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If you're reading this and you have young, lefty friends, consider how many of them believe the following false things:

* Climate change will result in human extinction

* Nuclear power is the most dangerous form of energy production

* Every country in the developed world has a single payer healthcare system like Canada's

* Elon Musk's wealth started as inherited money from his father's blood mines in South Africa

* American politics is primarily determined by the buying and selling of votes in Congress by billionaires

* Building new apartments raises rents

If so, your friends are victims of misinformation. Free them from the lies!

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The truth that climate change is (a) real, (b) likely to be unpleasant, and (c) not the apocalypse might be the most politically incorrect fact in politics. All three of these are strongly supported, but if you say that all in one sentence, every partisan of every stripe will stare at you as if you have 3 heads.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

This thing you don't need to believe that climate change is literary apocalyptic to feel urgency about stopping it. A college environmental science professor of mine described it as "global climate destabilization" (while making clear that humans will be able to adapt to it), and that has been enough to make me feel a sense urgency about it for a decade now. I don't like hot weather, and I don't want more extreme heat, extreme weather patterns, or unpredictable seasons. That should be motivation enough.

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Also, adapting to it - or taking action to cut your energy usage - will save you money. You don’t even have to look at the moral side of it. It makes financial sense.

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I agree with this 100%. I think fires burning down suburban houses in California and last summer with its 120 degree days in places like Portland has also helped build urgency among normies in that respect. Now if only we can get a few 120 degree days in summer 2022 or 2024 for the swing voters in PA and the upper midwest...

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It won't be apocalyptic but it could be as bad as WW2 was (but spread over a much longer period of time). So more than just some extreme weather in the US and seasonal shifts.

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*Stacy Abrams won the Georgia governor election

*Hillary Clinton only lost the 2016 election due to black voter suppression in Milwaukee

*The Riots of 2020 where mostly the result of right-wing agitators

*The rise in violent crime is the result of the pandemic

* Senator Manchin mostly votes with Republicans

* Bernie Sanders would have won West Virginia in the general election if the DNC didn't steal the election for Hillary

* Sending kids to school during the pandemic is basically sending them to their deaths

* Most African Americans want less cops in their communities

* Trump supporters are behind the wave of anti-asian hate crimes

* Republicans only opposed the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson because she was a black woman

* Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are widely disliked by most Americans

* Student loan forgiveness is a form of progressive income redistribution

* Men are much more likely to be anti-choice than women

* Trump is a Russian intelligence asset

* Unrestricted abortion access in the norm in other developed countries

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If you don't think Trump is an asset then you need to google what an asset is. It just means the Russians have a dossier on him and believe he can be manipulated. The guy is one of the most easily manipulated people imaginable. You think the Russians are too dumb to be aware of this?

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I would disagree with the idea that Trump was easily manipulated because of a “dossier”—seems more like he genuinely admired Putin and authoritarians in general. You could say he was an “asset” under the definition “a thing of value”—having him in place made things better for Putin without a doubt.

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I did not say that he was easily manipulated "because of a dossier." I said that he was easily manipulated him and they almost certainly had a dossier on him. That they would have believed he could be manipulated and would have had notes about it.

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People claiming Trump is a Russian asset are usually going a little farther than just claiming he's an easily manipulated dupe that Russia finds useful. It suggests a formal relationship between him and Russian intelligence that there really is no proof of.

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Those dumb liberals can't possibly mean the true thing that they are actually saying. They must actually have some secret meaning that's obviously wrong. Uh-huh, that's it.

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One quibble—how can you be so sure the rise in violent crime was not in any way caused by the pandemic? If the George Floyd murder had happened in, say, 2017 that the protests would not have been smaller? If people were working and doing all the usual things they used to do on summer nights that there would have been just as many people in the streets?

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I'm mostly pushing back against the claim the pandemic is the sole cause of the increase in crime, which hasn't really been seen at all in other countries despite them also dealing with the same pandemic.

I wouldn't argue against the idea that the pandemic was a contributing factor, and I would totally agree that the pandemic caused the protests to become much bigger than the likely would have been without.

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The pandemic was probably a substantial factor; this study (http://maximmassenkoff.com/papers/victimization_rate.pdf) shows that, while total crime went down, the number of people put and about went down even more, such that your rate of victimization per street hour went up.

