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Everything posted by wellnamed

  1. You can't possibly expect me to pass up opportunities to post links to Pew Research. That's my #2 hobby.
  2. On ideology, cf. Gallup. AFAIK this association has been pretty stable for a long time, so I'd expect to find similar results from other surveys, I just grabbed this one quickly. Here's a slighly older Pew survey with similar results. Of course it's worth noting that it's not as if the highly educated are overwhelmingly liberal, they are just more liberal than the less educated on average. (And I should probably clarify that I wouldn't read "more educated" here to mean "smarter" or "less educated" to mean "dumber", or anything like that. :P) On religiosity, the strength of the association depends on how you measure religiosity, from what I've seen, but it's generally the case that being more educated is correlated with being less religious, although again it's not overwhelming. See for example Pew
  3. I wouldn't entirely dismiss "personal experience". In a very real sense data actually is the plural of anecdote. Ultimately empiricism is all about experiences, yours mine and everyone else's. Clearly more data is better than less because you cannot assess the representativeness of an single data point, and methods for gathering data also matter, e.g. one case in a scientific study is probably more reliable than one anecdote sloppily remembered. And also how credible I'd find someone's claims of experience would depend on whatever prior probability I might assign to those experiences being real (i.e. I'm more likely to trust you when you tell me about your weird experience with a bank teller than your weird experience with Bigfoot :P). So there's lots of caveats and I'm being nitty but IMHO it's worth being nitty about experience
  4. No need to apologize for anything. Like I said before, I think it's inevitable that there will be misunderstandings and miscommunications, and just as much on my part as anyone else's. Talking (or writing :P) is easy, but communicating is always delightfully difficult. I appreciate your willingness to plow through all the ambiguities and I do think we probably understand each other a little bit better now, and that's really useful. More later on...
  5. I did say to skip it if you don't care! FWIW it's not clear to me what the difference is between "someone trying to educate you" (which apparently you find obnoxious) and someone just elaborating their disagreement as part of a discussion. But, it's also a tangential part of this discussion, so we can move on from it too. That's why I suggested you ignore it if you weren't interested in that particular topic. There are other statements you made in this section of your post that I could also disagree with and which I also think are interesting to talk about, but I won't reply to them unless you are interested as well. I think I understand you better now, thanks. I think it's fair to say I don't have the same feeling about the possibility of being wrong that you seem to have. We had different experiences as Christians and it affected us differently. My response was dealing more with how I think about the possibility of being wrong, and how I try to account for it intellectually. I think you were speaking more about a kind of emotional reaction to the possibility of being wrong, or a sense of anxiety? I think I probably don't feel the same way as you do, and that probably does just reflect the differences in our background. That said, it's not that I don't worry about being wrong. It's just not a particularly intense worry? But intellectually I try to approach topics in a way that will allow me to correct myself when I am wrong, and I'm wrong all the time so this is pretty important in my view. Earlier in this thread I mentioned that debate was a useful way to challenge myself, and that's an example. There's an idea I picked up some years ago, I forget from where, but it involved the maxim that you should approach intellectual issues by having "strong positions, weakly held." Both parts are useful. One way people shield themselves from being wrong is to avoid taking positions that can be falsified, even though they do actually have some beliefs. If you never take a position you can't easily be challenged. I think it's valuable to take strong positions and argue for them as best you can, to clarify your own reasons for believing the things you believe. So for example where you read me as trying to educate you, in my mind I'm trying to prove to myself that my beliefs on this topic are correct by demonstrating their correctness via argument and subjecting them to counter-argument. The second part is also important: "weakly held." That's the part where you acknowledge that you can always be wrong and try to avoid being too stubbornly attached to your own ideas. For me, one thing I try to do in that regard is that I try to expose myself to arguments from smart people who disagree with me. Like yourself, for example.
