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Isn't Greenwald kind of cool? Like, he's really edgy and anti-establishment. Indeed: anti-establishment seems to be the main coherent thread in his politics. Is he not cool because he just does everything too earnestly?

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Leftists who criticize the left are the worst kind of traitors and are as cool as black socks and loafers at the beach. See: Jimmy Dore.

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He has a kind of cool in a certain community. But Greenwald and Taibbi definitely don't have the cultural relevance that they did 5 or 10 years ago.

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Reddit isn't cool. YA fiction isn't cool. The DSA certainly isn't cool.

What is cool? I hope that what is cool is hanging out, having a good time, and not reading the news or having strong political opinions. The teenagers I see in real life, rather than on the internet, seem to have a much better understanding of this.

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It turns out that the twitter character limit (which has been raised to 280 characters) matters much less than you might think.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/30/twitters-doubling-of-character-count-from-140-to-280-had-little-impact-on-length-of-tweets/

People are spreading out a little, and there's probably more use of threaded tweets.

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It seems ironic to accuse the host of myopia and then anoint Twitter as the place where "all the networking journalists, academics, and business leaders" do their shopping. I've never used Twitter. Don't even read it, just barely know it exists. The same can be said for everybody above me in the corporate chain to the CEO. (Our company altogether employs about 6,000 and has offices in 14 countries).

We know Twitter exists, and a bunch of weird cultural flamefests occupy it, and it's possible if you have bad luck to be featured in one of them. But shop there for actionable insight? Never. As far as business goes, it's as relevant (i.e. not at all) as Saturday Night Live was to Exxon/Mobil's long-term strategy in the 1980s, or the Sunday funnies were to how FDR prosecuted the Second World War.

Of course, I would certainly think different if I were in the business of punditry, or news, or entertainment (if there's a difference), but I'm not, and most American business is not.

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Twitter is horrible because the post-length limit is just long enough for tribal signaling, but not long enough for substance. It would be a very different place with a 500 character minimum and no quote-tweet function.

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It's being plugged into a hivemind, and a hivemind that only wants the most shallow thoughts promulgated, and nodes in the hivemind are desperately afraid of being targeted for removal from the hivemind for wrongthink, and the best way to not get targeted for wrongthink (in the very short term) is to be the one doing the targeting.

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The post length was doubled, but very few people use it.

Also, it's possible to do longer texts by linking tweets, but, again, this isn't done very commonly.

I don't know whether twitter could be somewhat defanged just be having a half hour wait between sending a post and having it become visible.

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There is the possibility that the initial post length has shaped the type of site it has become i.e. if it had always been 280 characters or longer, maybe twitter discourse would have evolved differently. Not saying I have a strong positive position on this, but its worth considering.

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I wasn't a big John McCain fan, but I always thought the most statesmanlike thing he did was play a sizable role in the early 1990s rapprochement between Washington and Hanoi. It was precisely because he had strong personal reasons for disliking his former captors who had beaten him frequently that made this impressive.

Anyway, McCain didn't get in trouble for using a racial epithet against his torturers because he was famous for having been tortured, and already in the early 1990s he had risen above his feelings in the national interest.

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But do remember--those POW/MIA dolchstosselegend flags are still flying everywhere.

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Do most people actually intend that they refer to the Vietnam POW conspiracy theory? My impression was that the people who used them mostly just wanted to show generic patriotism & respect for the military.

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Generic patriotism is considered equivalent to nazism in this woke age. Anyone in favor of the irredeemably racist USA must be The Other.

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Disagree. I'm a left of center Democrat who worked for the Federal Government for 20 years specifically out of a sense of patriotism. I'm a computer scientist; I would have made a lot more in the private sector.

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Which side is "the aggressor side"? The people who tried to get Intelligent Design into schools, or the New Atheists? Harvey Weinstein or the people who brought suit against him? Derek Chauvin or the protestors in the streets?

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Cuomo and Scott Stringer still had #MeToo s.

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If Cuomo _really_ had a #MeToo he would be unemployed right now.

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He's an elected official. He can only be fired by voters and isn't up for reelection until next year.

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New York does not have a recall like California? Pity.

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Hello from the future. This has not aged well. It turns out you can be forced to resign without a vote or a recall.

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> "Cancel culture" does not refer to getting TV shows cancelled. It refers to weaponized culture war antagonism to destroy individuals

I think his point is that, while "cancel culture" is used to refer to all of these, TV shows being cancelled is most annoying to the typical not-very-politically-engaged person & so complaints about it are more influential.

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The coup de grace for #MeToo believe-women feminism came after Tara Reade's rape accusation against Joe Biden in March 2020. It was ebbing down already, but at that point it's almost like something clicked in a few editorial rooms across the US and the movement lost its last source of clout.

Arguably, something else happened in March 2020, but that something took its time to percolate into the newsrooms...

(I do believe that cancel culture lost its sharpest tooth with the end of #MeToo. Cancellation in 2016 on allegations of sexual assault would make people shunned and break families apart, while cancellation in 2020 merely ruins careers and politically charged friendships.)

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I think that's just more a case of "don't bite the hand that feeds you"

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Exactly, but it kicked the system into the basin of another attractor. Right now there is no interest in pushing the topic back into the mainstream (probably because a critical mass of "stakeholders" have gotten their hands burned), and it's not considered avantgarde any more, so I don't think it will come back in foreseeable time.

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> I think New Atheism petered out because it basically won. Religion is much less influential today than it was 20 years ago.

I don't think New Atheism had too much effect on this. Surveys have shown that "atheist" and "no religion" affiliations have bee nsteadily declining for many decades, and New Atheism didn't really cause a blip at the time, but it obviously has some long-term effects contributing to the decline in all the books and everything that are now available.

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"Surveys have shown that "atheist" and "no religion" affiliations have bee nsteadily declining for many decades"

Cite? Or did you misspeak?

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https://www.patheos.com/blogs/godzooks/2020/05/religious-affiliation-decline-united-states-survey-atheism/

The decline in religious affiliation are similar across countries. It actually seems more plausible that the rise of New Atheism as a movement was a *result* of declining interest in religion and a growing interest in secularism, rather than the result, ie. we only heard about this movement because this existing trend created a market where once there was none.

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Your original claim: "Surveys have shown that "atheist" and "no religion" affiliations have bee nsteadily declining for many decades" Did you write "atheist" for "religious"?

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Ah, sorry, I meant steadily increasing, not declining. Or equivalently, yes, "religious affiliation has been declining".

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It isn't that it faltered because it succeeded, it was that Christians had already had loss after loss after loss before the argument between them and New Atheists even started. It was less of a serious debate and more like a victory lap.

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The weakest part of this fact-free speculation about "linguistic kill shots" is that "politically correct" has followed the same pattern as "woke." It started out being used unironically among the left, then became identified with intra-left snark, and then conservatives picked up on the snarky usage, which blew it up into the mainstream. Using "woke" as a pejorative is already starting to fall out of favor on the far-left now that conservative legislators and think tank flacks are using it to describe things like minimum wage hikes and free child care.

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The first person I can recall using the term "politically correct" was rock star Joe Strummer in the early 1980s. He was laughing that The Clash's leftist fans were always complaining that The Clash wasn't "politically correct" enough, but he felt The Clash had done plenty for the left.

