Abortion and Planned Parenthood

In US politics, pro-life people hate Planned Parenthood, and pro-choice people defend it.

Last night in the GOP primary debate, Donald Trump (who now claims to be pro-life, despite past statements that he's very pro-choice) got criticized for his support of Planned Parenthood. After calling Ted Cruz a liar, Trump bizarrely continued by saying that Planned Parenthood does wonderful things, thus freshly demonstrating that Cruz is right.

I've heard a lot of right-wing atheists, like many libertarians, complain about Republican opposition to abortion. It's a big sticking point that lures them leftward. What I don't hear them talk about as much is that Planned Parenthood should not receive taxpayer funding; that violates the proper role of government and taxes. But what I really don't see them saying is that Planned Parenthood is an evil organization.

Contrary to the typical dynamics, I'm pro-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is not just a "neutral organization that provides abortions and other health services", as many people seem to imagine (without having done any research). It's a radical (and powerful) leftist institution which actively promotes evil agendas.

Planned Parenthood was founded by the racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger. Why? Because she disliked human beings. She liked abortion because she wanted fewer black, poor and stupid people to exist. She wanted to control and limit the human population and get rid of the types of people she considered undesirable. She also advocated sterilizing people and contraceptives. Abortion was one more tactic designed to promote the agenda of population control and race purification.

(This stuff is not controversial or seriously disputed. Research it if you're curious.)

The "pro-choice" position is disgusting. The issue is: is abortion murder? To reply to that with "it's a woman's choice" is absolutely stunning. Everyone should find this shocking and appalling.

The only defensible pro-abortion answer could be, "No, abortion is not murder."

I don't want to debate all the details and get into exactly where the line should be, but I will now tell you why I favor abortions in the first trimester:

I don't believe in God or the soul. I consider that mysticism. I look at the issue scientifically.

For murder to take place, there must be a human being which is murdered. I don't think a sperm or egg is a human being. And nor do I think an embryo is a human being.

What would it take for me to believe there is a human being capable of being murdered? At minimum, it would have to have a brain which has some electrical activity. Without the physical existence of a brain, which is doing something, there cannot be a human mind. And without a mind, there's no person. No mind means no consciousness. No mind means no one there to have preferences, to think, to say "I", to want to live.

I've noticed a lot of Democrat politicians say they are "personally against abortion", but want it to be legal. They also say they'd like abortion to be "safe, legal and rare". My question is: why?

If abortion isn't murder, then why are you personally against it? If abortion isn't murder, why do you want it to be rare?

What claims are there about abortion being bad, other than the issue of murder? What anti-abortion ideas do these people believe? In what non-murder way is abortion bad? They never explain and this has never made any sense.

The exceptions that even many pro-life people make to allow abortion are weird. Suppose that human life begins at conception and abortion is murder:

If abortion is murder, why should being raped make murder acceptable? Why should incest justify murder? If that's a human being in the womb, it doesn't matter how it got there, and how unwanted it may be, it's absolutely not OK to murder it.

The life of the mother exception is the only one that makes any sense. If the mother's life is in danger, then you'd have a consideration (a human life) that could actually matter when discussing killing a human being in the womb.

Some pro-life people would ask me: "How confident are you in your science? Do you really want to risk it? What's so great about abortion to be worth the risk that it's murder? Why not just let this issue go?"

The answer is that abortion is important. Having a child is a huge change to the life of the mother and father. Parenting is a really big deal. It absolutely makes enough difference for the abortion issue to be worth exploring.

Not everyone wants to have a child. And people who do want one may want their child later. And that's good. People are right to decide if and when they should start a family. Making good decisions about that is a big deal. Parenthood should indeed be "planned"! It deserves thought, organization, and being with the right co-parent.

Abortion can enable choosing a different person to marry who you get along with better. It can enable finishing your education. It can enable having a savings and keeping your finances under control your whole life, rather than having a kid early and struggling with money for decades. These are a big deal.

Abortion helps prevent the unfortunate situation of a man paying child support and a stressed single mom trying to cope. That's not a good situation. It happens. Abortions let some people avoid that fate.

Abortions make a big positive difference in some people's lives.

You may ask: Why can't people just use contraceptives? Aren't the people getting abortions irresponsible?

Contraceptives are not 100% effective. But, yes, many people getting abortions are irresponsible. So what? If you want to work to teach people to think better, live more responsibly, etc, go right ahead. That'd be great. Not letting them get an abortion will not help them.

You may ask: Do some people use abortion as a backup plan to help enable a more promiscuous lifestyle? Does it contribute to cads and sluts having drunken parties, rather than doing something more worthwhile with their time?

Yes. But the potential misuse of a technology is no reason to ban it. Medical technology, like plaster casts to help heal broken bones, enable people to be more reckless in their lives, but it's still a good thing.

You may ask: Why can't they just be abstinent if they aren't prepared to be a parent?

It's a matter of freedom. Many people have different values than you. Some live sinfully. Some live pretty responsibly but do have pre-marital sex.

On the premise that abortion isn't murder, then: it's a technology which helps some people's lifestyles. Whether those lifestyles are good or bad, as long as it's non-violent, non-criminal, non-rights-violating, they deserve liberty and tolerance. If you've got some suggestions about how to live better, go ahead and persuade people, but do not use the government to ban technologies.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Stefan Molyneux is a Dishonest Hack

The Truth About Ted Cruz by Stefan Molyneux is a hit video that throws everything it can against Ted Cruz while pretty much ignoring all his merits.

It purports to be a well-sourced factual takedown relying mostly on quotes. Molyneux made a website for it with a detailed table of contents and a long list of sources with links.

One of the issues, "Texas Values", discusses the Michael Wayne Haley court case. Here's what Molyneux says:

And he has two sources for this:

The Brutalism of Ted Cruz from The New York Times, a leftist propaganda rag that hates Cruz, and which can't be trusted after getting caught in so many lies. And, second, David Brooks’ (Slightly) Unfair Attack on Ted Cruz which basically agrees with the first article.

When I google for "cruz prosecute haley" (without quotes), the articles Molyneux used come up first and sixth. What Molyneux ignored is the second google hit:

David Brooks’ Dirty Hit On Ted Cruz: How Pundits Lose Credibility

Both articles Molyneux links are light on details. But this one is a detailed scholarly refutation of the position Molynex repeated straight from the New York Times. Why did Molyneux ignore it?

Molyneux is offensively dishonest because he pretends to be a scholar. He didn't just make a video attacking Cruz. He put together a big list of sources in order to lie to people that he'd done a bunch of proper research. He hadn't. He just looked for one-sided ways to smear Cruz no matter how false they were. There's no excuse for missing the second google hit on the topic. (Which also comes up on the first page of google results for a variety of other search terms I tried.)

I also dislike the sneaky claim that Cruz was "just following orders". That is not something Cruz said, nor is it what the Cruz defender I linked at Ethics Alarms said. It's just Molyneux dishonestly trying to call Rob Garver a Cruz defender (the guy from his second source who wrote, "Yet it’s hard to argue with many of [Brooks'] conclusions."). Molyneux is pretending to give both sides of the issue, but he just attacks Cruz twice and attributes one of the attacks to Cruz defenders, while ignoring Cruz's actual defenders.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (7)

Trump's Pro-Amnesty CPAC Speeches

Donald Trump at CPAC 2013 (video) (transcript):

Now this is a hard one, because when it comes to immigration, you know that the 11 million illegals, even if given the right to vote. You know you're going to have to do what's right. But the fact is 11 million people will be voting Democratic. You can be out front, you can be the spearhead, you can do whatever you want to do, but every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic. It's just the way it works, and you have to be very, very careful, because you could say, that to a certain extent, the odds aren't looking so great right now for Republicans, that you're on a suicide mission. You're just not going to get those votes. [emphasis added]

What Trump said is:

Immigration is hard because the 11 million illegals are all going to vote Democratic after we give them the right to vote. And we "have to" give them the right to vote because that's "what's right". But we should be "careful" doing it because its' a "suicide mission" for Republicans. (But do it anyway.)

Why is it right to give illegal aliens the right to vote in America? Are we a country of laws, or not? This isn't just some kind of legal resident status (which would be bad enough), Trump is saying we have to give every illegal full citizenship including voting. No we don't have to do that! No that's not right!

I'm not surprised that Trump is a squishy leftist.

I already knew Trump was a protectionist with no clue about the free market. I already knew Trump praised Obama in 2009.

I already knew Trump favors eminent domain, doesn't like guns, is pro-choice, has New York values, sympathizes with social justice warriors, and isn't very religious. I knew Trump favors big government healthcare because he has a "heart". And Trump favored taking in Syrian refugees, and funding Planned Parenthood, before changing his position.

I already knew Trump doesn't want to cutback on Social Security and Medicare. His ridiculous entitlements plan (that he advocated at CPAC 2013 and 2014, not just on the campaign trail today) is no reforms or cutbacks, just grow the economy and don't worry about spending. Trump is not a small government kinda guy.

I already knew Trump had praised Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Al Sharpton. I already knew he was involved with some of the worst leftists. I already knew thinks he can make deals with the left as President, instead of standing up to the Washington Cartel.

I already knew that Trump was squishy as hell on Free Speech – when Muslim terrorists attacked a free speech event in Texas, Trump questioned why people say offensive things that "taunt" Islamofascists.

What surprises me is that Ann Coulter praised Trump's 2013 CPAC speech and cited it as evidence that Trump has a previous history of being good on immigration:

The assumption Ann's readers will make is that Trump is against suicide. Nope. Trump was demanding suicide!