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The Trump campaign itself reluctantly published emails where one of its leaders (DTjr) responds to an offer from what appears to be Kremlin intelligence by coordinating the timing for the Kremlin to act.

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As I recall he "just tweeted it out", so maybe they weren't even reluctant about it.

Also, Trump unprompted likes to mention in speeches that he trusts Putin more than the CIA.

And, you know, his campaign manager worked for him for free so he could sell their targeting data to a GRU agent. Then obstructed justice and got pardoned, so he didn't have to explain why he did it.

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I agree that people on the left equate "single-payer" and "universal coverage." It is possible to have universal coverage without having single-payer (for example, I live in Israel, where all citizens are covered by one of four HMOs, so it's technically a four-payer system, not a single payer system). However it IS true that every country in the developed world has some form of universal coverage, while the US is truly an outlier in the share of its population that lacks health coverage.

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yes that is true, but of course, that has nothing to do with what i said

i am making fun of the bernard brothers for believing that sanders' healthcare plan is moderate and reasonable from a global perspective and not, instead, a proposal for the world's most generous universal healthcare system

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Oh, Bernie’s plan is to essentially turn all US healthcare into the VA but with really generous bennies and no cost share. I personally think that’s a ticket to serious frustration and overuse but...

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Also US medicine is so centralized that it's absolutely government-controlled. Medicare decides how many residency slots there are in every specialty in any given year. So literally the exact number of people entering each specialty in any given year is 100% decided by the government. If the number of grocery stores was a top down dictate from a grocery store czar in Washington, food prices would be out of control too.

We have all the disadvantages of central planning and excessive regulation, and literally the only things that the government doesn't do in our healthcare system are (a) help poor people get care and (b) take responsibility and admit when problems in our healthcare system are the fault of bad government rules.

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The residency limits are ridiculous. I would think that politicians would all be in favor of more physicians, but apparently they don't.

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You’d have to find some support for more doctors driving down overall healthcare spending. From what I’ve read that’s not the case. Doctor wages might decline but with easier access overall spending would increase.

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Oh it is definitely not happening. I have zero hope for a rational healthcare system in the US and my betting money is that healthcare politics end up like the politics of college, where the right does nothing to change the system because they like that rich people do well and that poor people can't afford it, while the left does nothing because most of the well-paid employeers are in their donor base.

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What I think is interesting about that list is that each item is rooted in truth, but rendered false by stripping away nuance to force it into a good/bad binary (e.g., posted on Twitter). A lot of the cheeky examples below are things that are entirely made up by reverse-engineering an ideological viewpoint.

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yes, i agree my list is far better than everyone else's lists (this is no doubt due to my uniquely incisive analysis etc etc)

but more seriously: I think the problem is that normal people who don't pay money to subscribe to political blogs, even the very educated and typically intelligent people someone who subs to slow boring might be friends with, now have a wide array of specific policy opinions that are essentially all one line statements they picked up from twitter or tiktok or whatever and which they were convinced were the Ideologically Pure Statements (which is more or less the same process by which misinformation spreads on the right)

that is to say, yes, obviously there is a kernel of truth in (for example) the US healthcare point, but the idea that Medicare for All is thus a moderate policy designed to bring the US in line with the rest of the world is a) somewhere on the spectrum from misinformation to outright lie and b) is the way that the vast majority of young progressives have internalized the conversation, not the more nuanced version of the conversation that people replying to me are determined to have

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I had to sit and think a bit about how I formed opinions when I was in my 20's, like my implacable opposition to the invasion of Iraq, and it occurs to me that it was mostly from reading really dry books. Yet, even back then, in the pre-Twitter, pre-YouTube days, there were plenty of 9/11 truthers picking apart single frames of video of the Pentagon and talking endlessly about thermite. They, too, seemed to have derived their opinions from reading a lot (of what, I am still uncertain). But they lived in forums and the comments of slashdot.org, where their ravings were sheltered from normies. Now the news is basically just a string of very short forum posts—tweets. No one even takes the time to workshop coherent conspiracy theories. They just (re)tweet crazy between a bunch of emoji that make no sense to me.

PS I lived in Western Europe for 12 years and can confirm that almost no one on the Anglo Internet has a clue how healthcare actually works on the continent, let alone the rest of the world.

