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One thing I’ve gotta mention on institutions: you gave yourself a D for guessing Trump’s impact on them, but from what people like Michael Lewis have written, Trump totally ignored/purposely tore down a lot of governmental institutions, and our terrible early response to COVID was, in large part, due to decisions Trump made in early 2017 upon taking office. So I’d give yourself a higher grade there.

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I'm having a hard time reconciling "When the Capitol riots happened, with basically no links to white supremacy" with the number of subsequent arrests of people in explicitly white supremacist organisations, wearing "six million was not enough" shirts, etc.

If ten percent of a room is wearing explicitly Nazi ideology on their shirts, I am not mollified by the other 90%. Ten percent nazis is a lot.

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I also have to weigh in on institutions. If you consider "faith in the accuracy and fairness of the election system" as an institution (which I do), Trump has done a *lot* of damage to that institution and may have irreparably harmed it (40%), to the point that sometime in the next 12 years, there will be another violent election-fairness protest similar in scope to January 6th, 2021.

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2017 was not the highest, 2019 was. Total of 7,314 incidents, good for 125.03% of 2015:


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Would it overly stretch the definition of 'coup' to include Trump's political/media strategy to overturn the election results? It seems that his efforts, including Giuliani and Powell's disinformation campaign and the pressure put on republican state officials, much more credibly threatened our constitutional order than the capitol riot did.

My understanding is that the term 'coup' can be applied to any illegal usurpation of political power, though in practice I understand if dropping the violence requirement blurs too many important lines

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>"stand back and stand by", which as far as I can tell is equivalent to "stand down"

This seems to me to be pretty dramatically false. I think the connotations of "Stand down" are "no action needed" while the connotations of "stand back and stand by" are "no action needed this very second but prepare for imminent action". The two statements are not equivalent but rather pretty close to being opposites.

I'm actually not sure what to make of Trump here: his grasp of language is so weak that I think it's certainly possible that he meant to say "stand down" and then Trumpbrain happened and something else came out (we see this again and again from Trump).

But I think it's pretty misleading to say that Trump's words taken at face value are equivalent to "stand down". Rather, Trump's words taken at face value say prepare for action. The room for debate is around whether Trump's words should be taken at face value.

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"During the 2016 - 2020 period, I quadrupled my money on InTrade." Do you mean PredictIt? Intrade died in March 2013.

Incidentally, as far as near war, what about NK? https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/09/16/daily-202-us-came-much-closer-war-with-north-korea-2017-than-public-knew-trump-told-woodward/ (I was very concerned at the time because of how Trump was talking about how 'Obama' almost went to war with NK; Trump is constantly engaged in projection, has a particular chip on his shoulder about Obama, and most of what he says about his enemies he says because it's what *he* wants to or would do...)

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I agree you deserve an A for You Are Still Crying Wolf. But I think you overstated your success for the debate / Proud Boys moment. Rewatching the video it really did seem like he was reluctant to do a full and unambiguous condemnation. By late 2020 it increasingly seemed like he was willing to play footsie with white nationalist -adjacent groups. "Stand back and stand by" really is weaker than "stand down".

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Trump did attempt a coup, when he tried to get Pence to throw the votes out on January 6th. That wasn't an attempted *military* coup (since Trump didn't have the support of the military in this), but it was still an attempted coup in the sense of a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to seize power for himself. It was *arguably* a coup before then, when he blatantly tried to overturn the results of the elections, but where I'm concerned it became inarguably one when he just asked his own vice president to just throw out the results, regardless of what courts, states, legislature, or pretty much every other institution in the country said.

As for Trump's racism, he told four people of color, political opponents of his, to "go back to their countries", even though three of four of them were born in the United States. He called the coronavirus "Kung Flu". I mean these may not seem as much, but only because the man's a fucking clown who keeps saying vile thing after vile thing, so they don't seem out of the ordinary for him! But that's hardly an excuse.

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To add to the small sample on QAnon: My next door neighbor (in a nondescript suburban town in New Jersey) got totally hooked on QAnon and changed his whole life around it -- leaving his family, moving to a new place, etc.

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I am kinda surprised and frustrated about how Soleimani thing went exactly as Trump wanted and predicted it to go - Soleimani dead, Iran postured and fumed and did nothing at the end - and Scott is still interpreting it as him being right on Trump being bumbling extremist that doesn't know what he's doing and Scott being right, despite predicting it all wrong.

It seems to be a pattern on Middle East and Trump at least. Trump moves US embassy to Jerusalem - everybody is like "this will cause WW3". Trump is saying "nothing will happen". Nothing happens. Everybody is like "well, the idiot got lucky this time".

Trump eliminates major Iranian terrorist chief. Everybody is like "this will cause WW3". Trump is saying "nothing will happen". Nothing happens. Everybody is like "well, the idiot got lucky this time".

Trump cuts aid to Palestinians. Everybody is like "this will bury any chance of peace in Middle East". Trump is saying "you'll see it won't". Then Trump makes several Arab countries to sign peace with Israel and tell Palestinians "you annoyed us for so long, it's time for a chance in our relationships". Everybody is like "well, the idiot got lucky this time".

Trump says he'll kick ISIS's ass. Everybody is like "nah, it's impossible, it's another unwinnable quagmire". Then Trump proceeds to kick ISIS's ass and eliminate it as a player in Middle East. Everybody is like "well, the idiot got lucky this time".

I'm just wondering how many times the idiot has to get lucky before the highly learned rationalist intellectuals start to recognize the pattern? I guess with Trump out we will never know.

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Re: Good People on Both Sides

Were there actually non-racists who marched at Charlottesville? If not, the ‘clarification’ that he wasn’t referring to Nazis is inaccurate and bespeaks lying/bullshitting/ignorance.

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> the change in race relations 2017-2021 will be less negative/more positive than the change 2009-2016

Maybe I'm just totally confused by simple arithmetic, but why is this evaluation based on change in the score rather than the raw score itself? If the percent of blacks who thought race relations were good declined (from 46% to 36%) during the Trump, isn't that just another way of saying that race relations were *more* negative? Sure it didn't decline as quickly as it did from Bush to Obama, but it's still a decline.

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Error: for "Maciej Ceglowski" read "Zeynep Tufecki".

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What is the calculation for the 5% number? Wapo article shows support went from 20 to 21 which sounds like 5%?

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> As soon as rioters got in the Capitol, Trump tweeted that this wasn't what he wanted and they should leave.

What tweet is this referring to? This wasn't my recollection, and I can't find any source matching it?

I can find a tweet soon after they stormed the capitol saying "Stay peaceful!". This is *not* remotely comparable to "I don't want this, and you all should leave", and I can't fathom that interpretation. Trump's video statement (which sounds more like the quote above) came long after the riot had been fully and totally quelled by the authorities.

I was baffled reading that whole section of the post, so it made me question whether my recollection was off. If Trump had immediately tweeted "I don't want this, you all need to go home immediately" once they stormed the capitol, I'd feel quite differently about his culpability in the incident! (At least, his intent regarding it). But I can't find what you're referring to. What are the quotes for the tweets you're using?

I'll also note that the other reason this version of events is somewhat confusing to me is that I was snooping around various Trump communities at the time (in fascination/horror), and... well they absolutely thought he was encouraging it! And when the *video* dropped that night, they were quite devastated by what they felt was a betrayal. Of course, their opinions on what Trump believes aren't exactly reliable, but that's at least the source of the memory of that day.

So, what am I missing? What were the statements/tweets/actions from Trump that seemed to have the serious intention of doing his best to send the rioters home?

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Ugh i'm really conflicted on this post. I realize you can't address 100% of every controversy around trump in your assessent of prediction post trump presidency. But it's hard for me to square your statement about white supremacists in his administration with the separation of children at the border and his disgusting, horrible comments about charlottesville.

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Without necessarily disagreeing with the conclusion, I'm not sure about the reasoning around "the most racist-sounding comments anyone was able to get out of Trump". Just because those two are the two the media ran with, doesn't necessarily mean that they're the worst.

This is counterintuitive and insane and I can't possibly explain the mechanism. You would think that the (by all indiciations, strongly anti-Trump) media would take the worst thing he'd ever said or done and beat *that* to death. But in individual non-Trump instances where I know what's going on, this often seems not to be the case. Instead, headlines and articles will lead with what I see as an unnecessarily weak case --- weak enough, and unnecessarily enough, that I'm tempted to call it "deliberately weak". (Of course, this may be "deliberately" in some vague cultural evolution sense.)

A recent example is the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. (I'll ignore the argument that COVID-related allegations are more serious and should have dominated, since people of different political faiths can reasonably disagree about that.) I recall seeing exactly one headline that contained an actual quote. It's this (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/01/nyregion/cuomo-harassment-anna-ruch.html) NYT article, which accuses Cuomo of an unwanted advance at a wedding. The quote in the headline is "can I kiss you?"

Without having read into allegations in detail, I have no reason to doubt that Cuomo did some abhorrent things. That incident, even, seems like (in context and with more information) his behavior was likely entirely inappropriate. But that makes it *that much stranger* that the quote they went with is "Can I kiss you?" --- in and of itself, pretty much the most bland and least offensive thing possible.

So in this context, I could easily write a paragraph like the one you wrote, saying in essence "Cuomo can't have said anything bad, because the best the news could come up with was 'can I kiss you', which is pathetic." This leads me to distrust that reasoning.

There's another example, where I personally know details --- a high school teacher who openly and fairly horrible harassed students in class. This was in public, in broad daylight, everyone knew it and talked about it, etc etc etc. When the news finally covered this, the most extreme and obvious stories (I don't want to write nominally non-public details here, sorry) were omitted!