He wasn't saying, "It's suicide, don't do it." He was saying, "It's suicide, so be 'careful' with it, but we 'have to' do it anyway because it's 'right'."

How can Ann take a speech where Trump advocates giving every illegal alien the right to vote in US elections – even though he thinks this will destroy the Republican party – and then tell us to support Trump (as a Republican!) because he's great on immigration? Why is Ann covering for Trump on the one issue she cares about?

Ann told us that Trump was the one guy joined her in opposing immigration in CPAC 2014.

But Trump said the same thing again:

When you let the 11 million — which will grow to 30 million people — in, I don't care who stands up, whether it's Marco Rubio, and talks about letting everybody in, you won't get one vote. Every one of those votes goes to the Democrats. You have to do what's right; it's not about the votes necessarily. But of those 11 million potential voters which will go to 30 million in a not too long future, you will not get any of those votes no matter what you do, no matter how nice you are, no matter how soft you are, no matter how many times you say 'rip down the fence and let everybody in' you're not going to get the votes. So with immigration, you better be smart and you better be tough, and they're taking your jobs, and you better be careful. You better be careful. [emphasis added]

This transcript isn't perfect. He actually said it twice in the video at 14:50: "Now with that you have to do what's right. You have to do what's right. It's not about the votes necessarily." Trump emphasized doing what's "right". Regardless of who they're going to vote for, you have to do the right thing. Let them vote even though it will be for Democrats. That means amnesty.

I support Ted Cruz who has wanted to build a wall since at least 2012. Cruz, besides being better than Trump on individual issue after issue, is smarter and more principled. Cruz favors free markets, limited government, and liberty in a way Donald Trump doesn't understand.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fisking Conventional Complaint

Buying a house was the worse decision I have ever made.

he didn't just buy a house. he bought into a conventional life.

I have been working since I was 14, I'm 30 now, married and with a kid.

house, wife, kid, career.

he bought into a bunch of things, not just the house.

I would have had $100,000 or more saved up by now if I never got married, didn't have a child, or bought a house and tie myself down to a 30 years mortgage.

he must have known that houses, wives and kids are expensive. he thought it'd be worth it.

now he's complaining about something he saw coming as if it's news.

he's not thinking about the REAL problem. what went wrong that he didn't expect? what was the SURPRISE problem? what violated his expectations? what isn't what he thought he was signing up for? spending 6 figures doesn't answer any of that.

I regret so much marrying her, I regret so much having a child...and I regret so much buying a house. Before I use to do whatever I want...whenever I want.

he must have known about the loss of freedom associated with having Adult Responsibilities, being a Bread Winner, and so on. that's soooo well known.

maybe he didn't think very hard about what it'd be like. but he did know about it. he sounds irresponsible. and he managed to get taken by surprise by some mix of 1) stuff everyone including him already knows about 2) some other stuff he doesn't want to think about or say or even try to look for.

Now I can't even quit my shitty job and have to suck it up to asshole employees that think they are highly above you.

another very well known issue.

If I never met her, never got married to her, never had a child, never bought this house, I would be so much happier and so much more free.

he doesn't want to take responsibility for his choices.

if he never met her he would have married someone else. he would have done the same lifestyle.

not meeting her would not address his own mistakes.

Why were we fed with the fact that getting married, having a kid, owning a house, is the right way to live?

better question: why did you believe it? why did you judge it to be true? and how does your conventional life differ from your expectations? what actually went wrong?

did you never see how you could be happy with a conventional life, but not think about it much and just assume it'd work out somehow since everyone recommends it? if so, you're REALLY bad at some major things. work on that. if you don't, you'll keep making lots of bad decisions for the rest of your life too.

I wish I could go back in time and should've broken up with her when I had the chance.

but then you would have dated someone else. it wouldn't fix your bad ideas.

I fucked up my own life.

yes you did. it was you, not the happenstance of meeting this particular female and the happenstance of not having a breakup.

And tomorrow...I will have to wake up to drag myself into a 2 hours commute

why do you have a 2 hour commute? lots of conventional people do better than that.

maybe your problem is you just suck at stuff? maybe you're shitty at life, be it in the conventional mold or not? since you not only set things up with a house and a 2 hour commute, but also you hate that.

to a shitty job that I can't quit because I have a mortgage to pay and a child to feed. If I never met her I would be fucking freed from all this bullshit

this guy is so thoughtless. he would have met other females.

and do whatever the fuck I want.

i don't think he knows what he wants. he just doesn't like his life and wants to blame his circumstances, not himself.

he means if he was living in different circumstances that'd solve his problems. he's denying the need to think, to change, to problem solve...

things are going to continue to go badly for him.

I wouldn't have to worry about the projects that's due for my boss, or waking up 6:30 in the morning to catch that fucking bus

the reason you don't have a car is not that you chose a conventional life and got married. plenty of married conventional people have a car. you're blaming the wrong things.

to commute a 2 hours ride to a shitty desk job and to fake these fucktards that expects everything they requested to be completed and handed back to them in the next hour, WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ASSHOLE, I DON'T FUCKING WORK FOR YOU. Then I go tell my boss and he just tells me to get it done and move on.

interacting with your boss in ways conventionally considered "being a whiny bitch because you're a spineless loser who can't deal with his coworkers" is not a good idea. and, realistically, what does he expect his boss to do about this?

Money does not buy happiness,

dude, you don't have a car. you don't have much money.

you say this like you got rich but aren't happy. but you're poor.

if you had money you could buy a car and quit your job and stay home and do a lot more of what you wanted. if you got rich, your wife wouldn't mind if you spent a ton of time chilling, hanging out, whatever. it actually would solve a bunch of your problems.

if I can choose again I would rather make $20,000 a year and rent a $500 basement like I used to and live the fuck out of my life.

what does he actually want to do with his life? i wonder if it involves trying to meet women and pursue sexual relationships with them...

I don't need all this, I don't want all this. I want my original life back.

you mean the life of an unmarried man with no house who thought to himself "i want a wife and a house"? that's the life you want? you seem to be ignoring the problem there. that life led to where you are now!

I feel like I'm just a dead soul in a living body. I used to be lively and had that flame and dreams, those slowly died once I aged and my wife tells me my dreams are not dreams...and I should just focus on better myself in education and get a better job and higher pay. But she doesn't know me, she doesn't know what I really want inside.

what dreams? why, really, didn't you do them?

why, if you cared about these dreams, did you marry someone who doesn't respect them? did you even tell her your dreams and plans, and get her to agree to them, before marrying her?

I know she's doing this for the best of us

no she's not. she doesn't want you to risk her finances (which she cares about a great deal) for your happiness (which isn't her priority).

but whenever I mention my dream job...she would shoot it down and become very unsupportive. Sometimes I have suicide thoughts and I would just think of ways to commit suicide. No one knows this and I don't want to tell anyone I know because I don't want to explain it to them. Sometimes I just wanna jump off a building and be freed from all these....things that's complicating my life...I just want a simple life...

he's right to be scared to mention suicide to people. our society treats it a lot like a crime.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (16)

RPG Computer Game Design Flaw

When playing through computer RPGs, there are usually optional quests and areas. You can just follow the main path, or you can go off to the side and do some extra stuff.

Players who do extra stuff generally get higher level and more items. They become more powerful.

These players are also generally the players with more patience, more skill, more interest in the game, more willingness to put time into the game, and who learn more about how to play well as they go along (due to doing more fights from the extra stuff).

So these people who do the optional content are in general the ones who'd most appreciate the game being hard. They will on average be better players.

But instead they get an easier game. Why? Because doing the optional stuff makes their characters more powerful (more levels, more items).

The best players tend to get the easier RPG game experiences due powering up from completeing optional content. This is very unfortunate. They were doing the optional content for fun and for additional challenge, not to try to make the game easier.

The guy who likes the game and wants to do everything – which includes most of the best and most serious players – will accidentally, just by trying to complete every challenge in the game, make the game a lot easier.

One note: the optional content does serve the purpose of letting bad players, who get stuck, have a way to power up. Some of the worst players need to get strong to make progress on the game, so it helps them. If the optional content didn't let you gain any more power on your characters (no experience or item rewards), that would not just annoy the large majority of players (who irrationally seek virtual rewards to motivate them), it could also result in some especially bad playrs getting stuck.

I personally had this problem with Pillars of Eternity. By completeing everything I got too powerful. When I got to the later stages of the game, it was so easy that I got bored and stopped playing. I mostly liked the game quite a bit, but I just couldn't deal with how easy it was (and didn't want to take extensive steps to artificially handicap myself).

On a related note, games often have several difficulty modes. Pillars of Eternity did. I was already playing on the hardest when one the game became painfully, boringly easy. It would be very easy for them to have made another harder mode. Or just let me choose my own difficulty. Let me input two numbers: damage and hp multipliers for the enemies. If I want the enemies to have 10x the hp and 2x the damage (compared to their hardest mode) – which honestly sounds about right to me – then why not let me? People literally soloed the hardest mode using one character when it's supposed to be a game where you have a party of 6 characters...

Why do they make difficulty modes ranging from extremely easy to, at the top end, moderately easy? I think it's to protect the self-esteem of bad players who don't want to admit how much better some people are. They don't want a mode that only the best players can beat because a lot of other people will try it and fail and find failure frustrating and say the game is "unfair" and blame the game designers for allowing a hard difficult mode to exist at all.