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Nonsense. I notice that you do not cite any evidence or education to justify your claims.

1) There is substantial scientific evidence that human beings and their ecosystem have objective limits for life. I will give you cites dependent on your retraction.

2) Only nuclear power produces ultra-hazardous nuclear waste for which there is no known treatment process. Because of that, we still do not have life cycle costs for any nuclear plant. On a cost basis, a nuclear plant cannot compete with solar.

3) Most developed countries have much better inclusive national health care systems. Some are single payer, many are not. There is substantial research into comparing national health systems of which you seem unaware.

4) I do not know the source of Elon Musk's wealth, but I do know that he is almost without equal in raising capital from Wall Street. Trump inherited his capital and is and was an incompetent businessman.

5) This is so vague that it is hard to respond to. Let us reframe the question. The Democratic Administration and Party have policy positions and legislative priorities. Reasonable people - see, e.g. the article we are commenting on - while you cannot name a Republican policy position because they do not have one. No thoughtful person will deny that "dark money" has some influence on politics and that this is not good for large scale democratic politics.

6) The last point makes no sense. I have never seen this argument made. As Matt tirelessly argues, the US has a substantial housing shortage. One of the important issues in addressing the housing problem is NIMBYism, as Matt often points out. This is expressed in opposition to "multi-family homes" i.e. apartments.

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this is an excellent imitation of what one of these ppl would say

in particular i think you do an excellent job asserting that i'm wrong by saying something unrelated to what i said, but implying through omission that it constitutes a dunk

great work

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founding

What is missing from some much of the "Climate Change is existential!" discourse is that many years prior, there was a much less publicized, but still very public, discourse between Climate Writers and Climate Activist in which they were trying to literally find ways to make Climate Change news more compelling...and the decision they landed on was to sell Climate Change news as existential and make "everything" about Climate Change...no matter how tertiary or secondary, or incremental the impact might be. Basically, they made a conscious decision to oversell the doom and gloom.

Straight out of that Discourse, we got "The Uninhabitable Earth" from David Wallace Wells...which is so ironic now because David Wallace Wells has not pivoted again to rebrand himself as a "Climate Optimist" guy who now just does stories on how we are closer to a solution now that we have ever been, etc.

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I'm fairly agnostic about long-term climate impact. Seems difficult to project, to me. The good news is that fossil fuels are fading because we just have better tech now.

I agree with your claim, 'make "everything" about Climate Change'. I've been watching a nature doc on Disney+ (hostile planet). It focuses on animals that endure extreme conditions. Quite good. The narrator incessantly attributes any recent, unpleasant weather to climate change, whether it be more rain, less rain, etc. it's all climate change. Also, the cute animals are universally negatively impacted by these changes, while the not cute animals are *thriving* due to climate change, which is causing even more problems for the cute animals.

For instance, there is a segment on climate change leading to increased jellyfish populations. Jellyfish aren't cute. There is no suggestion that there could possibly be any populations of cute animals that are benefitting from a changing climate.

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C’mon, it’s extremely easy to find out that Musk grew up rich and extremely privileged. That’s not to say he’s a total marketing of the self as a rich guy scammer like Trump is, but Musk even admits that he couldn’t have founded his first company without family money.

I agree that other things are bad-faith shibboleths that the Left should jettison, but normie and right-wing worship of Musk, Gates, Bezos; et. al js corrosive to our country’s social fabric.

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There is certainly a lot of fake info out there about Musk's family wealth, sure. He grew upper middle class in South Africa. He was not 'rich' and the mine story is literally fake. His first company, Zip2, was backed by angel investors

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Agree on all of these except nuclear power, which seems legitimately complicated. Is there something I could read that explains how nuclear as it's currently deployed doesn't have a much higher catastrophic/black swan risk than other forms of energy production? I assume there's still meltdown risk (from a terrorist attack, etc.) that could, say, render a whole area unlivable for a some period?

Doesn't mean it's the "most dangerous", but seems like a viable case to make, vs. "misinformation."

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It’s of course impossible to quantify black swan risk, but we know, for example, that coal ash is considerably more radioactive than nuclear fuel waste.