  6. Yeah, I think we may have just read his post pretty differently? I didn't mean to say it was either good or bad, I just thought it was relevant to the question you were asking, as I understood it. So, you wrote that "identity politics on the left is causing issues within the party." I related that back to LF's statement about parties "eating themselves." In other words I took your question to be about what issues are causing divisions internal to each party. You mentioned a number of issues that you believe to be causing issues on the left: My response was to say that -- IMO -- these are not issues causing large internal divisions on the left (though they are certainly subject to some debate). Rather, these are issues that divide left from right in the US. Basically what I mean is that I don't see disagreements about the wage gap fracturing the Democratic party. I don't think I've ever met anyone on the left who thinks its even important to say there are "a million genders", and I don't think the idea of legislating the number of genders is an issue of much importance to the vast majority of people on the left. But, the idea that people on the left think there are "a million genders" is a pretty common complaint I've heard from conservatives. Does this make sense? Perhaps it would have been clearer if I said I thought your phrasing implied a lot of standard conservative critiques of stereotypical leftist views on those topics. That's why I mentioned those issues as conservative critiques of liberals. But the main point is I think those are mostly points of disagreement between right and left rather than being causes of internal divisions on the left. I would say the largest and most pressing issues causing divisions on the left are probably around economic populism and whether to pursue incremental/moderate economic policies or more radical ones. If I was being glib I'd say the biggest division is basically "how much socialism is too much?"
  7. Complex Societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history -- Pretty interesting little research snippet on the development of complex societies and religion

    1. Orbit
    2. sdelsolray


      Yes, a well written research paper.

  8. I'm always looking for good book recommendations, and I'm currently out of books. The last two science books I've read, which I can definitely recommend were: Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny -- Written by an evolutionary anthropologist, this book discusses something like 30 years of research into Evolutionary Developmental Psychology. In essence: the processes through which children grow into "fully human" adults (ontogeny), and how those processes are similar and distinct from ontogenetic processes in our closest primate relatives. Pretty fascinating stuff. If you're looking for a clearly written and evocative theory which will make you think about what "human nature" might mean, this is a great book. I wrote a more detailed account of the theory elsewhere, if you are curious about how it's organized. Almost Human -- A fun narrative detailing the discovery of Homo Naledi, a new hominid species discovered from fossilized remains in 2013. Not nearly as technical as the Tomasello book, but it's a fun read if you're interested in human evolution. It makes you want to put on your Indiana Jones hat and go fossil hunting.
  9. Duverger's Law is interesting (n.b. the author of that essay has his own perspective, but I just think the description of why we have a two-party system is useful). This is one reason I am intrigued by the idea of moving to different voting systems, whether Instant Runoff or proportional representation or something else. Especially as polarization increases it seems like it might work a little better.
  10. This is one of my pet peeves for sure: where an academic idea with some more or less coherent underlying argument finds its way into pop culture by what I now feel simply must be called a game of SJW telephone The underlying idea is to distinguish between individual prejudice/bias and institutional/systemic discrimination. The problem is we use the word "racist" to refer to both of those things, and they too often get conflated. Clearly anyone can be prejudiced, and people can be prejudiced against all kinds of different groups for all kinds of different reasons. Anyone can be racist in this sense. But it's also a reasonable idea that it's much harder for groups without much political/institutional power to shape institutions so as to create widespread discrimination. Black people in the US have rarely if ever held enough political power to translate any potential individual biases into institutional discrimination. But too often people -- probably like this person on Facebook -- argue that the importance of power to questions about institutional racism mean that individuals can't be prejudiced, which is obviously silly. I think similar problems exist around all sorts of other "SJW" concepts which are otherwise useful if understood more carefully, for example privilege and intersectionality.
  11. If William ever does come back he's going to be so confused.
  12. @ag_NO_stic thanks for the very thoughtful reply. I know I'm long-winded, so before I write yet another tome (not tonight!) I just wanted to say I appreciate having someone as engaging and patient as you to discuss this stuff with. Also, just a general note: I think politics (and er, religion?) is a tricky topic to converse about, especially when there are disagreements and very different points of view. I also know that I'm neither the most clear nor most concise communicator. You probably know that too. And IIRC (I could be wrong) I think in the past you may have expressed to me that you thought I came across as condescending. From skimming your post it seems you may feel that way a bit about the exchange about "left-splaining". I just want to say that I certainly don't intend to come across that way, nor to insult you or your point of view, nor to suggest absolutely that I'm right and your wrong. You might even think this paragraph comes off that way, but please bear with me. Basically I expect it's somewhat inevitable that I will accidentally misunderstand what you mean sometimes, and I will also probably fail to articulate myself clearly to you sometimes. I enjoy discussing these subjects with you though, and it seems worth it to me to beg your forgiveness for that ahead time, in the hopes you'll give me opportunities to clarify or correct myself if I say something stupid. We will probably also continue to have disagreements, no matter how long we talk about any of this. Just to be clear that's also quite alright with me. It wouldn't be as interesting to me if we agreed about everything!
