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“A Statement with My View on Curtis Yarvin and Strange Loop” (amazonaws.com)
115 points by jessaustin on June 7, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 415 comments

This incident reminds me of growing up as the son of an oil company's PR man in the Bay Area.

We lived in one of the small towns in the North Bay. My father handled public and government relations for the oil refinery in that small town. A contingent of the opposition was especially vocal in their distaste for the plant.

An orthodontist refused to take me on as a patient due to my father's job. Snide remarks from teachers were normal (but the school district relied on the refinery's charitable contributions—which my father controlled—so they had to play nice). Parents telling their kids they couldn't hang out at our house.

There is a certain type of extremist who is unable to separate public and private lives and believes attacks on both are equally valid in advancing their agendas.

We were glad to leave the state.

What kind of extremist attacks a child because of their father's political views?

The kind that lives in Benicia, CA.

And recruiters wonder why I refuse to consider offers back in California.

What kind of person stereotypes an entire state of 40 million people based on their experiences in one small town?

The kind that uses logic and reason instead of rhetorical appeals to emotion. The 'personal is the political' is part of the culture in california and is common throughout the state. And if you don't believe me, you should go on a job hunt and tell every interviewer who talks to you that you're a republican.

Now that I think about it, I want to do just that and document the results. Should be interesting.

There is a group of guys where I work who call themselves VRWC[1] when they go to lunch together. This is in San Diego County. There may be liberal pockets in California but there are also conservative ones. Though Jerry Brown is governor now, we also have had such bleeding heart liberals as Reagan, Deukmajian, Wilson, and Schwartzenegger hold that title.

[1] VRWC refers to a Hillary Clinton sound-bite about a "vast, right-wing conspiracy."

While I don't entirely disagree, I wonder how you would run that sort of experiment. I've been on the interviewing side of the hiring table and if someone had brought up politics—either side—I would probably leave with a sour taste in my mouth. Bringing up a politics in such an unprompted and unprofessional fashion is a big red flag, whether I agree with their stance or not.

You might not bring the political questions at all. You might just casually mention a small detail, like "when I last visited [certain city] for a Republican convention,..." or something even more innocent and passing.

Interviewers are generally not allowed to ask you about your political positions or take them into account in any way. Frankly, talking about one's politics at an interview for an apolitical position would be so inappropriate as to reasonably raise concerns about the interviewee's impulse control and judgment.

Clarification (at least from a USA perspective): Interviewers are not generally banned from asking about your political affiliation. In many states, there are protections against discrimination based upon political leanings, but they are not implemented across the board nationally.*

As a good rule of thumb: if you really want the job, do not volunteer potential employers anything about yourself that you don't think would help you get hired. They aren't cops or courts; depending on how laws are crafted state-to-state, they are legally allowed to consider some categories of information that they aren't legally allowed to ask you outright if you volunteer it.

*There are protections in place for the bureaucracy itself, but they were implemented for practical reasons early in the country's history when it was observed that a party change leading to a clean sweep of the federal government right down to the last front-desk agent regardless of their capabilities in the task at hand was highly inefficient.

I meant most interviewers are forbidden from discussing it by company policy, even if it isn't forbidden by law. My state doesn't ban asking about political positions in interviews, but I know I'd be canned if I ever asked an interviewee about that.

Agreed on everything else.

I disagree with your idea that other states don't have some sort of pet peeve they will 'dock you points' for.

Go to Austin and look for a job while spouting off right-to-life and anti-gay marriage nonsense.

Go to Houston/Dallas and espouse the opposite opinion.

Go to Washington DC or Virginia and look for a job while being vocally against government involvement in your personal life and the spy state of affairs, or the military industrial complex.

Hell, let's take it further than job acquiring or state scope; ask anyone with lightly browned skin how they were treated nationwide after September 11th.

'personal is the political' is a nationally accepted doctrine, sadly. In my travels I haven't witnessed much different from state to state.

DC is definitionally composed of people carrying opinions across the spectrum. Being vocally opposed to those things you list is actually a job requirement for some places. DC's stereotype is a bit unnuanced.

In DC the unacceptable opinions don't include the things listed above, but that doesn't mean there aren't any unacceptable opinions there.

Try going to D.C. and preaching that the government should be forcibly (or even peaceably) overthrown and abolished, and see how tolerant those "folks" actually are.

D.C. is a cesspool of iniquity and filth.

Shunning "others" is very common behaviour. Shunning the child of "others" is very common.

I think this falls under socially discriminating while being legally tolerant. [1]

I wonder why it's ok to discriminate as such. Should one just accept this behavior as part of a social contract? If someone were to say "I'll put a gun to your head" but does not do so, is it not ok to let them be?

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/opinion/david-brooks-i-am-...

Somebody who believes in their cause.

While I wouldn't take it out on a child, I won't want to associate with somebody who was against gay marriage or try to save somebody who was against women's rights to their own bodies.

I feel that anybody who spends time with the people they strongly disagree with, when they don't have to, lack a moral backbone.

How does shunning someone for their political beliefs help advance your own beliefs?


Refusing to professionally engage with someone due to private political beliefs will do nothing but strengthen the resolve behind that belief. Instead of stepping across the battle lines into your exalted realm of enlightenment, they will circle the wagons and reload the muskets.

What if Tolkien had refused to befriend CS Lewis due to Lewis' atheism? Lewis would've remained an atheist all his life. Instead, through their friendship, Tolkien brought Lewis over, leading him to write one of the most influential texts in evangelical Christianity ever published.

There's a lesson in there for absolutists.

I have a vague memory of some research recently (last few months) that showed it was nigh-on impossible to persuade most people of a contrary position to one they held. In fact, it helped to strengthen their existing beliefs.

But my google-fu/pocket-fu is weak and I can't currently find it.

You may be referring to the result that exposing people to evidence contradicting their beliefs actually increases the strength of those beliefs (older than a few months, though). Pop-sci level article at http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

This doesn't reduce to "impossible to persuade most people of a contrary position." It just means that you have to employ methods of persuasion, i.e. rhetoric. This was obvious in classical Athens, when people heard news and discussed politics in public, but is apparently harder to grasp in our society.

You missed off "nigh-on" from before "impossible". It's an important qualifier.

Back then being or becoming Christian didn't mean an end to your career; perhaps some of this current hardness is due to the much nastier consequences of going against the mainstream?

Lewis' conversion was not due to a direct effort on Tolkien's part, but he woke up one day an believed (his words.) However, people who overplay the role of discussion in solving problems may miss the fact that a person may be influenced towards an opinion by exposure to certain ideas. What your words cannot do, time may do, with your influence as a driver. It is a well known technique to befriend someone in the hopes of influencing their opinion (you rarely can argue them directly into a differing opinion, as per Swift's dictum.)

Much of this wagon-circling is influence control or more caustically, hugboxing. If one never hears of a rational person saying things that are what is presently defined as 'racist', one can not make the association of 'racist' ideas being rational (be influenced by them.) Ergo why most people's reaction to some of these texts is 'didn't he learn not to be an a-hole?'

But the fundamental problem is that if some ideas which are considered 'racist' are in fact rational, and considered racist only because people are afraid of them, people who seek knowledge and truth would not want someone to close off this information from them, even if they ultimately decide the case is overstated.

Environments such as this work well when all opinions can be stated but none has the power to exclude. This condition is fragile and exists under tension, since many ideologies contradict one another harshly and some are designed to sophistically undermine thought to drive it towards their own ends.

It is however important to note that Yarvin's appearance here is not under the condition of him giving political opinions or having the power to exclude. One can only conclude weakness on the part of StrangeLoop's supporters, and if such ideas are even in their suggestion so much stronger than their own, they have already likely lost the battle.

In fact, it seems like their followers have tipped the apple cart on this one. Now everyone is wondering what Yarvin could be about that would get him banned?

Do you also feel the intense sense of extremely partisan, political divide in the US is desirable? Because that is what results from holing up in ideologically segregated communities where everyone agrees about nine-tenths of everything, and where one only encounters their political other in the form of a media caricature.

I do not think that the sorting of the population by politics is desirable, but I do think it is inevitable and that it presages a period of low-intensity conflict. America is not one place anymore. It has become a set of enclaves, and it's not just a left-right split. It has multiple dimensions: religious, economic, authoritarian/libertarian, racist/inclusive, etc.

That's just weird. I strongly disagree with some of my favorite people.

That sucks. "Horizontal Censorship" is definitely on the rise: http://pando.com/2015/02/04/the-geometry-of-censorship-and-s...

All I long for is logical consistency and empathy...

Various comments from the discussion:

> Whatever happened to "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."?

Getting dis-invited from a tech conference is not losing the right to say anything. The state is not punishing Yarvin for his speech. Giving a talk at a private tech conferences is not a right protected by anyone.

> Kicking people from your tech conference because they were racist outside of it hands veto power to whoever determines what racism is and when something is 'too racist'.

I'll defend Alex's right to organize a conference. You are free to organize another conference. (More generally, the market of conferences will decide whether Alex is doing a bad job.)

> In the end, if you're a straight white male, you will fall prey to it because you're not a protected class. You can see this playing out in video games, movies and SF&F publishing right now.

If you are a straight white man, accept that the world isn't perfect (you suffer the consequences of being a member of an identifiable group) and count yourself lucky that you don't have to face the other (often deadlier) forms of oppression faced by other groups.

> My personal opinions would get me called racist, sexist and homophobic by Marxist standards and I was exhausted by the political mask I had to assume just to find and keep work.

I imagine it was a lot easier to wear that political mask than it would have been to change your skin-color, gender, or age. Your way in the tech industry will be quite difficult if you get any of those wrong.

>Getting dis-invited from a tech conference is not losing the right to say anything. The state is not punishing Yarvin for his speech. Giving a talk at a private tech conferences is not a right protected by anyone.

I don't have a strong opinion on this, but a lot of people confuse Free Speech, the ideal, with Free Speech, the legal right. A lot of people get upset when people are fired or ostracized for their political positions. Even when it doesn't involve the government and isn't protected. E.g. a lot of people were fired or ostracized for being communists in the 50s.

The rest of your comment is just "other people's problem's are worse than yours, so you don't have any right to complain".

I think your counter-arguments are very bad. I thank you for sharing them here, because I don't think they reflect uncommon opinions at all, and I think they are too easily accepted without reflection.

With regards to the "defend to the death your right to say it" hyperbole, I agree that it is overstated. Furthermore, it is true that getting dis-invited from a tech conference does not involve losing the right to say anything; nor is the state punishing speech. However, it would be an error to overlook the fact that speech is being punished.

Yarvin would have been welcome at the conference had he not revealed his racist opinions in [what was intended to be] an unrelated forum. Those opinions revealed, he was unwelcome, without (as far as I can tell) any particular reference to his actual public behaviour. So as a practical matter, if the conference's reaction should be considered normative and appropriate, he had a right to say things... unless he wanted a career.

Now, you may well wish to argue that this reaction should indeed be normative and correct. However, I am not sure that you would be as comfortable with your actual words in another context. We could be discussing this in Russia in the 1950s, for instance, and agreeing that Yarvin shouldn't have kept his jewish-sounding last name if he wanted a career, or got forbid spoken about his anti-socialist economic views.

In such a case, our circumstances would have been very different, of course, and it is incredibly easy to draw broad distinctions between counter-factual racist fantasies and failing to disguise one's ethnic background. But the mechanism is the same, and here you are stating an indifference to --- defending, even --- the mechanism.

Another commentator writes that "kicking people out of your conference hands veto power to whomever determines what racism is and when something is racist."

It seems to me that if a popular arbiter of opinion about racism could mobilize a grassroots reaction against racism as they saw it, when they saw it, and when they felt like it; and if that grassroots reaction probably would not have occurred without their instigation: under those circumstances, this assertion would come quite close to being true.

Again, this is not something peculiar to racism, or fighting against racism, or any particular political struggle at all. It is a mechanism whereby interest groups influence the direction of public discourse and policy. Yet here --- despite the certainty that there are interest groups using such tactics, somewhere in the world, whose views are pure anathema to you --- you are not actually defending the fight for social justice and inclusion; instead, you defend the mechanism.

More realistically, I do not think that you intended to even do so much as that. Your reply at first reads as an announcement of indifference and antipathy to the author's concerns. A rejection of actual argumentation or discussion, in other words. (This itself, in case you might overlook it, is rather far from an inherently virtuous sort of response.)

However, your parenthetical comment does attempt to justify the mechanism, and the comment is notable in that it specifically rejects the protection of actual minorities, instead embracing a "market" determination of right or wrong: in other words, the nature of a protected minority is to be determined by the opinion of the general majority.

A third commentator complains about a sort of reverse-racism burden, in that the "straight white male" is doubly impacted, as both the target of discrimination, and as a target of discrimination who is not a member of "a protected class." I do not think that this is a very defensible argument. However, "accept that the world isn't perfect, and feel lucky you don't have it worse" is not any better.

At risk of beating a dead horse, one must in general ask oneself if the response defends the structure or the substance of the allegedly discriminatory circumstance. I will assume you can predict my response to this as an argument defending the discriminatory structure. Insofar as the response is a defense of the substance of the circumstance, then it seems to be implicitly appealing for deference and calling for restitution, of sorts, in that a hardship should be accepted in recognition of the hardships of others. This is a very powerful and emotionally appealing argument... when made to address apparent discrimination that arises out of minority protection. The 'Why The "Safe Area" Of The [Women's/LGBT/Native] Center Is Not Discriminatory' speech would be the typical example, in my experience.

Here, it is much less appealing, and also misses the point. Reading your response literally, one should infer that any member of an identifiable group ultimately needs to accept that "the world isn't perfect" and that they will face some degree of 'oppression'; they should protest against and fight that oppression only if it is too much oppression, or too deadly. I am almost certain that this is absolutely not something that you meant to say. I suspect that you meant to convey that you thought the commentator's experienced/feared discrimination was trivial and negligible.

This would be fine, as a response, but the attempt to convert it into a self-evident, justified response on this basis is very weak, and I feel that the problem is that you are trying to do the easy thing rather than the hard thing, and to end argument or dialog rather than invite it. "You can see this playing out in video games..." really? Straight white men are falling prey to reverse discrimination in video games? I would love to hear the commentator attempt to justify this view. It would be satisfactory enough, I think, to simply end discussion by responding that "this is ridiculous unless you feel like making a cogent argument to the contrary." Instead, however, you let it slide completely: you even accept the premise. I feel that if you were not intent on justifying [reverse] discrimination (because it is reverse[1]), and instead were concerned about discrimination period, you would not have missed the opportunity to talk about what does or does not constitute discrimination --- let alone missed the fact that this is a ridiculous, indefensible imagination of what discrimination is.