So to apply this stuff to Trump. Trump did not, in fact, institute interment camps at which hundreds of thousands of muslims were imprisoned. (This was in line with my main worries post-election, although I count certain immigration policies as correct predictions. Hey, I'm not as honest as you are.) But *suppose he had*. Would that have been in the news, non-stop, for 4 years? Suppose he had said: "I call on my supporters to work to eliminate the islamist threat", or some other openly-calling-for-violence thing along those lines. I'm not sure that that would have occupied as much media attention as, for example, that highschooler in DC with an awkward/obnoxious smile.

Again, I can't put my finger on the mechanism. Media time seems to be preferentially spent not on the bad things, but on the controversial things, so that unequivocally bad things get less attention than tea-leaf-reading exercises.

In conclusion: I would not take the fact that the media focused mainly on some particularly pathetic quotes as a sign that there were no substantially worse quotes.

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Correction: Prediction 2 does not mean that you thought there was only a 50% chance of Trump getting the Republican nomination. It means that you thought that there was only a 50% chance of Trump getting the Republican nomination *conditioned on Republicans winning the Presidency in 2020*. It seems fairly reasonable to assume that the Republicans would have had a smaller chance of winning with Trump than with somebody else, and thus, your implied confidence that Trump won the Republican nomination could well have been more than 50% (though no more than 80%).

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"As soon as rioters got in the Capitol, Trump tweeted that this wasn't what he wanted and they should leave."

Trump absolutely did not tweet that the rioters should leave the Capitol, something that any normal person would have done immediately. Excerpts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2021_storming_of_the_United_States_Capitol including all of Trump's tweets.

12:53 p.m.: Rioters overwhelm police along the outer perimeter west of the Capitol building, pushing aside temporary fencing. Some protesters immediately follow, while others, at least initially, remain behind and admonish the others: "Don't do it. You're breaking the law."[74] By 1:03 p.m., a vanguard of rioters have overrun three layers of barricades and have forced police officers to the base of the west Capitol steps.[71]

1:59 p.m.: Chief Sund receives the first reports that rioters had reached the Capitol's doors and windows and were trying to break in.[83]

2:05 p.m.: Kevin Greeson is declared dead after suffering a heart attack outdoors on the Capitol grounds.[84]

2:11 p.m.: Rioter Dominic Pezzola breaks a window on the northwest side of the Capitol with a plastic shield.[83]

2:12 p.m.: The first rioter enters the Capitol through the broken window,[83] opening a door for others.[71]

2:24 p.m.: President Trump tweets,

"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"[64]

2:26 p.m.: Trump calls Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), having misdialed Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). Lee passes his phone to Tuberville, who informs Trump that Pence had just been evacuated from the Senate chamber. “I said ‘Mr President, they've taken the Vice President out. They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go’,” he recounted to reporters of his call.[90]

2:38 p.m.: President Trump tweets,

"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"[64]

3:13 p.m.: President Trump tweets,

"I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!"[64]

4:17 p.m.: Trump uploads a video to his Twitter denouncing the riots, but maintaining the false claims that the election was stolen.[64] This was one of three takes, with the "most palatable option" chosen by White House aides for distribution.[97]

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AFAICT Sanders substantially changed his political positioning from "specifically economic-class-based progressivism somewhat skeptical of identity politics" in 2016 to "maximally progressive on all axes" in 2020. It seems plausible to attribute the increasing share of racial minority groups among his supporters to that shift. So insofar as you made a prediction there, arguably it was implicitly conditional on something that didn't happen (that Sanders himself would stay constant, though the political environment might shift around him).

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"A pessimistic take is that race has become so emotionally charged that everyone including me has crazy beliefs, which makes me a more biased judge and lets me award myself points more shamelessly than I would do anywhere else."

I'll be honest, my opinion is that this pessimistic take is more accurate than the optimistic one. I think tons of people attacking you on your Trump-racist takes in hyperbolic terms has led you to getting rather defensive when it comes to this topic.

Here's some examples, in my mind.

1. "Stand back and stand by" is very different then "stand down", I'm honestly not sure why you're conflating them. What Trump says means "don't do anything yet, but be ready to".

2. What's the citation for Trump immediately telling his supporters to stop on January 6th? He eventually did, after it was all over, but my memory, of all the reporting afterword, was that Republican congresspeople were begging him to do so and he kept on refusing. I'd be happy to be corrected on this!

3. Charlottesville. I can't claim to know that literally EVERY single person chanting "The Jews will not replace us" was, like, in the KKK or some other organization, but I also don't think I would ever say that there were "good people" who did so. As shambibble says, even Michelle Piercy, mentioned in the post, is/was part of a group whose leader advocates lynching.

I agree that people were way too worried in late 2016/early 2017 that Trump would lead an ethnic cleansing! I agree that your post at that time had some good points about that! But, again, maybe because of how people reacted, you've always been kind of defensive about this issue. Because of that, I don't trust your self-assessment.

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The one thing Eric Weinstein nails is Trumps ability to make a coin 'land on its side'. If it happens once, it could be due to chance. If it happens all of the time, then it is being done on purpose.

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I'm surprised that Soleimani is your Trump screwup of choice. Iran isn't in a position to cause WW3 - even if they do have nukes (which most people seem to still doubt), the damage would be severe but much smaller than, say, assassinating a Chinese general openly might cause. Also, if you look at how Iran would normally try to punish people for attacking them, they'd normally arrange retaliation though a certain Gen. Qasem Soleimani. He was a very well-chosen target for that reason alone.

The natural "Trump did far worse than he should have" reference is, of course, coronavirus. (Which you do mention later on, in fairness)

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I also feel compelled to weigh in on Trump's damage to institutions. I think you're vastly underestimating the amount of damage Trump did to the EPA. The EPA ended up more hamstrung and more heavily politicized under Trump than it had been under any previous President, especially in terms of climate research.

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> I also think events proved me right in saying that the media was going crazy in a particular way where they would read racism into anything.

You link ten pages in this paragraph. Two medium posts from people with less than 100 subscribers; one reddit post; one tweet screenshot; one article about something the DNC said; four articles about something people are saying on social media; and one article from a media organization expressing the sentiment of the link (an opinion piece from The New York Post).

This is a really weird group of things to collectively label as "the media". Did you mean "social media"?

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Wait, Budapest is in Hungary. Why is the 2009 Budapest rally included among the American neo-nazi marches?

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I respect your need and desire to keep yourself mentally healthy, but I'm disappointed to hear you won't be blogging on anything as controversial as "Trump and race" in the future. When the world has gone that far off the deep end, that's when we most need intelligent, rational people with an audience like you to stand strong and keep telling the truth.

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"the Capitol riots ..., with basically no links to organized white supremacy..."

Unless "organized" somehow invalidates this counter-point, it seems fair to mention that there was the little matter of the Confederate flag, which definitely freaked out some people.

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RE: your monetary gains beating your self-grading: your grading system is treating all bets as equal. The markets don't. It's not at all surprising that a big win like buying Biden early swamped your mistakes. In a game with asymmetric payoffs you don't have to be right all that often.

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It seems concerning, from a bias perspective, that you made so many mistakes in the same direction when grading your trump predictions.

Missing that white supremacies played a large role organizing and participating in the capitol riot. Misunderstanding the timeline of what happened. Failing to understand the difference between "stand down" and "stand by"... etc.

It really feels like you are consistently attempting to minimize how bad trump was (and thus show that you were right in your predictions).

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"that the number of words in Homeland Security documents could be interpreted as a white supremacist code"

This is an extraordinarily misleading summary of the controversy. The issue wasn't just that the headline had 14 words, it was mainly that it started with "We must secure the" *and* was 14 words (and sounded weird, as if they were stretching it). "We must secure" is not a common phrase. There are very few results in a Google search, and almost all of them are on this controversy or the 14-words. If you set the time frame before that release, you have to go to the bottom of page three to find a non-Nazi reference (and that one starts with "why" - "Why we must secure"). Is there a single other case of an article titled "We Must Secure..." that is 14 words long that is not obviously referencing the Nazis (other than this one)? Obviously, Trump himself wasn't involved, but the idea that this definitely wasn't a reference is just absurd. And there were other issues as well, although less convincing (a weird use of the number 88 in the article, 14 points in the article, etc.).

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Kudos to you, Scott, for the hyper-rational take on yourself. I for one hope that you continue to talk about politics. Here's why: It's not just predictions that matter in analysis. Opening up avenues for new mental models from which to analyze/process political matters has its own intrinsic value.

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You can derive conditional odds from unconditional odds. If B=>A, then P(B|A) = P(B)/P(A). So if prediction markets were giving Trump a 14% chance of winning the general election (B) at the same time they were giving him a 32% chance of winning the Republican nomination (A), you can infer that those prediction markets thought there was a 14%/32% = 44% chance of Trump winning the general election conditional on him winning the nomination.

There's a minor caveat, which is that here B does not strictly imply A, since you could imagine a world where Trump loses the Republican nomination and goes on to win the general election as a third party candidate. But I think it's safe to assume that this is a remote enough possibility that it had negligible impact on betting markets and it's impact on the calculation is much less than a rounding error.

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> I was right. In the general election a year later, Trump did better than Romney had among non-white voters. He made large gains among blacks, Asians, and Latinos. The only ethnic group where he didn't gain at least 5% over Romney's numbers was whites. As I pointed out at the time, the narrative that Trump was especially appealing to white voters was bizarre and not truth-based, motivated primarily by a demand for racist Republicans on the part of increasingly woke narrative-consumers.