  13. You can certainly find people who identify as "social justice activists", which might be the closest non-pejorative version? cf. http://www.nea.org/home/60579.htm
  14. Six nipples would just be overwhelming. Choice paralysis. I can barely handle two.
  15. I'm not sure I'd say that either left or right are eating themselves, and I'm not sure that's what LF meant. I think he might have just meant that people on each side accuse the other of it? He can clarify I'm sure. I do think alongside ideological polarization we are seeing a potential realignment around populist/nationalist movements, especially on the right. There are some battles between otherwise "conservative" thinkers on the right about this, e.g. the so-called #NeverTrump'ers and the populists. Say for example the difference between David Frum and Pat Buchanan. But rather than the right "eating itself" it's more like just that the nationalists are winning. I think it's interesting that from my perspective most of the issues you raised above are more conservative criticisms of liberals than they are important arguments between people on the left. I'll grant that I have read plenty of debates between liberals about the scope of criticisms involving Islam. But the rest are mostly topics conservatives raise, rather than being the source of strife on the left. I think there are disagreements between different parts of the left on how to prioritize different issues, e.g. between what I might call the Sanders/Warren wing of the Democratic party and the Clinton wing. But they wouldn't frame any of those debates in the way you have. Your framing is essentially a conservative one. Also interesting: I don't think of Sam Harris as being on the left. I think he would identify as something of centrist/moderate. He has always had some more conservative views. You could say that his position within the Democratic party is more tenuous now because of ideological polarization: it used to be that political affiliation was not as closely connected with ideology, so there were some liberal/moderate Republicans and some moderate/conservative Democrats. That is less the case now. Harris may have been a conservative Democrat based in some large part on his views about religion and the religious right. Now he doesn't fit as easily into the Democratic party. But he was never really a "leftist", per se. I know you were just trying to think of examples, but I think your parenthetical is inaccurate and since this is a topic I've read a lot of research on, I hope you'll forgive me for going down this rabbit hole for a minute. You can skip this if you don't care It's a complicated topic, but as stated I think the above is inaccurate. To be very brief: - You can just look at BLS data. This statement is true: "In 2018, among full time wage and salary workers, the median weekly salary for women was 81% of the median weekly salary for men." That number has been pretty consistent for a while. The 77c number is from older BLS data. - What's not as straightforward is that this statistic represents (only) discrimination. In fact it certainly is not only a consequence of discrimination. The causes are pretty complicated. There's a really good 2016 NBER article that talks about a lot of the factors in some detail, which is recommended to anyone who is interested. - Some of the gap is because of differences in chosen occupations, hours worked, and some is a penalty paid for taking maternity leave (although interestingly men pay no similar paternity penalty) - Some of it is likely to be discrimination; estimates vary, but probably less than half. Discrimination becomes likely just by ruling out other potential explanations, but there are also other studies that look for more direct evidence. The NBER paper discusses a few "Left-splaining" is a new one to me. Would you call the above "left-splaining"? To me, it is what I said I tried to do before: focus on explanations that establish the existence of meaningful social problems. "The gender wage gap is a myth" is a conservative talking point that I think is inaccurate. "Women make 77c on the dollar" can also be pretty misleading with no context, where the implication is that the gap is entirely caused by discrimination. I think we could have more productive debates about these issues if we understood them better, so I try to explain them. Also, the time I've spent trying to explain them to people has forced me to spend a lot of time researching, which I think has been helpful for me. For example my research led me to studies that suggest that gendered occupational preferences are unlikely to be explained by discrimination. Women in countries with more gender equality show stronger preferences towards different occupations than men. This is relevant to the wage gap given the different salaries for different occupations. I think research like that is probably under-appreciated on the left, although I would also point out that we should ask why we value some occupations more than others. In any case, if "left-splaining" is supposed to be analogous to "man-splaining", then I think it would have the connotation of "explaining" something to people who actually understand it better than you do. That's kind of the point of "man-splaining" as a complaint. I think the problem with all of these concepts can be that they deftly side-step the important part where its established whether any particular claims are right or wrong. Not every instance of a man trying to explain how they view something to a woman is illegitimate. Not every instance of a conservative/liberal trying to explain their position on an issue to the other side is inherently wrong either. We can't have useful debates if we can't explain ourselves. We could always be better at debating though, and listening better. Sure, I think sometimes they point out actual examples of over-reach or over-radicalization, like