I find that basically every single game makes the maximum difficult mode way too easy (often in objectively measureable ways, e.g. the game is beatable on maximum difficulty without any party members, meaning that with a full party you have at least a multiple like 6x of the combat power needed to beat the maximum difficulty). This is one of the many ways that being better at thinking and learning can set one apart from other people and create some incompatibilities.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Humor Hurts People

Fallible Ideas doesn't have a lot of jokes because jokes don't have a lot of clarity.

Humor is bad for communication. It means more misunderstandings, more miscommunications.

Talking is hard enough without adding vague non-literal humor. Especially talking about difficult topics like parenting and philosophy.

People like humor because it helps them avoid sticking their neck out. It lets them deny they meant what they said. "I was just joking". "You don't get it". etc. By being less clear about what one is saying, it's easier to deny one ever said it (in case it gets criticized). Humor helps people avoid meaningful critical discussion.

Humor seems to work well when:

  • people don't care about communication
  • people want to be mean, enforce social conformity, or torment outsiders and "aspies"
  • people are all stereotypical enough (in the relevant ways they interact about) to understand each other with very little communication
  • people act like they understand what's going on, rather than admit ignorance or bring up a problem

Using lots of humor keeps people away who don't get it. It alienates those who are different. It's a subtle, indirect way to be intolerant.

Using emoji and all other non-verbal communication works similarly. It makes it harder for anyone who doesn't already "get it" to participate. It communicates less clearly. It's primarily about social vibrations and social calibration, rather than objective ideas.

This is not the only possible use of humor (and emoji, and facial expressions, and so on), but it's the most common one. It's the #1 purpose they serve in society. They help enforce social rules and make things harder on "misfits".

Humor is routinely used in really mean ways. And then many people side with the bullies. Most people are happy to be apologists for bullies if the bully is funny. They will make excuses for a bully like: "oh, it was just a joke" or "oh, i wasn't siding with him, i just thought it was funny".

You might think some of the problems with jokes only apply to in-jokes, and recognize that in-jokes do the stuff I'm talking about.

All jokes are in-jokes. The only difference is how big a group is in on it. Is it an in-joke for a whole culture, a large group, or just a small clique?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (8)

Cruz vs. Trump Fantasy Debate

Ted Cruz (Elliot Temple):
    Brian Phillips @RealBPhil 3 minutes ago
Cruz: "I'm going to pay to air Jimmy Carter attacking me."...and supporting Trump! http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/cruzs-new-weapon-against-trump-jimmy-carter/article/2582390?custom_click=rss
Donald Trump (Justin Mallone):
    This guy Cruz, I mean, honestly, all he brags about is how much everybody hates him. All the senators hate him. He doesnt have any big backers. Not even his own daughter wants to be near him. And quite frankly, I think you should have more to brag about than not having any friends.
Ted Cruz:
    I have friends like Jeff Sessions, Steve King and Bob Vander Plaats. Trump, I will admit has more friends. He's friends with everyone in the Washington Cartel from Hillary Clinton to Jimmy Carter
    He's not friends with very many pastors though
    Trump makes friends because, "when they call, i give"
    "i give to everybody"
    And I will note, I never bought any of my friends.
Donald Trump:
    I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice. But maybe he's just really mad cuz I've said, as everybody from Larry tribe to Ann coulter agrees, that he's not eligible.
Ted Cruz:
    cruz not nice -> proven Cruz not canadian
Donald Trump:
    (Wise guy)
Ted Cruz:
    (unwise guy)
Donald Trump:
    U see? He think every thing is a joke, which is why he mocked the values of the brave men and women who went into the burning towers on 9/11
Ted Cruz:
    i would note that donald helped cause 9/11 by donating money to democrats
    Donald wants to sling mud because he can't debate the issues. He can insult me and the intelligence of the 9/11 firefighters if he wants to, but everyone knows I prayed for them. We should stick to the issues, so I have a question for Donald: do you think Bill Clinton, and the money you donated to the Clinton Foundation, played any role in 9/11? Are the Democrat's policies a national security disaster? Yes or no????
    And I would note that I have extended multiple offers to Donald to debate me 1-on-1, so we can ask each other questions like this that the liberal moderators on the collectivist debates won't ask. But Donald doesn't want to deal with substance questions like this because not only his record, but many of his current positions like in favor of socialized medicine, are indefensible.
Donald Trump:
    Honestly if Ted wants to accuse the Clinton foundation of being Osama bin ladens backer he can try and win with that line if he wants. Maybe his idea of the Reagan coalition is bringing together people who are some kinda 9/11 conspiracists and people who believe in UFOs and bigfoot
Ted Cruz:
    that's rich coming from a birther leader
    and i would note who ACTUALLY believes in UFOs: hillary and bill clinton. maybe some of donald's donations went into UFO studies.
Donald Trump:
    It's not a conspiracy theory if you were actually born in another country, Ted
Ted Cruz:
    like YOUR MOM
Donald Trump:
    People attacked me cuz I asked for a birth certificate because I wanted to make sure the president was born here. Now they attack me for mentioning the UNDISPUTED fact that Ted Cruz was born in a foreign country. That's media bias right there folks
Ted Cruz:
    it is beyond dispute that Donald pays a lot of attention to lineage and birth and nationality. i think maybe he's racist. he is pretty cozy with Al Sharpton, after all.
Donald Trump:
    Al sharpton basically runs a racket in NYC, threatens you with negative PR if you don't say nice things. So I said nice things because I'm a businessman
Ted Cruz:
    here in America – apart from maybe NYC – we care more about a person's values. Is god in his heart?
    if you want someone who goes along to get along, i'm not your guy. if you want a Neville Chamberlain who will negotiate with Democrats, appease NYC mafia rackets, and seek peace in our time with racists, then i'm not your guy.
Donald Trump:
    If you want someone whose record consists of getting everyone to hate him and accomplishing nothing, Ted Cruz is your guy. If you want a guy who tells voters they're breaking the law in order to scare them into voting for him, Ted Cruz is your guy. If you want a guy who will Make America GREAT AGAIN , TRUMP is your guy.
Ted Cruz:
    What Donald is saying is that he will make deals with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. He thinks it only counts as an accomplishment if you pass a bill, add a new department to the government, have the government do something. i say that a lot of the best accomplishments are in what the government doesn't do, in standing up and saying NO to the washington cartel and their big government policies. let's all unite as courageous conservatives to make government smaller and do less. that's an accomplishment i'd be proud of.
    that's why i'm going to abolish the IRS. so that big businessmen like Donald pay the same taxes as the rest of us. because handing out subsidies to NYC fatcats who bribe our politicians is not an "accomplishment".
Donald Trump:
    If I'm so great for the democrats why is Ann coulter backing me? Is she a big fan of Nancy pelosi now? Why did Jeff sessions advise me on my immigration paper? Is he a big fan of chuck schumer? Why did Sarah Palin endorse me? Is she a secret Harry Reid supporter?
Ted Cruz:
    if you want a guy who invites a different Democrat to each of his weddings – first Hillary Clinton, next time probably Jimmy Carter – then I'm not your guy. i don't have enough weddings to make as many Democratic friends as Donald has.
Donald Trump:
    Ted I don't think it's very nice to attack someone for having had martial problems, nor is it nice to say their current marriage is going to fail. Very dirty!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (26)

Philosophy Tweetstorm!

I wrote philosophy tweets. (Sorry that isn't a permalink, Twitter doesn't support linking to a particular date on your feed.) I tried embedding tweets on my blog but the feature is basically broken: The problem is you can't see the quote I'm replying to. You can see it on the website. Doesn't Twitter have money to make their stuff work? :(

So I took some screenshots. Sadly, as you may notice, some text in the quotes gets cut off because Twitter is also broken when merely trying to display tweets in Safari. Twitter cuts off large portions of quoted images, which is especially a problem when they are images of text and the text is hidden. But at least you can mostly read what I said:

I don't like how if someone blocks you then it breaks the display of your own tweet. If someone writes in public with a permalink, and I quote it, that should work forever. It's fine if they don't want to read my comments, but it's unreasoanble that Twitter ruins my tweet. Below you can see my tweet, that I'm blocked, and the original tweet I was replying to:

Follow me @curi42 on Twitter!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Where Are The Philosophers?

Elliot Temple:
    i want some philosophers to follow on twitter – or elsewhere
    there's like constant stream of politics news and ideas and things to read and comment on
    but not for philosophy
Justin Mallone:
    curi42 pretty gud, dunno of any others
Elliot Temple:
    they don't have to be like perfect at all
    like the politics ppl aren't perfect
    and the articles that get linked often less so
    i tried to follow some Oists b4
    but it was like uhh bad
    like less interesting than Daniel Horowitz
    or Daniel Greenfield
    or Caroline Glick
    i remember a claim that a lot of the reason for lack of Oist discussion groups on web is they are on facebook
    but i couldn't find any decent ones there
    that Evan liar bro claimed there's lots of good private ones
    i think he has low standards
Justin Mallone:
    peak quality on even best secret galt’s gulch FB forum is probably like 5% of quality of mediocre FI thread
Elliot Temple:
    https://twitter.com/mdobjectivists <-- too shit to follow
    https://twitter.com/canobjectivist?lang=en <-- google found me a bro who last tweeted jan 2012
Justin Mallone:
    MD group looks maybe better than DC one
Elliot Temple:
    google top hit was https://twitter.com/daniellemorrill/lists/objectivists <-- PAGE DOESN'T EXIST
    > Wallace Runnymede [email protected]_Runnymede 27 Dec 2015
Are you surprised #individualism has a bad name, when it's been co-opted by #AustrianSchool & #Objectivists? Don't let them get away with it