I'd argue that the improvement 2020 Trump showed over 2016 Trump, and 2016 Trump showed over 2012 Romney are more-or-less regression to the mean and that it's unwarranted to put too much emphasis on Trump's campaigning specifically for the trend. The numbers behind that are pretty subtle though, and it'll be easier after seeing a few more cycles of data. As an intuition pump though, I'd suggest that analyses of this type always seem to neglect to mention just how poor Romney's numbers were, and understanding why that is is important. But that's not really what I want to talk about today.

>1. Total hate crimes incidents as measured here will be not more than 125% of their 2015 value at any year during a Trump presidency, conditional on similar reporting methodology [confidence: 80%]

>Correct. In 2015, the FBI reported 5,850 hate crime incidents. In 2017, the highest-hate-crime year of the Trump presidency, the FBI reported 7,175. That's only a 23% increase, which is larger (but not much larger) than ordinary variation. I was slightly surprised by this because I vaguely remember checking how this prediction was doing a few years ago and seeing a large surge in hate crimes. But by the specific source I said I would use to resolve this, I was - just barely - right.

Total hate crime incidents in 2015 was 5,850; 2017 was 7,175; 2019 was 7,314. (2018 was 7,120 for the curious.) That gives a total of 125.026% of the 2015 value, meaning the prediction was incorrect.

Data: https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2019/topic-pages/tables/table-1.xls

That *still* leaves out 2020, which very much was a "year during a Trump presidency" regardless of an election that would result in a change in administration in January the following year. The data for 2020 can be expected ~Oct of this year, and if you want to go out on a limb and predict that it would be below the 125% threshold it'd be interesting, but ultimately irrelevant for the purposes of settling the prediction. (Also, I wouldn't envy your odds.)

>6. Race relations as perceived by blacks, as measured by this Gallup poll, will do better under Trump than they did under Obama (ie the change in race relations 2017-2021 will be less negative/more positive than the change 2009-2016) [confidence: 70%].

>Correct. Between 2008 and 2017, the percent of blacks who thought race relations were good declined from 61% to about 46%, ie 15 points. From 2017 to now, they declined from about 46% to 36%, ie 10 points. I'm not sure the end-of-2020 data is in yet, so there's still a chance for me to be proven wrong. And also, they ask some similar questions where Trump does worse than Obama later. Still, with the data I have and the resolution method I chose, it looks like provisionally I was right.

The specific number you're looking at is the White-Black relations combined Very/Somewhat good percentage among black adults, which was 61% mid 2008, 66% early-mid 2013, 62% August 2013, 51% mid 2015, 49% early-mid 2016, 40% late 2018, and 36% mid 2020. There aren't enough datapoints for precision, but if you're taking the closest point to the respective inaugurations that's a 12% under Obama and a 13% under Trump.

(Data: https://news.gallup.com/file/poll/318971/200902RaceRelations.pdf)

There is a significant issue here where you use an interpolated 2017 as Obama's endpoint but use 2020 as Trump's - and in direct contradiction to the original statement of the prediction. I see your qualifier about future data, but the 2017 interpolation is the unjustifiable part - you're explicitly attributing to Obama the period of time where e.g. Trump saw the sharpest decline in his approval ratings from an above-water beginning. If the timing of the surveys doesn't meet your standards then I would rather you toss the prediction entirely than fabricate a result, no matter how sensible it may seem to you.

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"stand back and stand by" can also mean "hold back for now, but keep ready", I think. In fact, English is not my first language and that was the only meaning of "to stand by" I knew (from Star Wars, no less)

And if I understood the reaction correctly (the PB used "stand back and stand by" as merch), that's partly how they interpreted it, too.

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> As soon as rioters got in the Capitol, Trump tweeted that this wasn't what he wanted and they should leave.

This is not true. Via Wikipedia, rioters broke into the Capitol at 2:12pm.

At 2:47pm, Trump tweeted "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!".

At 3:25pm, Trump tweeted "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue".

At 4:22pm, Trump finally released a video where he tells his supporters to go home.

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While you are right about the number of deportations going down under Trump, I think it's misleading to try and use that as a metric of how harsh Trump's immigration policies were. This is because it needs an implicit denominator of something like "number of people who were in a position to be deported" and AFAICT that denominator was also much smaller under Trump. Part of this is because overall demand for immigration continued what I understand is now a multi-decade decline, mostly because Mexico isn't as poor as it used to be. But part of this is because Trump forcibly kept many more people than Obama would have out of the country altogether, and whether you think this was a good or a bad thing, you should include it in an accounting of how anti-immigration his policies were.

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> I will still never predict anything this controversial again - it’s not worth the cost to my peace of mind.

I wonder if there's a good way to semi-anonymously publish something, such that the people who know you know that you did it, but the people who don't know you and just catch it as it virally spreads can't easily find your main contact info to annoy you about it. This wouldn't stop the torrent of anger and criticism, but maybe it could be directed at a different inbox that you can choose to put out of mind until you want to address it.

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Re. your prediction that DT will not have been an openly racist POTUS with openly racist policies: You may have won the facts-on-the-ground question here, but the narrative I am surrounded by in Blue Bubble-land continues to say exactly the opposite. <i>Everyone knows</i> that DT was a white supremacist and supported white supremacists. So whether you wound up being right about what actually happened (I think you did), you are being drowned out by MSNBC, NPR, the AP, etc etc etc. I hope that you aren't too broken up by that. The myth has been enshrined in the national story by now and will be taught to children for generations to come, assuming there are any generations to come.

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About QAnon - searching Twitter for that word is a terrible way to research it. Believers used other hashtags like #WWG1WGA, which was used by former NSA Director Michael Flynn. Also lots of hasthags about sex trafficking.

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I feel as if it highly misleading and frankly unhelpful to grade your overall Trump forecast based on the aggregate scoring of predictions made. This method is biased by the questions you did predict rather than all the things that happened of significance you didn't even think to mention. It also fails to measure the weight of each prediction made in comparison to each other.

Which is to say - in a general sense, I believed you failed to predict the essence of Trump's impact on the United States.

I am not an American. Prior to the election, while I strongly disliked Trump and thought he would be a terrible President, I was not overly concerned - for similar reasons to you and thought everyone else was overreacting.

I deserve an F for this forecast. Trump was far more damaging to your country than I ever could have thought possible. Trump's impact on American institutions, norms, polarization, shared understandings and sacred values is so extreme. Sure, Trump just exacerbated ongoing trends, but he materially impacted all of things - that no other counterfactual American leader would have done.

I was wrong. You were wrong. We failed to understand the consequence of Trump. The overreactors and alarmists got the essence more accurate than us.

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"The Republican Party has fundamentally changed to be a paranoid victimization-narrative-based party, in much the same way the Democrats did."

I'm interested in what evidence you have that the Democrats have done anything like this. My general impression of the past decade and a half of national politics doesn't seem to support that though. The Democrats have gone from focusing on health insurance access as the central goal to a much more general focus on wealth inequality and race relations, probably because they passed Obamacare and needed a next goal. But the Republicans have gone from focusing on cutting taxes and social security to just complaining about the Democrats. It's true that the one time the Republicans passed something under Trump was a tax cut, but they spent a *lot* of time complaining about Obamacare without doing anything about it. In the McConnell era the Republicans seem to have mostly given up on writing legislation, and have instead retreated to just vaguely complaining about Democrats. The Republicans do now seem to me to be a "paranoid victimization-narrative-based party", but I don't see any evidence that the Democrats are.

I'm guessing that you've confused left-Twitter for the Democrats. But even in the twittersphere, I just don't see evidence that the left is any more victimization-narrative-based than the right. Admittedly, I haven't particularly looked for this, but this really seems to me like you've noticed some problems with bits of the nearby outgroup, and haven't looked to see whether the same problem appears in a worse way with the farther group that doesn't even rise to the level of "outgroup". (In any case, these relevant Twitter groups aren't "Democrats" or "Republicans".)

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>Looking over my history, I find that I did well when I was speculating on very high-level important events I'd been following closely, like who would win the election, and poorly on low-level things I tried to do math on, like how many times Trump would tweet in a given week. This is the opposite of what I originally expected - I'd thought more money and analysis would go into election predictions, and the small niche markets would be where you could eke out a gain. I think what probably happened is that the election markets attracted a lot of dumb money that I could beat, and the tweet markets were mostly semi-professional investors who were much better at mathematizing it than I was.

Full agreement. One can make an acceptable return in high-volume markets based on 'pure' engagement with the proposition, but I've found that as you get to the smaller, faster markets you get both more competent investors and outright market manipulation a la Goodhart's law. (In theory the observation that one can personally move the consensus price ought to be a useful tool, but in practice it's a good sign you're in shark-infested waters.)

Theoretically this might be addressable with larger markets that don't have PredictIt's caps, but in practice I'm skeptical prediction markets can organically produce good results with a mix of profit-maximizers and recreational bettors. If for no reason than simply because 'interest in a market' is not an independent variable.

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I think it would save a lot of argument over definitions if you just rephrasesd

<quote>10: ~Autumn 2020 Semi-Prediction: There will not be a Trump coup (B)</quote>

to not use the word coup. (I.E. just explicitly say what you thought there would *not* be... for instance, maybe you were thinking 'a US military backed intervention' or something)

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Re: Marine LePen. The far right* has twice reached the knockout stage of the French presidential elections, and has twice failed abysmally. Too many people were ready to vote for any alternative. At the same time, the French establishment parties have shown that they have fewer and fewer ideas and less and less to offer anyone not already an insider, and their hold continues to weaken.

My guess is that the French establishment has about one more electoral cycle left in it before The Deluge hits. Maybe the plan is to hold out long enough for LePen to die or retire and then hope that her replacement is more tractable or less effective. At least that replacement will have some building to do.

Germany is where France was a few years ago – the populace there is seething with white hot rage, the establishment parties are unresponsive at best, but the alternatives are still too scary and declasse for solid citizens to contemplate. Germany's well-publicized history with far right alternatives makes this entirely understandable.