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From a nuclear advocacy group but I think it is basically correct: https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/safety-of-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx

But in general I would say that the major catastrophic risk for nuclear power plants is an uncontrolled release of radiation. And it's not even clear that this extremely unlikely event would actually be substantially worse than what we just accept from burning fossil fuels (even putting aside global warming, just the health effects of the pollution are quite bad). So with respect to nuclear vs fossil fuels, I think the case for nuclear as the safer option is quite strong.

Now of course when it comes to nuclear vs wind/solar/hydro/etc it is more complicated but at least at the current margin it is not really an option to replace all fossil fuel based power generation with renewables so it is sort of an academic point.

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May 8·edited May 8

I agree with you that most of this is misinformation, but your young lefty friends are correct that American politics is primarily determined by the agenda-setting power of billionaires -- not just buying votes, but think tanks, media ownership, etc.

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Climate change will result in human extinction (eventually, unless something else gets us first).

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The U.S health insurance system is truly an outlier among developed countries though, no?

And climate change resulting in human extinction seems unlikely but I suppose if we literally burn all the coal and oil in the ground it could probably happen

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both of your statements are true and yet they are distinct from the statements commonly believed by young progressives by a wide margin

in particular about climate change, your example reflects what people once thought of as the "worst case" scenario, which is to say not only that we wouldn't tame our carbon emissions but that the growth in our emissions would continue to accelerate according to historic trends (which actually might have caused the apocalypse). but we know now that that definitely isn't happening. i think part of the reason people don't want to admit that is that the natural gas industry did a lot of the heavy lifting but also because people like to think in terms of binaries -- e.g., we Completed Penance and now the apocalypse has been averted, vs climate change being a spectrum of outcomes and we definitely won't get the best case scenario but we also definitely won't get the worst case scenario (barring any dramatic changes in the near future)

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I think with the climate change thing, its similar to a lot of other stuff. Mainstream progressive thought has become "to fix this [thing] we need to fix every injustice" and that isn't true and is especially not true with climate change which needs technological solutions at this point.

However, for the healthcare thing, America is a lot richer than most developed countries. I'm curious to see if the plan put forth by Bernie is actually more generous than you would expect if you just ran a model predicting healthcare system generosity as a function of gdp per capita amongst the developed world.

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I'm going to just leave this link here and you can make up your own mind: https://savingjournalism.substack.com/p/i-talked-to-elon-musk-about-journalism

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"Partly true"

Your statement says it is not true that "crime is explained by poverty"

The link you provide says:

"Although it’s clear that poverty predicts homicide quite independently of black, it’s also clear that black predicts independently of the poverty."

Therefore, crime _IS_ (at least partially) explained by poverty (within racial group)

The article mostly seems to say that the racial crime gap cannot be _solely_ explained by poverty (it is larger than the poverty gap)

There's still a big difference there - if you think poverty has _no_ bearing on crime then that changes the policy prescriptions from poverty having _some_ bearing on crime.

(But it's also different from "all racial crime differences are explained by poverty)

That's my take on skimming through that - am I wrong?

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I think most conservatives think of crime as being an effect of race, judging by conversations I've had with them (they're smart enough to keep that as subtext, but they clearly believe it). But even that blog post notes that segregation status is important, as is native vs immigrant status (the relevant variable there being longstanding exposure to American racism). As a lefty, I interpret that data essentially as "racism has led to really bad societal effects, which are concentrated among its victims".

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Crime is mostly committed by young men. Young men seek status (think lion prides). Young men who have the resources and ability to seek status by lawful means largely do. Those who don’t are much more likely to commit crimes to gain status. Glen Loury argues that human development is key. That makes sense to me. For those who are capable of performing well in the 2022 economy then our society should be working to provide them opportunity. For those who don’t have the natural abilities that are coveted in 2022, social scientists and policy makers need to imagine new ways to give young people value, meaning, and status in our society. This seems to be the problem that needs solving for our future. This is true for all people.

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Your post is riven with sexism and ageism against young men. Have you accounted for 40 million other variables that might explain why young men statistically commit a disproportionate volume of crime, or are you going to blithely assume it is just ‘in their nature’?

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I don’t think you’re using riven correctly. I admit I had to look it up.

I acknowledge there may be many factors. 40 million seems like a lot, though. With that said, I think their nature accounts for a good portion of it. I will not avoid truth just to also avoid being tagged with an “ism”.