    #Objectivists hashtag not meeting my expectations
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
    oh and note that's last year. only one result for this year for that hashtag
    > Emanuel Rutten [email protected] 17 Dec 2015
A majority of professional philosophers identify themselves as moral #objectivists, rejecting moral subjectivism. (Bourguet & Chalmers 2013)

^ wrong objectivism >>
    > a dynamic psychological self-defense weapon TO PROTECT YOU FROM IRRATIONALLY SELFISH PEOPLE
    wtf i click anti-love article from some twitter Oist and get a libertarian site attacking selfishness as irrational
Justin Mallone:
    hey u could reply to my ITOE posts
Elliot Temple:
    > Some happily discover fulfilling relationships. The rationally selfish individual cherishes value for value relationships—and this includes love. So you know rewarding love relationships do exist. Unfortunately, the lonely and scorned cry out “Oh love, sweet love, why have you forsaken me?” During the darkness of an endless night, reeling from love’s forgetfulness, staring sightlessly at the ceiling, their swollen eyes blurred by endless tears, they wonder in their immense suffering how long Mr. Heartache will remain an unwelcome guest.
    Robert Meyer [email protected] 15m15 minutes ago
#Socialism is a faulty, decadent theory from top to bottom, violating the #LawsOfEconomics and human decency.
    decadent not the word i would have chosen
    Robert Meyer [email protected] 21m21 minutes ago
Libertarian Warrior Challenges the Absolute Moralist – Chapter 1 – The Battlefield http://dld.bz/d2qnP #Liberty #Freedom #Oppression
    what kind of Oist calls himself a libertarian warrior?
Justin Mallone:
    a deeply confused one?
Elliot Temple:
    his bio
    Robert Meyer
My CONQUERING LIFE'S ILLUSIONS book supplies you arsenal of dynamic weapons to conquer irrationally selfish/ self-defeating behavior http://thedynamicweapons.com
    > I hope that out of the ashes of despair a philosophy of hope, honesty and accomplishment arises.

You may ask “What philosophy is this?”

It is an integrated philosophy extolling the virtues of self-reliance and unhampered capitalism. It’s the Way of The Libertarian Warrior. Since these virtues put into practice result in unheard of prosperity and abundance, people will find it much easier to achieve the Zen State of Mind. In addition, something wondrous also occurs.
You ready? You’ll love this. Because more individuals soar to a higher level of awareness, a spiritual and intellectual revolution eventually ushers in a New Age of Enlightenment.

Justin Mallone:
    i skimmed ur paste, looks like trash
    i saw a reference to Zen
    didn’t look promising
Elliot Temple:
    i pretty sure it is promising things
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
    like zenness and that you'll love what he's selling
    Laurie Rice
Writer @theatlassociety, Exec Alum @sfliberty. #Libertarian, #Objectivism, #feminism. Likes #AynRand, pop culture, #ReproFreedom, tech, #bitcoin, pretty things.
    lol @ kelley society ppl
Justin Mallone:
    ayn rand  fan club
Elliot Temple:

latest post, dec 2014:
    > The workshop has been on hiatus, but while we wait for momentum to seize us again, here are three events in the next few days that feature work by members of the workshop & are guaranteed to be of interest. I hope to see you there!
Justin Mallone:
    momentum to seize us again eh
    don’t sound like prime movers to me
Elliot Temple:
    turns out waiting for external motor to "seize" you can be a long wait
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
    > Ayn Rand opened up her thought provoking book The Virtue of Selfishness, a primer on Objectivist ethics, with a question people sometimes asked her. Why do you use the word selfishness to denote virtuous qualities of character, when the word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?

She said for the reason that makes you afraid of it, which is obviously a bold statement. Unfortunately, her bold statement could lead to some confusion. We need to understand that she was referring to rational selfishness, not the irrationality people normally associate with selfishness.

Justin Mallone:
    people definitely associate some stuff that’s good with selfishness
Elliot Temple:
    i find this weird cuz Rand did explain this in the chapter
    he just does a super brief tl;dr of Rand, then gives his own much worse version of what she already wrote
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:
    he's like "Rand was obviously bold, but some ppl confused. let me fix that..."
    no, she wasn't going for boldness in particular, and she explained it
    she's literally all like
    "but for the better bros lemme explain more"
    > Let’s put Objectivism and spiritual beliefs into perspective. You can accept most of Rand’s political, economic and philosophical beliefs and still practice a spiritual discipline. Acting as if she possessed godly powers and thinking you have to either accept Objectivism 100% or reject it is unrealistic.
    OH JFC
    OK I"M OUT
    see this is what happens when you go look for some philosophy comments to read
    u r hoping for like random breitbart contributor quality
    u don't get it
Justin Mallone:
Elliot Temple:

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Social Dynamics: Cruz, Trump and PUA

Some knowledge about social dynamics from pick up artists applies to politics. Candidates aim to gain a social status advantage over their rivals. It's not the only factor in how people vote, but it's a big one.

Long-Time Leaders of Conservative Movement Unite in Support of Ted Cruz

“There are two big differences between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz that explain why I think Cruz will prevail,” Bozell says.

“First, in every other clash between a competing candidate and Trump it was that candidate picking a fight with Trump. In this case it was Trump picking a fight with Cruz out of necessity,” Bozell notes.

“Second, in this case it is Trump who sounds angry. Cruz is responding with humor,” he adds.

“The more this plays itself out, the more it is being established that Cruz is the real conservative and Donald Trump is a charlatan,” Bozell concludes on the Trump-Cruz matchup.

This analysis has some good points. It's a good start. But real social dynamics style ideas can add more. I'll talk about reactivity and the law of least effort.

Trump is the more reactive one. He's reacting to Cruz more than Cruz reacts to Trump. This is contrary to Trump's previous fights where he was the less reactive one.

The article says Cruz is in a good spot because Trump picked the fight with Cruz. That's less accurate. You can pick a fight with someone and get them to react more than you. If you poke them a little and they have a big reaction, now they look bad.

Initiating means you are reacting to them. But it doesn't mean that you react more to them overall. Whoever picks a fight is more often the more reactive person, but not always.

Another way to look at reactivity is: it's about who is living their own life with their own strong frame, and who is leaving their world to go visit the other person and give them attention on their terms. Going to pick a fight with someone is a disadvantage here. But it's not game over. If an attacked person gets defensive, that shows a weak frame and that they are reacting to the attacks, so then they can lose this social context.

Cruz has dealt with Trumps attacks with poise. He hasn't gotten overly defensive. He hasn't started accepting Trump's premises or framing of the issues. And he hasn't started reacting a lot. Cruz does react, but less than Trump is reacting to Cruz. Cruz is the more calm and chill person in their squabble.

Trump comes off as more interested in talking about Cruz, and interacting with Cruz, than vice versa. Trump is seeking out Cruz and reacting to what Cruz does (e.g. go up in the polls) more than vice versa.

Note that the media in general, which has attacked Trump so much, has been the more reactive and higher effort party there. That's helped Trump.

The law of least effort also provides some insight. In short, whoever appears to put less effort into an interaction has higher social status.

Trump is appearing to put more effort into going after Cruz than the effort Cruz is putting into doing anything about Trump. So Cruz looks better here.

Cruz has highlighted this pretty clearly. He's said some stuff about he's on Trump's mind and Trump is tweeting so much about him.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (17)

David Deutsch Defends Stalin, Mao

David Deutsch tweeted:

.@oxfamgb To end extreme poverty, end extreme wealth? A misconception that killed more people in the 20th century than malevolent violence.

This tweet categorizes Stalin and Mao as not being in the malevolent violence category. It has to for the body count math to come out right. Rather, Deutsch believes they had a "misconception" about income equality and the root causes of poverty.

It's disturbing that in Deutsch's mind he doesn't associate mass-murderers like Stalin and Mao with malevolence and violence. Soviet and Chinese gulags, and starving millions to death, weren't policies for dealing with "extreme wealth".

Those millions of victims of communism didn't die by accident. They didn't die despite good intentions. They died due to authoritarian violence! They died malevolently!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (10)

Adios America Fact Check

I fact checked Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole by Ann Coulter.

Method: I randomly selected 5 chapters. For each chapter, I selected a random endnote to check. I used a random number generator. Aftewards, I personally selected 5 more issues to check. I chose issues I thought were important like the number of illegal immigrants in the US.

I scored each issue up to 100% based on scholarship, not politics. Coulter's average score across 10 checks was: 87.5%. But that's just a quick overview. My main focus was on checking the details and explaining why she was right or wrong.

Endnote quotes are blue, quotes from the main book are green, and other quotes are yellow. Bold in quotes was added by me for emphasis.

Chapter 13, Endnote 33

32. Congressional Budget Office, “Migrants’ Remittances,” 10.

33. In surveys, 70 percent of illegal immigrants from Mexico say the money they send home is used exclusively for consumption; 96 percent say it is used for both consumption and savings. Ibid.
The majority of the money sent by immigrants to Mexico is used for “consumption”—i.e., to buy Carlos Slim’s telephone service, shop at Carlos Slim’s department stores, and eat in Carlos Slim’s restaurants.33
It was easy to find page 10 of the pdf online:

The 70% figure matches the report. This means the book text, which says "majority", is correct.

96% is the sum for either consumption only, or both consumption and savings. Coulter's wording is confusing. It sounds like she's saying 96% remit for both purposes, when actually 70% were remitting for consumption only. What she should have written, and presumably meant, is that 96% remit at least partially for consumption.

Note that Coulter says "In surveys". I appreciate that accuracy. She isn't saying this is actually true, it's just a survey result.