My impression from the Strummer interview was that "politically correct" meant in early 1980s Britain adherence to the Labour/Stalinist line of Arthur Scargill, head of the National Union of Mineworkers, rather than the more cultural angle it now implies.

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Peter F. Drucker's historical account of political correctness is in line with your recollection of its Stalinist roots. https://books.google.com/books?id=81nUZ-eoYusC&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&fbclid=IwAR3FwtweSIC-9ra5e_uSlw0R6QmCMfiIeQEmeZvGr7huxi2i_MxkxbQ5FeM#v=onepage&q&f=false

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The Stalinist roots are undeniable. Actually, in the Soviet Union, as late as the late 1980's, the term was in use. I recall reading about a Soviet conservative figure praising an anti-Glasnost article in the Soviet press as "politically correct", meaning it was correct according the party line.

I am much less sure about the expression "politically correct" having been given wide currency in the 1980s and early 1990s' Western non-Marxist Left. Which leftist figure back then was praised as being politically correct (say, McGovern or Jesse Jackson) as opposed to Republicans or squarer leftists (say, Blue Dog Democrats)? Has anyone ever said Gary Hart was not politically correct enough?

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Is there any evidence that "politically correct" was ever said as a complement by *anyone*, left, right, Soviet, or even Stalinist? I can't remember this usage from my childhood in the US in the 80s--90s.

I first remember hearing the word associated with my dad's (then) right-centrist politics around 1990. Then by the time _PCU_ came out in 1994, everyone was aware of the word, although my sense at the time was it was mostly a badge of group identification for the kind of conservatives who define themselves by being anti-whatever the Democrats are doing.

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As I said, there is evidence for use in the late Soviet Union. Example: https://books.google.com.br/books?id=BXoxAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA205&dq=%22Nina+andreyeva%22+%22politically+correct%22&hl=pt-BR&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiUxMLhysTwAhXBrJUCHWLmCmcQ6AEwAHoECAAQAw#v=onepage&q=%22Nina%20andreyeva%22%20%22politically%20correct%22&f=false

Drucker recalled Stalinists and Nazis using it in the pre-WW II days, but he did not present quotes.

In the early 1990s, I remember conservatives complaining about leftiets' political correction. I do not recall leftists praising each other back in the for being "politically correct".

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Ah, good point. I misunderstood your OP and assumed you meant the "Soviet conservative figure" was only damning with faint praise and not delivering a true compliment. Very American of me, I'm sure.

No, in my middle-class daily-local-paper-reading remembrance of the 80s/90s, (mainstream) leftists never used the term "politically correct" except occasionally to deride conservatives' worldview.

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I don't think that someone using a term that is translated as "politically correct" is quite the same thing as the actual phrase "politically correct" being used (I assume that Soviet figure writing in the Soviet press would not be using English).

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According to Google's Ngram, the term "politically correct" appeared occasionally in books in the 1930s, then was largely forgotten until the late 1980s, when it exploded in usage up until the mid-1990s. My impression is that its usage was spread by neoconservatives with personal or scholarly memory of 1930s Stalinism, but it was mostly applied by them to the rising postmodernist cultural left in the English Lit departments influenced by Derrida and Foucault rather than to the fading modernist economic left.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=politically+correct&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3

The early 1990s battles over political correctness were surprisingly literary in subject matter. My vague recollection is that the mandarins largely won the arguments at that time (in, say, the New York Times Magazine) because they had better taste in literature than did the French theorists. The big guns of the American novel back then, with the exception of Toni Morrison, were unenthusiastic about political correctness: Updike, Roth, Wolfe, McCarthy, Bellow, De Lillo, Pynchon etc. For example, Philip Roth's fine 2000 novel "The Human Stain" begins with an aged professor getting canceled for inadvertent political correctness that reads exactly like it was ripped from the headlines of a 2021 whoop-tee-doo (then the book goes off in an unexpected direction).

But far fewer people care as much these days about literary quality as they did back then.

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I think the phrase 'political correctness' mostly got going from French communists attacking 'premature anti-fascists' who fought the Germans through the Hitler-Stalin pact. So it's always been a little gamy, a little ironic.

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FWIW I remember "politically correct" being used in conversation among leftists in the late 80s/early 90s in precisely this way—first unironically, then more & more often ironically.

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this is what I remember as well.

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This film wasn't well received and doesn't seem well remembered, but was spoofing PC culture on college campuses back in 1994: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCU_(film)

And, of course, there is Roger Ebert on PBS calling political correctness the "fascism of the 90s": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__L9DzZIkwI

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PCU used to run on Comedy Central almost every day. Can you even imagine that now! Jeremy Piven ftw

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Earlier - "politically correct" was very common among my cohort in the mid 70's, said cohort being radical activists and hippies. It was so common it was usually abbreviated to just "PC". We had sufficient rad cred we could counter-signal by making fun of its silly excesses - my favorite joke was to refer to San Francisco's Fisherperson's Wharf.

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I think "cancel culture" even moreso. Even the "left not liberal" types don't use that anymore because it's associated with Ted Cruz and the sort. "Woke" I think still has some legs. I do see cool irony bros using it. (i.e. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvVhCCWPgaI)

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What do conservatives mean when they complain about someone or some institution being woke? I haven’t been able to nail it down.

Some object to the idea that any but a tiny minority are racist. I note Tim Scott being pulled over 7 times in six years, being detained for impersonating a US Senator, etc. and they agree that happens. So it’s more than a tiny minority? No and they get all huffy. I don’t really understand where they are coming from.

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You identified something important: aesthetic. But what you fail to realise is that it's your fault for giving so much weight to aesthetics. Right wingers (yes, even center-right) are obsessed with 'anti-aesthetics', they hate elites who care too much about their appearance, they hate puritans who care about crafting ideal images of their personality. I'm not going to speculate why this might be, lest I get a 'not all conservatives!' from you, but it's quite clear the right hates aesthetics in a disproportionate amount. Maybe they are the 'have nots' when it comes to looking good?

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I would, and I'm "elite" (as far as income/education goes) and live on the west coast of the US. I am always impressed by someone who takes first-class care of his machinery. It bespeaks a pride in one's work that further suggests reliability, trustworthiness, and self-discipline -- very valuable character traits. In my experience people who treat their tools with disrespect also treat their friends and colleagues that way, too.

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"Aesthetics" or "theatrics"? I'd like to make that distinction as it's not that difficult to adopt an archetypal persona simply to attract attention and thus votes. Groups with different preferences will take different sorts of appearances as insincere, likely due to projection. The problem with that is, of course, that it's easiest to make a political career if you have no personal convictions, disregard any premise of personal authenticity and become willing to just follow the social desirability bias wherever that leads you.

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Yeah, at least Marxists were tautologically right in the sense that owning the means of production gives you power that can, and often has, been used for oppression. But the above kind of essentialism is dangerous because of its closeness to racism, sexism and others forms of prejudice.

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Are you for what criteria someone could use to conclude that an institution is woke?

Generalize the question. Under what conditions would we describe an institution as a Christian institution (school, business, club), an Islamist institution, a communist institution?