I know my proclivity to run afoul of the law diminished with age. This is consistent with the enormous amount of data on this issue.

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Yes, it was. Young men are obviously very violent, which stems largely from biological urges.

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No, I really do think young men commit much more crime. And I really do think, in part, it is an expression of their gender & age.

I think these are 2014 stats,

Males constituted 98.9% of those arrested for forcible rape[55]

Males constituted 87.9% of those arrested for robbery[55]

Males constituted 85.0% of those arrested for burglary[55]

Males constituted 83.0% of those arrested for arson.[55]

Males constituted 81.7% of those arrested for vandalism.[55]

Males constituted 81.5% of those arrested for motor-vehicle theft.[55]

Males constituted 79.7% of those arrested for offenses against family and children.[55]

Males constituted 77.8% of those arrested for aggravated assault[55]

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Surely it's possible to condition on income or occupation, though, isn't it? E.g., do an Asian-American janitor's kids end up earning higher incomes than a white janitor's kids?

(I honestly don't know whether people have looked at this, but this question always comes to mind when selective immigration is brought up.)

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It's harder than it seems - a lot of the poorer Asian immigrants (Vietnamese, Hmong, etc) came as refugees and refugees often have to take jobs like janitor even though back in their home country they may have had better jobs - you see this also with some of the Syrian refugees in Europe in the last decade. They wouldn't have left if not for the war, and aren't the same as economic migrants or regular working-class Americans of any race.

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RemovedApr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022
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Landlords is not an inclusive term, you should consider using "property owners" instead.

Sapir-Whorf as a fetish.

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One similar trend I really supported early in the Trump years that I now think is actively dystopian is ‘fact checking.’

Trump lies so much that it made sense to me to clearly lay out the lack of basis for his claims. But the industry has just become labeling conservative claims either False (if they are wrong) or Mostly False (if they are right because they should have contextualized them more evenly). On the other hand progressive claims are either True (if they are right) or Mostly True (if they are wrong but the vibes are good. It’s embarrassing to read as someone with basic reading comprehension and just feeds the Ben Shapiro machine. Orgs should get rid of that function if they aren’t willing to reconceptualize it.

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True: “I agree with this and any factual inaccuracies were worded deniably”

Mostly true: “I agree with this but they should change the sentence in paragraph five to be less explicitly and obviously false.”

Mostly false: “I disagree with this but cannot find any explicit inaccuracies.”

False: “I disagree with this and look at the numbers that were off by 1.4% here and 0.8% here.” through “Oh my God, this whole speech was actually lies”

Makes the categories more intelligible but also completely useless when you understand what they mean.

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Truthiness, as Stephen Colbert put it when he was still doing comedy.

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Or “misleading” —true but the person who’s saying it is one of the bad guys/true but it justifies people doing stuff the left thinks people shouldn’t do.

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I agree with everything you've said, though another version of this that also happens is a kind of "both sides-ism" where the fact checking goes something like this:

FALSE: Trump claimed all immigrants are terrorists, without evidence.

ALSO FALSE: Hillary Clinton claims her health care proposal will result in a 5% decrease in spending for the average American, however this depends on a number of factors and, according to some estimates, is on the optimistic side of the range of possible outcomes.

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fact-checking is handy as a way to help people rate sources to learn who is giving them factual information. With Trump that broke down quickly because he was obviously lying so much. The rational thing individually was to stop listening to him - but collectively that was a problem because a bunch of people WERE listening to him despite the lies (or BECAUSE of the lies maybe)

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founding

"Fact Checking" culture within the Media is basically the 2000 - 2010 era equivalent of "feeding the trolls" on a message board or forum...

The folks doing all the feeding *think* they are doing proverbial God's work and protecting everyone...in reality...all they are doing is incrementally getting on everyone's nerves and dragging on a conversation that most everyone else who is reachable already agrees needs to die...

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founding
Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

More people in charge of the Media need to read and reckon with Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit

And there needs to be more distinguishing between Bullshitting and Lying (or whatever word the Media, mostly afraid of labling things as "Lie" wants to call it)...there is almost NO attempt to convey that a significant portion of Republicans are engaging in Bullshittery as a tactic.

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I'm all in favor of fact-checking if that's what it actually is. Unfortunately, it's become politicized itself to the point that many fact-checkers are basically dismissing anything as misinformation if it isn't fashionable for their political affinity group to believe.