I wouldn't take off points for Coulter just writing in her style which isn't always literal. But I think this is an actual wording error in an endnote, not a style choice to entertain readers. However, there's no serious error which would mislead a reader about what's happening in world affairs. It's just a technical wording error in an endnote. It doesn't meet my ideal standards, but it doesn't really hurt the book either.

Score: 85%.

Chapter 3, Endnote 23

23. David North, “Lessons Learned from the Legalization Programs of the 1980s,” ILW.com, http://www.ilw.com/articles/2005,0302-north.shtm; and David S. North and Anna Mary Portz, The U.S. Alien Legalization Program (Washington, DC: TransCentury Development Associates, June 1989), 82–90.
Under the special agricultural amnesty of the 1986 bill, the INS received nearly one hundred thousand applications from “farmworker” illegal aliens living in the lush, fertile farmland of New York City. Another hundred thousand applications were mailed in directly from Mexico.23
From Coulter's link:
In the first place, IRCA’s objective was to offer legal status primarily to people who were in the United States at that time that they applied. There was a minor exception to that in that some 100,000 or so of the 3,000,000 applicants were allowed to file for SAW status at the southern border or at U.S. consulates in Mexico—but they had to claim that they had previously been in the United States doing a sufficient amount of farm work to qualify.
Many an urban resident claimed SAW status, many without justification. There were countless anecdotes of fur-coat wearing Europeans seeking SAW status in Manhattan, applicants who contended that the cotton they harvested was purple, or that cherries were dug out of the ground, or that one used a ladder to pick strawberries.
100,000 people is a "minor exception"? And the policy was to let them file from Mexico if they simply claimed to be legit? Dumb. But Coulter said the applications were "mailed" from Mexico, whereas this talks about applying at the border or a consulate.

And what about the 100,000 "farmworker[s]" applying from New York City? Let's check the cited book. It discusses some ridiculous fraud similar in spirit to what Coulter wrote. But page 83 contradicts Coulter:
there were 28,889 applications filed in New York City
That's not "some 100,000". Page 89 is also relevant:
There were some 118,000 applications filed outside the U.S., all but a handful in Mexico.
The number is right. But this says "filed", not "mailed", so I think Coulter exaggerated on that point.

The gist of what Coulter says in this part of the book is roughly accurate. There was a lot of fraud and the government did a bad job. But she wrote 29k and cited a book which says 100k. That's simply false. However, it doesn't mislead the reader. If she simply changed the number, her passage would be OK. 29k and 100k are both big numbers, so the general idea is correctly communicated. I really don't like errors, but it's only a technical error, so I'm giving half credit.

Score: 50%.

I tweeted Coulter about this error, but received no response. I'd be happy to raise Coulter's score if she acknowledged the error and corrected it for the next edition.

Chapter 2, Endnote 16

15. See, e.g., William Branigin, “INS Accused of Giving In to Politics; White House Pressure Tied to Citizen Push,” Washington Post, March 4, 1997.

16. See ibid.
A year before the 1996 presidential election, the Clinton administration undertook a major initiative to make 1 million immigrants citizens in time to vote. The White House demanded that applications be processed twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Criminal background checks were jettisoned for hundreds of thousands of applicants, resulting in citizenship being granted to at least seventy thousand immigrants with FBI criminal records and ten thousand with felony records.15 Murderers, robbers, and rapists were all made citizens so that the Democrats would have a million foreign voters on the rolls by Election Day.16
From the article:
It is not clear how many of the 180,000 immigrants whose criminal backgrounds were not checked had criminal records that would have disqualified them from being sworn in as U.S. citizens, but at least some felons have slipped through. Among them were an Ecuadoran wanted for murder and a Vietnamese immigrant who faced deportation for two felony convictions and a recent parole violation.
So that's at least one murderer, and presumably more in the other 180,000 people who didn't get a background check. No doubt that's enough people with no criminal background check to include some robbers and rapists too.
While murder has always disqualified an applicant no matter when it was committed, other serious crimes such as robbery or assault could make someone ineligible if they were committed within five years of the application.
And to make matters worse, they weren't even trying to exclude robbers and thugs who commited their major crimes 5 years ago.
The auditors also found that another 71,000 immigrants were granted citizenship despite having criminal histories on file with the FBI. Of them, about 10,800 were charged with felonies.
This article, which complains several times about Republicans, is conceding everything. Since it's a hostile article – this is what Coulter's opponents are actually willing to admit to – I'm going to accept these numbers.

180k is close enough to "hundreds of thousands". It rounds up to 200k. The 70k and 10k figures are good. The murders, robbers and rapists claim is good.

Score: 100%.

Chapter 15, Endnote 28

28. Sarah Stuteville, “Hate Crimes Inflict Fear That May Never Fade,” Seattle (WA) Times, February 27, 2015, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/hate-crimes-inflict-fear-that-may-never-fade/.
They will no longer be subjected to “hate crimes and discrimination” in America—as put by Pramila Jayapal, who was born in India, but now represents Seattle in the Washington State House.28
I appreciate endnotes which provide the link to the material.
Hate crimes and discrimination comes from a lack of understanding and information about who these populations are, as well as a desire to target and other-ize people,” says Washington state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, who was founder of Hate Free Zone (now OneAmerica), an organization formed after 9/11 to address backlash against immigrant communities.
The Seattle Times is a perfectly reasonable source for quoting what someone said. Jayapal was indeed born in India.

Score: 100%.

Chapter 14, Endnote 10

9. Behar, “The Secret Life of Mahmud.”

10. Ibid.
Luckily for Mahmud, just as his tourist visa was expiring six months later, Schumer’s farmworker amnesty became law. So Mahmud submitted an application, claiming to have worked on a farm in South Carolina, despite having never left New York, except one short visit to the Michigan Islamic community.10
Happily, Coulter actually links the article in a previous endnote.
Six months after [Mahmud] Abouhalima arrived in New York, his tourist visa expired. Fortunately for him, Congress was preparing to authorize an amnesty program for more than 1 million illegal aliens who merely had to assert that they worked as migrant farmers. Abouhalima applied for amnesty in 1986, received temporary legal residence in 1988 and became a permanent resident two years after that. Through an attorney, Abouhalima now claims he worked for seven months on a farm in South Carolina. But his current wife told a TIME reporter that she can remember no travels outside the New York metropolitan area except for one trip to Michigan to visit friends. "The amnesty program was a joke," says Duke Austin, a spokesman at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "Since documentation wasn't required, the burden was on the government to prove the aliens were not farmers. Fraud was widespread and enforcement virtually impossible."
Time reports Mahmud's own wife told a Time reporter that Mahmud's a liar. There was no checking by the government, no need for documentation. Everything Coulter writes matches her source. Looks good to me.

Score: 100%.

Selected Checking

That concludes the random endnote checks. Now I'll choose 5 major issues to look at:

How many illegals?

There were 11 million illegals in the United States as of 2005, according to everyone. Thus, for example, the pro-browning Pew Hispanic Center estimated the number of illegal aliens in the United States to be 11.1 million in March 2005.26 The Department of Homeland Security put it at 10.5 million in January 2005.27 Other estimates from the New York Times, the Center for Immigration Studies, the Urban Institute, and the Current Population Survey produced similar numbers.28
Each endnote offers a link. 26:

DHS estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States numbered 11.6 million in January 2008 compared to 11.8 million in January 2007, 11.3 million in January 2006, 10.5 million in January 2005
The latest estimate is that the United States has 11.5 million undocumented foreigners, and it's those immigrants — the illegal ones — who have galvanized Congress.
That last quote is from the New York Times, from 2006 not 2005. But close enough. It does reflect that the NYT thought there were "similar" to 11 million illegals in 2005.
The reason all the estimates from Pew, DHS, CIS, the Urban Institute, and the Current Population Survey are nearly identical—11 million!—is that they all use the same census data.
THE REAL NUMBER IS 30 MILLION ILLEGALS [Coulter's emphasis, it's a section title.]
There’s good reason to believe the census numbers are wrong. In 2005, two Bear Stearns analysts, Robert Justich and Betty Ng, warned clients that there was “significant evidence” that the census undercounted the illegal immigrant population by at least half.29 They estimated the number at closer to 20 million—and they were advising clients about something important: their money.