If it mandates its members be informed of its tenants, and those tenants are put forward as being not merely a set of tenants but the correct set of tenants (so excludes a course on comparative religions). It disciplines or expels members of the institution who compromise the integrity of those tenants with acts or statements of disbelief.

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For the sake of clarity: "tenets".

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Bah! I feel dumb now. Thanks.

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Hardly! Rejoice, for you are slightly less ignorant than you were an hour ago. :-)

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Oh don't feel any more dumb than the usual run of people; everybody does it!

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Irrelevant to this conversation but I wish I was YeBaiYi too.

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I love Grumpy Grandpa. He is very relatable to me: come down out of your solitude, everyone is an idiot panicking over stupid crap, just let me have my extensive selection of delicious dishes in peace, why are you two idiot lovebirds canoodling under my nose instead of teaching your idiot baby disciple? I do love the scenes where he shows up, goes "You're an idiot, and you're an idiot, and *you're* an *especially big* idiot" and then kicks their asses for them 😀

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Oh, I’d love to be able to edit my own typos!

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We need the people here to hurry up and start working for Substack via their advertised vacancies in order to implement our secret agenda of taking over the world - that is, of making commenting much more user-friendly and including features like editing, formatting, adding images, adding links and so forth.

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Meh, nowadays I think tenants works. In fact tenets get in the way when people point out the hypocrisies, the tenants are always from the same pool and will never change.

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I think they mean the institution has put "social justice" above its original purpose as an institution. A prime example would be Gillette running a cringeworthy feminist ad that alienated a lot of their customers.

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If you believe Gillette was acting against its original purpose in creating that add, I have a bridge to sell you. Companies go woke in pursuit of not in spite of their original purpose, making profits.

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Can you come up with any plausible cost-benefit analysis for that ad?

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I think they mean that an institution is not advocating wokeness because it's correct, but only because it's popular, i.e. they have zero scruples and would gladly burn the intellectual commons to see a few more likes or retweets or a quarter point stock increase or whatever the hell such people care about these days. I think most conservatives would acknowledge, at least in private, that women/minorities/etc have legit gripes with the system.

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"I think most conservatives would acknowledge, at least in private, that women/minorities/etc have legit gripes with the system."

There was a time when there were legit gripes. Most conservatives, at least in private, would acknowledge that. There are no legit gripes now. As a matter of fact, the pendulum has swung quite a far bit the opposite direction, and you can see the proof of abominable and overwhelming statistical data in the behavior of black americans to asian americans. And that is but one example.

There is behavioral rot among women/minorities/etc that has set in now, such that these cultural behaviors are victimizing, not hallmarks of vicitimization.

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“ There are no legit gripes now.”

None, none at all....

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"There are no legit gripes now."

It is obviously not true that most conservatives believe this, the median reTHUGlican thinks there is between "a lot" and "a moderate amount" of discrimination against blacks.

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I’m not sure about that. If you point out Tim Scott’s experience they are will agree that Til Scott has been the victim of discriminatory behavior by the police. And they will agree when presented with any other individual case. But when taken in total all those individual cases can never mean there is a systemic problem.

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Its also possible that Sen Scott is a particularly bad driver, which is statistically true of Black men in general. DWB isn't so much a real "discrimination" phenomena, as a "yes they are speeding more than other drivers" phenomena. See, e.g. the New Jersey turnpike study.

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He claims that he, in the vast majority of cases, was not speeding. So your post simply comes down to disputing the factual assertions. You might as well say "It's also possible he's making the whole thing out of whole cloth, and he wasn't even stopped to begin with".

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Anecdotes don't make anecdata, no. What you'd need to look at would be things like "how often does a member of this minority shoot at police" vs "how often are they shot by police"; "how often are they pulled over" vs "how overrepresented are they in actual criminality"; "how often and easily are they hired or accepted into university" vs "how well do they perform relative to other groups on a variety of metrics before/after being hired/accepted", etc.

Statistics, in other words; and not in isolation, but in relevant contexts.

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Everyone of your examples lacks relevant context.

Each statistic can be used in versus method to create a different picture.

“Frequency of hiring” vs “representation in crime” for example. All of the issues you’ve alluded to have a plethora more factors. E.g., “amount invested in education” or “number of parents in household”.

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I believe that such conduct as using the term "reTHUGlican" should garner social reproach. This is not kind, necessary, or communicating an objective truth.

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It's funny though, which is the secret fourth option

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I think part of where the disagreement comes in is that the woke seem to view any disparities at all in outcomes as prima facie evidence of systemic racism/sexism/generic-isms and that any institution that produces these disparate outcomes is thus illegitimate and fair game for being torn down or radically altered to produce equal outcomes. The problems with this stance should be obvious.

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I think everyone should agree that disparities of any sort are prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination.

The problem is the next step, in saying that prima facie evidence counts as ultima facie evidence that automatically justified tearing down or radically altering systems. Everyone *should* agree that once you have prima facie evidence of a problem, you should investigate further, and if you discover enough corroborating evidence of the problem, you should act to fix it.

But that idea doesn't appeal either to conservatives that want to preserve every structure, regardless of the evidence, or to radicals that want to transform everything as soon as they see even one piece of evidence.

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There's definitely some of that on the right. I would say that on the left, though, there are a similar number of people who feel there is no need to investigate further or corroborate anything, instead jumping to the rather absurd conclusion that if there is any disparity at all in demographic outcomes, it must be attributable to animus, bigotry, oppression, etc.

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There are also people on the left who believe that racism is a disparity of racial outcomes (ie that is what they define racism to be) and that this needs correcting in and of itself, regardless of whether it is caused by animus, bigotry, oppression, etc.

For some, that is the primary meaning of racism. This is why they get blank when someone starts talking about the causes to disprove that they are racist - the cause is relevant when you want to resolve the differential outcome, but the differential outcome is racist because that's what racism means - it means differential outcomes.

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I’m not convinced that disparities of any sort are prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination. Disparities could be the result of Poisson clumping after random distribution. Or they could be the result of just chaotic social forces. Do you want to say that the fact that 75% of NBA players are Black is prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination?

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Yes. "Prima facie" just means "on first glance". It's the sort of thing that warrants a look, but is nowhere near definitive proof. It absolutely *could* be something else.

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People routinely mistake the meaning of "random." They think it means "uniform" when a far better definition would be "has fluctuations on every length scale." Uniform is a very *nonrandom* outcome, and almost always means some constraint is at work.

Exempli gratia, if *every* lion herd ever observed had exactly 7 males for every female, we would rightly suspect some constraint on lion behavior, genetic or environmental, that produced that strangely uniform result. If I flipped a coin 1000 times and it came up H T H T H T.... et cetera, I would immediately know it was not a "fair" coin.

Likewise, if in every human occupation the ratio of races or sexes (or any other random feature) were *exactly* the same as that ratio among all humans, it would be pretty strong evidence for powerful constraints on human behavior -- it would be highly nonrandom.

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Any time you divide people into groups the groups will tend to be somewhat different along every conceivable axis. We should routinely expect to see disparities of some sort everywhere we look merely due to different groups having different skills, cultural attributes, physical attributes and interests.

In fact if we *didn't* find disparities of any sort then *that* is what should constitute "prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination".