with Evergreen. I also think there are legitimate difficulties associated with balancing identity-related issues between different groups in a multi-cultural democratic society, and there is some need to find ways of addressing group-specific complaints in a universally-fair way. There's definitely such a thing as too much identity politics, or such a thing as a politics too oriented around grievances. I don't often agree with the way conservatives approach these topics, but I agree that there are legitimate issues that are tricky to balance. This is something where I appreciated Obama's approach, actually. Does anyone? I believe that I can be wrong in all sorts of unanticipated ways. I strongly believe in the value of empirical research because it's a useful check on that. At the same time, I don't think it would make sense to think that all judgements are equally likely on all subjects. I think there are topics where I'm quite confident in my knowledge, and others where I'm not (an example: economics). There are topics where I'm confident I've worked harder to understand them than others, and topics where I'm blissfully ignorant. It's kind of like dealing with religious arguments. I'm not really persuaded by Pascal's wager, i.e. the whole "what if you're wrong?" approach. I wouldn't be impressed by a Christian accusing me of atheist-splaining their religion to them, because I think I have good reasons to be an atheist. I also think I have good reason to believe at least a few other things. And then of course some disagreements are more about values than facts. I skipped over your post about narratives for a bit. I'll come back to it though. This is long enough (sorry)
  16. Polarization has definitely gotten more extreme in the US. I've noticed the change a lot in at least one of the left-leaning places I hang out. People have gotten a lot more bitter and definitely radicalized some in their attitudes towards the people they disagree with. The stakes feel much higher to people (and perhaps that isn't even entirely incorrect). My impression is that right-leaning places have also seen a lot of radicalization but I haven't had the opportunity to observe it as directly. I do know that the #TrumpFan internet forums I visit are pretty alarming as far as the kind of rhetoric I see towards liberals, and I don't think it was always that way. My impression is that the level of hate (for lack of a better term) is dramatically higher in the right-wing forums I visit than the left-wing forums, but the left has caught up a bit I don't really see how this changes in the near future, but I definitely worry about some negative consequences coming from so much anger.
  17. "Christianity" is too broad to be a cult, IMO. I think we like to apply terms like cult by analogy where what we really mean is something like "cults are bad, and <this> is bad, so therefore <this> is like a cult". And there might be some legitimate points of analogy between whatever <this> is and actual cults. But I'm not sure it's that useful to stretch the term to be broad enough to apply to an entire world religion with a billion adherents. Individual sects or groups can be cults. The religion as a whole can encourage certain modes of thinking which share features in common with the modes of thinking encouraged by cults. But cults have other features (charismatic leadership, tight social control of specific groups of people) that won't apply to a religion as a whole. But LF was just making a good joke about William's use of the word "cult"
  18. My first exposure to the term came from other people calling me one. In my experience it's almost always used pejoratively, and if people self-identify as "SJW" they are usually just appropriating the term back as if to say "well, what's wrong with being for social justice?" I do believe that there are social problems involving race, gender, religion, and class which are important and generally poorly understood. I think there are useful theoretical constructs that have been developed within "social justice" movements, e.g. within feminism, or coming out of anti-racist movements. I think there's a lot of good empirical studies of how those social problems play out and explain various inequalities. In my own conversations I tend to try to focus on establishing the actual and meaningful existence of those problems, and I would say my approach to explaining them is (hopefully :P) less authoritative -- or less dependent upon just strictly enforcing social norms -- than the people in your video. and my ideas about solutions are not particularly radical, I don't think. Whether any of that makes me an "SJW" or not: I don't know. I don't think the term is so well defined. Probably you should read me like this: I have an interest in defending "SJW ideology" (if not all "SJWs" :P) because I think people in those movements are raising real and important issues. I also don't always like the way some people within the movement act in their pursuit of social justice, and I think criticism where they overreach is warranted. Criticism of Evergreen feels very warranted to me. But like I said before, I view some of this within the larger context of a politics where I don't think all criticisms are being made in good faith. Fair enough, and it's all good. It might just be that I'm so used to seeing "Radical SJW" as an epithet that I didn't really stop to think that you intended there to be some distinction between just plain SJWs and radical ones. I do think that there's an important intellectual point about the difference between cults and ideologies that applies regardless of how broadly you scope "Radical SJW". But like I said -- I don't have a problem with criticizing Evergreen. I'd probably phrase my criticisms in a different way but I think the things that bother you about what happened there are the same as the things which bother me.