Finally, the commentator who writes that "my personal opinions would get me called racist, sexist, and homophobic by Marxist standards and I was exhausted by the political mask I had to assume just to find and keep work."

Again, structure, substance, escape_goat goes on for a paragraph or two here in a now-predictable manner, let's skip to the good part... suffering.

You are responding to someone reporting a sense of alienation and mental exhaustion specifically because they had to wear a 'mask' in the workplace. Your response is that you imagine that it was a lot easier for them to wear that mask than it would be for them to change their skin color, or gender, or age.

This seems obviously true, as those are very difficult things to change. It is also true that these visible, physical qualities have created barriers in the tech industry. But it leaves begging the question of whether anyone should be required to wear a mask, and under what circumstances. Is it wrong to discriminate against co-workers on the basis of the color of their skin, but not wrong to feel uncomfortable around them if they act "too black"? Is it okay to create a "non-homophobic" environment and then fire people for revealing their sexual orientation? I am thinking that perhaps there are some circumstances where you would not find "it's easier to wear a mask" to be a satisfactory response at all. Even though, yes, it's easier to wear a mask.

Similar to the case of the third commentator, but more problematically, your response is clearly predicated against the complainant because of their (white, straight, male) identity and whatever mixture of personal emotions, political views, or what-have-you that makes someone fear that their views would be seen as racist, sexist, or homophobic by 'Marxists'.

Again, the central, crucial abstract question (should anyone feel this alienated in the workplace?) and the difficult, complicated particular questions (why does this person, as an individual, feel so alienated, and are those feelings justified; do they reflect a work environment that unknowingly makes rigid ideological demands; do they reflect mental health issues; could this person comfortably work with a black/gay/female co-worker [which of these] without 'wearing a mask'; would a black/gay/female co-worker be able to work with them; would the situation be altered by empathy training, counselling, mediation; and so on...) These go unanswered.

And this is your response to someone's actual personal suffering, so one must infer that you do not oppose discrimination because it causes human suffering. If there is a different, justifiable basis for opposing discrimination, then you should be straightforwards about that, as this would be the most crucial aspect of your response by far.

[1] An oscillatory model of discriminatory impulses resulting in the balanced distribution of prejudice floats into my mind when I say this.

"It is also true that these visible, physical qualities have created barriers in the tech industry."

I think it is rather clear that fixing the quoted issue is a far higher priority than minimizing the suffering of those who suffer the least of any of us. It is a roughly utilitarian ethical position to take, and a fairly reasonable one, I think. Is there a particular reason that prioritization of efforts must never occur? Why must we, at all times, be wary never to harm the status quo, while at the same time accepting that the status quo is unacceptable?

As I've mentioned elsewhere, my concern was with the nature of the parent comment's argument, rather than with the ideas he was seeking to defend. A utilitarian position is of course quite defensible; one could even argue for a sort of triage.

What I was interested in, however, was how facile and insufficient his counter-arguments actually were, and how scant the consideration of empathy actually was, even though he started by saying:

> All I long for is logical consistency and empathy...

I think my mini-essay would have been greatly improved if I had thought to address that directly.

This is a slippery slope fallacy. It turns out that in reality we are quite capable of allowing tech conferences to choose their presenters and to disallow presenters who have made uncomfortably racist comments without ending up at the point where it has a chilling effect on other types of speech.

I flatly deny that the process as described is capable of discernment. What happened was: speaker announced, lots of people complain, conference organiser withdraws invitation to avoid focus on "inclusion and/or presence." Note that the organiser explicitly excluded consideration of the merits of the complaints.

Now compare my invocation elsewhere in this thread of the spectre of an anti-Zionist boycott: the complaints would be of a very similar nature, including references to 'racism', the number of complainants could be quite large, particularly if there was an organised attempt to find them (there is in fact a very considerable degree of organisation for anti-Zionist boycotts), and the strength of feeling would be equally high. Therefore it is only a matter of time at this point until Israelis are prevented from attending conferences like Strange Loop, as indeed we already are in much of the world.

I note in passing that those who favour excluding Yarvin have yet actually to state their opposition to this sort of thing.

I agree with you, but one point of caution is that the NRX movement that Yarvin helped found has many avowedly anti-semitic members who see "Jews" as part of the forces that oppress them.

None of this came from Yarvin, who is Jewish, and well worth defending, but get much beyond him into the movement and you'll be supporting anti-semitism, not tolerance.

Perhaps so, but I think it is enough in the vicinity of the chilling effect line that it is worth discussing and being concerned about.

I say this specifically because it was a professional conference and such conferences are important for earning a living. If private organizations vital to earning a living voluntarily censor people for their political opinions, that is equivalent to denying careers to those people, and that is a substantial chilling effect. If it's one conference, occasionally, then sure it's a minor effect; but look at the Hollywood Red Scare and you'll see it can become a major one.

Personally I'm even more uncomfortable with forcing private organizations to ignore participant politics than I am with chilling effects, but let's not deny the chilling effect. A culture which denies professional opportunities on the basis of personal politics is lacking tolerance and diversity where it really matters: for ideas, not just skin shades and accents.

Then again, China took the opposite model and seems to be doing fine. So YMMV.

It's also the case they don't care about skin shades OR accents either.


I think you meant:

>It's also the case they don't care about skin shades OR accents, on the other hand.

"Right side of history", "moral arc of the universe", etc. seems to suggest that the people becoming uncomfortable think it's a slippery slope too.

I'd intended to concern myself entirely with why the responses in the parent comment were bad counter-arguments against the arguments/sentiments it quoted: the question of whether or not Yarvin's disinvitation might have a chilling effect on other types of speech did not even enter my head.

I'm sorry if what I wrote was unclear. I'll took another look at the first section and try to see how it ended up resembling the slippery slope fallacy you describe.

I recently helped organize a conference.

Since it is apparently not obvious to many people, I'd just like to point out that amongst conference organizers, it is an extremely common belief that your primary responsibility is to deliver a good conference experience to your conference-goers. This is not just a belief StrangeLoop holds -- it is a belief that many beloved tech conferences have (e.g., PyCon), and if you think this can't happen at your conference, you are likely in for a surprise when/if something rough happens to that venue.

In fact, this claim is stronger than you might think. This belief is prominently reflected in pretty much every decision every conference makes. People choose codes of conduct to deliberately exclude some people and certain behavior. They make you "apply" to go to their conferences so that they can hand-pick attendees to fit whatever criteria they have for their crowds (e.g., xoxo). People select talks and their speakers to fit profiles they want.

And so on.

I can name on my hand the number of people I've met who organize conferences, who believe their job is to provide a fair platform ideas. It's just not the way people seem to think.

It would be fine to ban Curtis if his talk was about his politics. It would be fine to ban him if he did not agree to abide by the code of conduct. The conference obviously does not owe him a platform to discuss his politics.

But his talk was about Urbit, not about his politics, and Urbit is a genuinely fascinating piece of technology. Even if the project fails, by studying it, I have learned a lot of ideas that I have applied to my own programming.

So there are two big issues with the ban. First, Alex made the conference worse for all those who cared about technology and not politics. Second, he's given the PC-police a scalp. This will make it much harder for anyone to write good-faith but politically incorrect critiques even under a pseudonym, for fear that it could harm career prospects in the future. And how are we supposed to correct problems in society if we cannot talk honestly about them? Most solutions to our problems are outside the Overton window - if they weren't we would have solved the problems already.

Now maybe Alex wishes to cater to the more thin-skinned in his audience, rather than the technologists. That his prerogative.

But I hope that other conference organizers do not follow suit, and I hope that true technologists in turn shun StrangeLoop for conferences that care about technology first, and instead attend conferences that refuse to ban innovators who haven't violated the code of conduct.

> But I hope that other conference organizers do not follow suit, and I hope that true technologists in turn shun StrangeLoop for conferences that care about technology first, and instead attend conferences that refuse to ban innovators who haven't violated the code of conduct.

This is precisely my point: other conferences already have followed suit, and they are not going to be shunned by the larger tech audience any time soon. A lot of important conferences would have done precisely the same thing. PyCon and xoxo to name two I know for certain.

In fact, to be honest, I'd go much further. If you polled the organizers of these conference, I think they would probably mostly say that if you are the sort of person who thinks that the moldbug affair is a great piece of injustice, you probably won't fit in at the conference they are trying to create. Fundamentally these measures are made to exclude people like you from the bunch, and shunning the conferences won't make that go away -- I actually think this is the goal.

You are right of course. From a business standpoint, Alex did the right thing and he will not suffer consequences. Other conferences have done the same and will continue to do so. This is part of a lamentable, ongoing trend. Individual action by people like me will not stop it.

My guess is, there will be consequences, and they will mostly work to Strange Loop's benefit. Strange Loop actually got marginally more interesting to me after this drama.

    > This is part of a lamentable, ongoing trend.
There is plainly nothing lamentable about a private enterprise opting out of suffering a fool a platform. This is literally the market of free ideas at work: if you hold detestable opinions, you may find yourself unwelcome in many places.

It's interesting how the people crowing "Free market in ideas! Free market in ideas!" tend to be opposed to free markets in almost any other context. How many of the people enforcing the thoughtcrime laws are self-proclaimed socialists, or Communists, or "Jacobins"?

What have you learned by reading the Urbit code? I found it impenetrable, but didn't try very hard to decode it.

It wasn't the code itself that I learned from. I have more been enriched and stimulated by reading the blog posts, documentation, hacker news threads, and mailing list. A couple of the more interesting ideas are:

* He created Nock, which in a way is bytecode language, like compiled java bytecode or the .NET CIL. But his idea was that this bytecode should be the simplest possible thing, far, far simpler than the CLR. In fact, it should be versioned in Kelvin versioning, starting at 5,000 and counting down, until it is finally perfected and will never need to change. Going forward, all consumer apps will always compile down to this bytecode. All new hardware platforms can build interpreters for this bytecode. I think that is a pretty novel and neat approach. If it caught on, it would ensure that any program we wrote now could be run for the next thousand years.

* His view is that to beat spam, you simply need to have a finite number of cryptographically secured identities. This number can be large. But if it is finite, that means accounts will not be costless, which means the market over time will be able to solve the problems of trust and filtering out spam in a way far superior to how it works today.

It's hard to do the ideas justice by trying to repeat them myself. In reading through the material it was just lots of little things, where I said to myself, "Ah, that is a neat solution to that problem, I wonder if he'll be able to make it work."

As a friend texted me this morning: "the talk on Urbit could have been dismissed on technical grounds". Perhaps it's interesting to you, but it brings very little that's new to the table in terms of research. Urbit's author, meanwhile, has had nothing but invective for people doing valuable research in the relevant sub-fields of compsci that his work touches upon. Purely from a technology perspective, this in an individual who operates in bad faith.

> "And how are we supposed to correct problems in society if we cannot talk honestly about them?"

Pick up a paper. Do you think our society lacks an ongoing discussion of the repercussions of racism? Moldbug has no place in this discussion because the views he's defending – that people of some ethnic backgrounds are subhuman and fit only for slavery – were roundly rejected by society decades ago. Including him would be pandering to a common denominator so low it barely even registers today.

> "Now maybe Alex wishes to cater to the more thin-skinned in his audience"

As I suggested to another commenter: why don't you take a look at who was asking Yarvin's dismissal on Twitter and inquire with them as to whether they would describe themselves as "thin-skinned". Better yet, try asking them in person the next time you cross paths at a tech event. It's easy to characterize the hypothetical "other" in your head. Why not test your own thick skin and look them in the eye when you call them cowards?

"As a friend texted me this morning: "the talk on Urbit could have been dismissed on technical grounds". Perhaps it's interesting to you, but it brings very little that's new to the table in terms of research."

What a crazy coincidence. This talk was accepted when nobody knew who Yarvin was, but now that you and your friends want to cast him out into the wilderness for disagreeing with your political opinions, all of a sudden you realize that the talk was technically uninteresting anyway. What are the odds, huh?

"Moldbug has no place in this discussion because the views he's defending –"

Was he going to defend those views in his technical talk? If not, what's the problem?

"Better yet, try asking them in person the next time you cross paths at a tech event."

Not going to happen, because that would be defined as "harassment" and get the asker fired. You guys have the industry locked up real tight.

the views he's defending – that people of some ethnic backgrounds are subhuman and fit only for slavery

This is a lie. Moldbug has never defended such a view, and only a willful misreading of his work could possibly lead to this conclusion.

For the curious, let's have a taste of what Moldbug has actually written on the subject [1]. Its only sin would appear to be the use of the slightly archaic (but nonpejorative [2]) term "Negro":


[T]he common meaning of racism implies the belief that ancestry is significant information in the context of common decisions about individuals.

It should be obvious that it is not. If you want to test a job applicant’s IQ, for example, give her an IQ test. Patterns of ancestry become useful only in decisions that affect large groups of humans in the aggregate. Governments, however, must often make such decisions.

Therefore, if you are an HNU [Human Neurological Uniformity] denialist and someone asks you whether you’re a racist, you can ask him if he implies the above belief, which we can call racial essentialism. (The Nazis, of course, were big essentialists.) If he says yes, tell him no. If he says no, you can tell him yes.

One also must be quite a bit more careful than Hume [quoted previously] with the words superior and inferior. This implies some quantitative ordering of overall personal worth, an idea one would expect Hume to be the last to accept. For example, consider the proposition that Jews tend to be better chess players than Negroes, whereas Negroes tend to be better dancers than Jews. Both halves of this statement may (or may not) be true, but neither can justify us in ranking the two races overall—unless our sole criterion of personal worth is either chess or dance. Which mine isn’t.

[1]: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2009/01/gentle-...

[2]: http://www.uncf.org

Urbit's author, meanwhile, has had nothing but invective for people doing valuable research in the relevant sub-fields of comp-sci that his work touches upon. Purely from a technology perspective, this in an individual who operates in bad faith.

I believe that I first found Moldbug via a post he wrote about the corruption and degeneracy in CS research: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/08/whats-w... I believe his critique to be accurate. There is nothing wrong with invective when it is true. Surely you are no stranger to invective against people who you think are in the wrong. Moldbug has always been someone who can both dish it and take it. Science and technology are moved forward via heated competition of people who are furiously working to prove that the other guy is full of crap, and that they have the true answer.

Why not test your own thick skin and look them in the eye when you call them cowards?