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I suspect there's something more specific and quantitative we can say here, about what effect size we should expect to see, with values quite a bit larger or smaller than that being prima facie evidence of something systemic.

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Is the prevalence of blacks in football and basketball prima facie evidence of systemic racism against whites?

You can't make an argument that they are oppressed with all the multimillion-dollar salaries.

What's good for the goose should be good for the gander.

Should we start investigating further?

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It is prima facie evidence. I believe there has been plenty of investigation. I believe that they've found the situation is complicated, and depends a lot on the particular role on the team.

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Football is a crippling sport, which makes having a chance to play it a little more complicated.

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founding

I may have lost track of the terminology, but I think prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination is the obvious and explicit systems of discrimination, e.g. Jim Crow laws. And they have to be obvious, because if they aren't then too many people won't remember who they are supposed to discriminate against.

Absent such, disparities of outcome between different cultures should be treated as prima facie evidence of cultures optimized for achieving different outcomes. Then, as you say, you start looking for something more conclusive.

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"I think everyone should agree that disparities of any sort are prima facie evidence of systemic discrimination."

This attitude assumes that no group has any intrinsic differences. It also adds the term "systemic" for no reason. And finally, even if you establish that there was discrimination somewhere in the chain of causality, that doesn't establish that the institution currently under consideration engages in discrimination. If the black people are underrepresented at a college, that doesn't point to the college being racist, that points to racism affecting pre-college education.

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I don't think we actually disagree.

I say that it is a defeasible null hypothesis that intrinsic differences among groups would amount to small effects, rather than large effects, so that if we see a large effect, that is prima facie evidence (but not in any way conclusive evidence) that something more than just intrinsic differences are at work.

When I say "systemic discrimination", I think I mean the same thing as what you're saying - we don't know if any particular individual at any point in the chain has discriminatory attitudes, or if the effect is the result of interactions among multiple parts of the system. We don't know if it's the employer or the university or social attitudes or neighborhood funding of schools or historic wealth gaps or something else.

The point is that we don't need to accuse any individual of harboring evil attitudes - discrimination can be the result of the system, and that means we may be able to address it at the systemic level without having to call anyone a bad person.

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It's not so much about the idea of individual racism, most people accept that individuals can be racist. I think the animus is towards the idea of "systemic racism", the idea that we're all complicit in racism for historical reasons. Accepting systemic racism means its not enough to be "not-racist", you have to be actively anti-racist or you're perpetuating racial inequity, and actively opposing all existing social structures definitely sounds demanding and difficult.

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I’m not sure about that.

In theory we all agree that the government should treat all citizens equally. But when the police focus on young black men at the expense of tiny elderly Asian ladies some say that only makes sense. Of course the police should focus on those who are more likely to commit crimes. Of course the TSA should focus more on 22 year old Pakistani guys and less on frail 85 year old widows.

Ok. But then how would you feel as a 22 black accountant or sitting US Senator being stopped at rates vastly higher than you white co-workers?

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Honestly not sure how I'd feel if I were black, but my current politics would attribute that kind of treatment to a combination of individual bigotry and stereotypes about what low-income people look like. You could definitely describe that as systemic racism and I probably would describe it as such, my point was that the "woke" understanding of race is very inconvenient to accept.

I was mostly trying to explain why people might object to the woke framing of this as "systemic racism". It's not that I don't think it's not true, but John McWorter describes my own views on the limitations of attributing complex social problems to "systemic racism" pretty well - the solution isn't just "less racism".

https://johnmcwhorter.substack.com/p/can-we-please-ditch-the-term-systemic

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How often would Tim Scott & co have to be pulled over by different people at different times before you’d agree that there was something systemic going on?

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Significantly more than average?

Based on that, I agree that systemic racism exists, in this case and many others. My point was just that that doesn't actually solve anything or help anyone.

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Acknowledging a problem doesn't solve it. And we should be distrustful of anyone who claims that they know how to solve a problem as difficult as systemic racism. I don't see why any of that means we should stop talking about and thinking about systemic racism.

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You can’t fix a problem unless you admit it’s a problem.

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Ideally, we'd be working off high-quality statistical data rather than anecdotes about individuals, but I admit we don't always have the luxury.

If we *are* gonna judge by Tim Scott, the manner in which he was selected matters quite a lot. I'd be very surprised if my sister won a million dollars in the lottery- that's really rare! I would *not* be surprised if *someone* one a billion dollars in the lottery- there are a *lot* of "someones."

Also...

I've heard Tim Scott's name a couple of times. As politicians go, I have no strong feelings about him, but that antecedent is doing *a lot* of work.

My prior here is that various kinds of dishonesty are absolutely crucial to making it as a high-level national politician, at least in the US. I used to say that a politician saying something was evidence that they wanted you to believe it, but immaterial to the question of whether it was true. I stopped saying it when I realized how much of politics-speak consists not only of lies, but lies which are not intended by the speaker to be believed. High-simulacra statements which are intended less as truth-claims than as moves in a rhetorical game.

So, when I google "Tim Scott pulled over," google seems to give me articles reporting that [politician] is making claims. When I google "Tim Scott pulled over evidence," I get what looks to be more of the same. It's totally possible google is failing me, but I don't *currently* see any reason to think Scott's claim is true.

I want to be clear that my logic here *isn't* "Scott's claim is implausible, so probably he's lying." It's "Scott is a [high-level, USian] politician, so almost certainly a habitual liar, and so we shouldn't update on his claims without an *explicit theory* for why they're valid evidence which *does not* rely on [politician] being truth-tracking generally."

(I feel some social obligation to nod at the possibility that Scott is an exception to the rule, but it's mostly formality at this point. I don't think you *could* make it that far in politics if you were honest, and I *doubly* don't think you could without making waves I'd hear about.)

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There is no "how often." You can't prove something is *systemic* by noting what is happening to an *individual*. The two are opposites.

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OK I'm going to jump on your use of Systemic here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a black man getting pulled over due to the color of his skin an example of normal racism as opposed to Systemic racism? Wouldn't systemic racism mean something less direct like cops in general hang out in poor neighborhoods that are disproportionately black?

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I think the thought is something like this: it's systemic racism if he, the individual black man, would have been pulled over less (or would have been very very likely to have been pulled over less), in a world without biases against black men at a whole society level.

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If a police officer can pull a black person over for no reason one day and still be a police officer the next, then the police officer's racism is being aided by the system. And if lots of police officers are doing it, then it is systemic.

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Shouldn't the answer to that question depend on how often Tim Scott is driving recklessly or aggressively and where he's doing it? Is it possible he drives more aggressively than most people due to his privilege - knowing he's rich and powerful, maybe even knowing that getting pulled over would be good for his brand?

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Anything is possible. If it were a privilege issue other senators would have a simiar experience. They haven’t.

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Stereotypes are largely statistically correct, but often wrong with respect to individuals.

If you belong to a group that has a negative stereotype in the wider community, tough luck, and my sympathies.

However, this stereotype is not the fault of the larger community. The group has to collectively work to remedy it.

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> The group has to collectively work to remedy it.

Are you saying you believe in collective responsibility? if people with blue eyes rob more banks, Do you believe I have a responsibility to monitor other blue-eyed people to remedy this situation?