An interesting question would be what would have happened in French and German politics if Trump had lost in 2016. Trump, his buffoonery and manifest incompetence were the best election managers the European establishment could have asked for. “Vote for a populist and *this* Trump doofus is what you’ll get!” was their real slogan.

*note that "left and "right" in the contemporary US understanding of those terms, don't make much sense outside the context of contemporary USA-ian politics.

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This was a wild ride and blast from the past. "You Are Still Crying Wolf" looks prescient by being basically not insane. I would think the biggest update to priors that anyone should take from this is that people always overestimate what a President can do, and the left is always underestimating its own cultural power. For example, even if Yglesias had his doubts that C'thulhu always swims left, could he perhaps have been a little more confident that the 21st century US doesn't suddenly swim to 19th century Russia?

Douthat has been commenting recently about the surprising value of low-information voters, and I think this is a good example. My mother is an independent who pays almost zero attention to politics until a week before the election and then votes mostly based on who sounds more sober and reasonable (she naturally voted against Trump twice). Yet she could have told you with certainty that mobs are not going to start beating up Jews with impunity. Yglesias, who was obsessively studying every last detail about Trump and the election, actually gained less than zero information about reality as a result of all his study -- he became less informed the more he studied Trump and Trumpism.

While Yglesias looks especially bad here, I agree with Douthat that the effect applies to all of us to some degree when we obsess over politics. And I'll add further that I would be prepared to bet that QAnon supporters are more politically engaged and read more about politics than the median Republican.

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In January, I posted a three-part post-mortem (https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/kzpov6/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_january_18/gka9ih4/) of “You Are Still Crying Wolf”. I concurred with the idea that the most extreme “Trump is literally the KKK”-type claims have been refuted. I rated Scott’s predictions mostly the same, although we got different answers on a few. However, I think YASCW attacks something of a weak-man (https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/kzpov6/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_january_18/gka9nea/) of the “Trump racism” case. And I went into Trump’s attempt to overturn the election (https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/kzpov6/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_january_18/gkaa6wq/), which while out of scope of YASCW specifically, is I think a refutation of a kind of “anti-anti-Trumpism” that the post is in the genre of.


Here are where I graded Scott’s predictions differently:

>>1. Total hate crimes incidents as measured here will be not more than 125% of their 2015 value at any year during a Trump presidency, conditional on similar reporting methodology [confidence: 80%]

>Correct. In 2015, the FBI reported 5,850 hate crime incidents. In 2017, the highest-hate-crime year of the Trump presidency, the FBI reported 7,175.

In 2019, this number was 7,314 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2019/topic-pages/incidents-and-offenses), which barely exceeds 125%, which would resolve this as **Incorrect**. (However, a commenter claimed there were significant chances in methodology (https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/kzpov6/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_january_18/gkan0nr/)).

>>4. Trump cabinet will be at least 10% minority [confidence: 90%], at least 20% minority [confidence: 70%], at least 30% minority [30%]. Here I’m defining “minority” to include nonwhites, Latinos, and LGBT people, though not women. Note that by this definition America as a whole is about 35% minority and Congress is about 15% minority.

>Incorrect. Based on this source, of 33 original Cabinet members, 3 were minorities, which is 9%. My weakest prediction - that at least a tenth would be minorities - was wrong, and obviously every stronger prediction was wrong too. I failed at a 90% prediction and am appropriately ashamed

I counted 22 members of Trump’s cabinet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Donald_Trump), of which 4 were minorities (counting Alexander Acosta as Hispanic), or 18%, which passes 10% but fails 20% or 30%.

>>6. Race relations as perceived by blacks, as measured by this Gallup poll, will do better under Trump than they did under Obama (ie the change in race relations 2017-2021 will be less negative/more positive than the change 2009-2016) [confidence: 70%].

>Correct. Between 2008 and 2017, the percent of blacks who thought race relations were good declined from 61% to about 46%, ie 15 points.

I’m not sure where Scott got 46% from - the closest poll to 2017 gives an answer of 49%, which narrowly resolves this to “Incorrect”. However, I point out that this poll hasn’t been taken frequently enough to give us a reliable answer - for example, the 2008 poll was taken before Obama’s election, and then not asked again until 2013 - and so I graded it **Ambiguous**.

>>7. Neither Trump nor any of his officials (Cabinet, etc) will endorse the KKK, Stormfront, or explicit neo-Nazis publicly, refuse to back down, etc, and keep their job [confidence: 99%].


While technically correct, I point out that Stephen Miller had emails leaked (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Miller_(political_advisor)#Leaked_emails) where he "enthusiastically pushed the views of white nationalist publications" without any hint of repercussion. I think this should cause us to update against Scott’s central claims.

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For 23:

"The betting markets gave 14% unconditional odds but I don't think I can derive conditional odds from that."

Sure you can, since you say in #21 that the prediction markets gave the probability of Trump winning the nomination at 32%; by Bayes that gives us what we need:

P[Trump wins general] = P[Trump wins nomination AND Trump wins general] = P[Trump wins nomination] * P[Trumps wins general | Trump wins nomination]

-> 14% = 32% * P[Trumps wins general | Trump wins nomination]

-> P[Trumps wins general | Trump wins nomination] = 43.75%

Higher than your 20%. (Or you can do the same thing the other way to get your unconditional probability of Trump winning, 12%.)

(Original deleted version of this comment had a math error; hopefully this one doesn't too.)

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Isn't there a kind of circularity in first being lenient on Trump (compared to others), then making predictions, and then grading them in a lenient way (compared to others)?

What's it supposed to prove, except that you are at least consistent?

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I'm not sure you can properly evaluate the racism espoused by Trump without at least discussing comments like "shithole countries", "mexican" judges, and "Go back where you came from". If the prediction was limited such that only endorsing ethnic cleansing would satisfy the test, then I'm not sure it was a prediction worth making.

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Scott's position on Trump's comments on Proud Boys can be summarized as "Trump clearly said 'Sure', so he has denounced white supremacists", while the general opinion on this can be summarized as "He should have said 'Yes, I unequivocally condemn white supremacists'. Using words that are weaker than that betray a sympathy for the alt-right".

I think Scott is wrong about this. But that might be an inability on his part to read cues rather than any nefarious motives. He is taking Trump at his word rather than placing him in context, and that causes him to see in a more sympathetic light than he deserves

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Stepping back a bit from the individual predictions, this exercise tends to undermine my confidence in the utility of making these kinds of predictions. The trouble is that assessing their truth value in many cases seems highly fraught, and maybe impossible.

That doesn't necessarily mean the exercise is worthless. I can see several possible benefits of going through a prediction exercise even if the outcome is hard to judge:

1. Being public about a prediction requires a certain clarity of thought, willingness to make a commitment, and accountability, even if the outcome is hard to judge. Even if I don't know whether Scott was correct in all of his predictions, I still have a very clear sense of what he believed to be true, and I was able to interrogate my own feelings on the same issues.

2. The predictor may get better over time at making predictions that are clearly falsifiable. In other words, formulating testable predictions might be a learnable skill as much as formulating accurate predictions.

3. The reasons why a prediction turns out to be hard to prove or falsify are often interesting in their own right, perhaps more so than the original prediction. In other words, if I think the future outcomes will be either A or not-A, and the reality turns out to be sort of A-ish or maybe just B, then probably I've just learned something about the way the world works!

All of that said, it still feels like the prediction exercise right now is failing to live up to its basic premise. The grading here is much closer to "I had an opinion and I think history supports my opinion" than it is to "I said X would happen and X did happen." And arguing that events show that you were right all along is...what everyone does all the time.

Weirdly, I think Scott is too harsh on himself for some of these (1 - 3) and too generous to himself on others (5). Of course, that has a lot to do with my own opinions on Trump's time in office, which is kind of the problem...

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I don't want to be awful to you about "5: 11-16-2016: Trump won't be explicitly and openly white supremacist / won’t openly support the KKK etc / won't pursue especially racist policies (A)" but I think you are being atypically biased/gracious giving yourself an A here. While it's true Trump wasn't openly pro-KKK or white supremacist, he did pursue especially racist policies and was getting about as close to being openly pro-white-supremacy in his rhetoric while maintaining a level of deniability that was at best implausible.

For starters, the Muslim ban was an explicitly racist policy that no other Republican has ever pursued. That alone should be causing you to give yourself a B or C.

Beyond this, the FBI and many organizations have reported that membership in white supremacist organizations grew dramatically during the Trump presidency (55% by one measure). Sure, hate crimes didn't increase, but the growth in the membership of these organizations did and is clearly linked to Trump's rhetoric.

Then there's your claim that the Capitol Riots weren't tied to white supremacy - which isn't really true. A close look at many of the most active individuals in those riots (those who broke windows, broke through barricades etc.) had a large % from the Proud Boys.

Lastly, Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacy in the debate was just that. I don't understand why you are claiming that his 'sure' in the debate constituted a condemnation. He mumbles it while the question is still being asked and then avoids making any statement of condemnation. His statement on Proud Boys is ultimately so vague that it could be interpreted as either a condemnation or a statement of support (and Proud Boys interpreted it as supportive). In a situation like this, what every normal person and politician does is make a statement that is unequivocal and impossible to confuse. Trump very clearly avoids doing that. Not that this element is material to your argument, but it's very strange to me that you would classify this as anything but a refusal to condemn white supremacy.

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I believe you take Trump at his word far too often.

As others have pointed out, Trump told the protesters to be peaceful, and yet he also told them ""We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore,".

He told the invaders to stop only after it was over, not during the protest.

Most damning of all though, Trump refused to call the national guard EVEN AS THE CAPITAL OF THE UNITED STATES WAS BEING TAKEN OVER. Senators were in the building!