Justich and Ng discounted the census data because it relied on illegal aliens answering surveys.
29. Robert Justich and Betty Ng, “The Underground Labor Force Is Rising to the Surface,” Bear Stearns Asset Management, January 3, 2005, http://www.steinreport.com/BearStearnsStudy.pdf.
The report has some reasonable points:
The strongest evidence supporting our theory that the actual illegal population is double the consensus estimates lies within several micro trends at the community level. We see very dramatic increases in services required in communities that have become gateways for immigration.
Based on several criteria, we believe that immigration is growing significantly faster than the consensus estimates:
1. Remittances
2. Housing permits in gateway communities
3. School enrollment
4. Cross border flows
The rate of increase in remittances far exceeds the increases in Mexicans residing in the U.S. and their wage growth. Between 1995 and 2003, the official tally of Mexicans has climbed 56%, and median weekly wage has increased by 10%. Yet total remittances jumped 199% over the same period. Even considering the declining costs of money transfers, the growth of remittances remains astounding.
In New Jersey, the three gateway towns of New Brunswick, Elizabeth, and Newark exemplify this trend. According to the census, the combined population in these three towns between 1990 and 2003 grew only 5.6%, less than the 9% reported in the rest of the three corresponding counties. Yet housing permits in these three towns shot up over six-fold, while the rest of the three counties only saw a three-fold increase. More importantly, 80% of these permits were designated for multiple dwellings, so the corresponding increase in people accommodated are even greater. Official statistics state that illegal immigrants in New Jersey have jumped 110% during the same period – an estimate that is inconsistent with the housing statistics, our discussions with local realtors and the changes that we have visually observed in the demographic landscape.
“To a significant degree, high rates of immigration offset the effect of a declining number of births on school enrollment.” Administrators have been surprised that school population growth significantly exceeded earlier projections, thus creating overcrowding in many school districts.
Pulitzer Prize reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele recently reported for TIME magazine that “the number of illegal aliens flooding into the United States this year will total 3 million. It will be the largest wave since 2001 and roughly triple the number of immigrants that will come to the U.S. by legal means.” The TIME investigation, according to Mr. Barlett, relied not only on figures projected by the U.S. Border Patrol, but also on the reporter’s extensive investigations along the Mexican border at factories, local communities, and the district offices of the U.S. Border Patrol.
I don't think this is a perfect answer by any means. The Bear Stearns analysts don't have all the answers. But it's some reasonable information on the topic. Coulter herself emphasizes the topic doesn't have good enough data and statistics. For example:
YOU WILL SPEND MORE TIME TRYING TO OBTAIN BASIC CRIME STATISTICS ABOUT immigrants in America than trying to sign up for Obamacare. The facts aren’t there.
In just a few decades, Minnesota has gone from being approximately 99 percent German, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, and Polish to 20 percent African immigrant,7 including at least one hundred thousand Somalis.8 And that’s not counting the Somalis who have recently left the country to fight with al Qaeda and ISIS. One hundred thousand is just an estimate. We don’t know precisely how many Somalis the federal government has brought in as “refugees” because the government won’t tell us. The public can’t be trusted with the truth.
The big picture is we don't know all the numbers. Coulter's numbers make more sense than numbers she's challenging. That's good. And she doesn't overestate her case by claiming perfection with her stats.

I'd say Coulter did a good job here. She presented the reader with useful information and put it in context in reasonable way. She challenged some claims that deserved challenging and gave some alternatives to consider that are more reasonable. They're imperfect, but the main point is people should stop accepting the 11 million figure and reconsider. Coulter's right about that.

Score: 95%.

A quarter of Mexico's population?

America has already taken in more than one-quarter of Mexico’s entire population, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of census data.9 The United States has more Hispanics than any other country besides Mexico.10 Do we have to admit all 120 million Mexicans to prove to the New York Times that we’re not “nativist”?
9. Anna Brown and Eileen Patten, “Hispanics of Mexican Origin in the United States,” Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project, 2011, http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispanics-of-mexican-origin-in-the-united-states-2011/. (“An estimated 33.5 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.”)
The Pew Research Center page linked does give the 33.5 million figure exactly as quoted. The population of mexico is around 120 million.

One problem is if we took in 33.5 million Mexicans, and there's 120 million in Mexico, then that's 153.5 million total, of which we have closer to a fifth (21.8%), not a quarter.

I think Coulter's point was to put 33.5 million Mexicans in context. It's over a quarter of the current population of Mexico! That's a lot! I read her comment more as a stylistic choice than strictly about math. And I don't think rounding 21.8% to 25% is very bad, it's in the right ballpark.

The one-quarter comment bothered Politifact, a group of partisan left-wingers who like to dress up their talking points as "facts". Their best counter was:
In reality, the immigration data from Pew is not nearly as neat and tidy as Coulter concludes. The Pew report attempted to count the number of people who trace their roots back to Mexico, not people who came directly from that country.

Why does that make such a difference?

Well, about two-thirds of Americans with Mexican ancestry were born in the United States. By definition, they were never part of Mexico’s population.

If they weren’t Mexican, they could not be "taken in."

The Pew definition is important, and if the numbers about Mexico don’t make it clear, let’s look at another country. We picked Ireland. In 2014, the Census Bureau said there were 34.1 million Americans with Irish roots. That’s nearly seven times Ireland’s current population.
That sounds like a pretty big error. But let's see what the Pew analysis actually says:
An estimated 33.5 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Mexicans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin; this means either they themselves are Mexican immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to Mexico.
They were not looking for, or counting, anyone with any Mexican ancestry or roots like Politifact claims. They were only counting people who self-identified as "Hispanics of Mexican origin". Politifact is contradicting Pew's own statement about their data (hoping no one will notice) in order to try to make Coulter look bad.

Did Coulter use loose language and exaggerate here? Yes. (Was what Politifact said worse? Yes!) But so what? You're allowed to talk loosely at times. The one quarter comment was putting things in perspective, not trying to be a rigorous analysis. There's plenty of other material in Adios America which is more rigorous and factual, and is worded to indicate that.

I would like if Coulter was a little more careful at times, but I don't see any significant problem here. I don't think it would mislead a reader in general. There's a big problem and Coulter's saying there's a big problem, which is true.

Score: 90%.

Do Illegals Honestly Answer Government Surveys?

Another part of Politifact's article looked interesting to me. And I think picking issues to look at that her enemies bring up is a good method to try some. Coulter wrote:
Justich and Ng discounted the census data because it relied on illegal aliens answering surveys. As Justich told the Wall Street Journal, “The assumption that illegal people will fill out a census form is the most ridiculous concept I have ever heard of.”30 People who have left their families, paid huge sums of money to smugglers, trekked thousands of miles, and broken American law to enter this country don’t have much incentive to fill out questionnaires from the U.S. government.

The census tried to account for the reluctance of illegal aliens to answer government surveys by adding 10 percent to their population estimate. Guess where they got 10 percent? From another survey of illegals.
But Politifact says:
In a recent report, the center wrote "It is well established that illegal aliens do respond to government surveys such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey."
Well, they did indeed write that contradiction to Coulter. But they didn't argue it. At all. Coulter's position makes sense. This is just a "center" asserting something:
It is well established that illegal aliens do respond to government surveys such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey. While Census Bureau surveys do not ask the foreign-born if they are legal residents of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), former INS, the Pew Hispanic Center, and the Census Bureau have all used socio-demographic characteristics in the data to estimate the size of the illegal alien population. We follow this same approach.50
And does endnote 50 have an argument that illegals respond to government surveys? No.
To distinguish legal from illegal immigrants in the survey, this report uses citizenship status, year of arrival in the United States, age, country of birth, educational attainment, sex, receipt of welfare programs, receipt of Social Security, veteran status, and marital status. [...]
That endnote is on the topic of estimating things about the people who did fill out surveys, not on the topic of how they "established" that illegals are filling out surveys in the first place.

Rather than argue the issues, Politifact relied on judging statements by who said them:
The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors reduced immigration much as Coulter does, disagrees with that last point.
It's not that the Center for Immigration Studies had a good argument. Or any argument at all. Nor does Politifact have an argument. Instead, it's that the Center for Immigration Studies is asserted by Poltifact to be anti-immigration, and their point is basically "even the people who don't like immigration know Coulter is wrong". That's such an unscholarly approach that I wanted to point it out.

For the issue of Politifact attacking Coulter's argument that illegals don't fill out governement surveys, I'd say Politifact did a lot worse than just remaining silent. It showed their own flaws, not any mistake by Coulter.

Score: 100%.

How Dumb Is The Government?

That last claim Coulter made sounded interesting to me. Did the government really use a survey of illegals to try to find out whether (and at what rate) they answer surveys? Let's find out.
The census tried to account for the reluctance of illegal aliens to answer government surveys by adding 10 percent to their population estimate. Guess where they got 10 percent? From another survey of illegals. In 2001, the University of California asked Mexican-born residents of Los Angeles if they had taken the recent census. Ten percent said “no.” But almost 40 percent refused to take that survey.31
30. Carl Bialik, “In Counting Illegal Immigrants, Certain Assumptions Apply,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2010, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704370704575228432695989918.

31. Ibid.
The cited article says what Coulter claimed:
Researchers at CIS and Pew and in the federal government use a decades-old technique that looks at the number of foreign-born people in the U.S., as counted by annual census surveys. Then they subtract the number of foreign-born people in the U.S. legally, based on immigration records and projections of deaths and outmigration. The remainder is believed to be the number of illegal immigrants.

There are several assumptions that underlie these estimates, including the figures for outmigration, which isn't tracked by the U.S. government. The biggest problem, though, is that no one really knows what proportion of illegal immigrants respond to census interviewers and how honest they are about their place of birth.

These studies presume that about 10% of illegal immigrants aren't counted by census takers. But that figure largely is based on a 2001 University of California-funded survey of 829 people born in Mexico and living in Los Angeles, in which individuals were asked, among other things, whether they responded to census interviewers a year earlier. Representatives of nearly two in five households refused to answer that survey, and those who didn't might have been more likely to skip the census count as well.
But it's just a WSJ article with no cites or links. This is the internet! Why not link to the surveys you're talking about? :( He didn't even give the name of the study, the journal, or anyone involved with it, which makes it hard to search for.

Even if I find the 2001 study and everything checks out, how would I know that the other unspecified studies presuming the 10% figuring were basing it largely on the 2001 study? To figure this out properly would require a bunch of work. Coulter or Bialik should have done this work and shared it, but they haven't. Coulter, unfortunately, seems to have just dumped responsibility on Bialik's article which makes some big claims without giving the details.