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hmm, I haven't been finding this - but maybe I'm only checking more blatant falsehoods? What's an example that bothered you?

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I'd like to see a good fact check of this subthread.

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Could it be said that this whole “misinformation” thing is actually misinformation?

I continually see articles that make it seem as if misinformation creation and distribution is a sophisticated and large industry, when after digging in it seems like 3 babies in a trench coat who shit post on Facebook.

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There are still people who are completely bought in to the idea that the 2016 presidential election was the result of Russian misinformation on social media. That despite the fact that the two major political candidates outspent the Russians by two orders of magnitude.

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I count this as corporate misinformation, because Facebook pretty obviously wanted people to hear how easy it might be to control elections by paying Facebook for ads...

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only 2?

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That seems to be about right for social media ads buys. And it’s not like the Russians were buying a lot of airtime on TV, which is still the expensive way to reach voters.

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got it - I wasn't thinking only social media

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

The Democratic coalition is “smarter” than the current GOP one, but that certainly doesn’t seem to produce any more realistic discourse a lot of the time.

The topic currently sitting at the top of the thread is religion and patriotism; Democratic dislike of both, especially the latter, seems to have become so poisonous that a decent chunk of the coalition, disproportionately focused on the well-educated, genuinely believes that the US is both a horrible place to live for anyone up to the 95th percentile, and that we’re the most brutal empire to ever exist.

I’m not sure how to characterize those beliefs except “misinformation.”

And they have the additional benefit of being wildly unpopular, in addition to being false.

And that’s without getting into to the various mostly-wrong-but-with-a-glimmer-of-truth beliefs surrounding racism, racial history, and gender identity, all of which we’re supposed to hold as well-educated folk.

Maybe less stone-throwing, ya?

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"The topic currently sitting at the top of the thread is religion and patriotism; Democratic dislike of both"

I pay pretty close attention to this stuff, and I don't see many Democrats/progressives saying negative things about religion as such at all -- substantially less than around 2004.

You do see criticism of particular religious institutions or beliefs, not religion as such, but even that is less common. It's not common to read people saying "the Texas abortion law is about pushing a few people's religious values on everyone else" -- progressives just don't seem to think about religion much at all.

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True. I think much of the vitriol that was reserved for religion two decades ago has now been transferred to patriotism instead.

Patriotism is more relevant to most voters and will remain so for much longer, so that is probably a major reason why the left has found itself isolated from its working-class roots.

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I dunno...

Twenty years ago, progressives were quite cynical about patriotism, for the understandable reason that we kept getting "why do you hate America"-d, and seeing it invoked to justify the war in Iraq.

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deletedApr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022
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Patriotism isn't about judging individual people based on where they were born, it's not the same as racism. You're thinking of something more like xenophobia.

And if you don't think that for a country of immigrants and people as diverse as Americans it's important to work extra hard on forging and sustaining a shared, common identity and sense of community I don't think you've thought very deeply about how democratic polities function and survive - or don't.

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A shared identity contributes to higher societal trust and support of law for the greater good, like willingness to pay taxes. Paying mandatory taxes into the treasury of a political entity for a community you are a part of and have a stake in is not the same as being forced to pay taxes that are going to be sent off somewhere else and used for the benefit of people and a community you have no connection to. It's not very complicated, but the democratic legitimacy and sustainability of the whole enterprise, in the real world, depends on and is underpinned by the existence a shared sense of community, ie, a shared identity.

You're right there is an element of treating some people differently than others that's inherent in having laws that differ from one jurisdiction to the next. But if you're going to say it's akin to racism to, for example, restrict government benefits or rights offered by a given municipality, state or nation to the people who live in, pay taxes to and abide by the laws of that jurisdiction, you're really off in lala land.

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“Patriotism means “America First,” or putting Americans before non-Americans. This seems to me like judging people’s value based on where they are born”

That’s fair. I mean, I hope, for example, Ukraine is able to stave off Russia’s war, but that doesn’t mean am willing to go fight on their side. But I would be if the US was attacked.

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It depends on whether you want to view your country as something closer to an HOA or something closer to a family.