Just because Trump says "No guys, its totally not a coup, don't hurt anyone", doesn't make it not a coup.

I don't actually know if Trump intentionally lead the protestors to storm the capital, but as others have said, it's abundantly obvious that Trump did nothing but egg them on and support them.

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4. Trump cabinet will be at least 10% minority [confidence: 90%], at least 20% minority [confidence: 70%], at least 30% minority [30%]. Here I’m defining “minority” to include nonwhites, Latinos, and LGBT people, though not women. Note that by this definition America as a whole is about 35% minority and Congress is about 15% minority.

I think your mistake here was betting on 10% minority when, excluding fractional people, 10% minority would be 4/33 = 12%

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I can't believe I'm saying this and I apologize to you as I know it will stress you out to do this but....... I actually think you should stil sometimes blog about current events and politics as you are the only person who sees data honestly and writes sanely. - The mainstream media is a complete dumpster fire (as you detailed in this post) and there is no-one who writes about this stuff honestly and in a mostly non-partisan way other than you. I"m sorry, I know that's too much pressure to put on your and it's not fair that the world is such a fucking mess that all this responsiblity falls on you.

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> I think my argument that you shouldn't vote for Trump because he would violently destroy useful institutions ended up kind of falling flat.

I'm trying to square this with the Capitol riot. Do you believe the riot didn't construe an attempt to destroy an institution, or is it just that regardless of intent, he didn't succeed in destroying anything on that day?

More generally, I'd say "the big lie" (the fabricated claim of election fraud) seems to be doing long-lasting damage to democratic institutions -- this is going to fuel a generation of newly-emboldened voting rights restrictions. Is it the lack of jackboots-on-the-streets violence that is causing you to mark down your prediction here, or perhaps "damage" < "destroy" on these institutions?

In summary I think you're understating the damage that Trump inflicted, but I'm not sure if this is just because you're marking yourself more strictly than I'd mark you, or if you actually disagree on the degree of harm.

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> "There’s a vicious cycle where the lack of intelligent conservatives guts the system of think tanks that produce the sort of studies and analyses which convince smart people to become conservative, which in turn makes there even fewer intelligent conservatives, and so on. In the end, intellectuals won’t just vote Democrat; they’ll shift their personal views further to the left to fit in."

Not exactly. Of course, it's obvious that Trump made lots of blue upper-middle class people more leftist. However, I suspect that that Scott doesn't see any difference between "smart" and "upper-middle-class" and uses the terms interchangeably. In reality, though, lots of smart conservatives, smart religious people, smart working class people etc went way to the right during Trump.

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On Suleimani, my initial reaction was similar - that this is a massive and reckless escalation of conflict. However I have had a hard time reckoning with Mike Huemer's take on it:


Is assassination good actually?

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I think it's pretty easy to figure out why Trump didn't get many of his policies enacted, and that's because he probably didn't care that much about them. He's a pretty classic (although very severe!) grandiose narcissist, and their main goal and need is attention and admiration/adoration. This differentiates them from sociopaths, who are much more interested in the power/money/sex combo and don't much care who likes them aside from how that impacts their ability to get the combo.

So during the campaign he said pretty much whatever made the crowds roar in approval and got him attention in the media. Once in power, he couldn't be bothered to focus on actual policy, way too much like work for not that much adoration. He also had a great deal of trouble keeping competent people working with/around him, a common problem for narcs. They prefer sycophants and make life very hard for the competent. Even if he isn't that smart about actual politics, policy etc, if he were interested, he could get others to work on that stuff, then he could sign off. Just not that interested, and not that easy for the Republicans who were actually interested to push around. 'You're not the boss of me!' is the usual response to trying to push a narc, even to do something useful or in their own best interest.

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There are a couple of major things you failed to mention that surprise me. First, the zero-tolerance policy at the border that caused an unprecedented number of child/parent separations in a short timespan, with, we later learned, no plan or even adequate record-keeping for reuniting them. This is...very very bad. It seems worth at least a mention when you're making sweeping claims about "how much damage" the Trump administration did.

Second, there's an active QAnon supporter in Congress now. This seems relevant to your miss on the relative impact of QAnon.

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You had the capital to bet on Biden at 3.5 and you only put in a few thousand? You should have put in every penny you could.

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I say you were more correct than me on Trump and war (I expected Trump to be much more honest/less neocon than he was).

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I know we all want to thumb our nose at our critics, but the self-congratulations here on race relations during the Trump presidency seems super unwarranted. Explicit racism and white supremacist groups became part of mainstream discourse and culture - including in rallies like in Charlottesville ending in death - for the first time in my lifetime, resurrecting a brand of explicitly race-baiting, if not simply racist, politics that I thought was dead.

You give yourself wins on these predictions only by narrowly defining your terms, I'd say to the point that some of them are unrecognizable from what seems was the likely intent when they were made. This is a fine tactic if you're arguing for a payout from a betting house, but when evaluating your own analyses it seems unwise, and here used to mask weaknesses in the analysis that you do not want to face up to..

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Why are the comments on this post so unusually and unexpectedly godawful? Is it because Trump as a subject naturally attracts godawful comments?

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Brave of you to come back to politics. I hope the comments aren’t too stressful for you.

Granted, you had a lot of links to go through, but it’s pretty disingenuous to cite The Hill’s “Deportations lower under Trump administration than Obama: report” if you read past the headline. It says that Obama deported more because it targeted the easy deportation cases, whereas Trump targeted all of them. Trump’s slowness, in other words, was not due to lack of ambition.

On your election prediction mistakes, you are simply not cynical enough. Beto, Warren (and Harris) had visible personality flaws that interfered with their ability to campaign. Beto was frankly an airhead who was big on dreams and light on plans. Warren’s naïve idealism was strong enough to force some mistakes, though of the three she had the fewest embarrassments. Harris has a talking style more suited to backroom politics and has no talent in connecting with crowds at all. Biden and Sanders lacked those flaws, though I would have expected their health issues to weigh them down more. Netanyahu, meanwhile, is 1, an incumbent, and 2, heavily focused on in-group-based politics, and those are two things you should never bet against without a really good reason.

As to why Democrats are so insistent on pegging Trump as a racist: people have been suspecting Trump of being a racist long before they heard his policies (see here: https://youtu.be/TrsUFF7FAOw?t=186). He has a background of bigoted and shady/criminal behavior that Bush, McCain, Romney et al. simply didn’t. You could argue that the Muslim ban and family separation aren’t all that different from Guantanamo and the Patriot Act, but nonetheless Democrats assume, via confirmation bias but not entirely wrongly, that those policies come from a place of bigotry, not ideology. I consider Bush's recent halo effect to be small proof of this theory.

Their (Our) refusal to take Trump at his word after Charlottesville also makes more sense if you know the Democratic trope of dog whistling. The idea that Republicans commonly give winks and nods to racism has been around since the 60s. Trump’s denials just look like an amped up version of this, giving nods to terrorist racism instead of the garden variety. His insistence on delaying to “get all the information” sounds like an excuse, and his delays and halfhearted (“sure”) and boilerplate deliveries seem like proof that he doesn’t take bigotry seriously – a common symptom among bigots. Moreover everyone already believes Trump is racist, and if he wanted to discourage that belief he would speak up on his own about it rather than waiting to be asked.

I think you’re too soft on Jan. 6 being a coup. Sure, it was very unlikely to succeed, but partisanship runs very deep these days and Trump could get a *lot* of mileage out of that. More importantly, if there was a plan to overthrow the government, it was not one that absolutely needed to succeed, and Trump has faced no consequences I know of for trying. Most coups take multiple attempts, and this one could be seen as a dry run. Practice.

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> At some point you just have to admit everyone went crazy for a few years and seeing started seeing Nazis in trees and rocks and grilled cheese sandwiches and Trump was an especially tempting target.

Given the extent to which people invested effort in completely destroying the lives of me and many of my friends, for no reason other than we were _insufficiently condemnatory_ of Trump, this particular passage stings especially hard.

"Oh yeah, I guess people just went crazy for a bit and yknow things happen, but you still have a job now and they're not crazy any more so no harm no foul right? Boys will be boys, and liberals will be liberals, what are you gonna do?"

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[epistemic status: just a stream of consciousness]

Despite trump's many negative qualities, I held my nose and voted for him in both general elections, because he was the only candidate who didn't want to turn the US into Brazil demographically ASAP. The continued existence of my people as a majority in their homeland is a very high priority terminal value, the same as it is for most jews. Hopefully we get a better candidate next time, who accomplishes more while offending less. It takes a bit of an asshole to break a taboo, so it was inevitable that the taboo-breaker would be a bit of an asshole. Moloch (and media oligarchs) shouldn't set up stupid taboos and double standards that say self-determination is only bad when applied to white people. If Moloch sets up a dumb taboo against what is obviously in the interest of a large block of people, Moloch summons an asshole to lead them in breaking that taboo.

If my great great grandchildren could be born into any position within my country, what sort of country would I want it to be? Among other things, probably one that is demographically more like Norway than Zimbabwe (most people agree, as revealed by real estate prices, but few have the intellectual or testicular fortitude to admit it). People have large positive or negative externalities on each other as a function of their behavioral genetics, IQ, culture, and productivity (but the second two are downstream of the first two). The qualities of a country flow from the aggregate of the qualities of the people in it. It is against the interest of everyone in a country and their posterity to import undesirable people, such as most muslim refugees (NAXALT blah blah). Democrats largely only support it because of a happy death spiral around "diversity" and needing more votes to compensate for leftists' extremely low relative fertility (I call it the ship of Theseus strategy to distinguish it from the weak-men and straw-men that have gone by the name of the great replacement).