Thin-skinned is not a synonym for coward. Cowards say: "thank you sir, may I have another." People are thin-skinned because they think they can get their way if they make a fuss. Which they did. I have no interest in saying anything to their face, because they are strong, and I am weak.

As for the racism question...I have a proposal for you.

Can we make you dictator of an American city? Yes you, Alex Payne. We could shoot for Brooklyn, or Baltimore, or St. Louis, or even my current city of Cleveland. If you are not the imperious type, we could just take the entire Jacobin board of directors, and make them the trustees of the city, and have you guys appoint a suitable executive.

As plenary rulers, you get full power to root out racism, correct inequalities, reduce homicide rates back to what they were in 1905, restore the rotting and decaying buildings, solve the wealth gap between the sexes, the races, and the classes, once and for all. You get to reorganize the police, fix the schools, and do whatever else you think is necessary. We'll give you lots of time. How much do you need? 20 years, 30 years, 50 years? That is fine.

I'm not actually joking about this. If you want this deal, we can talk about how to make it happen. It won't happen overnight, but I think a lot on the right would actually be amenable to this. You win, we lose. We take the knee, you rule. Seriously. You're going to win any way. As you say, Curtis's views were already soundly rejected. If you're going to win, I would rather have it all above board, so that if your plans fail to restore our cities, then at least you can't blame the wreckers, you can't say that you're ideas weren't truly implemented, etc. And hey, maybe you'll succeed and that'll be awesome. Either way, it is better for everyone if we just formalize the relationship and acknowledge that you are in charge.

So what do you say?

Thanks for that link to his criticism of institutional CS, it gets me firmly into territory where I can apply the Gell-Mann Amnesia principle. Upon which I find the thesis sorely lacking, if you accept the principle as discussed in the comments that it's OK for research to be "wasteful" as long as "1%" of it turns out to be useful, especially in the long term (e.g. I do not accept that all interesting computing is going to limited to the context of the current context of the cloud and supercomputers masquerading as smart phones ("mobile"; I started my computing career in 1977, when the 90 MHz Cray 1 was the pinnacle of number crunching, although I have to confess that I don't know the 64 bit floating point performance of typical smartphone ARM CPUs)).

More specifically, his criticism of Haskell seems to be misplaced by his criteria of developing useful software, if you accept that the seL4 microkernel is useful, which I gather it is, otherwise General Dynamics et. al. are wasting money. I can't tell, it's perhaps a bit early to get a list of hardware using it, but previous L4 versions have been used in billions of Qualcomm chips and apparently all iOS devices.

And the related academic Barrelfish OS researchers seem to me to be doing something useful, and the languages they are using are C, with various bits of that generated by Haskell (e.g. hardware descriptions -> C).

It's a pity that Urbit now has no chance of greater success, the SJWs of computing going so far as to say it "has neoreactionary politics hard-coded into the network layer" (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9675512), which is obviously worse than the "monarchy" of superuser vs. user.

BTW, Urbit has neoreactionary politics hard-coded into the network layer. I don't know if that was to be discussed in this particular talk (usually the Nock/Hoon stuff is so weird people never get to the rest), but if Yarvin/Moldbug can't keep political rants out of his documentation then I think it's fair to consider the politics as part of the technology.

Hard-coded into the network layer? Not only is this not true, I can't even imagine how it could be true...

I had to dig around in the Wayback Machine since the documentation was deleted. But the gems are still there:

"When I worry about Urbit and privacy, I worry that it will create too much privacy, rather than too little. Certainly several services not too dissimilar to Urbit, such as Freenet, have become hives of digital vice - at best.

Only social and political methods, not technical tools, can fight this filth. One of the inspirations for Urbit’s political design is James C. Scott’s classic political-science text, Seeing Like a State. Urbit is not in any sense a state, but its fabric has the regularity that, according to Scott, is essential for the construction of anything like a civilized society. But of course, a basically virtuous society, in which antisocial behavior is not tolerated and easily excluded or destroyed, can only be built from virtuous users." http://web.archive.org/web/20131014210123/http://www.urbit.o...

It goes on in that vein. After re-reading that, I guess it's debatable whether Urbit's politics are neoreactionary or merely pretty socially conservative, but they're somewhere in that spectrum.

Previous related HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8579542

Well, then, obviously his writings should be ceremonially burned and he should be sent to the camps. Case closed.

True, but meaningless. Any OS that has the concept of a root or admin user with total control has monarchy hard-coded into it too.

Which is not actually meaningless. Technical features like "root user" or "wheel group of root-capable users" have political implications. From `info su` [0]:

> Sometimes a few of the users try to hold total power over all the rest. For example, in 1984, a few users at the MIT AI lab decided to seize power by changing the operator password on the Twenex system and keeping it secret from everyone else. (I was able to thwart this coup and give power back to the users by patching the kernel, but I wouldn't know how to do that in Unix.)

> However, occasionally the rulers do tell someone. Under the usual `su' mechanism, once someone learns the root password who sympathizes with the ordinary users, he or she can tell the rest. The "wheel group" feature would make this impossible, and thus cement the power of the rulers.

> I'm on the side of the masses, not that of the rulers. If you are used to supporting the bosses and sysadmins in whatever they do, you might find this idea strange at first.

— Richard Stallman

My understanding of Urbit comes mostly from this writeup on Popehat [1] and an initial foray into the documentation of Nock and Hoon. However, the impression that I get of it enabling encrypted, distributed programs, does mirror Yarvin's proposed "Patchwork" system of nation-states [2], in the same way that a single root user mirrors a monarchy, and with analogous pros and cons between the technical and political systems.

[0]: http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/4460/why-is-debian-n...

[1]: http://popehat.com/2013/12/06/nock-hoon-etc-for-non-vulcans-...

[2]: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2008/11/patchwo...

I also have my familiarity from those same sources and I do agree that it imitates his neocameralism ideas. The mistake in my argument is that I considered the single-user system where the user controls root, so you're very right. Since urbit is a distributed system, its design will have political implications. Ironically though it would give you more control than current systems, so that's kind of an argument in his favor. As far as I could tell, I didn't see any aspects of racialism or slavery in urbit.

You could probably expand on this a bit.

I have helped organize many conferences, including some that had >2000 attendees. And including conferences that had unpopular speakers.

I think it's important to understand that inviting someone to speak does not mean you endorse what they say. If that were true, if a conference held a debate on opposing views, which view should the conference be endorsing? The conference serves as the messenger, not the message.

The traditional way to handle these issues is to have a complaint procedure. Either an email address, or even someone at the event who can handle such complaints. Keep in mind, attendees are under no obligation to go to every talk, so if you want to enjoy the event, you are welcome to simply not go to the talk you don't like.

In terms of the situation in question, by virtue of this action, StrangeLoop has now become a political conference, whether they wanted to or not. I am unclear on how their speaker selection process will change going forward. If I decide to submit a talk, do I need to worry that, after I arrange all my travel and such, that I will be dis-invited because of statements I have made in an unrelated venue?

I fully support the right of a conference to select who their speakers are, but when they use criteria unrelated to their stated mission, it does change the perception of the event.

This is a perfectly sensible way to do things. The concept that a person's politics is so "evil" that their talk acceptance must be rescinded is, frankly, childish. It treats attendees like small children, who can't rationally deal with the situation of a person with opposing views.

Of course, if a person promises to speak on a technical topic, and then goes on a political rant, that's a reason to shut them down or walk out: the audience isn't getting what was expected and promised. But the mere fact of a person's unrelated political views being used to remove them from a speakers list - this is the sort of thing that you would expect from the USSR.

There are probably lots of people who need to hear this, and given the people who'll be attending and made it clear how much of a fuss they would make, it was obviously the right call to disinvite him.

I think it's still worth briefly lamenting that our culture is heading in this direction. I see more and more echoes of the worldview and tactics that ultimately killed just shy of a hundred million people or so last century, and yes, it scares me.

Do you have any thoughts you'd be disinvited via public pressure from the best conferences for having? Will you in the culture of twenty or thirty years from now? Grist for the mill.


A few things. I was not planning on getting involved in this conversation, but since dang decided to un-flag it, I'm going to leave one or two comments, but don't plan on sticking around very much. As tptacek said elsewhere in this thread, politics + HN == nightmare.

First of all, many more people complained than me. You didn't look very hard.

Second, I'm not _strictly_ a communist: I'm certainly very left-wing, and I often role-play a communist, because I think Americans need a connection to an actual left. My allegiance is ultimately to Deleuze, not Marx. To put it in terms of a meme image I saw the other day, around non-leftists, I usually use 'communist' as a shorthand, but amongst leftists, a more nuanced discussions can be had, for sure. EDIT: ahh, here we go: http://m.imgur.com/r/FULLCOMMUNISM/MLlIQAS

Finally, since you're dragging personal views into this, I'll just leave this here: http://valleywag.gawker.com/business-insider-ctos-is-your-ne...

It was relevant to the statement I was replying to: "I see more and more echoes of the worldview and tactics that ultimately killed just shy of a hundred million people or so last century, and yes, it scares me." You've labeled yourself a communist in the past, if that's not strictly accurate I stand corrected.

My personal background is well known. I'm here logged in with my real name, I'm not hiding it. I don't know how Gawker's opinion of me is exactly relevant to whether or not you're a communist but that's fine.

If there's nothing wrong with being a communist why are you acting like I've slandered you by bring your background into this? It doesn't add up.

Few quick questions:

I'm a Zionist (see my top-level post and its link.) Does that make me unacceptably racist, in your view? I know Deleuze thought Zionism was a racist ideology.

Given that, in a conference as large as Strange Loop, there are undoubtedly people who do think Zionism is a proper subset of racism, would you support them in a call to have me excluded from that conference?

If not, what exactly about either my views or those people's intensity of repugnance for them is insufficient to get me kicked? If so, then as there are by far more racists of the Zionist stripe likely to attend, shouldn't you be looking into that? Why aren't you?

I'm not sure how this is a fair question to ask Klabnik, since the issue in Yarvin's case isn't whether somewhat obscure namedropped French philosophers think his views are racist. Edit: It seems to me like there's no controversy about whether Yarvin's views are racist; it's barely controversial to suggest that he's a white supremacist (if that's something he wants to distance himself from, he's done himself no favors by overtly nodding to white nationalism in his own writing).

I'd also suggest you keep in mind that Urbit is, as technical ideas go, both marginally impactful (at least today), and extraordinarily idiosyncratic (see: the Nock ASCII pronunciation guide).

It is not remotely unreasonable for conference organizers barely acquainted with Urbit to be concerned that Yarvin's strident philosophical views might be entwined with his technical ideas, which one could fairly argue are --- unlike his politics --- obscurantist. If Urbit was more important, I'd understand more about the controversy. But this doesn't seem like a difficult call.

if that's something he wants to distance himself from, he's done himself no favors by overtly nodding to white nationalism in his own writing

This is incredibly misleading. Replace "overtly nodding" with explicitly disavowing: the post in question is literally called "Why I am not a white nationalist" [1]. And that's not "people have accused me of being a white nationalist, here's why I'm not", it's "here's why I don't believe this thing I find wrong." Oh, and here's what he has to say about racist blogs:

(The Internet is also home to many out-and-out racist blogs. Most are simply unreadable. But some are hosted by relatively capable writers, such as "The Uhuru Guru" or "Big Effer." On these racist blogs you'll find racial epithets, anti-Semitism (see why I am not an anti-Semite) and the like. Obviously, I cannot recommend any of these blogs, and nor will I link to them. However, if you are interested in the mind of the modern racist, Google will get you there.)

Does that sound like the writing of a racist to you?

[1]: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/11/why-i-a...

He clearly is not a fan of the modern racist. That's unsurprising, because (thankfully) the educated sector of our culture has turned it into a taboo, and so to be a modern racist is for most people to be the sort of yutz who writes things on Stormfront.

He sure does seem to have a finely-tuned appreciation of archaic racists, though.

I feel like --- maybe I've misinterpreted the whole piece, but this is what I think right now --- the misrepresentation here is yours. You lean on the title of the post, "Why I Am Not A White Nationalist", but if you've read it, I'll hazard a guess that in your heart you'd agree that it could be subtitled "But Not NOT One, Either".

I have read it. I don't find "But Not NOT One, Either" to be an accurate characterization. Basically, Moldbug's position is that white nationalists include lots of vile racists, but that by itself doesn't mean they're wrong about everything, and we should evaluate such ideas critically if we want to actually solve the problems they identify (which in fact many progressives would identify as well, though the phrasing and emphasis usually differ substantially). Some quotes:

Of course, I am not a white nationalist. I am not arguing that you should be a white nationalist. I am just suggesting that there are many bad reasons not to be a white nationalist.


So why am I not a white nationalist?

I am not a white nationalist because I don't find white nationalism useful or effective. I don't feel it helps me accurately perceive reality. In fact, I think it distorts reality. And I believe white nationalism is a very ineffective political device for solving the very real problems about which it complains.

Your choices of what to quote are telling. For instance, one of those quotes is preceded by a lengthy (and thinly veiled) Derbyshire-esque description of black people as social ill. Shortly after it, we have these cheerful grafs:

This is the trouble with white nationalism. It is strategically barren. It offers no effective political program. You can be as smart as you want and think about white nationalism forever, and you will not come up with any productive strategy for collective action, white or otherwise.

At its best, white nationalism offers a sensible description of a general problem. [em mine] This problem certainly exists, and it falls under the larger category of bad government. (If allowing the old cities of North America to be overrun and rendered largely uninhabitable by murderous racist gangs isn't bad government, really, I'm not sure what is.)

He's not a white nationalist. He's something else.

There's also the historical context of this post, which is William Saletan's idiotic Slate posts about rational IQ variation.

I think a reader of this thread can understand why I'd say that it's you who were being misleading. I feel like that was probably unintentional on your part, because if you were trying to mount a careful bad-faith defense of Yarvin's writing, you probably wouldn't write things that would beg people to further quote it.

"There's also the historical context of this post, which is William Saletan's idiotic Slate posts about rational IQ variation."

When I first read that Saletan post I found it pretty convincing. And when I did much more follow-up reading, reading lots of books and journal articles from all sides, it seemed like the preponderance of the evidence is on the side of there being significant ethnic based variation. For example - https://liberalbiorealism.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/the-likel... and his other posts, or https://jaymans.wordpress.com/jaymans-race-inheritance-and-i...

You seem like a smart and open minded person. Why did you find Saletan's posts idiotic? I'm genuinely interested in your opinion. Don't answer in this thread though, email me at the address in my profile. You're writing under your real name, and in the possibility that I convince you, I don't want you to get purged.

