He Who Bans Nazis

There’s a lot that could be said about the Charlottesville tragedy1. The thing that strikes me the most is that people seem to have forgotten any sense of proportionality. For example, several people in my social media circles posted this infographic, purporting to sketch an argument from Karl Popper2 that tolerant societies shouldn’t tolerate the…

Blut und Boden for Me, not for Thee

The march by white nationalists in Charlottesville has been leading to a lot of unintentional hillarity. There’s the obvious – the way all my friends on Facebook who were cheering when Richard Spencer got suckerpunched are suddenly shocked, SHOCKED! to find anyone using violence at a protest. But there’s also this, which is even funnier…

A Measured, but Failed, Response to Damore

The opposing replies to James Damore’s memo have by and large been pretty terrible. They strawman, they make sweeping and inaccrate claims about the state of the science, they show little engagement with the content of the memo, and they’re negative and emotional to boot. Computer Science professor Cynthia Lee wants to do better. She…

A Dubious Claim

My vote for Best Unintentionally Stupid Sentence of the Day goes to Jeannie Suk Gersen writing in the New Yorker, who says: Because our legal doctrine prohibits racial quotas, it is currently impossible to have an honest discussion of these questions. Please, enlighten me. Why would you need a racial quota to have an honest…

What the Standards are and How We Know

Google employee James Damore was fired three days ago for posting a memo on an internal listserv suggesting that entirely scientifically supported generalizations about sex-based cognitive differences might play enough of a role in explaining why Google doesn’t currently have a gender-balanced workforce that it should rethink some of its diversity initiatives. Predictably, the memo…

Comrade Detective (Review)

Comrade Detective seems likely to finish 2017 at the top of my (purely hypothetical) Best of 2017 list, but just what is it? Not what it presents itself as, that’s fer shure. It frames itself (literally – there are cut-in scenes of the producers making these claims) as a recently- (and at great effort and…

On Ken Livingstone’s Attitude Problem

Now that Venezuela is in full crisis, Ken Livingstone is in the news a lot doubling down on his support for the failed regime. Can’t ask the leopard to changes its spots, I guess. But I was surprised to learn from all this that Red Ken is suspended from the Labour Party for "bringing it…

A Disingenuous Comparison

Noah reminds me that I need to be keeping up with /r/socialism – just to marvel at the senselessness. And it doesn’t disappoint. Right out of the gate I find this post on gun control. It shows this juxtaposition of Marx and Reagan with cherry-picked quotes aiming to show that Marx is ironically less in…

Faith, Hope and Charity in Academic Arguments

Some friends and I got interested in the controversy about Nancy MacLean‘s book *Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. If you’re a libertarian, historian or political scientist, then you’ve heard about this. If not, the short version is that it’s a typical entry in the Koch Brothers…