My preferred solution to the political turmoil in the US would be splitting it up into an Archipelago where anyone can just choose which system to live under by voting with their feet instead of arguing over it. But that will probably never happen, so the best I can do is push back against the EU's attempts to enforce woke orthodoxy upon less-woke Eastern European countries (by e.g. fining them for not taking in enough alleged refugees) and oppose any attempts at consolidation in the sovereignty industry which would reduce the customers' options.

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What I'm really taking away from this is the legal principle, "No one shall be judge in his own cause," and analogously the necessity of peer review in scientific publication, and a fortiori to both, the kind of adversarial collaboration promoted on SSC. Several of the grading choices appear highly contentious and selective about the facts, and one in particular seems to be an extreme error in interpretation. When predictions are being inferred after the fact from long texts, and especially when the evaluation criteria are super vague, that's when the rational choice is to leave the judgement to others.

Consequently, the prediction market results are best part of this post. And I think it's worth noticing that the prediction market bets did not cover issues similar to those Scott spent the most words defending. Perhaps the solution, then, to overall-bad arguments like these is to find a way to get them onto the prediction markets!

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I take your overall point about Proud Boys, but telling a group to 'stand by' is very different from telling them to stand down. Charitably, Trump might have had a slip of the tongue, but as President he should be judged harshly on the words he speaks and those were irresponsible words at best and sinister at worst. I don't understand why you see them as equivalent to 'stand down' or a condemnation.

I think what people miss about that whole exchange is simply that *Trump hates being seen to be told what to do.* You could ask him to condemn throwing innocent newborn babies into the mouth of Hell, and if he felt he was being pressured to do so, he'd find it uncomfortable. "Sure, whatever you want, I just want to *make you happy*. Who am I condemning again?"

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I raised an eyebrow at your account of Trump’s Charlottesville comments, which seem too charitable to me (you didn’t mention that he condemned the violence on both sides too, even though only one side killed someone), but I reminded myself that I’m biased on this point. At your account of his behavior on 1/6, though, my eyebrow goes through the roof. The idea that Trump didn’t want the Capitol incursion to happen and was unhappy when it did flies in the face of several things we know. We know that the White House wouldn’t give authorization for the DC National Guard to come to the Capitol until Pence did it himself. We know that internal reports were that Trump was delighted by footage of the riot. We know that he told Kevin McCarthy on the phone, while McCarthy was under lockdown with the rest of Congress, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are angrier about the election than you are.” We know that his staffers said they had to work to find a statement he would agree to give, and that the one he did deliver included the line “we love you.” We know that he tweeted that “this is what happens” when an election is stolen and that people would remember this day the rest of their lives. I don’t mind saying this wasn’t a coup and that he didn’t try to engineer it, but the idea that he sincerely tried to stop it, or that he didn’t like it, is risible.

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"Stand back and stand by" implies "stand by for further instructions" which is something that you would say to an ally or a subordinate or a co-conspirator. That's why it appeared troubling to listeners.

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Scott, With reference to your 'crying wolf' piece you wrote: "I will still never predict anything this controversial again - it’s not worth the cost to my peace of mind."

I do not live in the USA but I have Muslim relatives who do. I was a bit anxious about what their fate would be until the day I read your 'crying wolf' post. Please accept my grateful thanks for writing this post, even though it came with huge personal cost.

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Right-wing terrorist attacks have grown to dominate domestic terror threats. I don't see how you can give yourself kudos for claiming that Trump didn't embolden the far right, when the far right clearly became more emboldened under Trump.

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Regarding #1, It's true that it is not a uniquely Trump phenomenon, but the extent to which Republicans have lost minority voters and gained white voters relative to 2000 & 2004 still seems really significant. Trump only improved with Hispanic & Asian voters relative to Romney, but otherwise is the same or worse than all the other years. He "improved" with black voters in 2016 just by matching the baseline of Republicans not running against Obama. Since black turnout declined in 2016 did he persuade new voters or did some low information voters who were gonna turn out for the first black president not turn out for Hillary Clinton?

You could say the significance of Trump is that his focus on immigration allowed him to solidify the racial polarization of the electorate without running against a black candidate.

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Trump surprised me, too, in the end, with what you have described as a surprising lack of competence. (The narcissism that eventually pissed off the Coulter wing of the party did not surprise me, but then my default assumption is that absolutely anybody who seeks the US Presidence is a profound narcissist at best, and probably at least a little antisocial.)

I thought long and hard about this, trying to refine it, because in some areas he still appeared very competent (in a political sense). For example, he was *very* good at avoiding the taint of scandal that took down many of his underlings. He managed to have the correct combination of amnesia, plausible deniability, and throwing people under the bus that prevented any of the more serious failures from damaging him seriously. I was most impressed, in the end, with the fact that the whole Robert Mueller investigation came up essentially empty-handed. The Democrats poured unlimited resources and will into that, and Mueller himself is a deeply corrupt twister who absolutely would have delivered if he could -- but he couldn't. To me, that bespeaks an unusual level of caution by Trump early on, the canniness to insulate himself from what was going on down below in e.g. the way that Nixon famously failed to do. (I should perhaps add that the hypothesis that Trump was a Russian stooge were always brain-dead in my opinion, but normally running a very fine-toothed comb through an operation as big as a Presidential campaign will turn up *some* damaging squalor -- e.g. Hillary and her silly server -- and I gave Trump high marks on his political acumen that it did not.)

And yet...all that you say about his inability to deliver on his promises to his supporters -- which I think is (along with the bad optics of COVID) what cost him the 2020 election, since if you dive into the demographics you find the fatal trend was his loss of support among non-colleged educated working-class whites, the same people who put him over the top in 2016. To the extent I understand those people, they noticed that Trump had delivered only a tax cut to business and a lot of red-meat rhetoric, but on immigration, "The Wall," jobs, China, pretty much bupkis.

So what's up with that? How is it that he displayed strong political savvy but couldn't get some very basic crap done he'd promised, and which (initially at least) was popular enough to get him elected in 2016?

My conclusion after a while is that Trump *is* competent -- but only at those things that are essentially a sole proprietorship, on which everything hangs on the guy at the top. That works in Vegas/Atlantic City high-stakes real estate deals, maybe, and it certainly works to win an election. But it does NOT work in running the Federal Government. It simply *can't* be run by the guy at the top by himself. That guy *must* be able to hire a bunch of people who are both competent and whom he trust, and who trust him and will generally execute his vision.

In the end, Trump couldn't do this. He got a lot of very competent people to volunteer to come work with him initially, but somehow he just couldn't keep them. They left, and usually under such bad terms that they despised the man later. In short, Trump just can't make and keep friends. He's fine at relating to people in very large crowds, but I gather he's just too big of an asshole one-on-one, even to people who mostly share his ambitions and goals, to be able to build the kind of oligarchical structure necessary to run something as vast as the Federal Government. Toward the end it became kind of pathetic, he was clearly reaching for second-stringers, and then even further down, as it became clear nobody who wasn't a nutcase or cynically in it for himself was willing to work for the man.

Interestingly, he never seemed to resent this fact, which means I think he must be used to it.

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What sucks here is that the thing you got the most right (and is thus the most valuable) is also on the most forbidden topic where you took a personal risk to have a (contrary) opinion. But in some ways that seems like a general pattern of useful punditry. The easiest way to make a great prediction is to bet against the most obviously stupid herd beliefs, but it is the obviously stupid herd beliefs which induce the strongest defense mechanism when challenged.

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TBH it's not just the "number of words" in that Homeland Security document that reminds of The Fourteen Words; I think it's extremely unlikely that was just a coincidence.

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Scott, what would it look like if there were a realm of meaning that you did not understand? As in, you were missing a sense?

Perhaps it would look like people getting angry at you for the things you say on certain topics. Perhaps it would look like people behaving irrationally towards you for reasons you could never grasp.

Perhaps those people are behaving rationally, they are just possessed of a sense that you do not yourself have access to.

I don't know if there is a kind way to say this. I have heard it said that Rationalists held truth above the ego. It has not been true in my experience of them.

> Trump said the Proud Boys should "stand back and stand by", which as far as I can tell is equivalent to "stand down"

When I heard those words for the first time the visceral sense of anger and dread I experienced was alarming. I understood that something like the Capitol Riot was inevitable. The fact that you are unable to perceive the meaning of "stand back and stand by" and why it was alarming is very, very telling.

> Apparently these two events were the most racist-sounding comments anyone was able to get out of Trump in four years of being President.

Notice you are confused! That was one of the most shocking moments, yes! If you weren't shocked, notice you are confused!

You need an editor. You need someone you can trust to point out where gaps in your perception show up in your writing.

Because they do. As someone who has been a fan: the gaps in your perception show up in your writing. All writers have gaps in their perception of some manner or another which an editor can help with.

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"They’re going to lean regressive, totalitarian, super-social-justice left.

I think this basically happened."

Evidence? Who are you talking about here?

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You are Still Crying Wolf was how I discovered SSC and the rationality community in general, so I really appreciate you being willing to speak up. I was really questioning my sanity when so many of my smart college educated friends were posting (deadly serious) about how Trump was going to usher in an era of Nazi style fascism and I just couldn't understand it... I used to think humans were mostly rational creatures but I've learned a lot in the past few years that has been really helpful in understanding the world. So thank you!!

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Regarding the increase in hate crime, the % increase in incidents motivated by anti-Asian, Arab, or Hispanic bias is still striking. Almost half of the race/ethnicity-based incidents are anti-black, which already had a high baseline in 2015, increased by 10-15% while anti-Arab incidents increased 2.75x and anti-Hispanic events increased by 42% in 2017. Anti-arab incidents simmer down in 2019 but continue to stay high for the latter in 2019. It will be interesting to see anti-Asian incidents in 2020. The numbers are in the hundreds, so after statistical testing, the increases might not be "statistically significant," but the trend by groups is there IMO.

