and mocking, and dishonest, and bad.

I had thought that Scott Alexander was a thoughtful blog writer, but it turns out I was wrong: He is a holy prophet!

Actually, don't confuse the MR commentariat with SSC fans. I spent about an hour reading through the r/slatestarcodex thread about this last night (ugh, what am I doing with my life) and I'd estimate that 80-90% of the commenters there - a true locus of SSC fans if there is one - had a positive view of the article.

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