> This stereotype is not the fault of the larger community.

There are a billion ways to subdivide the population. and get correlations. We use colour and gender because our brains are lazy, but there's no particularly good reason we should simply accept those particular neural inadequacies when they harm harm millions of people.

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Are you certain that's how you want to make the case for antiracism?

A PCA of the overall population might well find a component of the evolutionary environment as a predictor of, say, crime. And then what?

It's better to be against racism in a way that doesn't condone racism if the data comes out one particular way.

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"However, this stereotype is not the fault of the larger community."

It absolutely is. Even if we assume that there is a statistical trend that matches the stereotype (which there often isn't), that doesn't justify a stereotype. A stereotype is, by definition, when individuals are assumed to have a particular trait. That assumption is being done by the larger community, and so the larger community is at fault. The idea that the group can change the larger community's attitude, let alone that it is their responsibility to do so, is reprehensible victim blaming.

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"Ok. But then how would you feel as a 22 black accountant or sitting US Senator being stopped at rates vastly higher than you white co-workers?"

People assuming your criminality based on skin color/sex/age and people assuming your culpability in the oppression of people base on your skin color/sex/age probably has some parallels worth exploring to help each side grok each other's grievances here. It does not feel good, it feels like there is a huge inhuman system that isn't even so kind as to be indifferent to your suffering but actually uses it as a bar to measure progress.

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> But then how would you feel as a 22 black accountant or sitting US Senator being stopped at rates vastly higher than you white co-workers?

As a man, I'm already supposed to accept having a far higher chance to get stopped, shot, jailed, etc than a woman.

So either I want 'systemic misandry' to be a thing, or for people to chill out on the systemic racism stuff.

They can't have it both ways, in my view.

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Why are you "supposed to accept" this? Who is saying that?

This is feminism 101, that existing gender systems oppress men too. This is the point of "privilege" talk, so that we can understand both male privilege and female privilege, and how they are different from each other, and both are signs of an underlying system that causes problems for everyone.

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Bringing up the concept of female privilege nearly always results in refusal to accept it, if not anger. The ideology is manichean, where it can be accepted that men oppress other men, which is nearly always how they mean the phrase that men get oppressed too, but not that there is systemic oppression by women against men or even that men can get treated worse by men (or systems supposedly controlled by men) than women get treated by men (or systems supposedly controlled by men).

Can you find a mainstream feminists that accepts/argues that systemic misandry in policing is worse than systemic racism in policing? After all, men get policed harsher compared to women, then blacks compared to whites, if you ignore crime rates, or if you don't. Of course, a common rebuttal is to recognize the disproportionate criminality of men, but not of black people.

PS. I think that you should always ask feminists for specifics when they claim that men are oppressed too, because this seems to often be a way to rebut the claim that they are misandrist, without a honest admission that the extent and way in which they believe that men are oppressed is quite a bit different from the way in which they believe that women are oppressed.

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If we model oppression or enforcement of gender norms as a set of interactions between individuals (to keep it simple), there are four possible combinations:

a) men oppress men,

b) men oppress women,

c) women oppress women,

d) women oppress men.

The most simplistic interpretation of feminism would be {b}. All men are oppressors, all women are victims, the situation is perfectly black and white. This is obviously NOT what modern feminists believe... and they express it by saying things like patriarchy hurts men too, or admitting that women can also be complicit in enforcing the norms of patriarchy.

The things that I said in previous paragraph still allow two possible interpretations: is our society {a,b,c,d} or is it {a,b,c}? Note that in both options it is true that women sometimes support patriarchy (option c) and that men can be victims of patriarchy (option a), so just repeating these two will not help us distinguish between {a,b,c,d} and {a,b,c}.

My model of society is {a,b,c,d}. I suspect that many feminists believe {a,b,c}, but you see how difficult it is to communicate the difference. I believe that even if they admit that both men and women are complicit in enforcing gender norms, and that men can be also hurt by patriarchy, they still assume that those men are only hurt by the... uhm... male half of the patriarchy.

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I think this is really helpful.

I think if you ask people explicitly about this, almost all feminists will admit it's {a,b,c,d}, and once you put it like this, they'll even be able to very quickly come up with examples of d (women teasing men about being weak if they cry in public, or refuse to sign up for war).

The problem is that the automatic associations people have don't naturally trigger thoughts of d unless they stop and explicitly think about it.

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This may be "not what modern feminists believe" - but it is closely correlated to how modern feminists *act*, and what *policies* powerful feminists encourage to be enforced.

Which means , given that feminism is such a powerful force it's virtually unassailable in polite company - means that there's option e) all oppression in the future is caused by groups of women.

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Also importantly, "systemic racism" is an essentialist term, meaning that the American system is /in its eternal Platonic essential nature/ racist. All those adjectives mean that it is racist not in its mechanisms or behavior, but in its animating /soul/. It can thus never be reformed, or even analyzed; it can only be destroyed and replaced.

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That's how it's used. "Systemic racism" is used to stop inquiries into where the racism lies and what's causing it, just as essentialism has always been used to stop inquiry, from "God did it" to "dormative properties". By saying that racism is distributed throughout the entire system, it discourages the idea that we can identify problems within the system and fix them.

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The "systemic racism" answer isn't the "god did it" answer. It's a functionally equivalent answer. If it actually took the idea of structure seriously, it would allow people to examine the structure and propose possible ways to change the structure, just like we've done since the Constitution was ratified. To do that, you'd have to define racism, measure a particular instantiation of it numerically, then do something like a factor analysis on the system you measured, attributing different fractions of it to different inputs to that system. I know a guy who was kicked out of a conference because he tried to do that in a blog post that had nothing to do with the conference.

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That's not what "systemic racism" means. Rather, it means the institutional procedures in place are biased against a certain race, even though such bias is not explicitly expressed by the rules.

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At risk of being naive, has anyone read/listened to Isabel Wilkerson’s “Castes”? Phenomenologically I hear something very important about her excavating/restoring the racial equality question to its “proper roots/place” in the realm of Caste Systems if you want to have a more “rigorous” interpretation of the issue. Apologies if her works on “race” have already been explicated elsewhere in this realm…

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"Accepting systemic racism means its not enough to be "not-racist", you have to be actively anti-racist or you're perpetuating racial inequity, and actively opposing all existing social structures definitely sounds demanding and difficult."

I mean, isn't that just obvious? Some racism is done not by individuals, but by the interaction of sets of rules built into structures. People who just follow those rules are perpetuating racial inequality, even if they are not doing anything individually racist. I'm not sure where the "you have to be" comes about - no one should think it's *possible* for basically *anyone* to be *completely* non-racist. One has to pick one's battles and all that, and I think it's better to focus on *improving* social structures rather than *opposing* them.

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Most people reject anything that sounds like too much work or suggests that they're not a good person as obviously false, so no, it isn't obvious. Most people may be willing to accept they're "a little bit racist", but that doesn't necessarily imply that they need to do anything more than not express those opinions in an upsetting way.

For what it's worth, I don't reject social justice, and definitely not because I think it's too demanding. I've got a triple whammy of Christianity, Effective Altruism and low self esteem here, so I'm perfectly fine with accepting that I'm a horrible person perpetuating all kinds of injustice just by living my life. The difficult question for me is how to actually make the world a better place rather than just wallowing in pessimism, and I'm working on that.