I think Coulter's right about the issue here. For example the Bear Stearns Study says:
The Census Bureau’s counting process for the migrant population has some shortcomings. According to our discussions with illegal immigrants, they avoid responding to census questionnaires. For this reason, the official estimates do not fully capture this group.
According to Maxine Margolis, author of An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City, the discrepancies started well over a decade ago. The 1990 census, for example, recorded only 9,200 Brazilians in New York City, while the local Brazilian consulate estimated 100,000 Brazilians at that time. The Brazilian foreign office placed the number at 230,000; Dr. Margolis also noted that comparisons of the Boston Archdiocese and Brazilian consulate records with U.S. census records show a startling 10 to 1 difference.
I didn't find a paper on the 2001 survey itself, but I found Immigrant Voting in Home Country Elections which has detailed information about it.
The July 2001 Los Angeles County Mexican Immigrant Legal Status Survey (LA-MILSS) is a random sample of 456 households in which at least one person was born in Mexico and 829 foreign-born Mexicans who resided in Los Angeles County in July 2001.
Looks like the survey happened in the right place with the right number of people.
household response rate of the LA-MILSS is 62 percent.
This 38% non-response rate fits with the claim that almost two in five households refused to answer. (Note: they already are ignoring outcomes like no one was home. This is people who were there and didn't answer the questions, so the word "refused" is accurate.)
Slightly less than half (46 percent) of adult respondents admitted to residing in the United States without being a naturalized citizen, a legal permanent resident or a temporary visitor.
That's a lot!
If we apply Marcelli and Ong’s (2002) estimated 10 percent undercount rate for all foreign-born Mexicans in the 2000 Census to these two point estimates, then the estimated number of expatriate Mexicans residing in the United States who will vote in the 2006 Mexican elections if the 1996 Mexican electoral reforms remain inoperative is 1.8 to 3.1 million.15
Guess what the footnote is. Think it'll provide details of the 10% undercount? Or maybe it'll give their calculations for the 1.8-3.1 million range? No, all it does is say the government used the 10% number.
15 This estimated undercount rate was employed in the recent U.S. INS report on unauthorized immigration in the United States (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service 2003).
That's not useful. Although it does provide an example of the 10% figure being used, like the WSJ article claimed.

Here's another statement about the 10% undercount. It's in a paper that at least has a bunch of linked endnotes with citations written out:
During the 2000s, the two leading producers of estimates of the unauthorized foreign-born population, the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) and the Pew Hispanic Center (Pew), assumed that coverage error was, respectively, 10 (Hoefer, Rytina and Baker 2011
) and 13 percent (Passel and Cohn 2009) for the unauthorized foreign born, and about 2.5% for other foreign born. OIS rested its assumption about coverage error on a survey conducted in Los Angeles that was then compared to Census counts (Marcelli and Ong 2002). Pew based its assumption on the levels of enumeration error estimated for the 2000 Census, which were calculated by incorporating data from the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE) post-enumeration surveyviii
I looked for "2000 Census coverage of foreign-born Mexicans in Los Angeles County: Implications for demographic analysis" by Marcelli and Ong. Google scholar is aware it exists. But it's not available online. It isn't just behind a paywall. There's no copy of it available. They presented it at an IRL meeting, and people cite it, but there's I see no mention of it actually being published anywhere. Here is the meeting information and the paper information:
This paper employs the 2001 Los Angeles Mexican Immigrant Legal Status Survey (LA-MILSS) data to estimate the contribution of unauthorized and Legal Mexican immigrants to the Census undercount in Los Angeles County. After estimating the number of Mexican immigrants by legal status and whether each individual was enumerated in the 2000 Census, we examine various sources of omission. Logistic regression results suggest that individual demographic characteristics, social network quality, and neighborhood characteristics help explain variation in whether a person was counted.
And that's all the information we get. This makes it hardre to blame Bialik and Coulter for not providing more cites. These guys just publish a paragraph summary online and don't bother publishing their actual details. They share their ideas in person, apparently to be cited by other people who took notes while they were talking, I guess.

Finally, I see the government is using this, as claimed:

Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000

Office of Policy and Planning
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service


About 12.6 million foreign-born persons who entered the United States from 1990 to 1999 were counted in the 2000 Census. The INS adjusted that number upward by about 850,000, primarily to account for estimated undercount in the census,4

4 The estimate of net census undercount of 10% for unauthorized residents is consistent with results reported in a paper by Enrico Marcelli, “2000 Census Coverage of Foreign-born Mexicans in Los Angeles County: Implications for Demographic Analysis,” presented at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Atlanta, GA. For lawful residents, as defined here, the rate of net census undercount was set at one fourth of the rate for unauthorized residents, or 2.5 percent. [Bold in original for headings.]
Note the 850,000 adjustment the INS used is 6.7%, not 10%, even though their footnote says 10%.

OK now let's step back. Coulter said they asked people if they answered the census, and 10% said no. But I wasn't able to find that question from the survey and the results for it. Coulter's own citation should have led me to find that, since she makes that claim in her book. That's bad.

On the other hand, she's right about the big picture: the government and others are pretty much just making stuff up instead of being scholars with facts. The quality of the work Coulter's questioning is ridiculously low. She's right to draw attention to it. The theme of her book holds up. So again I'm going to deduct some points for a technical problem (I couldn't find some of the specifics she brought up her endnotes, even after doing quite a bit of research), but Coulter hasn't said anything that would mislead a reader about the state of the world. She isn't playing loose with facts to trick anyone about anything.

Score: 70%.

Adios America?

So, will illegal immigration destroy the country? Would amnesty mean Republicans never get elected again? Are these third-worlders assimilating, or not? Are we in danger? Is this a serious enough issue to really threaten our country? Could it be Adios America!?
According to a Washington Post poll, a majority of second-generation immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Vietnam, and the West Indies did not refer to themselves as “Americans” and said America was not the best country in the world.22
22. William Booth, “One Nation, Indivisible: Is It History?,” Washington Post, February 22, 1998, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm.
The article says:
One study of the children of immigrants, conducted six years ago among young Haitians, Cubans, West Indians, Mexican and Vietnamese in South Florida and Southern California, suggests the parents are not alone in their concerns.

Asked by researchers Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbauthow how they identified themselves, most chose categories of hyphenated Americans. Few choose "American" as their identity.

Then there was this – asked if they believe the United States in the best country in the world, most of the youngsters answered: no.
Like Coulter said. But where's the details? They were harder to find because Ruben Rumbaut's name is mispelled :( I did find some paywalled stuff, but since I don't even know which one they are talking about, I didn't buy it.
when Obama won his 2012 reelection, Teixeira gloated that—as he had predicted—ethnic minorities were voting 8–2 for the Democrats, and had grown to nearly one-third of the electorate. “McGovern’s revenge only seems sweeter,” Teixeira said.19
19.Ruy Teixeira, “The Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 10,” Atlantic, November 10, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/the-emerging-democratic-majority-turns-10/265005/.
Teixeira's article says, as claimed:
Voters in 2012 were 28 percent minority, an increase of 2 percentage points from the 2008 level and a massive 13 percentage point increased from the 1988 level of 15 percent.
(28% is a little low to be calling nearly a third.)
Minority voters backed Obama 80 percent to 18 percent in 2008 -- and did exactly the same for the president this year. His support among African-Americans was almost as overwhelming (93-6) as it was in 2008 (95-4). And his support among Hispanics (71-27) improved substantially over its 2008 level (67-31). In addition, Obama achieved historic levels of support among Asian-Americans. This year he carried them 73-26, compared to 62-35 in 2008.
What about assimilation?
Everyone seems to agree that it is Minnesotans’ responsibility to assimilate to Somali culture, not the other way around.11 The Catholic University of St. Thomas has installed Islamic prayer rooms and footbaths in order to demonstrate, according to Dean of Students Karen Lange, that the school is “diverse.” Minneapolis’s mayor, Betsy Hodges, has shown up wearing a full hijab to meetings with Somalis. (In fairness, it was “Forbid Your Daughter to Work Outside the Home” Day.) A suburban Minnesota high school has “Welcome” signs written in Somali, a Somali student group, and articles in the school newspaper about how unhappy the Somalis are.
11. See, e.g., “Mayors Seek Closure of Troubling Gaps,” Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune, January 7, 2014. (“Changing people’s thinking about the value of every part of the city is essential to closing the income gap, achievement gap, health gap and all the other income- and race-based disparities that afflict the Twin Cities. . . . The arc of history has truly bent toward diversity and inclusivity.”)
The article indeed is a bunch of appeasement of unassimilated immigrants. It has an attitude that their problems are white people's fault, and American needs to change to make Somalis better off. For example:
The arc of history has truly bent toward diversity and inclusivity in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Whether history’s arc can also bend more nearly toward justice and opportunity for nonwhite, nonaffluent residents is an unanswered question. Making it so may be the greatest challenge these cities face if they are to remain prosperous in the 21st century.
If we do it right, we will begin to weave our city and our neighborhoods together fully, not merely in our conversations, but in our hearts and in our minds, as well. [...]” Hodges said.
Changing people’s thinking about the value of every part of the city is essential to closing the income gap, achievement gap, health gap and all the other income- and race-based disparities that afflict the Twin Cities. It will take vigorous use of the mayoral bully pulpit to spur that change. At that task, Coleman and Hodges have begun well.
The focus here is on Americans doing something, changing their thinking, looking at the world differently, etc, rather than on saying to the immigrants, "Hey guys, you came here. If you want to make more money and be more educated, then you change. Start acting like Americans and you'll get the same results we do without our city changing anything."

With immigrants not being assimilated and voting heavily for the Democrats, America is at genuine risk. But I wasn't satisfied with the details of the second generation immigrant cite. Again I'm not questioning the book's main themes, but I would have liked better research behind Coulter's factual details.

Score: 85%.


Coulter's average score is 87.5%. But you should try to understand what Adios America is like, not rely on a summary number. Please judge for yourself.