There is no possibility that you will convince me, and so I think that particular discussion is not a good use of either of our time. No part of the obstacle you'd face in trying involves other people's opinions of me; I feel very comfortable with the subsets of people that incline towards and against taking me seriously.

If it helps, you can think of my opposition to the notion that blacks are somehow intellectually inferior to whites as religious, and you might just as productively spend your time trying to convert me to Zoroastrianism.

There is no possibility that you will convince me

Is there any possible evidence, any possible information, that could convince you that genes for IQ were not equally distributed among the races?

For my sake, there would be plenty of possible information that would convince me of the idea of neurological uniformity across ethnic groups, for example: studies of cross-racial adoption that showed the gap being erased, the existence of at least one black nation or city turning into Taiwan or Singapore, a closing of the gap in IQ tests, etc, etc.

If I can be convinced by evidence, but you cannot be convinced by evidence, then it is you who has a religious belief, and not me.

His admission really is incredibly revealing, and refreshingly, even depressingly honest. He's literally saying no amount of reason or evidence could change his mind on a matter that is obviously (in principle) falsifiable. I think it's safe to say that, so far as full contact with reality is concerned, he is a lost cause.

To what ends would you change his mind on this issue? For Internet points, or for a greater good? I don't begrudge anyone with a religious devotion to the other view in this particular matter, if only because we have "known" wrong facts before, based on evidence that appeared to be sound and was considered to be incontrovertible at the time. And even true facts based on sound evidence are not always absolute, or unalterable. You just want it on record, or what?

To what ends would you change his mind on this issue? For Internet points, or for a greater good?

The "gap" between the races on matters such as income, education achievement, or the demographics of Google engineers is a source of constant handwringing.

There are two explanations that are publicly admissible:

1) You can slander and libel white people and blame racism 2) You can slander and libel black people and say it's because of "black culture", because black parents don't tell their kids to do well in school

If you take a third position, the position that thousands of years of evolving in different environments and civilization complexity levels meant that there is a different statistical distribution in different traits, which means there is a different

This third position blames no one, yet the holders of this position are called bigots and are banned from conferences if they even mention this view under a pseudonym in an unrelated context. I confronted tptacek, because he is a person that I have up until now respected, yet he called Saletan an idiot for holding this third position. So I was interested in why tptacek called Saletan an idiot, and I was also interested in the more general problem of how to convince reasonable people to stop slandering black people or slandering white people on the issue of the gap between the races.

William Saletan does not hold that position. He apologized for the series of columns he wrote, and acknowledged that he sourced them poorly. To argue that he agrees with you today requires you to argue that he wrote dishonestly. Were that the case, I'd have no reason to believe anything he wrote was in good faith. As it stands, the simplest explanation was: he was writing discursively, as an essayist; his ideas seemed good at the time; he was corrected; he changed his mind.

I also didn't call Saletan an idiot, obviously.

OK, apologies for the misquote. Let me apply a patch to replace "yet he called Saletan an idiot for holding this third position" with "yet he called an article idiotic that provided supporting evidence for this position." The gist of my comment still stands.

"He apologized for the series of columns he wrote, and acknowledged that he sourced them poorly"

Are you referring to this article? http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_natur... I read this as him downplaying the certainty of the genetic hypothesis, in order to get the heat off his back. It is pretty obvious he is scared at getting purged: "I don't want this role...You'll have to judge the evidence for yourself." It is not obvious that he changed his mind. And he apologizes for not disclosing Rushton's associations, not for citing Ruston. He doesn't make any claims that Rushton's studies were bad science that should not be cited. Again, sounds like non-apology apology to get the heat off his back. But I can't peer into Saletan's soul so I don't know.

I don't actually think Saletan's article is a great article. I'm lukewarm on how accurate Rushton's stuff is; I think other evidence for the hypothesis that Saletan leaves out is actually more compelling. But I don't think the article is idiotic either.

If your argument requires us to stipulate that Saletan wrote something dishonestly, I'm not sure why I have to concede that the apology was the dishonest bit. Let's just conclude then that he's entirely untrustworthy and move on.

I'm not sure I would call it honest. It's what non-anonymous folk have to say to avoid being excommunicated. Hey, for all I know, you and he are actually the same person on two different sides of the anonymity wall.

>If I can be convinced by evidence, but you cannot be convinced by evidence, then it is you who has a religious belief, and not me.

He just stated that his belief is religious...

(Well, he didn't state that exactly, but he did state that you may as well treat it as such.)

Oh, I think you're right, I parsed his comment incorrectly.

The funniest part about this is that you quote "If allowing the old cities of North America to be overrun and rendered largely uninhabitable by murderous racist gangs isn't bad government, really, I'm not sure what is." as prima facie evidence that Yarvin is unfit for polite society, while apparently living in a city where 38 people were shot last weekend (and over 1000 so far this year) by the same racist gangs he speaks of.

The overwhelming majority of violence in Chicago is gang violence between predominantly African American gangs, confined to poor neighborhoods that are the direct product of segregation, redlining, and "white flight". That's not a reaching analysis and it isn't "SJW"-speak; it is the clear, documented history of the city of Chicago.

So, two responses to your weird comment.

First: it's false that Chicago gangs are "racist". They aren't hunting down white people. They're hunting down rival gangs. They do that because they are, for the most part, teenagers locked in a vicious cycle of poverty and a total lack of opportunity.

Second: it's extremely sad if from these circumstances you've managed, like Yarvin seems to have, to draw a conclusion about the inferiority of African Americans.

I don't know you, but I feel like I've seen your name around HN for awhile now, and I hadn't had any reason to attach "racially prejudiced" to what little metadata I store about you. I'm hoping instead that I've just misread you. But "racist gangs" is a term you chose to use, which is disquieting.

I didn't say that they are hunting down white people. But it is inarguable that gangs in America (whether Crips, Bloods, Mafia, Russian-, MS-13, Irish, the Aryan Brotherhood, or otherwise) are organized along racial/ethnic lines. I would argue that violent street gangs are much more racist than software engineers are sexist, for example; but if I were to say "It is false that there is a sexism problem in tech" you would probably strongly disagree.

You just said that 38 people died last weekend in Chicago at the hands of racist gangs. But all 38 of those people were probably of the same ethnicity as the gangs. I don't understand what evidence you have to build an argument that they're "racist" on.

There is sure as shit some racism tied up in gang violence, but it isn't the kind of racism Yarvin wants to talk about. He'd apparently rather talk at excruciating length about the racism of gang members.

I also think maybe you and I just shouldn't discuss this issue.

It's important to consider the audience of this blog post.

Many of the readers may in fact be white nationalists looking to Moldbug for justification for their ideals, and I'd speculate the post is written how it is because it's just not helpful to tell them their concerns are flat-out invalid.

I am not here to defend this position, I am simply here to say I find it to be something other than indefensible.

If you read more broadly about "neo-reactionism", it's not hard to reach the conclusion that white supremacy --- or some intellectual abstraction isomorphic to it --- is one of its defining features. They're like the Non-Threatening Boys Magazine version of white power.

it's not hard to reach the conclusion that white supremacy --- or some intellectual abstraction isomorphic to it --- is one of its defining features

On the contrary, it's impossible to reach that conclusion if you read even cursorily. For example, neoreactionaries generally accept the results of mainstream academic studies concluding that Chinese are on average more intelligent than Europeans, and that European Jews are on average more intelligent than European Gentiles. These are not views traditionally associated with "white supremacy," to say the least.

P.S. +1 for the reference to one of my favorite sly Simpson's jokes.

+1 for retention of humor in a pretty dreary discussion.

When one writes "X is a racist" (or "white nationalist", or something like this, or something that essentially means that), a reader would certainly assume that you're talking about modern and commonly known representatives of this class. If after that you have to qualify - no, I didn't mean the common meaning of that word but I meant some arcane and archaic meaning that is not immediately obvious but means something different that I could define if I was called on it - I think you own the misinterpretation. If you used the non-obvious meaning, you should explicitly state that, since you know there is an obvious meaning which would completely overwhelm any other meaning.

I assure you that the racism of, for example, Yitzhak Herzog (who heads Israel's main centre-left party), is as obvious to the ideological opponents of Zionism as Yarvin's is to you. If you doubt me, ask them.

It should be clear from my other comments that I am concerned with the principle of excluding people from apolitical fora on the grounds of racism alone. How justified or controversial it is to call someone a racist fails to engage the argument that it's a social evil to apply that test.

As to the technical value of Urbit itself, having passed a process explicitly designed to support neutral evaluation (blind review and ranking) it's unfair to start picking holes. (One thing I saw was a bit of point-and-laugh at the style of the C code used to implement it, which frankly is no worse or different than I've seen used in some more obscure languages like False, for example.)

If I Google your name, am I going to find a very well known blog in which you repeatedly and at length argue about the inferiority of Palestinians as a race? No? Then, again, not sure what your Zionism point has to do with anything.

Strange Loop has a blind review system?

I'm going to start repeating myself if I get into your first paragraph, and no offence but I'd rather hear what Klabnik has to say. If that's unfair then let it be unfair.

Strange Loop has a two/three phase system, in which applications are blind-ranked, a panel takes the top ranked applications and further filters them based on 'softer' criteria (which may include demographic ones) and the final say is Alex Miller's. That at least is what I gathered from reading the blog about how talks are selected, and also from reading people on twitter discussing how Urbit got by them in the blind review stage.

In any case, it is way past my bed-time after this HN outage.

Sorry about that. It annoys me when people do that to me too.

Thank you, seriously. And good night.

There was a way to point out that Klabnik's politics may conflict him out of this debate, but calling him a "proud communist" wasn't it. Personal attacks aren't allowed on HN. Sometimes the line between personal attack and ideological critique is blurry. The closer you get to that line here, the more carefully you need to write.

If CY's writing on Carlyle is relevant, why is noting that SK lobbies for more programmers to integrate Marx and other left-radical writers beyond reproach? http://blog.steveklabnik.com/posts/2011-12-15-marx-anarchism...

It isn't. The manner in which it was evoked in the above comment was rude and dismissive, and that's the problem.

Incidentally, I'm irritated by Klabnik's politics. But I don't find them disqualifying. I am not so sure about Yarvin's. Can I reliably articulate why I think that's fair? No, I don't think so. And I can live with that.

"Which opinions are disqualifying and should be no platformed? Don't worry, I know them when I see them."

That's comforting.

I understand what you're saying and I can live with your discomfort.

I can live with his discomfort too (tbh), but the fact remains a lot of people are saying "Urbit is finished as a project after this" and they may be right; but even if Yarvin is a huge racist and deserves to be no-platformed (which, at least to my satisfaction, is not established), Urbit is now bigger than him, and it has been for near two years.

There are other contributors and they are tangibly harmed by this action, now and in the future. I think they will get over it. But I would guesstimate that overwhelmingly most of them are not interested in Moldbug or his politics, and they (we?) are also casualties of this shitstorm.

Please don't forget about it.

What does "no-platformed" mean? Invitation to a private conference is not like academic tenure. It's done at the pleasure of the conference organizers. This one chose not to open their venue to Yarvin. Even Yarvin doesn't seem too alarmed.

I think a lot of this is just people want their drama fix.

(There's a different pathology that makes me want to write about it. I'm aware, it doesn't need to be pointed out, but thanks in advance.)

I am talking about SK, who has never attended strangeloop and admits he did not have any plans to go this year either, who was literally shouting "no platform for fascists" from his twitter account in the immediate time prior to the publicizing of the news of un-invitation.

That's what it means. Not just him, of course, but por ejemplo, and since you asked. If we ever do see Curtis invited to speak at any more conferences, I think we can also expect a repeat performance from the internet mobs.

If that's true, that wasn't a great thing for him to have done.

Later: a cursory look at Klabnik's feed suggests it's likely to be true. Again: not a great thing for Klabnik to have done.

I said that I have not been to Strangeloop before, but that's because it's scheduled during the busiest conference weekend of the year, and I historically always have conflicts. This year, I have a conference that overlaps the first day, and am trying to decide if I can make it work.

I am not upset. The Urbit folks have hit the repos with renewed vigor, and more people are talking Urbit on Twitter this week than in the 10-20 prior weeks combined. If you're pleased with the outcome too, then we're both glad.


Personal attacks are unwelcome on HN. I think I actually agree with the substance of your argument, but you made it repellent by phrasing it that way.

The manner that SK evoked CY's politics has not only been rude but literally dismissive - resulting in the cancellation of an interesting technical talk.

This boils down to personal politics - I only see one camp forcibly silencing another.

Klabnik in that post seems to be advocating anarchism, which Marx struggled for decades to expunge from the socialist movement. I'm not that familiar with Klabnik's politics, but having skimmed that piece I would be surprised to learn he was actually Communist.

Klabnik says the simple, one word definition of himself is "communist", although in detail it's more nuanced.

Moldbug explicitly disavows fascism, yet here we are. If we're going to split hairs we need to be consistent.

I obviously can't see the original comment. But though being labelled a communist might be like calling someone a nazi in general American culture, some people freely identify as such. Klabnik doesn't seem to have a problem with that name, in fact.

Isn't Urbit named for the Mencius Moldbug blog, whose writer repeatedly refers to same as "UR"?

How distinct is Urbit and Yarvin from the advocacy of the Moldbug UR blog?

The association between Yarvin and that blog isn't exactly cryptic; for instance, Yarvin has given somewhat recent video-recorded talks espousing many of the same ideas as the blog, purposefully and in some depth.

Is it possible that the most boring interpretation of facts is once again correct? That Urbit itself is a relatively obscure project with very few users and was accepted to Strange Loop as a sort of, "huh, interesting" kind of thing, by a panel not fully acquainted with "Moldbug"? And that once they were more fully informed of what Yarvin stands for, the costs of giving him a stage outweighed the benefits?

Talk proposals aren't binary things. Program committees weigh pros and cons for most submissions. Some of them are so clearly important that they'd get in no matter how outre' their authors politics are. But it seems like it'd take some retconning to suggest that Urbit is that kind of subject.

Sorry, but no. urbit, from the Latin urbs == city, is actually a good bit older than UR.

The initials are somehow very compelling - another couple of great literary UR blogs are the Unz Review (unz.com) and Uncouth Reflections (uncouthreflections.com).

I will admit that urbit has very few users, as technically we're really not launched at all. We were thinking Strange Loop might be a good place for this, but I guess not.

I stand corrected about the name.