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Every race prefers their own except liberal Whites. Polling has shown this repeatedly and beyond question.

Anti-racism is nothing more than holding Whites to a standard that no other race is held to. If Blacks prefer other Blacks, Asians prefer other Asians, and Hispanics prefer other Hispanics, why is it suddenly immoral for Whites to prefer other Whites. I’ll answer - it isn’t.

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That's not what we're talking about. The notion of "anti-racism" isn't that whites shouldn't prefer whites. It's that whites who do nothing racist at all are still racist unless they're actively fighting racism.

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I think it's obviously related, though. If the stronger claim "whites preferring whites is okay" is supported, the weaker claim "not actively fighting racism is okay" probably is too.

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How is your response to this supposed problem "we ought not be held to this standard" rather than "everyone ought to be held to this standard?"

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If you put up those "It's ok to be white" stickers you are clearly seen as racist.

I always thought that you should judge a statement by reversing the races and seeing how it sounds then.

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"no one should think it's *possible* for basically *anyone* to be *completely* non-racist"

On the contrary, I'm pretty sure almost all Americans believe they are not racist.

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Isn't it obvious that if you aren't actively fighting for transgender rights, you hate trans people?

Isn't it obvious that if you aren't actively working to protect the environment, you're anti-environment?

Isn't it obvious that if you aren't actively fighting crime, you're pro-crime?

Isn't it obvious that if you aren't actively suppressing QAnon, you support QAnon?

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No.

But it's obvious that if you aren't actively fighting for transgender rights (or even if you are!) and you are working for an organization that keeps trans people out of something, then you are perpetuating some trans inequality.

And if you aren't actively working to protect the environment (or even if you are!) and you're throwing out lots of plastic, then you're perpetuating environmental harm.

And if you aren't actively fighting crime (or even if you are!) and you work for an organization that commits crimes, then you are perpetuating some crime.

I'm not talking about anyone's mental state. I'm just talking about what they're doing. And you can be fighting X with one set of actions while still continuing to perpetuate X with others, regardless of whether you personally feel pro or anti X.

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Perhaps the problem is that the language used tends to be interpreted, and not without reason, to refer to mental states. "I support X" is not often taken to mean "my actions inadvertently may perpetuate X".

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Yes, I think that is the source of the biggest problems here. People naturally slide between consequences and intentions, and even when the movement shifts intentionally towards talking about consequences, people both pro and anti the movement end up sliding back to thinking that it's about intentions.

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Valid as far as it goes, but there's a neglected term here.

1. People deliberately doing evil (eg Hitler)

2. People actively trying to do good

3. People indirectly making things worse

...

4. But people *also* indirectly make things better!

On a long enough timeline, (2 & 4) are gonna completely swamp (1 & 3). We deliberately intend only a small subset of our actions, and those tend to be pretty time-limited while the unintended consequences just. keep. coming.

My intuition is that, for most people, the sum of (intentional & unintentional good) outweighs the set of (intentional & unintentional bad). Aggregating like this is tricky, but if I imagine, say, that I hear a random stranger got fatally struck by lightning, and then I check to see whether I intuitively expect the world to get better or worse as a result. If someone's existence is net-positive to the world, that seems like another way of saying their (direct + indirect good) outweighs their (direct + indirect bad).

I kinda feel like some people are trying to have this one both ways. (I don't know if this is you; you're *here*, so maybe not.) To most Americans, "racist" implies *something* about the disposition or intent of the person it's being applied to- there's a *very* strong connotation. It's also quite emotionally charged. It's thus a very poor choice of descriptor if you're *not* trying to talk about intent or mental states. I think, for some people, the connotations are a feature. "This isn't about intent, we're looking at objective impact" is a *really good* motte, but if all the people who make the claim really meant it we'd be collectively *much better* at *actually measuring* impact by this point.

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I think that you meant to say that 3) and 4) has a higher impact than 1) and 2) ?

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I think the idea is that some time in the past few decades, the people most concerned with racism had the realization that the unintentional effects of most people's actions are much bigger than the intentional effects, and they naturally therefore said that the concept they were interested in should include the unintended effects as well. But the broader public has always been much more interested in the intentions than in the unintended effects, and keeps insisting on misreading things in that way.

At a certain point they tried to introduce new terminology, like "privilege" that tries as hard as possible to get away from intentions and character traits, and from ranking people on a single-dimensional axis. But the public (on all sides of the issue) keeps bringing the terminology back to intentions and evaluations of character.

As I said in another thread, it all comes back to the clash between consequentialism and deontology.

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Not only it is not obvious, but it is also illogical and wrong

On top of it, it is completely possible to dislike trans people, but not hate them

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The animus against systemic racism is because there is no such thing in reality.

Ideologies based on lies usually produce atrocious results, especially towards people they profess to protect. Communism is a great illustration.

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There is systemic racism against Asians. Their standards for college admissions are much higher than any other race.

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Imagine someone you know is absolutely obsessed with tap water quality. To them, just about every single problem in the world can be traced back to the quality and cleanliness of the local tap water. If you ever try to suggest that maybe there are some other important factors involved, they (truthfully!) bring up Flint and lead contamination in general, (truthfully!) point out how much of the world doesn't have access to clean tap water, and (...truthfully...?) accuse you of being complicit in perpetuating the problem.

Now imagine that instead of one person you know, it's most of your social circle and also THE ENTIRE MAINSTREAM MEDIA that has to talk about tap water quality at every single available opportunity.

At least to me (and I guess I count as "conservative" at this point), that's what the problem with "wokeness" is. It's not that I think racism doesn't exist. It's not even that I think structural racism doesn't exist. It's just that I don't think it's the most powerful force in the universe or the root of all evils in the world, and a lot of people seem to be loudly proclaiming exactly that.

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To me, to the nearest approximation, wokeness and it’s detractors only exist online. Like I have literally never heard someone use that term in real life. If you think it’s as common as you claim, you’re spending way too much time online.

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I think Yglesias explicitly apologized for suggesting "it's just on college, don't worry", but he wipes his Twitter regularly so I can't find it.

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Especially after last summer.

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You say "only exist online" as if we're talking about rogue AIs floating around cyberspace instead of, y'know, real people expressing their opinions to each other over the most wide-reaching communication network ever created. And also as if online culture hadn't been a major driver of offline culture this past two decades or so.

(Won't deny that I'm Extremely Online, though.)

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Going to disagree with you here. I encountered “wokeness” and “anti-wokeness” in two fairly large institutional contexts: Residential Life at college and fundamentalist christian church respectively, both of which I have been involved in in a non-trivial manner

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clarifying point that Residential Life refers to the organization that runs the colleges dorms

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The problem is that I we all know people IRL who spend too much time online. (I know a guy who's about 70 years old and he used the term "cultural Marxism", the internet is ruining everything.)

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“Cultural Marxism” codes internet conservative. Are there more substantial criticisms of the term? Perhaps you prefer Frankfurt-Schulbewegung?