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Generally I think you're right about the white supremacy hype. I bought in to those concerns for sure in 2015 and 2016 and there was no explicit fascist movement in the U.S.

But I also think the blowback - the literally claiming you were a Nazi and blatant attacks on you and your integrity, have given you a bit of a blind spot here.

Trump is not a white supremacist (we'll just use the phrase "white supremacist" to mean "somebody who intends to enforce a culture of white supremacy") but he had absolutely no problem accepting the support of white supremacists. And while everything he said and did during his tenure in office had a thin coating of plausible deniability, he did signal to white supremacists.

I can't imagine a world in which telling a group to "stand down" is the same as telling them to "stand down and stand by." One implies "stop doing your stuff" and the other implies "stop doing your stuff...for now." It seems uncontroversially obvious to me that this was a dog whistle, and not a particularly subtle one.

I feel exactly the same way about the statements beginning with the phrase "we must secure."

There's a textual reading of all this stuff that has no white supremacist meaning, coupled with a reasonable second meaning that does. Maybe that happens once or twice, but it happened repeatedly throughout Trump's four years in office.

Do I think that's because Trump was a secret Nazi who wanted to burn minorities in ovens? No. I think for decades, the mainstream press has made a blood sport of asking questions meant to separate moderate GOP voters and the GOP's crazy base. They enjoy, e.g. taking some fringe conspiracy theory, putting it in the news like it's part of the GOP platform, upping the volume on it, and then asking GOP candidates to comment. They love watching Romney squirm because he's sold himself as a reasonable and moderate alternative to Obama, but now he has to either say that Obama is a Muslim or lose support in the primary.

Trump just barrels through that mess - which is a huge part of his appeal. "Do you agree with these white supremacist groups we're artificially inflating as a major threat or are you sane?"

"Screw you, there's no way to answer that question that doesn't hurt me, even if I tell the Proud Boys to stand down that will just be used as proof that I have the ability to do that, so I ain't playing. No, I'm not a white supremacist but if white supremacists will vote for me I'll take their votes just like every other politician alive. Spin that, b***ches."

I have no patience with this - it emboldens dangerous nutjobs, normalizes saying white supremacy things, and will actually harm the country. I know that the media is manipulating the GOP to make them into villains it is just to fight, but I can't help it. They are now villains it is just to fight.

And reading statements at a surface level, assuming the good intent of the speaker, should be the default - finding secret signals in the statements of public figures is psychotic behavior. But shouldn't good Bayesian thinking say "hey if he just happens to ape Nazi symbolism in service to non-nazi causes a lot, but it appears to be innocent every time, maybe I should adjust towards the dog whistle hypothesis a bit"?

Anyway, I understand if you censor your thoughts, predictions, and opinions based on what the internet might think. I certainly do, all the time, almost impulsively. There are real consequences for saying unpopular things - interpersonally, politically, career-wise. But if you are willing to keep having controversial opinions and making controversial predictions, you will in fact make the world a better place.

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A soft coup, sometimes referred to as a silent coup, is a coup d'état without the use of violence, but based on a conspiracy or plot that has as its objective the taking of state power by partially or wholly legal means, in order to facilitate an exchange of political leadership and in some cases also of the current institutional order.

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I don't know if I'd agree with your assessment that there were no links to white supremacy in the 6/1 Capitol attack - there were multiple white supremacist groups present that day, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Nick Fuentes and assoc., Rise Above Movement, Anticom, and Three Percenters. You might argue that these groups aren't *primarily* white supremacist or that they describe themselves in other terms, but at *best* they're well known to have supremacist/anti-diversity sentiments.

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> There’s a vicious cycle where the lack of intelligent conservatives guts the system of think tanks that produce the sort of studies and analyses which convince smart people to become conservative, which in turn makes there even fewer intelligent conservatives, and so on.

As far as I'm aware, there is not a significant IQ slant to liberals or conservatives. (Undecideds are noticeably dumber than everyone else.) Rather, what's gutting the system of think tanks is a lack of *academic* conservatives.

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The Trump comment that seems (to me) hardest to reconcile with anything other than racist ideology is the "good genes"/"racehorse theory" bit from his speech here: https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-campaign-rally-speech-bemidji-minnesota-transcript-september-18

I even asked a few Trump supporters I know if they could think of any non-racist interpretation, and came up empty.

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Scott Sumner (here: https://www.econlib.org/dont-anthropomorphize-the-economy/) - insists that economic performance is 3% the president and 97% everything else.

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Please, Scott, please stop commenting on politics. It makes you sound so ignorant!

People get mad at you because you skew every single thing in the most favorable to the Trump-y direction. You don't need to this! But you seem incapable of doing anything else when you talk about this. What are you getting your news from Daily Caller and Breitbart?

You want to argue that the GOP should take inspiration from Trump/Bannonism and turn it into something better, fine. You want to argue that liberals and anti-racists go too far on some corner of the Internet, also fine. But please don't attempt to touch base with reality, you are on a different planet.

-Trump had destroyed institutions

-children in cages, revoking DACA, blanket visa ban on Nigerians, these are some racist policies.

- How are young people more totalitarian, because they tell at you on Twitter? Young liberals are advocating for HR-1 and other pro-democracy measures.

- Jan 6th was an attempted coup. Is it exculpatory that it was so sloppy?

- Stephen Miller was found to be coordinating with explicitly white supremacists websites, kept his job.

- We have GOP house members forming "Anglo-saxon" culture events.

If you want to argue Trump's obvious white-supremacist racism is unimportant or overblown, fine, but you don't have to deny it exists.

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Re: '..."stand back and stand by", which as far as I can tell is equivalent to "stand down"...'

It really, really isn't equivalent. Stand by is an instruction to do nothing but maintain readiness. If you tell a soldier to stand by and their weapon will remain in their hands, at the ready. "Prepare to receive further instructions" is implicit in an order to stand by. You're standing by _for_ something. Trump telling Proud Boys to "stand by" is telling them "don't do anything...yet. I will tell you at the appropriate time what to do", which is not reassuring for anyone to hear, especially I'm the light of the capitol riot later.

Stand Down is more decisive, it basically means "go off duty". If you tell a soldier to stand down, they're going to assume they've been dismissed and go do whatever off-duty stuff they have.

Maybe Trump just mis-spoke, or maybe he just didn't know the difference. After all, you're a pretty smart dude and you're publicly posting that they're equivalent. On the other hand, Trump was currently president of the united states, receiving all kinds of status updates and meetings where military types would tell him things like "We have four F-18s on standby", and surely he didn't take that to mean that they had four planes not-fueled and not-armed, not-ready to not-go.

tl;dr they're not equivalent, one means "wait for my signal" and the other means "go home", Trump said the wrong one and while it's possible it was an accident, it's also possible it wasn't, and even if it was an accident it's a negligent one, unfitting for a commander-in-chief.

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You're wrong about the Charlottesville thing. Here is what he said:

"Q: You said there was hatred and violence on both sides?

Trump: I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame object both on both sides. I have no doubt about it. You don't have doubt about it either. If you reported it accurately, you would say that the neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville. Excuse me. They didn't put themselves down as neo-Nazis. You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down -- excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue. He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? It is fine. You are changing history and culture.

You had people and i'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

Q: You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?

Trump: No, no. There were people in that rally. I looked the night before. If you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure there were some bad ones.

The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest. I don't know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit.

So I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.

Does anybody have a final question? Do you have an infrastructure question? "

He is drawing a distinction between people who were there on Saturday, and people who were there "the night before." He even specified that the people he was praising had a permit. Only one group had a permit for Friday, and it was the people carrying tiki torches chanting "Jews will not replace us."

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Got to say, I really like the Trump-hair Mantis.

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"But Prediction 2 suggests I thought there was only a 50% chance Trump would win the Republican nomination. In retrospect that was way too low. I think I genuinely should feel embarrassed about this one - I put myself in the Republican Party's shoes and imagined I would reject Trump, ignoring all the evidence that actual Republicans liked him quite a lot and would probably continue to do so."

To be fair, Trump not winning the Republican nomination could also come from:

* Trump hates being President; doesn't run again.

* Trump is impeached and convicted; can't run again.

* Trump is old and in poor health; doesn't run again.

These had more than 0% chance, and much more than 0% mindshare, in Feb 2018. I think it would've been reasonable for you to have those account for 10%-25% of the 50% chance of Trump not winning the nomination.

(Though also, your two predictions don't actually entail a 50% chance of him not winning the nomination. The likelihood of a GOP win would presumably differ between running Trump vs running someone else.)

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I don't agree with your statements about Trump and racism, but I can see where you're coming from and at least understand your arguments. I cannot say the same about your position on the Capitol riots.

40% of the rioters went there right from Trump's rally, and his final words were a call for them to "fight like hell" or they'd lose their country.

According to actual people in the White House, Trump watched the rioters break into the Capitol building with "delight" and "glee". He did eventually call for peace through a tweet, but well over an hour later, after it was clear the rioters had failed to do anything effective, and reportedly only because people were telling him he would be held responsible otherwise. It is ridiculous to say that waiting until a coup has failed, and ONLY THEN choosing to denounce it, is somehow discouraging it.

One of the first things the rioters did was build a gallows and start a chant calling for Mike Pence to hanged, and Trump's literal first response after they broke into the Capitol building was to tweet out that Mike Pence had failed him and the country, so it's not like he couldn't have put a call for peace (and not what could easily be read as an incitement to kill his Vice President) earlier.