Here's an honest summary of what I think:

I find it very easy to see the importance of a serious general-purpose overlay network, since I think that's the future of the Internet, so much so that I think something like Urbit will make IPv6 irrelevant. I'm philosophically inclined to appreciate that work.

I find that the programming model you've attached to it --- the Nock/Hoon stuff --- makes it easy to dismiss the work. I think you winkingly acknowledge and encourage that (for instance: the new pronunciation of ASCII characters), but don't really know why.

The combination of relentless idiosyncrasy, world-building ambition, and your many tens of thousands of words of (to me) odious philosophical writing leaves me in a place where I can empathize with the dilemma you'd post to a conference organizer. Your defenders on this thread seem to take it as an axiom that you'd just get up on stage, explain why you decided to code in line noise instead of Lisp, and talk about our beautiful overlay network future. I'd like to see that talk, too. But I don't think that's actually an axiom. It's seems just as likely that you'd use your network design as a launching point for a 5 minute digression on the evils of democracy.

Later: I just want to be clear that I'm writing for the thread, not directly to you. I don't know which if any of these points you even disagree with.

Yarvin has had at least one other talk (that I know of) about Urbit, and he did not so much as mention anything non-technical. I don't see what grounds you have to assume such a thing about him without any prior evidence of such behaviour having occurred previously.

If you'll read a little more carefully, you'll see that what I'm doing is not making assumptions about what he'd talk about. What you're arguing is that I should make an assumption.

If you'll read a little more carefully, you'll see that what I'm doing is not making assumptions about what he'd talk about

There is a common fallacy whereby people assume that "unknown odds" should be estimated as having a 50% chance of occurring. Your phrase "it seems just as likely" could easily be interpreted to mean that you think there is a 50:50 chance that Yarvin would ignore the tech and speak instead about his political views. Were you to believe this, you'd be making a fairly strong assumption.

I don't think this is what you meant, but I think it's a reasonable reading of your words as written. For the respondent to politely point out that Yarvin stuck to the technical details in a previous talk is constructively responsive to this reading.

If a reader doesn't interpret something you've written in the way you intended it's possible (but not "just as likely") that the reader is not the one at fault. Telling them to "read a little more carefully" is being unnecessarily rude to someone who was contributing useful information.

I want to personally thank you and your ilk for being such shallow morons that you felt excluding Mr. Yarvin from this conference was a bright idea. What an incredibly foolish mistake for you...and a lucky turn of events for humanity.

I bet you actually think "your team" won something just now. But the only thing you've done is ensured you go down in history as the immature fuckwits you sadly are.

I'm OVERJOYED that you are personally too stupid to understand what his code is good for. This guy is like a gold coin laying on the sidewalk, being constantly trampled underfoot, which nobody is smart enough to bend down and pick up.

Without y'all making him into a martyr, we'd likely have never heard of him, or his project....and the future might have been a very different place. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being an unimaginative, clueless, self-absorbed asshat.

We just so happen to have a use for his invention that will make him a multi-millionaire in short order. You'll be reading about Mr. Yarvin in the magazines in a few years.

You may want to reflect on what is so seriously wrong with your way of thinking about the world that it causes you to fail, time and time again, to appreciate and respect genius when you see it.

Could it be your massively overinflated ego and sense of self-worth?

Maybe you're not the special little shit you've always imagined yourself to be.

Could it be because you have spent your entire life searching for something to be pissed off and offended about, and thinking of about how you can rank up in society and step on others to do it?

Maybe it's because you're busy doing anything and everything but what the geniuses are doing: studying technology, and thinking new thoughts.

How many new words and concepts have YOU invented, you judgmental prick?

Nathan Klein

(Remember that name.)

On behalf of my entire ilk, or what parts of it I have not yet pickled with whiskey, thank you for the kind words.

I thought many of the words in urbit were inspired by a story by Jorge Luis Borges?

It's too bad cause I think urbit it super-interesting, and even the weirdness surrounding the blogs (I came across later) were also super-interesting (but I don't agree with most of those, it was like curiosity-interesting).

I think the tech-conference should have taken the chance, though. Because it is (thought) provoking.

Just so people don't think there's no third way to think about your work: I get nothing but snake oil vibes from Urbit, but loved the blog, which, among other things, was the venerable art form of Usenet trolling taken to utter perfection.

"Just so people don't think there's no third way to think about your work:"

What follows don't really resemble "thoughts." Maybe the word does not mean what you think it means.

I have at least attempted to be _very_ clear that I do not begrudge the organizers of this conference for exactly the reason that you say. Your 'boring interpretation' lines up with my understanding of the situation.

As has been said many times in this thread, Yarvin is free to say what he believes, and I am free to say what I believe, and organizers are allowed to do what they want. This is how a free market of ideas is supposed to work.

It seems fair to point out that this turn of events seems highly compatible with Yarvin's own worldview.

As, I would imagine, the professed beliefs of many on HN, yet here we are.

When it comes to reactionary beliefs, there is a significant contingent on this site that believes one ought to be able to hold them publically with no consequences in any other space. This happened with that Mozilla CEO that resigned, the scientist who wore the shirt with scantily clad women on it, and a number of other situations where the privileged paid nominal costs for their mistakes. It is very upsetting to a subset of our fellow hners that you can't express antisocial ideas consequence-free.

"Nominal consequences"?!! Eich lost his job. The scientist was forced to make a tearful apology on national television on what should have been the proudest day of his life. Would you be comfortable with losing your job and being humiliated world-wide because some mob was offended at you? If not, why not?

Not that it matters, but you palmed a card there by equating holding the same position on gay marriage as Barack Obama in 2008, or wearing a tacky bowling shirt, as "reactionary." It kind of seems like anything which disagrees with a microscopic sliver of online activists is reactionary now.

Eich didn't just hold the same nominal position on marriage, though. He donated a large sum of money to actively (and successfully for a time) strip his coworkers of their legal rights. Not only did his position on marriage not change, but he expressed no regret over the actual, tangible harm that he helped to cause to his numerous gay and lesbian coworkers. It doesn't sound quite as soft when you put it that way.

There was no big ruckus when he was the CTO for the Mozilla Foundation, either. But when you become the CEO of an organization, you become its public face in many ways. And he had some baggage, there. Like it or not, many corporate CEOs are held to different standards of public discourse by their employers, because companies generally don't want to risk alienating consumers.

Now, I don't know that it was right for him to lose his job. That was probably the wrong thing to happen at this point in time. I have big problems with companies being able to exercise control over people's expression of their political beliefs and actions. I feel bad for him losing the position, I really do. On the other hand, if he was not going to be able to effectively run the foundation and there were schisms forming in the community that's so essential to the continuation of the foundation's work...what are you, as Mozilla, to do?

I mean, if you had a corporate leader who came out publicly and said, "I don't think mixed race couples should be allowed to marry," she or he probably would not last much longer in that position. And I'll bet most people would not have much of a problem. In fact, I don't have to bet about a situation like that — nobody shed too many tears for Donald Sterling.

It's a complicated issue. I'd strongly suggest reading (or listening) to the things that Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan (both gay writers with very different political bents) had to say afterwards. Savage pointed out, very interestingly, that this ouster, while pinned on the "gay mafia", was really something that came from other large tech companies, from online journalistic enterprises, and from inside Mozilla itself. It may just be the first pang of society saying, "Bigotry against gay people is not socially acceptable, just like many other forms of bigotry." Again, like it or not, society does this all the time. See, again, Donald Sterling for a case study in it.

At the time Eich made his financial contribution to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, there was no legal right for gay people to marry in California, so saying that he "stripped his coworkers of their legal rights" is a gross exaggeration of the effect of a perfectly legal, and at the time mainstream campaign contribution (Eich's position on gay marriage was the same as Obama's at the time).

He also apologized repeatedly for offending his coworkers, so it's incorrect to say he "expressed no regret."

In fact, I think the vilification of Eich neatly demonstrates why Proposition 8 won at the ballot box. Religious people were frightened that their religious beliefs would first be rebranded as bigotry, which would then give their ideological opponents the opportunity to punish them. The fate of Eich seems to confirm these fears.

"On the other hand, if he was not going to be able to effectively run the foundation and there were schisms forming in the community that's so essential to the continuation of the foundation's work...what are you, as Mozilla, to do?"

We hear this a lot, but I have to wonder to what extent the schisms would have formed if Mozilla had firmly said that people's political views outside of the workplace are irrelevant, rather than looking weak at the first breath of complaint.

I do agree with you that society does this all the time but many of the things society does are counterproductive, and this is little different. Is Mozilla stronger now that it's made clear that it views half the population of the United States as an active enemy, purely on the basis of their political views?

I know that on the right, in the forums I follow, Mozilla has lost a lot of mind share and usage, pushing people to Chrome or Pale Moon (a Firefox respin that I was already using because stock Firefox became too slow on Debian wheezy). Firefox certainly isn't doing well in the browser market share reports I hear of.

I use Firefox, because it's the only browser which fits my requirements. I hate this piece of shit, and wish all the developers to drown in a vat of acid.

"Lost his job." Boo hoo, he's still insanely rich, and could probably get a job anywhere less progressive and public than Mozilla. Also, no public indication that he was compelled to leave, although I'll grant you there's a better than even chance that that was the case.

"Forced to make a tearful apology" Rather say that he made a tearful apology, because he regretted his wrong action and felt apologetic. Or, if you have access to some sort of privileged information and actually know that he was forced, I've got another rejoinder: forced to apologize!? No! The humanity.


Where'd you get the idea that Eich is insanely rich? http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything...

Being disinvited from a conference after a writing career that left you most notable for your politics is not the same as being removed from your job over a political position that people had to do research to discover.

I didn't mean to convey that I thought they were the same. Related, though.

"It is very upsetting to a subset of our fellow hners that you can't express antisocial ideas consequence-free."

Those who would say that are enemies of intellectual life. Can you safely express ideas outside the Overton Window, for curiosity's sake, on your own time? No, they shout in unison!

But now, for any intellectual worthy of the name, the Overton Window is narrow and constraining. If you fancy yourself an intellectual and you think that the present Overton Window is a big enough sandbox to play in, you are not very much of an intellectual. If noting (for instance) that different people are different is outside of the Overton Window, the sandbox is tiny indeed.

When -isms start getting thrown around people stop making decisions based on their own beliefs and start doing so out of fear. That isn't the free market of ideas at work.

"Free market of ideas" seems like one of those things that means whatever the person who invokes it wants it to mean.

s/market of ideas//

Booting out Moldbug makes sense as long as we boot out any avowed communists or Marxists as well. Those philosophies led directly to the deaths of tens of millions in the past century, so any reasonable person should find them highly offensive.

While I won't like this approach on intellectual grounds ("fruit of the poisoned tree" type of reasoning), I completely agree that it would at least show some integrity.

And people are free to criticize the conference organizers.

You have argued to suppress Yarvin's ideas in one realm based on his unrelated ideas in another realm.

This is emphatically not how the free market of ideas is supposed to work.

>This is emphatically not how the free market of ideas is supposed to work.

I don't think you appreciate what the "free" in "free market" refers to...

Could you provide links to those talks?

Below you commented that you hadn't put much effort into understanding Urbit, but here you're evaluating its technical value.

No, I said I was faintly acquainted with Urbit's code --- meaning, I've read through it, but hadn't retained much. How familiar are you with that code?

It is germane to point out that it isn't simply "political" writing or blogging. Moldbug has several essays that are explicitly racist, and though he would no doubt dispute the relationship, the vocabulary and arguments he uses are virtually the same as those of modern Nazis.

Strangeloop, in the past, has explicitly tried to foster a minority-friendly environment. Many of the other speakers are from minority groups. It's easy to see that having a speaker with Moldbug's history would do irreparable damage to what Alex has been trying to do.

You can still disagree with the decision, but that at least is the context in which it was made. It isn't just that he's politically conservative or holds to some unusual opinion - he has literally written that several of his co-speakers are genetically more fit to be slaves while he, a white male, is genetically designed to be a master.

I don't blame Alex for wanting to avoid that dynamic at his conference.

Call it "culture fit", if you must. Can't he have the culture he wants at his conference?

Personally I'm cool with conferences banning out-of-the-closet racists from speaking. I guess that makes me the minority on HN. /shrug. So be it.

Could you provide citations for those posts? This is the first I have heard of either Curtis or Moldbug, and I'm having trouble seeing the connection you're drawing. However, it seems to be the consensus. [edit: I see that there are secondary sources — but I'm curious about a primary source. Shouldn't that be the most important?]


Relevant obnoxious quote, in a sea of drivel:

  In all these relationships, the structure of obligation is the same. The subject, serf, or slave is obliged to obey the government, lord, or master, and work for the benefit of same. In return, the government, lord or master must care for and guide the subject, serf, or slave. We see these same relationship parameters emerging whether the relationship of domination originates as a hereditary obligation, or as a voluntary obligation, or in a state outside law such as the state of the newly captured prisoner (the traditional origin of slave status in most eras). This is a pretty good clue that this structure is one to which humans are biologically adapted.

  Not all humans are born the same, of course, and the innate character and intelligence of some is more suited to mastery than slavery. For others, it is more suited to slavery. And others still are badly suited to either. These characteristics can be expected to group differently in human populations of different origins. Thus, Spaniards and Englishmen in the Americas in the 17th and earlier centuries, whose sense of political correctness was negligible, found that Africans tended to make good slaves and Indians did not. This broad pattern of observation is most parsimoniously explained by genetic differences.

"He has literally written that several of his co-speakers are genetically more fit to be slaves while he, a white male, is genetically designed to be a master."

Certainly a powerful use of the word literally.

Frankly, I'm actually considering recanting. Who wouldn't rather be Galileo than Giordano Bruno? But recanting is a serious matter - it's the sort of thing you need to get right the first time.

To appear at future conferences without my fellow speakers worrying that I'll enslave them or kick off Holocaust 2.0, it'd be ideal if someone can tell me what I have to believe. I'm guessing it's either:

(a) all human beings are born with identical talents and inclinations.

(b) human beings may be born with different talents and inclinations, but these talents and inclinations are distributed identically across all living populations.

Let's face it, Strange Loop is an awesome conference - there's a reason I applied. And I think Alex's decision is totally understandable for practical reasons, as someone downthread explains. If there's a chance of being invited back next year, I could totally go for (b). But if it has to be (a), I might still be all "e pur si muove" and stuff.

> I'm guessing it's either:

> (a) all human beings are born with identical talents and inclinations.

> (b) human beings may be born with different talents and inclinations, but these talents and inclinations are distributed identically across all living populations.

Or: (c) The inter-group variation in the talents and inclinations of human beings is completely dominated by the intra-group variation.