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The usual form of progressive criticism (e.g. https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Cultural_Marxism ) is to present a weakman, such as the belief that progressives are literal Marxists, or else to observe that the term resembles the Nazis' Kulturbolschewismus & is occasionally used in a similar way by modern neo-Nazis & assert that therefore everyone who uses it must be a neo-Nazi. The way it appears to actually be used by reasonable people is to describe modern progressives' zero-sum thinking, their tendency to reject formal equality by explicitly defining policies as justified or not based on whether they benefit or harm the groups they think of as oppressed or oppressing, & their willingness to quickly adopt new fashionable ideas even if they contradict their previous beliefs (sources: https://newcriterion.com/issues/2019/10/leninthink & https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/202103/cultural-marxism-far-right-anti-semitic-conspiracy-theory ). I think that the last of these objections is somewhat exaggerated — modern progressives are nowhere near as willing to quickly change their opinions based on fashion as the described Bolsheviks were — & the latter source errs in assuming that these ways of thinking came to predominate by means of consistent supporters of them intentionally infiltrating academia &c. rather than by gaining popularity among the existing cultural elite.

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Often these debates don't talk about specifics, just a general cultural issue which is hard to prove or disprove. Have you seen Slow Boeing's example? It's definitely happening offline: https://www.slowboring.com/p/tema-okun

On the other hand, I don't have a strong position on how important it is.

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Is it happening offline in any real sense? It seems 95% of it exists as an online meme.

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It's fair that you did say to the nearest approximation, not that it wasn't happening at all. I've seen adjacent ideas personally offline but I've generally agreed with those, the extreme stuff I've never run into.

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Matt R just linked to a blog post about something that is actually used by a number of governments & non-profit organizations.

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Wokeness is thriving in grade schools. A few weeks ago someone (a white lady) read a letter accusing our school of institutional racism because although we have a super diverse staff, we don't have enough black teachers and we didn't issue a Black Lives Matter statement. (Apparently, lots of schools did). Offering social justice curriculum workshops is a booming business right now. Teachers and students are eating this stuff up, and offering an opposing viewpoint is very dangerous because everyone is looking for closet racists to crucify.

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Scott's Eighth Meditation on Superweapons and Bingo ( http://web.archive.org/web/20131229232838/http://squid314.livejournal.com/329561.html ) was pretty much on point.

When you say "very dangerous" are you talking about career-wise for the teachers, or are you also talking about kids being subjected to violence?

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It actually does appear to exist in real life at this point, although I can't guess at the extent.

My first encounter of the term outside private online conversation was while onboarding at my present company (one of this decade's megacorporations), in January. They used the "woke" term unironically in their inclusiveness material.

The material actually triggered my fight-or-flight reflexes (since I associated so much of it with toxic discussions online), but thankfully, my fears were been laid to rest by conversations with my team and manager, and also by just logically thinking through what they were trying to achieve in their particular case.

Gotta say they're really good people - I'm not willing to judge them on a few possibly poorly chosen words. Though whenever I think back to the inclusiveness training I'm still a little weirded out by it. (I realise it's partly a legal requirement in some of the many countries this company straddles, and there are no doubt plenty of people who would behave badly without it, but it also just really doesn't help with anxiety levels of a scrupulous person...)

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N=1, but my experience has been quite different. My meatspace social circle was using the phrase "stay woke" before it got picked up as something of a pejorative term, and although most of them don't care much about political or social issues there's definitely a few that fit the woke culture warrior stereotype.

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Oh wow, haven't heard this one since at least 2016. I didn't think the old "it's just some crazies online!" argument could possibly be sustained in a world where the president, NYT, and Coca-Cola are explicitly woke.

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In a world where Hillary Clinton before election wrote an article about the frog Pepe, I am no longer sure the distinction between online and offline is meaningful.

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I mean, the *term* I haven't either. The people can be found at your local tertiary institution, or in lower concentrations at a few other places.

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There was a movie about that :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KvgtEnABY

Note that this can go the other way : when you're trying to point out that we have water quality issues, but a lot of people deny it because "there is no way that our water isn't the purest in the world, how dare you !" or something.

And then when you have literal ex-generals writing an open letter about the increasing threat of civil war and that in the near future the military might have to intervene (by seizing power ?!), they're being treated like if they were the character above.

Also, for water I think it literally happened : weren't some biologists complaining that it was hard to raise awareness about water being contaminated by hormone-affecting chemicals because they were then equated to Alex Jones ?

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Funnily enough, where I come from, the expression for this translates to "this even flows from the tap"

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I would say "wokeness" is wildly exaggerating some real problem.

An example I happen to be interested in: sexism in the tech industry. Most computer programmers are not women. The woke perspective is that this is a huge problem with the tech industry caused by widespread sexism in the industry. My perspective is that the tech industry is not unusually sexist, and the main reason for the gender gap is that women are less interested in programming. James Damore got fired and viciously attacked (e.g. https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-manifesto-1e3773ed1788) for expressing this view in 2017.

I think this is hard to discuss because it's very subjective how big problems are. In my example: How big is sexism in the tech industry? (obviously there is some) How big is people complaining about sexism in the tech industry? Is one of these things unreasonably bigger than the other? How could two people who disagree measure these things in a way they could both agree on?

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I think a better theory as to why most programmers are not women is not that women aren't interested in programming, but that the tech industry is downstream of sexism that plays out in childrearing at home, in schools, and in child/teen pop culture - where women are discouraged systematically from taking interest in programming and programming adjacent things for nearly a decade before they even get to college and declare a major.

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Woman are more interested in people, men are more interested in things. It's the same for chimpanzees.

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That's not a very helpful generalization. I know quite a few excellent female programmers. They are interested in people and yet they can still code. Go figure.

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That's a very helpful generalization if you want to understand why some fields are male-dominated and others female-dominated. I'm not talking about "not interested" and "interested", I'm talking about more and less interested.

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If you want to "understand" why some fields are male-dominated, or if you want to "justify" why some fields are male-dominated?

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A generalization.is not the same as universal rule, and is useful as long as it's correct most of the time.

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"Women and men are statistically interested in different things" is an extremely-helpful generalisation if it avoids a futile and harmful social attempt to force all careers to 50:50 participation.

It is not very helpful when giving career advice to any individual person, but I don't think Guy was suggesting it be used as such.

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I work in early childhood education, and I regularly walk into meetings with 40 women and me (man). People are not preaching about narrowing the gender gap either.

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I think the problem of the underrepresentation of women in garbage collection is far more acute.

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A valid generalization is not disproved by anecdote. But if anecdote is what you want, Megan McArdle can code. And yet...

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2017-08-09/as-a-woman-in-tech-i-realized-these-are-not-my-people

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And as we know human and chimpanzees intellectual and social behavior is indistinguishable

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The point is that it's not cultural, but universal among humans and our closest relatives.

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While I'm sympathetic to you're point, I generally find comparisons between social dynamics in humans and chimpanzees unhelpful and uninformative. Bonobos are as closely related to us, and very closely related to chimps, but chimps and bonobos have very different social behaviours in many ways. I just don't think any parallel, or lack thereof, between humans and any ape tells us much. The genetic differences are big enough that we should expect any social consequences of the genetic similarities to be lost in noise.