Here's what I think:

Despite all the endnotes, this doesn't appear to be a book of extremely careful fact checking and research. Coulter sometimes relies on sources like newspaper articles and repeats their claims without further checking. She makes some technical errors. But I didn't find a single instance where the message of her book was mistaken, which is what I'd say matters the most.

If you liked this, check out my previous Ann Coulter fact check, and my review of her critics' scholarship.

Thank you Justin Mallone for help finding some of the information.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Static Memes and Irrationality

PAS wrote to the FI Discussion Group [emphasis added]:

The most relevant thing that I don’t get about the memes material [in The Beginning of Infinity] is how & why a meme like beating irrationality into kids:

  • Arose in the first place: Don’t static memes initially arise out of attempts people make to solve problems? What problem would beating irrationality into your kid solve?

  • Developed such an extraordinarily high degree of skill knowledge that people are super highly effective at enacting it: What other memes have a super high level of evolved skill knowledge like this?

  • Experiences universal replication across all of the human race: Religion (in general, never mind a specific religion) isn’t 8 9’s pervasive. Wearing clothes isn’t 8 9’s pervasive. What other memes are as pervasive?

The Beginning of Infinity Memes Recap

A meme is an idea that replicates. We'll focus on ideas that are pretty good at replicating from older people to younger people for multiple generations.

David Deutsch had an original insight: there are two replication strategies used by memes. A replication strategy is the thing the meme is doing that gets it replicated.

1) Rational Memes

Rational (aka dynamic) memes are replicated because they are useful. People want to share them in order to solve problems. They are part of progress.

The concept here is pretty simple. Someone has an idea and think it's good, so he shares it. If other people see the value, they learn it and share it too. If it's good enough, it gets shared a lot, including to the next generation.

2) Static Memes

Static (aka anti-rational) memes disable the holder's creativity to prevent criticism of themselves. They are not adapted to be useful, but block effective thinking about that. Their focus is on making the host unable to reject the meme.

Rather than offering rewards, benefits and value to get voluntary cooperation, a static meme goes for more of a mind control style of strategy. If someone can't think critically about it, that is a way for a meme to survive.

Rational memes survive criticism by having valuable knowledge, static memes prevent criticism to survive.

Let's set aside the original origins of static memes and consider the last three thousand years of human history. Most humans have lived in static societies. In short, they lived the same lives as their grandparents, who lived the same lives as their grandparents.

Change and innovation have been the exception, not the rule.

What's going on there? What blocks progress? What blocks new ideas? What suppresses creativity?

People already know a bit about this. Their understanding of what's going wrong goes under the heading "irrationality". Irrationality covers a wide range of problems including:

  • obedience to authority
  • judging ideas by prestige of the speaker
  • lack of confidence to contradict traditional ideas
  • superstition
  • mysticism
  • wishful thinking
  • judging by emotions instead of reasons
  • bias
  • dishonesty about ideas
  • jumping to conclusions
  • not seriously seeking the truth
  • not really making an effort to solve problems
  • procrastination, laziness
  • faith

Why is irrationality like this so powerful and common? Because it prevents criticism of itself. These bad ideas have the special property that they get in the way of fixing themselves.

These are errors that mess up error correction itself.

Irrationality is a matter of static memes. This is a list of ideas which are passed on to the next generation and which block criticism. They are passed on not because they are useful, but because the people with these ideas are unable to think well their value and make rational choices about whether to replicate them.

The concept of static memes provides information and technical details (see The Beginning of Infinity) about what's going with irrationality. It helps clarify a phenomenon you already knew is really big. (PAS mentions religion in his question. Irrationality is a superset of the religious irrationality he brought up.)

With that context, I'll go over the questions:

Don’t static memes initially arise out of attempts people make to solve problems?

No. They arise due to evolution.

Think of an initial set of ideas (meme pool, like gene pool). The ideas are really bad and primitive. Many are getting discarded pretty randomly. None replicate very reliably.

Then by random variation, one of the ideas starts blocking people from discarding it. Not entirely, just a little bit so it gets discarded at a lower rate than other ideas. This gives it an evolutionary advantage, and further random variations that make it harder to discard give it even more evolutionary advantage.

Static memes evolve along those lines, not out of (rational) problem solving attempts.

What problem would beating irrationality into your kid solve?

Offering problem solving value is not the mechanism by which static memes replicate, spread, stick around, get enacted, etc...

What other memes have a super high level of evolved skill knowledge like this?

Consider the history of static societies on Earth. Think about how effective they've been at preventing change and innovation. Think about how rare and special Western civilization is. The large scale consequences of a super high level of evolved knowledge are visible here.

What other memes are as pervasive?

All kinds of details of static memes vary by culture. What stays the same across cultures is the replication strategy. That's a matter of logic. Since we call that replication strategy "irrationality", then irrationality is pervasive across cultures.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

curi reads a correlation study

This is my real-time unedited (just formatting cleanup) comments on an "original research article" in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, "Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch".

anonymous-1 wrote:
study says drug can help learn perfect pitch:

they claim it's double blind, but doesn't someone being able to do something he otherwise couldn't (they claim) tell him which group he's in and therefore unblind it?

> On days 8–14 of each treatment, we instructed participants to undergo an on-line training program for approximately 10 min per day. During each online training session, they observed a video, which trained associations between piano tones and proper names.

so it could actually be a drug for better boring video watching focus?

oh god they put ppl thru a bunch of junk tests to try to control for mood, depression, mania, being smart

> We counted a training session as complete if the subject both watched the full length of the video (up to within 15 s of the end) and answered the subsequent test question correctly.

did they decide those rules before they started?

> There was no significant correlation between the number of completed training sessions and performance


> The experiment was double-blind, as neither participants, nor experimenters knew the randomization for treatment conditions. However, we did ask participants to intuit in which arm they received VPA treatment, and why they thought so. We also instructed them to write down any side effects they experienced during the experiment. Out of the 18 participants who completed the second treatment arm, 17 guessed correctly.

hahaha i told you it wasn't blind

fucking liars

they found out during the study it was not blind

then publish it as a blind study

what scumbags

i think the prior study asserting the critical period exists at all might be more interesting. at least if it's any good. b/c i find a critical period a bit intuitively surprising. like i wouldn't rly expect it

> Second, the analysis of the crossover, i.e., of the 17 participants for whom we have data from both arms, revealed an order-dependent effect of treatment. For participants who took VPA first, AP performance was significantly higher after VPA treatment than after placebo. In contrast, for participants who initially took placebo, there was no such difference. It may be that carry-over effects impeded performance on the AP task in the second treatment arm.

that's odd

> Relatedly, it needs to be noted that we did not test how long the effect of the improvement in AP perception lasted.

so they did not study learning perfect pitch. they studied doing better on certain tests while actively on drugs, but not any kind of longer term skill improvement. so the study title:

> Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch

that's bullshit. they didn't study that.

> In sum, our study is the first to show a change in AP with any kind of drug treatment. The finding that VPA can restore plasticity in a fundamental perceptual system in adulthood provides compelling evidence that one of the modes of action for VPA in psychiatric treatment may be to facilitate reorganization and rewiring of otherwise firmly established pathways in the brain and its epigenome (Shen et al., 2008).

wow such bullshit

like it's bad enough they are claiming it creates plasticity for pitch stuff – maybe it just makes u better at pitch without plasticity? among other things – but then to start saying they found out about psychiatry... ugh
the big picture tho is this is explanationless "science". they don't know what VPA does or how it works, and they are focusing on correlations (btwn taking VPA and high scores on pitch tests) not explanations

> If confirmed by future replications, our study will provide a behavioral paradigm for the assessment of the potential of psychiatric drugs to induce plasticity. In particular, the AP task may be useful as a behavioral correlate. If further studies continue to reveal specificity of VPA to the AP task (or to tasks on which training or intervention is provided), critical information will have been garnered concerning when systemic drug treatments may safely be used to reopen neural plasticity in a specific, targeted way.

i think they are saying here that they have no idea if VPA (their drug) has anything to do with pitch, or just helps learning more generally

the intended use for approving psychiatry drugs is disturbing

Refuting the study like this took under 20 minutes. Then people discussed the point about whether the study was blind:

    How does that make it not double-blind?
    if you know what group you're in, that isn't blind.
    do you know what blind means? *confused*
    but you don't know, you guess
    they could tell which they were in
    they guessed which they were in
    so you think 17 out of 18 got it right by coincidence, and there was no unblinding information?
    still blind?
    they weren't told until after the study
    this is a standard thing in psych studies to find out whether the person can guess about placebo?
    if you can guess better than chance, then you have information about which group you're in (or ESP). that information means it's not fully blind. in this case they appear to have quite a lot of such info.
    "standard thing in psych studies" is not reassuring!!!
Justin Mallone:
    ya lol
    psych studies typically trash
    not by coincidence, by stuff like feeling the drug
    right, that makes it not blind.
    so yes no unblinding info
    feeling it is unblinding info
    you don't know for sure though
    why should that be considered unblinding?
    but if you know (from feeling it) better than chance, you know something about whether you have the placebo or not. you have information about it (just not PERFECT information if you don't know for SURE). so it's not fully blind. (and, again, they seem to in this case have had LOTS of info, so not close to blind)
Justin Mallone:
    doing double blind can be hard
    yeah in medical studies they sometimes use complex active placebos to try to make stuff blind
Justin Mallone:
    the fact that lots of stuff is done incompetently doesn’t lower the bar tho
    like try to find stuff that'll have the same side effects and other feelable consequences
    oh cool @ complex active placebos
    didn't know about that. makes sense

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)