In other words, "living populations" (= ethnic groups) don't matter. You'll have (e.g.) smart and dumb people in every group, and everything else is noise.

I'm not sure how a reasonable person could choose hypothesis (b) over (c), given the long history of hypothesis (b) proponents trying (and failing) to make the math work out for them.

I think if you read (b) again, you'll see that it's exactly the same hypothesis as your (c).

As a disinterested (in both senses of the word) outside observer, I'd point out that while his (c) is pretty much the same as (b), sans the editorializing it's in no way incompatible with any of the previously mentioned Yarvin/Moldbug quotes.

Take, for example, the statement "America is richer than Mexico." By which is meant, "on average, Americans are richer than Mexicans." Someone else could say: "But there are plenty of homeless people in America, and Carlos Slim is the richest man in the world! There are vastly greater internal differences in wealth within America and Mexico than the difference between the two countries' averages."

Perfectly true. But, it doesn't then logically follow that America and Mexico must not differ in terms of average wealth, or that the difference in average wealth between the two countries is irrelevant or less relevant than their internal inequality.

This is exactly right. Unfortunately, the fallacy—often called Lewontin's Fallacy [1], after the Harvard biologist who most famously committed it—seems nigh ineradicable. Perhaps there should be some sort of Godwin's Law for it: "As an online discussion of human biological differences grows longer, the probability of someone committing Lewontin's Fallacy approaches 1."

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Genetic_Diversity:_Lewon...

But you've got to be careful not to make the mistake of incorrectly accusing someone of committing Lewontin's fallacy. Saying that race isn't real is clearly wrong, in the sense that people reliably fit into racial categories.

On the other hand, the other claim (race has no discernible effect on behaviour) isn't fallacious (at least if Lewontin's results are accurate). If there is much greater variance within populations than between them, then it is foolish to make decisions about people based on their race, as it gives very little information about them.

If there is much greater variance within populations than between them, then it is foolish to make decisions about people based on their race, as it gives very little information about them.

All you say is true, but it won't necessarily save you from the Thought Police. For example, the variation in strength within male and female populations is bigger than the variation between them. It may therefore be foolish to make decisions based on gender rather than on strength when hiring, say, dockworkers. But when people complain about how few female dockworkers there are, what will you tell them? Mutatis mutandis.

I don't have anything to add to this thread except to say that this is a gracious response and thank you for chiming in even while being at the center of controversy.

I don't normally get involved in these types of discussions on the Internet, but I met you when you presented Urbit in SF a couple years ago, and thought your work was very interesting.

Have you heard of "Yali's question"? [1] This is the framing of Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel. I believe this is a question that you think people are dodging, perhaps with politically correct wish-wash.

Apparently you think the answer is that some races are genetically superior to others. Jared Diamond of course has a different answer than you.

I tend to believe Diamond, as he lived among various tribes of New Guinea, studied them professionally, and wrote multiple well considered books about the topic. He also speaks simply and plainly, whereas you have a penchant for sophisticated arguments, whether they are true or not.

Let me also say that this type of thinking isn't exactly unique to whites. In my family are various Chinese academics (professors, Ph.D.'s, etc.) In this company, it's not unusual to hear an assertion that the Chinese are genetically superior to other races.

I think you should recant, but only if you have arrived at the conclusion honestly. I think you should also consider the possibility that some past emotional experience is driving all these rationalizations.

[1] http://www.mcgoodwin.net/pages/gungermsteel.html

Here's the crux of the problem: Jared Diamond's answer to Yali's question is not mutually exclusive with the converse of (b). In other words, Guns, Germs, and Steel argues persuasively that environmental factors played a major role in observed group outcomes, but it does not argue persuasively (or at all) that those environmental factors left no imprint on the genomes of the groups in question.

To put it in concrete terms: Do you believe that, say, Scandinavians and Australian Aborigines have—on average or at the extremes—identical talents and inclinations for playing chess? If so, what is your basis for this belief?

This is the kind of discussion that doesn't end anywhere productive, but I don't have any reason to believe that those two groups have substantively different inclinations for playing chess. As others have said, the individual variations drown out the group differences.

Look at how superior Americans are to Europeans economically. Americans invented the iPhone, Google, and could best all of Europe combined in a military battle. Does that mean that Americans are genetically superior to Europeans? No, it's that they had access to more resources on a bare continent, which led to a positive feedback loop of wealth and creation.

You can perhaps make fuzzy statements about averages or extremes, but what matters is how you act on those beliefs. Are black people better at basketball than whites or Asians? Hard to say on average, but maybe at the extremes? Does that say anything about which races should play in the NBA? No. It's not like Larry Bird or Jeremy Lin don't exist. There might be some differences there, but they're not substantive.

The minute you start using this to justify slavery, that's when it becomes racism. If you are white, would you accept an Asian person's claim to enslave you based on the fact that their IQs are higher on average?

Even if you accept that intelligence implies a right to rule, there are plenty of dumb Asians that don't deserve to rule over a smart white person, and likewise for whites and blacks. This is a simple consequence of the fact that individual variation is greater than group variation.

I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Inspired by these discussions, I believe I've sharpened my understanding of this subject considerably. When it comes to accounting for observed differences between different groups, the following statements are the only two possible explanations:

(a) Genetic factors contribute to differences in outcomes

(b) Non-genetic factors contribute to differences in outcomes

Note that the two are not mutually exclusive. For example, when you write

Does that mean that Americans are genetically superior to Europeans? No, it's that they had access to more resources on a bare continent, which led to a positive feedback loop of wealth and creation.

you are arguing for (b). But because (a) and (b) are not mutually exclusive, this is not a valid argument against (a). Indeed, virtually the entire mainstream discussion around group differences consists of increasingly strong statements in favor (b), without ever addressing (a) directly.

This isn't to say (a) is always true, just that you need direct evidence to dismiss it. For example, given the observation that any human being with the ability to learn a language can learn any language, (a) appears to be false with respect to acquiring specific natural language (as opposed to language acquisition generally, which of course is genetically based).

So, why is it that so many otherwise clear thinkers fail to see that arguments for (b) aren't arguments against (a)? My guess is that most people who believe in (b) and only (b) implicitly apply the following reasoning:

The non-genetic factors in group differences are so numerous, egregious, and well-documented that they plausibly account for all known differences in outcomes between people of different ancestry. Therefore, genetic factors are probably irrelevant or negligible.

Unfortunately, this reasoning is faulty. For example, there is no a priori way to know how big an effect discrimination will have, and hence no way to rule out (a) without direct evidence.

As to your other points, I agree completely that we should treat people on an individual basis, without discriminating on the basis of ancestry, gender, etc. Furthermore, I believe in finding and cultivating talent anywhere it exists, regardless of background. I hope you agree.

This is too meta -- they're not exclusive, but the structure of the argument is pretty clear.

The burden of proof falls on the one making the claim. If you are claiming (a) or (b), you need to justify it. I haven't seen credible evidence for (a). I'm not refuting it because I don't have the burden of proof.

Answering Yali's question requires at least one of (a) or (b). If (b) were false, then that would imply (a). Providing evidence for (b) rules out the argument based on elimination.

No, the burden of proof is on those who claim not-(a), because it is evident at a glance that there are at least some genetic difference between groups. (Detailed genetic analysis, of course, confirms this. Noted anti-racist Henry Louis Gates Jr. has a whole show about it. [1]) There's no law of biology that says evolution only works on physical traits; quite the opposite. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the claim that any particular cognitive or behavioral characteristics have no genetic component.

Answering Yali's question requires at least one of (a) or (b). If (b) were false, then that would imply (a). Providing evidence for (b) rules out the argument based on elimination.

It is impossible to use the process of elimination when the alternatives are not mutually exclusive. I.e., this reasoning is specious: Why are men generally stronger than women? Well, men lift weights more often than women. Therefore, strength differences have no genetic basis. So it goes with Yali's question. You, and Jared Diamond, are obviously smart enough to understand this completely. But the conclusions are heretical, which is the only reason I can think of for why you fail to do so.

[1]: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/

There are genetic differences between groups, but claim (a) is that there are such differences that contribute (substantively) to different outcomes -- as you wrote yourself. I don't know of any such evidence. It's controversial to say the least, but if you are engaging me in a discussion, you have the burden of proof on that point.

As mentioned, I don't really care for these types of discussions, because either way, it's not going to lead me to change my actions. My original motivation was to see what moldbug thinks of Jared Diamond's work (i.e. if he tries to refute it)

(a) and (b) aren't exclusive, but it could be that one contributes vastly more to the observed outcomes than the other. I happen to believe that this is the case with (b), as Jared Diamond explains. There is just much less evidence supporting (a) compared to that supporting (b).

I think you misread my last statement. Providing evidence for b means that you can't apply the argument that if b were false, then a. They are not exclusive, but at least one of them is necessary. I would assume (b) is false without evidence as well.

claim (a) is that there are such differences that contribute (substantively) to different outcomes

That is not claim (a). Claim (a) is that there are genetic factors in group differences, but makes no assertion about their magnitude. You believe that genetic factors make at most a small contribution. You may well be right. But you have offered no evidence for this assertion, and the burden of proof is on you to show it.

I would assume (b) is false without evidence as well.

Given that different groups live in manifestly different physical and social environments, this assumption is also wrong. The null hypothesis is that both (a) and (b) contribute; the burden of proof in both cases is on those who think one or the other is false. Confusing this issue, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is perhaps the most common source of crimestop on this subject. (Not that I blame you; as a crimethinker myself, I can assure you that volunteer Thought Police are everywhere, even—perhaps especially—on HN.)

Of course, in reality the discussion usually goes something like this:

"There might be genetic factors accounting for differences in group outcomes."

"I doubt it, but even if there are such factors, they're small."

"How do you know they're small?"

"Well, how do you know they're not?"

[Caught in trap] "I don't. So let's investigate the magnitude of the effect by examining the direct evidence…"

"That's racist."

"I think you should recant, but only if you have arrived at the conclusion honestly"

Were you home sick the day high school discussed the word "sardonic?"

Don't fret it. Most of what you wrote as MM may be described as "what we were all thinking already, but lacked the time to express at length."

As for the "literally" bit, I suspect you experience resignation that few actually read what you've written as MM and instead rely upon executive summaries otherwise known as gossip and propaganda. As a guy whose real name sometimes appears in print, I wouldn't fret it.

For whatever it's worth, I'm on record proposing that urbit may be your most notable legacy, so keep working.

Galileo? How dare you compare the SJWs to the inquisition?

A confession detailing how you put ground glass into the (minority and female) workers' meatloaf, along with a list of your co-conspirators MIGHT be a start.

Barring peculiar talents such as resembling the POTUS, you should go for (b) and get yourself re-invited to this year's conference.

If you have time, and I completely understand if you don't, could you elaborate on the authoritarianism thing?

Why on earth would that turn out to be a good thing this time?

Naw, Alex is a deep and abiding chunk of urineyellow crap.

So, from that quote, he seems to be:

a) Describing a master-slave structure with the implication that it is a biologically programmed one.

b) That some are born for more dominant roles, some for more submissive ones, and then others who are in between or neither.

c) That the aforementioned characteristics are genetic.

Not particularly savory, but also a pretty standard evopsych position. In fact, I'd say that the only truly controversial part is the argument that these structures are innate and predetermined. That such master-slave structures permeate society is readily observable.

That's one way to read it, I guess. The more straightforward way to read it would be to just use the normal accepted meanings of words, under which the quote straightforwardly argues that Africans are genetically adapted for slavery, and that arguments to the contrary constitute "political correctness".

I feel like the only "reaching" I had to do to take that meaning from the quote was c/p'ing it out of my browser window to correct for the weird spacing HN put on it.

No, that's oversimplified, I find. The quote implies that the colonizers found Africans to be more suited to fulfilling slave roles, and that the master-slave cycle formulated earlier is a genetic one. It doesn't make a direct judgment whether the colonizers were correct. The jab at political correctness doesn't seem to be an absolute refutation of opposing arguments, so much as an outlining of the historian's fallacy of trying to apply contemporary moral value judgments to past circumstances. FWIW, there was "political correctness" (sidestepping taboos) in those days, but the taboos were wildly different.

The term "politically correct" comes directly from the quote, as does African genetic predisposition for slavery.

It's also not an isolated, out-of-context quote. For instance, it's easy to find Moldbug holding forth about the evils of South African apartheid abolition.

It's easy to find South Africans "holding forth" etc. For example: [0].

"The number of black people who believe life was better under South Africa's apartheid regime is growing, according to a survey published yesterday... In a rebuke to the African National Congress government, more than 60 per cent of all South Africans polled said the country was better run during white minority rule."

Yes, that's from 2002. Everyone who thinks the ANC has improved since 2002, please raise your hand.

While I didn't click on this thread to banter about details, details like this matter in a way - because South Africa is a real country and not a story or a song. In the real country, pressure from nice white people who live in America helped replace one one-party government, the Nationalists, with another, the ANC.

If the ANC governs South African blacks better than the Nats, the nice white people did a good thing for South African blacks; otherwise, they did a mean thing. Surely this is true whatever the names of the parties, the skin colors of the government bureaucrats, etc, etc, etc.

The possibility that, while listening to "Biko," singing "Free Nelson Mandela," and generally having a grand old time, our nice white people actually damaged the lives of actual real people (eg, there are 500,000 rapes a year in ANC-governed South Africa) does not seem to occur to our collective progressive consciousness. It seems much easier to express "guilt" about our 17th-century ancestors than to consider the possibility that we, ourselves, actually caused real harm.

[0] http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/12/12/1039656168811.h... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_violence_in_South_Africa

You aren't trying to say then that the colonial powers assumed control of Africa to stop rape?

If I'm doing a wrong thing should I stop doing that wrong thing even if someone else might do something wrong after I quit?

>You aren't trying to say then that the colonial powers assumed control of Africa to stop rape?

We should be thankful that they didn't. Who knows how they would have screwed it up?

No, the mechanism is a happy accident of nature, that people take care of the things they own. A country with a bunch of rape going on is a disorderly, unsafe country, which is bad for business. It may grate against your idealism (as it does mine!) that the right things often come about for the "wrong" reasons, but I think the parties concerned would greatly prefer it to the wrong things happening for the "right" reasons---as things are now.

I get that social order was produced in colonial Africa, but you kind of have to ask...for whom? To say that there was strong social order for Africans is probably a stretch. The crimes against them were probably legal in a lot of colonial areas. So while they had fewer public works that were rusting it was probably legal for certain parties to commit rape even at the height of colonial Africa.