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This kind of categorizing is little more than astrology tbh

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I think the right way to phrase this to get it read as a statistical statement about the numbers of interested people rather than a statement about the intensity of interest is "more women are interested in people, more men are interested in things".

Also, I'm not at all sure that is true. I think it depends on the things. For instance, historical accuracy in films? You'd think it was men, but period accuracy for clothing in historical dramas? Definitely women. And they get just as geeky on details of seam types and how sleeves are connected to bodies as any guy talking about different loading mechanisms on a gun.

I don't know how much is cultural, but I think it's more than we'd like to admit.

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"I think the right way to phrase this to get it read as a statistical statement about the numbers of interested people rather than a statement about the intensity of interest is "more women are interested in people, more men are interested in things"."

It's both. Bell curves with different means.

"Also, I'm not at all sure that is true. I think it depends on the things."

Sure, but the claim is not about specific things, it's about whether people are more interested in things in general, as a category. It's sort of like if I said men are larger than women, and then you said "that's not true, what about breasts?"

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Evidence against this theory: the representation of women in computer programming before the early eighties was much higher than it is now, so a good chunk of the phenomenon seems to clearly be unrelated to the people/things idea.

I think it has more to do with programming being an easy way to make good money without going to lots of grad school.

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The prevalence of 'interested in computer programing' before the early 80s was much lower than it is now. The people who were so interested were extreme outliers, and the population characteristics have reverted to the mean once a greater fraction of the population got involved in the pursuit.

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I don't think this refutes my point? If the only people sufficiently interested were extreme outliers then you'd expect it to be even *more* heavily dominated by men. (This is what you'd get if the interest curve was/is a normal distribution – are you saying the people/things thing isn't a normal distribution?)

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How could we distinguish your theory and my theory?

One problem with your theory is AFAIK countries with better gender equality have fewer women programmers.

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I've made that argument as well, but it's worth grappling with arguments against that:

https://slate.com/technology/2020/02/women-stem-innate-disinterest-debunked.html

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Note the reply to the supposed objections too.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620904134

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It can also be seen as countries with poorer economies having more - for the reason that material outcomes frequently trump preferences, and if you want to have to rely less on others' goodwill, you'll pursue a better paying career that might also give you a better chance of leaving the country. In Europe, you can make a decent living with any profession, in third-world countries you will have to get over yourself if you're seeking any kind of success and want to raise your children in an environment that actually suits.

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One way is to broaden the survey to look at other fields, too: are girls discouraged systematically from taking interest in any other fields, or just programming? How is representation different in those other fields? I don't think the "discouraged systematically from taking interest" theory holds up.

One problem with your theory Jonathan is the wildly varying representation of women in the field over the decades. Clearly there is something else other than some kind of innate interest happening here.

I think both your theories are wrong :)

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Scott wrote a big blog post, "Contra Grant on exaggerated [gender] differences]", that spent some time looking at the male/female ratio in comp sci in industry, grad school, college, high school, junior high, and elementary school, and found that it was constant, so that any such pressure would need to have been applied before some time in elementary school. Also, he made good arguments that women were discouraged in ALL fields, yet are now the majority in many of those fields. Other considerations also come up there, including a discussion of a big study of gender differences, and some minute picking-apart of its conclusions.

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Something which is underestimated is the role of assault/abuse in restricting the thinking power that women can bring to bear on STEM fields. I’ve known several women who were advancing in STEM and then experienced rape or sexual assault and found it very difficult to continue to work at the mental level required in STEM fields. This is not to say they were assaulted by STEM colleagues. But if 1/3 women experience assault or some similar statistic, it’s quite plausible that some fraction of women who would otherwise do STEM are choosing other fields out of necessity. There is also a “violence targets outliers” dynamic in which some high-performing women are somewhat targeted (I think, I can’t prove that.) There is a glass ceiling that lives in the bedroom (yes, evil.)

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Actually, I've always been curious about this in the context of the old Contra Grant on Exaggerated Differences post just mentioned.

We know that women are who are assaulted are mostly assaulted by people they know, and that men are more likely to be harassers than women. So if you had a field that was very male at high school and then college level, wouldn't you expect the % of women to go down in that field, because of a higher rate of harassment, even if the men in the field were no more likely to be harassers or assaulters than men in other fields, simply because more men amongst the people a woman meets=more chance to meet a harasser or assaulter? And yet, I remember that post having fairly convincing citations showing that % of women in comp sci is both low *and* steady from high school through college to employment...

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I have to look at the Contra Grant post, thank you for mentioning it. I had read something recently that had a very broad definition of STEM, dental hygienist was included and that surprised me. I will have to look at the computer science stats though. And see what counts as “computer science.”

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I had a minute to look at Contra Grant. I think your point about who is or might be perpetrating the assault/harassment is very insightful. If harassment is happening, is it by colleagues, acquaintances or other roles?

In terms of Contra Grant I agree that a surveillance society is too high a price, or the wrong price, to pay for “gender parity.” I am not sure it works either, the percent women in CS did decline starting in the 80s and hmm, what does that coincide with but the rise of surveillance-as-justice.

In the workplace harassment scenes I’ve been in there was one harasser guy with some authority, his right-hand woman, and then women targets and men who were either unaware or unable to do anything about it. This last segment of males is the target group for the allyship dynamic but I think there are limits to its success; sometimes the nice guys can assist but not always. The situation where the nice guys drown in guilt while the 1 in 100 male harasser has 50 victims instead of 80 is ...not optimal.

I’m not sure the “steady” part of the comp sci pipeline stats holds up, it will take me more time.

A dynamic I recall from undergrad is the lone female math faculty member playing the battle-axe role and running off female potential majors as sort of not tough enough to lift Thor’s hammer type thing. Also the other end of the scale from harassment is who is rewarded and I think Scott’s analysis of the wider opportunities available to women leading to a drop in them choosing CS is interesting. When I get a minute I will dig for research on women who didn’t pursue graduate STEM and what they give as their reasons.

Anyway to recap the harassment which theoretically handicaps a woman from pursuing STEM well might be not primarily occurring in the workplace even if it is acquaintance based.

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And to add I am so glad I spent zero time online in the cultures Scott describes.

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One data point in favor of this is the fact that while cis women are underrepresented, trans women are overrepresented. Whatever is causing the gender gap in programming and related technical professions doesn't seem to affect trans women, and one obvious difference is that most trans women were born with a Y chromosome and raised as boys. You see this in other stereotypically geeky things, I follow the video game speedruning community, and trans women outnumber cis women there by a large margin.

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That support biological differences just as well, since trans women have a Y chromosome.

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And yet in the most free, egalitarian societies (e.g. Sweden), the differences between gender are the greatest. In the most oppressive societies (Arab world), the differences are least (many female engineers).

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This is not a refutation of the theory as sexism can play out differently in different cultures, and this data point suggests that female participation in engineering is in fact driven by cultural and not biological factors.

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I'm not sure it's a meaningful statement to say it is "driven by cultural and not biological factors". If you lock all the women in cages then none of them will get STEM degrees. If you force them to study STEM on pain of death then lots will get STEM degrees. No one thinks that cultural factors can't influence STEM participation by women.

But if currently MORE women are in STEM than want to be, the correct social change would be to make it possible for LESS women to be in STEM, not to discriminate against men in hiring or something.

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