  19. I think he said he was moving. Might be relevant.
  20. I think there's probably some threshold beyond which it's not useful to think of socialization as "brainwashing", although I think I could understand how you might feel that way. So, I think you are recognizing something that actually happens: you are socialized into a set of beliefs and values, and those aren't limited to ostensibly religious beliefs. Religion is also part of a broader culture. Later, if you come to reject many of those beliefs and values you may feel that there was always something suspect about the process of indoctrination. It's certainly reasonable to expect that changing one's religious views will mean also reassessing lots of other beliefs as well. But I think it's also worth keeping in mind that to some extent this process of socialization is inevitable: it's just how human culture works, and it doesn't require a conspiracy. Humans are always engaged in these processes everywhere. Some academics use the term "hegemonic culture" to refer to the observation that certain values/beliefs are ubiquitous within a culture, similar to how you noticed patterns in media, school teaching, and so on. But keep in mind that if you'd grown up in a hippie commune you'd have been socialized into a different set of values and beliefs, but not necessarily with a lesser effect. Note that I'm not saying that one set of values is as good as the other, I think it's perfectly legitimate to think that some are better than others. But I also think if we think of it all as brainwashing (n.b. I'm not saying none of it qualifies...) that this may lead us to conclusions or courses of action that probably don't really make sense. I think the conspiratorial mindset can be problematic. One of the things I think is valuable about anthropology and sociology as academic fields is that -- at their best -- they can help us make sense of all that baggage, and maybe help us relate to it in a more productive way. Maybe it helps a little to know that everyone struggles a little bit reconciling their individual beliefs and experiences with those of their socialization. People coming out of very controlling or cult-like religious groups will probably have a harder time, but we all have to figure it out one way or another. And if we have children we all have to figure out how much or how little to teach them our values, and no matter what we do they will also be absorbing beliefs and values from the surrounding culture just as thoroughly as we did, and also have their own struggles with that.
  21. I think the distinction between "culturally Christian" and "religiously Christian" is basically right, and was what I was trying to get at as far as how white supremacists might employ an idea of Christian identity. At the same time, to disillusioned's point about how we interpret different situations I think it's also true that people become involved in Islamist movements for reasons that transcend actual religious commitments, although I think the leadership of those movements do tend to be more religiously motivated than white supremacist movements, especially ISIS. But the recruits may have all kinds of more materialistic/social motivations. ^ possibly very academic (I say this a lot :P), but somewhat useful if you're trying to parse people's motivations for horrific acts like this one.
  22. You're right, although it's not unusual (IMO) for people to develop more elaborate symbolic interpretations of texts like that. But someone ought to remind them also of Acts 10
  23. From what I've seen reported about the manifesto he wrote it seems like the most relevant of the shooter's identities is white supremacist. So for example he directly references a neo-nazi slogan, uses white supremacist symbols, and so on. I know that some white supremacist groups identify as Christian, I think mostly by way of emphasizing Christianity as a European identity. In the late 90s I knew someone who identified with a "Christian identity" group that emphasized both Christian identity and European identity in a racist way. So for example they believed that only white people were descended from Adam (and that non-whites were sub-human), that people of British descent were really the lost tribes of Israel, and that modern-day Jews were Satanic. It was nasty stuff. But on the other hand some white supremacists have adopted the use of older pagan religious symbols instead of Christianity. I haven't seen any reporting about the religious affiliation of the killer but it seems reasonable to guess that his antipathy to Muslims might tie both ethnicity and religion together, e.g. as antipathy towards both non-Europeans and those of "non-European" religions, from his perspective. It wouldn't necessarily mean he was very traditionally Christian, and given his association with some of the nastier parts of the internet he might not have been particularly religious at all. From what I've seen of that particular group they tend not to be.
  24. I haven't actually lost any relationships but the couple that might have been impacted we're already thoroughly compromised anyway for tangentially related reasons. From what I gather reading other people's extimonies I think a lot of it is that I was never very deeply involved with a conservative or closely knit church. I pretty much was always just floating out there on my own doing my own thing. I know from reading a lot here that it's very common for ex-Christians to go through a lot of difficulty with relationships when they deconvert. So, if it's something you're struggling with, you definitely have company.
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