Rape maybe one extreme...it was certainly the case that crimes perpetrated by Africans were punished differently.

Same thing for the Southern US ...there were some slaves that chose to stay with their masters, but most of them were ok with the hunger and joblessness that came with emancipation.

Is the question in the end something like...Is a safe and orderly society under a tyranny the same kind of good as self determination in the face of lawlessness? Which one is the greater good? Is that even a meaningful question?

(Keeping in mind, I guess, that these kind of beard scatcher's are the hallmark of liberal western privilege.)


>most of them were ok with the hunger and joblessness that came with emancipation.

How do you know?

After reading the specific example given, I do have to qualify that as an out of context quote. The surrounding paragraphs make it clear he isn't targeting any one race in particular with the genetics business, just that the master-slave relationship occurs frequently enough and in enough forms that it seems to be fundamental to our nature as a people. I have a hard time finding that objectionable.

You're heavily implying that one can find writing wherein Curtis explains that black South Africans need white rule, but all the writings I can find "easily" (via google) are about how the current government fails to be at least as good as the apartheid-era government, which is an unpalatable truth but hardly racist. Do you have some specific examples? I'm not finding it as easy to come up with damning examples as you indicated.

I will admit I've found quite a lot that can be easily twisted if you're being uncharitable but I'm assuming you're better than that.

Overall, I'm getting the feeling that Mr. Yarvin is a victim of the modern moral panic led by "right-thinking" folks, and as seems to happen far to frequently, the panic seems to be precipitated by strange misinterpretations instead of what was actually said.

Sure, he advocates for forms of government few people want. I'm not too onboard with that meaning he needs his technical work suppressed.

It might be out of context. All I can do is relate my opinions about the writing and the software. I could be wrong. I don't think I am, though.

This is not a "standard evopsych position". Evolutionary psychology seems to get conflated with a lot of unsavory bullshit just because the latter uses appeals to the former. Most people I know who do evolutionary psychology are extremely careful to point out all the ways they differ from (usually) sexists because they're so damn tired of people conflating one with the other.

"Natives did not make good slaves, and so Africans were imported." That alone is so innocuous as to appear in elementary school textbooks. Is this really what the whole row is about?

No, it's because he said it was due to genetic differences between population groups. This makes him a "true" racist in that he believe there are different races, or sub-species, of homo sapiens (sapiens). There is a scientific consensus that this is not the case, because races only exist if population groups are completely isolated, which humans never have been.


Except that no one in ordinary discourse uses "race" in the way you are, which means "species" (the whole not-interbreeding thing is often taken as definitive of "species".)

"Race" as it is commonly used means "variety" or "breed", and the claim that there are observable and significant statistical differences between human populations in geographic regions is, one hopes, uncontroversial. Those differences come from different genes, and since we all know that a trivial edit to a single gene can result in a massive change in function, it is reasonable to ask about a wide range of characteristics that have some genetic influence.

To claim that "races" in this sense "do not exist" is to come across as incoherent and pedantic at the same time.

Whenever anyone has looked at any characteristic that is really significant in society and how it differs across "races" so defined, they have found that the differences are trivial at best, non-existent at worst. This is "controversial" because a bunch of idiots want to project their prejudices onto genes.

"Intelligence" is by far the most debatable target for this kind of nonsense because a) it is controversial as to whether or not anything like "g" is an objectively real feature of human beings; b) it is extremely controversial how heritable it is; and c) even if it is real and heritable, our ability to measure it is so poor that it is very difficult to make any claims about population statistics.

See... you can actually refute racist nonsense while at the same time acknowledging what everyone knows: varieties of humans exist, and redefining the word "race" so it does not apply to those varieties of humans does not make the fact that varieties of humans exist go away.

Different races cannot interbreed, but only because they are geographically isolated.

Different species cannot interbreed (generally speaking), even if they are not geographically isolated.

Humans are not geographically isolated. Geographical barriers have contributed to the creation of population groups, but these are distinct from races in that there is a mechanism for DNA to move between them (somebody takes a trip and makes a baby).

Anyway, Wikipedia says in the lead sentence of that article I linked to that simply classifying people into discrete races is scientific racism.

"Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to support or justify the belief in racism, racial inferiority, or racial superiority, or alternatively the practice of classifying individuals of different phenotypes into discrete races."

"Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to support or justify the belief in racism, racial inferiority, or racial superiority, or alternatively the practice of classifying individuals of different phenotypes into discrete races."

The first three actions refer to value judgments ("better" / "worse" - compared to what? for what purpose?). Most people would agree that science should steer away from such judgments.

On the other hand, "classifying individuals of different phenotypes into discrete races" seems distinctly unproblematic. There are different clusters of genetic types that arose due to relative geographic isolation, and gave rise to various differences and adaptions. Obvious examples of these include skin color, hair color and texture, average height and build, and so forth. I did not realize that making this observation, in the absence of value judgments, was now interpreted as "scientific racism".

The problem is only that there are not discrete categories. For starters, how do you classify children of parents belonging to two discrete racial groups? And their children? And so on and so forth. Well, people have been spreading their genes around the globe for a long time, and the upshot is we all belong to the same racial group. Sure, there are clusters, but there are not purebreeds.

Further, culture / ethnicity is just a much more accurate way to classify people than genotype or phenotype. I don't have a source for this, but I believe the best way anthropologists have come up with to group people is by the kind of food they eat.

Science is not a democracy, and consensus means little when the peer review and tenure review process is designed to reward conformity rather than truth.

Use your own brain. Denying the existence of races is completely absurd. See for instance:

http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2008/01/no-scientific-basis-for... and https://jaymans.wordpress.com/jaymans-race-inheritance-and-i...

And lots more reading here: https://jaymans.wordpress.com/hbd-fundamentals/#race

There's a scientific meaning behind the word race - geographically isolated population groups, or more precisely groups that do not interbreed. Humans don't have those, and never have had those. I never said we were homogenous, any nitwit can see that most people in Asia have black hair, and there's no reason to think that only superficial physical characteristics sort geographically. Just that, there aren't distinct races. You know, a middle ground, as proposed by the guy who wrote that first article you linked to, at the end.

I find asserting superiority of one race over another hard to justify, but is it crazy to think there are differences?

Dogs are the same species, but people do assign traits like aggression/playfulness to different breeds.

There aren't "races" in the sense of Darwin's finches because there is interbreeding between population groups, that's all.

Redefining the word "race" so it does not apply to the human varieties does not make the fact of human varieties go away, and so fails to make a counter-argument against racists. "Racism" exists, and saying "race doesn't exist" doesn't change that. All it does is mean that to be consistent you'll have to call it "variety-ism", which is awkward and irrelevant.

Racism is asserting superiority of one group of humans over another, and generalizing without evidence.

You could think certain people are genetically better adapted to cold or hot climates. That by itself is not racism, it becomes racism when you say that everyone who cannot stand cold weather is inferior, when in reality, it is totally dependent on circumstances.

I think people failing to see the difference stops some honest discussion and people go on a witch hunt. In this case, blocking the person may well be justified however.

I'm repeating myself here, but per WP, "Scientific racism is [...] alternatively the practice of classifying individuals of different phenotypes into discrete races."

It seems worth taking this criticism up with the authors of, for example, Risch et al 2005 [0].

From the abstract: "Genetic cluster analysis of the microsatellite markers produced four major clusters, which showed near-perfect correspondence with the four self-reported race/ethnicity categories. Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity."

It seems worth asking how a paper like this got published, as late as 2005. Scientific racism may be even more entrenched than many have feared...

[0] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1196372/

What do you do with all the interracial children? Please forgive the oxymoron.

I don't want to read too far into your comment, but if the intent was similar to: "Interracial children don't fall into classical racial categories and, as such, are proof that racial categories don't exist," that's fallacious. The fact that a lab and poodle can produce a labradoodle doesn't negate the fact that labrador and poodle are dog breeds. The spaniards had a system that classified people by percentages of ancestry, e.g. quadroon, octaroon. Today we have more modern technology and ancestry can be determined though the analysis of genetic markers. The usefulness of race can be (and is) debated. Its existence is hardly debatable.

Is there anybody that does not have mixed ancestry? Where are the human labs and poodles?

The only real argument is that discrete categories do not exist. What this means is that for the vast majority of cases, the expression of phenotype A is not strictly linked to the expression of phenotype B. That said, it's quite obvious that there is a geographical and cultural distribution of genes.

Humans are not dogs, our populations are not strictly controlled for the purposes of winning dog shows. Attempts to do so are racist, in that they are (scientifically misguided) attempts to create or purify a race. Such as when your parents don't want you to marry someone who doesn't look the same.

> The only real argument is that discrete categories do not exist.

And yet they're 'discrete' enough that certain drugs are more effective on specific 'races' (or groups of people who share certain genetic traits if you prefer) than others.

I'm all for equality. I'm all for being judged and identified by your individual traits irrespective of the groups you're a product of. But this race/gender doesn't matter (or even exist) stuff has gotten to the point that it's as bad as the old christian movements when it comes to blocking scientific progress.

> Humans are not dogs, our populations are not strictly controlled for the purposes of winning dog shows. Attempts to do so are racist, in that they are (scientifically misguided) attempts to create or purify a race. Such as when your parents don't want you to marry someone who doesn't look the same.

I consider politics quite the dog show, and people have been self-selecting their mates on the basis of looks, culture, and politics for as long as they've been on this Earth. Seeing if this has resulted in genetic differences is a question of science, but deciding whether this activity is ethical is a question of value.

That's really the heart of the matter. As long as people believe scientific conclusions reflect personal values, we'll never be able to address any of these issues effectively.

Mr. Yarvin, is there some way to get ahold of you, via email or IRC? I'm not some hater who's pissed off about your political views or anything like that. This is very important. Thank you in advance,

Nathan Klein

If you didn't reach him, I can help put you in touch. If it's about Urbit, you might want to try the mailing list.

My contact e-mail is [my name] @ gmail

Urbit (Tlön) employees can generally be reached as [their first name] @ tlon dot com

School textbooks also often make the case that Native Americans didn't make good slaves because they were native to the area and just walking away and vanishing was relatively easy for them. That's very different from asserting genetic racial differences were the factor at work.

I do not accept the premise of this argument, unless we're talking about textbooks from the 1910s.

It was stated as fact as late as the early 90's in my own textbooks, and I attended a private school in the NY metro area.

Right, I think I saw this one pulled elsewhere. It's still not clear to me that the author holds that view, or that he's just putting forth a weak analysis. Considering the response, I thought there would be something explicitly aggressive.

It's pretty difficult. Racism, like other ideas that at some point were not considered unacceptable in public, is nowadays covered in what we could call Hermetic writing: In other words, instead of saying what they really want to say, a racist says things that imply they are OK with racism.

A way that you can find all over his writings is talk about how people and businesses should be free to refuse dealing with people for any reason whatsoever. It's not quite saying 'I do not like brown people', but instead 'In my ideal society, we are free to discriminate against brown people, or people that don't share my religion'. It's the same kind of rhetoric you'll find in traditional racist groups. That's enough for many people to call that rhetoric racist, but I see how you might not agree.

What I find most amusing is that in that libertarian utopia where people can discriminate at will, you can discriminate people because of their political views, or because you think it'd make some people feel less welcome, and that's exactly what happened here. Having people that defend the right to discriminate at will complain due to discrimination is interesting to say the least.

Either way, I don't think this is an economic decision though. Last year, StrangeLoop ran out of tickets in a few hours. This year, I know they had more companies wanting to sponsor the conference at than they had slots! So Alex could have reacted either way to this controversy, and he'd have done fine economically. This just seems like very predictable behavior given their pro-diversity direction, taken after a few years ago, they had so few women that they had turned all the female restrooms in the opera house into male restrooms, leaving just a single 'family room' in the entire venue for women.

If anything surprises me, is that they didn't vet their speakers before accepting submissions. Rejecting conference talks because of who the person is happens all the time. What turned this into a contraversy is that they rescinded the invitation after making the list public. I would be surprised if, for next year, they don't add an extra step to their process, to try to catch something like this in advance.

Edit: It seems to me like Yarvin is pretty overt about the racial stuff. His isn't a Rand Paul-ian "we don't need the Civil Rights Act, let the market take care of it" posture, but rather one that leans heavily on the just-world hypothesis to draw conclusions about the inferiority of Africans.

"What I find most amusing is that in that libertarian utopia where people can discriminate at will, you can discriminate people because of their political views"

This is also a dominant feature of progressive utopias. :)

Google is helpful here. There are plenty of articles that have been written about him (speaking as someone else who hadn't heard of him until today). This is the one I'm reading right now: http://www.thebaffler.com/blog/mouthbreathing-machiavellis/

Why read an article _about_ him, as opposed to reading what he actually said? Are you concerned about contracting wrongthink?

Probably because his blog posts are like millions of words of meandering stream of thought and links to public domain books and you would have to spend the next few months of your free time to read most of his posts? Occasionally funny and insightful, but concise and well-written they are not, burying the real content under mountains of fluff.

You're gwern, so if you said you'd read enough to say you understand his writing, I'd believe you.

But someone reading the Baffler article will not have the same understanding you do---and worse, they'll think they do.

I do not know the man's writings. There are many links on that page to things he wrote. So this is the most informative link I am likely to be able to provide.

As for why not read his writings: why not read the writing of the timecube guy, or those of reactionary christian authors? Because I try not to waste my time on idiotic polemic.

If you keep firmly in mind that he's a complete crank, his iconoclasm can be quite entertaining in short intervals (maybe one article a year.)

I'd never heard of him either. Now we have.

If the goal of banning him from the conference was to suppress his ideas, his opponents remind me of George Bush standing beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

The goal of banning him is probably not to "suppress his ideas". I'd imagine the goal is something more like "not allowing the experience of conference attendees to be made a little less pleasant in the service of what is a quirky and maybe interesting but probably pretty marginal technical talk".

Um, as far as I understand, he wasn't banned from attending StrangeLoop, just that he had his talk pulled.

Given that, could we please either clarify this with Alex, or stop claiming this as it just further distorts the truth and politically weaponizes this situation even further?

Allowing some to have a more pleasant experience by excluding others...

Once upon a time, liberals argued against that.

I don't think you really believe, were the shoe on the other foot and you were the one organizing Strange Loop, that there's nobody you'd consider excluding.

I've never refused to work with anyone because of their political beliefs.

Neither would I.

But I would (and have) based on their political actions.

Regardless of how you feel about Yarvin's politics, he's not trying to force them on you. He's not trying to change the way you run your business or conference. On the contrary.