Meanwhile, in the riot itself, bombs had been placed in DC, which were luckily found and disarmed, but would have exploded just fine if we weren't lucky. The rioters were calling for senators to be killed, were heard explicitly saying they wanted to find and kill them while in the Capitol building, and had brought zip-tie handcuffs and restraints just in case they found someone they could hold captive. The fact of the matter is, we as a country came about a minute from seeing live-streamed executions of politicians.

Just because a coup was performed with the same incompetence we saw in so many aspects of the Trump administration and ultimately failed doesn't make it any less of an attempted coup.

Also, you said that Trump's only other plan was to "challenge the election results a lot," and that completely ignores the direct pressure he put on Republican election officials to just fraudulently change the vote tallies, like the actual recorded call to Raffensperger where he tells him to just find 11,000 votes.

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"In this case Iran decided it wasn't worth picking a fight, but that was their good decision, not Trump's."

I'm not sure what you're imagining here: open war with Iran at this point would obviously be extremely bad for Iran and not particularly bad for the US. And the future is only growing worse with Iranian development of missiles and nuclear weapons.

I guess I think that if you think an event of this scale (killing this one senior guy) might trigger open war with Iran =>

then you have to think open war with Iran is highly triggerable =>

and therefore highly likely to happen at some point for some reason (with so many tensions with and open fronts against Iran anyway) =>

and if you think open war with Iran is highly likely in, say, the next few decades -- surely it's better it happen now (before Iran finishes its nuclear and missile development projects) rather than in a decade's time?

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By chance, last night I read Scott's 10 year old post on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianims: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/9kcTNWopvXFncXgPy/intellectual-hipsters-and-meta-contrarianism

Much of the Trump disagreement - very much including this post and the comment section - seems to neatly fit into Scott's triad taxonomy:

Trump is good / Trump is bad / Trump is not actually as bad as you liberals think

Has Scott written anything about whether his own views on Trump may be meta-contrarianism, intentional or otherwise?

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I mostly agree with you here, but I do think "stand back and stand by" is not equivalent to "stand down" - to me it sounds more like "stand down (possibly because I'm being forced to say this) but be ready to stand up for me soon" - the "stand by" part is weird and not just temporary as you say but a bit of an active endorsement.

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The left media has definitely been hysterical and dishonest at times and taken Trump's words out of context and wrangled them to suit their purpose.

But I am not sure about cause and effect here -- *if* the left had not been so hysterical in the first place, maybe Trump would have been more explicitly racist etc? I would guess that this kind of policing is what at least somewhat forces Trump&co to not be explicitly KKK supporting.

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Scott, I miss the much stricter enforcement of commenting courtesy at SSC. Too many interlocutors here are unreasonably rude and arrogant. I’m here for reasoned insight, the occasional surprisingly effective contrarianism, and general intellectual honesty. The negations of those you can get anywhere.

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I just want to say that *You Are Still Crying Wolf* was the first post of yours I read. I was really impressed by it and that I've been reading ever since. Please keep up the good work.

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I don't know if it's demographic differences or what, but the number of explicit support of QAnon that I observed within my greater network (mostly right-wing Kentuckians), suggests to me that it was much more than a moral panic. Especially paired with the fact that I know these people to be armed.

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Trump was extremely incompetent.

This meant that it was very hard for him to get anything "positive" (i.e. doing things he wanted to do) done.

However, he was pretty good at doing damage to institutions. This is, I think, greatly underestimated; a lot of people quit or were forced out who were good at their jobs, and the CDC and other disease control agencies were just the most obvious manifestation of that. His response to hurricanes was also quite bad, especially the one in Puerto Rico; he was very bad at dealing with disasters because he surrounded himself with morons and was bad at what he did. His response to wildfires was also quite poor.

The agencies that largely escaped his attention (like NASA) did okay, and the NWS and NOAA were not so badly affected, but FEMA had funds taken away from it for various pet projects. Other, more "political" agencies like the State Department and Homeland Security, were much, much more negatively affected, with many experts leaving.

The fact that he was investigated because it was believed to be credible that he was a Russian intelligence asset speaks volumes, and his behavior towards Russia cost us a lot of people in intelligence.

Crime went up significantly over the course of his presidency as well, and he did a very poor job of dealing with BLM and that whole mess.

Indeed, his reaction to radicalization was extremely poor in general, as was his incompetence at dealing with both Russia and China.

He caused the US considerable reputational damage, and he did back out of the TPP, which was a huge blunder as well.

The thing is, Trump had very strong authoritarian tendencies, but he was an incompetent buffoon. He was, in fact, dangerous, but he was also very low on the competence tree, which meant that he was not very good at getting things done that he wanted to do. He did, however, serve to radicalize the Republican party, and was intensely anti-intellectual, and he did damage to the US government's institutions.

People who thought he was going to turn the US into a white nationalist state just didn't understand Trump to begin with. He was indeed racist, but he was racist like a racist relative - actually hurting someone because of their race? He's not that. He's not a Klansman.

He just was prejudiced and stupid and bigoted. His travel ban on various random countries for no actual reason was a good example of that.

That was the sort of thing people SHOULD have expected, but thinking he would support Klansmen was just dumb.

Trump was really awful at things in exactly the way that people should have expected. People just made him into something he wasn't.

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I read through a good amount of the comments and didn't find anyone explaining the economy doing better than expected.

What Trump did was macroeconomics 101, specifically deficit-spending. What you do is you pump money into the economy on loan. Since the government is so big, it can stimulate the entire economy like that. Every politician knows they can do this, but they don't because the debt has to be paid back at some point, requiring future tax-increases. And usually other politicians and voters complain about how much you're increasing the debt.

Keynesian economics says that deficit spending is ok during a downturn to revive the economy, but Trump did this pre-covid already. This is generally considered a bad idea because you're reducing your capacity to take on new debt when the recession eventually comes. So the recession will be worse, a) because the economy was artificially inflated, leading to a bigger correction, and b) because you can't afford to borrow much more money.

The jury is still out on how this will end. We got lucky that this is such an unusual recession. That allowed big interventions without the usual stops. So we did not end up with a reduced ability to deal with the next recession. (Except that with Trump in power that first stimulus package was unusually bad, doing very little about the virus, mostly helping the stock market) But we did end up in uncharted territory in terms of the amount of debt. Keynes would have said that when the economy was good, we should have decreased the debt to not run into this. We got short-term benefits of an improved economy from 2017 to 2019 but got a new debt-problem to deal with for many years to come.

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"Stand back and stand by" is nothing like "Stand down" Scott. I was going to save this blog to favourites based on Coleman Hughes recommendation but anyone who can make that statement is disingenuous. "Stand back and stand by" means prepare for me to give you instructions - which is exactly what happened.

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> that he was some kind of bizarre "clown genius" or "drunken master" type whose apparent bumbling was just him playing so many levels above the rest of us that we couldn't understand it. I think something like this might be true for his ability to speak to the Republican base

Hah, no. I've been saying for years that what Trump does is trivially easy.

He listens to his echo chamber — Twitter, Facebook, Fox News, private parties — and then, whatever he hears there, so long as it appeals to his personal taste, he treats as fact and repeats it to everyone to the best of his recollection (which often isn't very good).

This entirely explains his popularity with his base. Aside from Republicans naturally gravitating toward the opinions of their president, most of his base participates in similar echo chambers, so from the beginning they sat up and took notice that Trump said things they mostly believed already. That's why they voted for him and that's why their support for him never wavered.

Trump is no different than any rando commenting prolifically on YouTube videos, just with some business sense from his business experience; his skillset is the skillset of the used car salesman applied to national politics. Truly a man of the people: his everyman naiveté is his whole appeal.

In 2016 I didn't understand how appealing a man like this could be, nor did I understand Democrats' structural disadvantage in the electoral college. Lessons I won't soon forget.

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I've only read bits and pieces of this, but...

> "stand back and stand by", which as far as I can tell is equivalent to "stand down"

"Stand by" means "get ready"!!

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Like many others here I see when I control+F for "stand by", I'd really like to see a clarification added for that point. For reference I'm an Australian (i.e. it's no direct danger to me if he implemented death squads) and don't think Trump definitely intended to say "stand by". Even so, hearing it caused me to massively update my predictions of the likelihood of civil unrest verging on some kind of modern liberal democracy version of a coup (e.g. bloodless but forcible spoiling of a crucial count) during the election, and absolutely nothing like other supposed gaffes like "fine people on both sides" which I generally ignored.

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Catching up with this after a couple weeks or so. I'm really enjoying Mantic Mondays. A lot of humility implied in addressing a question along the lines of "does a self-imposed C grade justify continued political punditry?" For some reason this reminds me of a conversation with a philosophy prof I met while my oldest was touring colleges. We got to chatting and I mentioned liking the ways that philosophy intersects with science, from the Greeks to Popper and the importance of falsifiability in science. He mentioned in passing that it's very difficult to know what the falsifiability points at. There are layers upon layers when we make meaning. Anyway, I admire the effort it takes to think carefully about the layers of meaning implicit in these predictions, and in the act of making predictions.

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In measuring Trump's explicitly racist policies, I feel Scott is mistaken to ignore pardoning criminals like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a cruel human rights abuser who was convicted of contempt of court for defying a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, who butchered captured ISIS militants and Iraqi civilians alike.

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"When his plan for angry supporters chanting turned into angry supporters rioting and getting into the Capitol, he was clearly against this and tried to stop it." - no he didn't. He watched the carnage on TV for hours while ignoring calls from his fellow Republicans. Eventually someone convinced him to call in reinforcements. I think that whole episode can totally reasonably be described as a coup - I can't even imagine what would have ensued if Mike Pence had done the thing his voter base really wanted him to do, and refused to certify the election.

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