I can't say the same for his opponents however, who as well meaning as they are are too dogmatically driven to notice how nuanced this issue really is. If people like this join a group, they will either try to modify its politics and excise the members who don't fit the new order, or destroy it completely, driven by a belief that they have the moral high ground. And since they primarily work in the realms of words, their primary tactics tend to be in changing and obliterating the meanings of words to control what is being said. They'll alternatively go from claiming that words have no inherent meaning to attempting to redefine existing terms to mean different things to change what other people were trying to say.

The reason Yarvin concerns them is because on some level they believe he shares these same motivations and intents. I have no idea if he does, but I sure hope he doesn't.

Calling support for slavery a "political belief" is rather tame at best and outright misleading at worst.

I haven't read a Moldbug post that actually supported slavery.

In that Carlyle essay, he says these, among other things:

"Once we get this far, we are almost all the way to Carlyle on slavery. We have not agreed that a man can be born a slave, but we agree that he can sell himself into slavery. That is: he can sign a contract with a master in which the slave agrees unconditionally to obey and work for the master, and the master agrees unconditionally to protect and support the slave.

Moreover, this contract need not be a mere expression of sentiment. It can and should be enforced by the State, just as a loan is. If the slave changes his mind and runs away, the State will capture and return him, billing the master for the expense. Or at least, these are reasonable terms under which two parties might agree on the permanent relationship of master and slave."

"A person makes a good slave if he is loyal, patient, and not exceptionally bright or stubborn. But even great intelligence is not necessarily a bar to a good experience in slavery, as the experience of many Greek slave philosophers, such as Epictetus, shows. A slave must carry the unique burden of personal dependency and obedience, which we are all used to expressing only toward impersonal government agencies."

"Of course, like gay marriage (or ordinary marriage), slavery is not without its abuses. When we think of the word 'slavery,' we think of these abuses. Thus, by defining the word as intrinsically abusive, like marriages in which one party beats the other, we can conveniently define away all the instances of slavery (or, for that matter, marriage) in which the relationship is functional."

I mean, if those are not actually supporting slavery, it seems to be only because he takes care to voice a lot of pro-slavery rhetoric without actually crossing that line.

Moldbug did in other places explicitly denounce hereditary, chattel slavery and called it evil.

His actual view seems to be that it should be legal for a person to sign a permanent, life-long employment contract, mediated and regulated for abuse by the state, where the person gets a guaranteed wage in return for having to provide labor. The idea is that for the lower end of the bell curve, this is a lot more humane than subjecting someone to the capriciousness of the capitalist system, where a person can be fired at will. Note that some on the left have made the same argument. There was a leftist critique of the end of serfdom in Eastern Europe, by which they accused the end of serfdom of being a greedy power-play by the feudal lords, who wished to renege on their obligations to provide for the serfs. Does this view make Moldbug evil?

Yarvin makes repeated references to Carlyle in multiple pieces, not just the one that's being circulated. Carlyle's position on slavery is not compatible with your summary.

Carlyle's take† is distilled utilitarianism. The blacks in the West Indies are lazy and stupid. The English are not. The climate in the West Indies is such that a black person living there need not work at all; they can simply pluck their food off the vines. The English are starving. Left to their own devices, the black people will revert to a state of nature, killing each other in an atavistic reversion to a primal jungle. At least under slavery, they can be watched over by benevolent masters. The sugar trade will thrive. The English will prosper. Slavery is pareto efficient.

It's really not hard to find attachment points to Carlyle's "Discourse" in multiple places through Yarvin's writing --- the references to Carlyle, the nitpicking over 1850s politics extrapolated to condemnations of the abolition movement, the genetic predisposition stuff.

A reasonable person could reach the conclusion that the parent commenter did.

It is not, however, fair to say that Yarvin wrote overt defenses of slavery. His defenses of slavery --- presuming that's what they are --- are cryptic.

and, I'll trepidatiously infer, Yarvin's (after correcting for modernity)

Carlyle's position on slavery is not compatible with your summary.


and, I'll trepidatiously infer, Yarvin's (after correcting for modernity)

Since Yarvin is on this thread, he can clarify his actual views if he so wishes.

I think it is possible to cite Carlyle, and to point out that Carlyle made better predictions than the abolitionists, without believing that all black people should be re-enslaved, without believing that chattel slavery is the optimal solution for people with an IQ under 85. I think one can draw from Carlyle while still being a good person.

I think his positive views are generally cryptic because his goal is not to produce some plan of action, his goal was to provoke and to get us to think critically about whether we are actually as moral and righteous as we think we are. We like to think of ourselves as being morally superior to Carlyle. But the counter argument is that when we try to abolish slavery in a righteousness holy war, we often end up in a worse state of general vagrancy and violence or even a worse state of exploitation (eg, share cropping) or a socialized form of slavery (eg, workfare). So rather than being holy and righteous, we should think about what kind of long-term paternalistic structures would actually work best for all involved. I don't that making this argument makes someone a bad person, or worthy of being purged.

Whatever else I think about the idea that Carlyle "made better predictions than the abolitionists", I think I can object that the problem doesn't stop at the approving references to Carlyle. For instance, Yarvin's "favorite primary source on slavery" is Nehemiah Adams, which he quotes in the most cryptic way possible, leaving out the fact that the book --- particularly in the context he cites it in --- is essentially an attempt to paint slavery as a benevolent condition. Look at their clothes! Look at their happy faces! They don't seem downtrodden at all!

Maybe "approver of slavery" is a less apt description than "whatever slavery's equivalent of a holocaust denier is".

Your response to this could be informed by the knowledge that the Adams reference is one of many others I could have chosen to highlight.

Again, I could just be misreading all of this. Yarvin surely made that easy to do.

Ultimately, my argument throughout much of this thread is straightforward, so I'd like to restate it as we delve further into the weeds: Yarvin's writing isn't a case where people have worked hard to mine unsavory associations from ambiguously worded old blog posts. Yarvin is best known for his writing, and much of that writing appears frankly and straightforwardly odious.

I am familiar with the Nehemiah Adams reference.

Keep in mind that Moldbug's blog is trying to provide a corrective to our default view, and so Adam's account is his favorite, shock therapy, corrective book in a world where we are already marinated in the view that southern slavery was an unmitigated horror. In world where slave-holder ideology ran supreme, perhaps his favorite book might be something else.

The key question is: do we have a more accurate view of slavery if we include Nehemiah Adams and Genovese and the Roving Editor in addition to the standard progressive accounts? Or do we have a more accurate view if we only read the standard progressive accounts? Is Nehemiah so credulous, so inaccurate, that we get negative information value from reading him? Do we trust his account at all? Or was he duped like Beatrice Webb visiting the Soviet Union?

My own sense is that reading Adams in addition to progressive sources gives us a more accurate view of slavery in its totality. I don't get the sense that he his Beatrice Webb, he wasn't being given a tour by official handlers. But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. I honestly do want to have an accurate picture of history, whatever that may be.

I recoil from the idea that the view of southern slavery as unmitigated horror needs correction. Meanwhile, I don't have to defend every sentence in Nehemiah Adams, because the context in which Yarvin chose to cite him (approvingly, as one of his favorites) is as a rebuttal to the idea that slavery was harmful to blacks. If someone's being unfair to Adams in this situation, it's Yarvin.

I think, if anything, we tend to underestimate how southern slavery has continued to contribute to horrors that still continue well over a century after its abolition:


Which puts us firmly in the (disputed) land of Cardinal Richelieu:

Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.

If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

Could you be a little more explicit about what you're trying to say? Because I'm prepared to get into more detail here, if you're contesting my interpretation.

If abolitionism and egalitarianism isn't political then I don't know what is. What would count as a "political belief" in your eyes?

What outcomes do actions like this encourage? Well, it encourages controversial writers to stay in the shadows, hide their real identities, lest the vigilante mobs find them. This outcome also encourages people in general to say less, creates an atmosphere of self-censorship, and so harms our free society.

Whatever happened to "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."?

If we can not learn to tolerate others and respect their opinions, even those we find distasteful or deplorable, we will reap the consquences, and stagnate as a culture.

> Whatever happened to "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."?

I'll defend his right to say it, and I'll also defend a conference organiser's right to deny politically-outspoken developers a chance to talk about their (nevertheless interesting) projects.

Nobody on the entire planet is saying that Strangeloop doesn't have the right to kick people out because they don't like their political views, so please put that argument back in the drawer.

What everyone here is saying is that their actions are _wrong_, not illegal. By balkanizing people based on unrelated politics, their actions are destructive to the advancement of technology and fly in the face of the spirit of free speech. Do you not agree?

It also encourages the outraged to try to silence their ideological opponents.

> Whatever happened to "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."?

Marxism happened. Limiting speech has always been a tactic employed by the political left. Words like "racist", "sexist" and "homophobe" were designed to shut down free speech. It's extremely effective at silencing any opposition.

marxism has very little to do with racism, sexism or homophobia

It correlates pretty strongly. See, USSR, Maoist China, and so on.

As some "for instances", in the Soviet Union, Jews were labeled as such on their mandatory internal passports, not Russians or whatever, and their access to higher education was limited, and I'd hope I'd not need to point out how the Han Chinese who run the PRC treat their ethnic neighbors like the Tibetans and Uyghurs.

Certainly true as a matter of those states' fundamental hypocrisy, but I believe PopeOfNope was referring to the Left's deployment of those terms as offensive weapons - which also happened. For example, the USSR was very big on paying lip-service to anti-colonialism as a form of soft power over the non-aligned block[1]. This did not seem to noticeably affect her behaviour towards Afghanistan in the Soviet-Afghan War[2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Aligned_Movement [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Afghan_War

Sure, but those labels are very useful for throwing your opponents under the bus.

You're getting unfairly downvoted, but you're right: whether you agree with their ideas or not, the main tactic of the left is to police what topics are "appropriate" and marginalize those who are "inappropriate" with a label. I'm mostly apolitical so I'm not particularly outraged by this, but I wish they'd just own what they do. If they really think their ideas stand up, they should be welcoming opposition rather than trying to silence it.

Unfairly? I think you're both ignoring the same behavior in other political factions.

I certainly see certain groups trying to decide who can make decisions about a woman's body, who people can marry or adopt children, and other individual freedoms.

Just curious why you say that is the "main tactic of the left"?

The political left in America were made enemies of the state during the era of McCarthyism. People's careers and personal lives were ruined during that Red Scare. That is "silencing". That is "limiting speech".

Who on the right today has been similarly "silenced"? If someone is called out for racism and then voluntarily chooses to exit public life or withdraw further commentary, that's their own cowardly choice. Being criticized does not "silence" anyone.

The right in America has a political and media apparatus that far outstrips that of the left in funding. Worry not: hate is no danger of being silenced in this country. Far-right demagogues continue to fill newspapers, magazines, think tank briefing, the Internet, and airwaves with their ideas despite decades of criticism from the left.

Who on the right today has been similarly "silenced"?

Here is a very long list: https://handleshaus.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/bullied-and-bad... Congratulations on getting the last and final scalp.

The right in America has a political and media apparatus that far outstrips that of the left in funding.

The left has 99% of the university system including the entire Ivy league, which in total receives hundreds of billions of dollars in funding. The left also has most major media ranging from PBS and the NYTimes to CNN (although some are only partially under left-wing control, and will play cheerleader for war due to their own profit, not out of any right-wing ideology).

The only way you can define the "right" as being stronger is if you find the left-most country out there as being the true way, and anything less than that as being rightist. A better way to look at strength is to look at who has been winning the battles. If you look at the past 50 years, the left has won most of them. If you look at the past 100 years, overall, the nation has moved way left on virtually every single issue. There has been some back-and-forth on individual issues, but overall, the direction is very clear.

Worry not: hate is no danger of being silenced in this country.

I don't actually have a problem with silencing hateful people. But Curtis was never hateful to minorities. He is a good person trying to make an honest critique based on the evidence as he saw it. When you purge people like that, you only make your own movement and group stupider. And that is a problem, because if you cannot investigate the true causes of a social ill without forcing people to self-censor and avoid crime-think, then you can never fix the problems.

A better way to look at strength is to look at who has been winning the battles. If you look at the past 50 years, the left has won most of them.

And as others have noted, they are now reduced to policing the battlefield and shooting the survivors, which of course Curtis was one.

(EDITED: "is" to [star]was[star], because having been "read out of polite society" anything he's trying to accomplish right now, like urbit, is over.)

>Who on the right today has been similarly "silenced"?

Hi, nice to meetcha.

"Who on the right today has been similarly "silenced"?"

Well, you just personally silenced Yarvin, so there's one.

To 'defend it to the death' will require more than just sitting behind a keyboard posting on the hacker news forums.

    > actions like this encourage . . . controversial writers 
    > to stay in the shadows, hide their real identities, lest 
    > the vigilante mobs find them.
Racist writers can stay well in the shadows; their human persons can suffer the consequences of their detestable opinions. Both of these are moral and just outcomes. Societies need not, indeed must not sacrifice forward progress on the altar of freedom of expression for the sake of it alone.

    > If we can not learn to tolerate others and respect their 
    > opinions, even those we find distasteful or deplorable, 
    > we will reap the consquences, and stagnate as a culture.
Exactly the opposite is true. If we can not make moral decisions as a society, to say "the opinion that minority races are inferior is not one we are willing to tolerate," we stand no chance to have any meaningful cultural progression.

If we can not make moral decisions as a society, to say "the opinion that minority races are inferior is not one we are willing to tolerate," we stand no chance to have any meaningful cultural progression.

Can you suspend disbelief for a moment?

Imagine, hypothetically, that in the world we live in, the one standard deviation difference in IQ between certain races was in fact primarily due to statistical differences in gene frequency.

Would it still be morally unacceptable to point this out? Would it still be counter to progress to point this out? If you still think it would be immoral, how can you progress if you misdiagnose reality? I mean if you want to solve the problem, you have to know what causes it. If environment causes the problem, then environmental changes can fix it. If genes cause the problem, then we might have the technology in a few decades that allows parents to level-up their children. In the mean time, if genes are the issue, then universal basic income would be a lot better for disadvantaged then spending money on the school bureaucracy. So if you want to help people, you need to have a truthful view of the problem.

Follow-up question. If would be OK to hold the genetic view in world where the genetic hypothesis was actually true, how are we to know which world we actually live in, if people are not allowed to make good faith cases of the evidence and analysis for both viewpoints, without fear of ostracism and career suicide?

Haha, she was at least clever enough to avoid the is-ought trap.

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