I prefer the latter because I think it's good for us to have emotional connections to our country, and I certainly do, and much in the same way that if I had to pick between my uncle dying or a stranger dying, it's not a contest, if I have to pick between an American dying (even one I've never met) or a foreigner, I'm picking the American.

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This just sounds weird to me. I think of patriotism like family. Most people are going to love their family more than others even if they would agree that other families are just fine. Same with countries. Its perfectly find to love your country and think its the "best" even if you acknowledge that other countries are perfectly fine places. The fact that I love my family and think its the best and you love your family and think they are the best are normal - not some form of racism.

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A healthy sense of patriotism is the manifestation of imagined community which knits us together and allows us to pursue a common project of democratic governance rather than allowing power to accrue to those who already have power.

I am aware of your views on the matter of nation-states, and that you believe markets and liberal rights are an adequate substitute to patriotism, and I categorically reject that entire bunch of pablum.

You really do not need to beat the drum any further; nothing you could possibly say will convince me that your argument has any merit.

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[COMPLETE NON SEQUITUR]

[TOTAL FAILURE TO RESPOND TO OPPOSING ARGUMENT]

["DO THE WORK!"]

[DECLARATION OF VICTORY]

Got it.

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Genghis Khan is more responsible for the relative prosperity of Western Europe (and by extension America) than anything that happened in the age of imperialism.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

I’m sure misinformation is a problem at at least some scale, but trusting the Misinformation Experts to determine the scale of that problem means surrendering my sense of true and false to people I would struggle to trust to tell me the time of day.

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I see it like the censorship debate on the right. Is it a real problem in some sense? Yes, although I can still think one is a bigger problem than the other. Is it actively getting worse? Eh, I'd like to see more evidence, which is to say any evidence, from the Cassandras.

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I'll use this piece as a chance to comment on my personal hobbyhorse, the increasingly widespread belief among Democrats that they only lose elections due to gerrymandering or other unfair Republican tactics. You could call it the Small Lie. How many Democrats know that Republicans won the House in 2010, 2014 and 2016 because they actually won a raw majority of total votes cast- about 51% in all three cases? How many Democrats know that according to political scientists the US actually has one of the fairer representative systems, as measured by the spread between votes cast & representatives seated? (Canada is over twice as bad!)

How many Democrats know that Republicans run the Wisconsin state legislature because they consistently win a raw majority of votes cast, year in and year out? I downloaded their 2020 electoral results and was pretty surprised to find that. I hear a lot of bleating about Wisconsin and how unfair it is there.

In general I think Dems not being honest with themselves about how popular Republicans are nationally is a low-key version of the Big Lie. Every electoral loss is due to gerrymandering, etc. (If you're concerned about Trump not conceding the election, try asking a Bernie supporter why he lost the primary twice. It wuz all a conspiracy, rigged, etc. etc.)

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What was the last Presidential election that most Democrats truly think they lost? 1988?

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

2004? I think a lot of Dems have issues with 2000 and 2016, but I think it's a lot harder to argue that we didn't lose in 2004.

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I'd bet a majority of Democrats would agree with 2004, although you still run into claims about Diebold machines in Ohio and things like that.

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The problem is Dems forget they lose whenever the run someone that got the job because "it's their turn", with Biden being the only exception due to the breathtaking incompetence of Trump. There is a reason Clinton (outsider), Obama (not much time in Washington, outsider-ish) win and people for whom "it's their turn" (Romney, McCain, Dole, Hillary, Kerry, Gore) always lose.

Republicans learned that lesson now, hence, how they will always go with "movement" candidates going forward.

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What's the evidence that US has one of the fairer representative systems? (Comparison to Canada is not evidence!)

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Sure, here's every democracy rated by the Gallagher index, a method political scientists use to measure disproportionality https://www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/people/michael_gallagher/ElSystems/Docts/ElectionIndices.pdf

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Other than hockey everything in the US is superior to Canada.

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Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City from my recent visits are pretty sweet. Their moose herd sure beats that in Miami.

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Visit Halifax one day if you can manage it. Make sure to go watch the Noon Gun.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

This is yet another urgent post in the ongoing Yglesias series, "Democrats, wake up! The ship is sinking! Stop complaining about esoterica and do something, fast!"

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I think what bothers a lot of Democrats is not that the total level of misinformation is higher than in the past; there's not much evidence that's the case. The problem is that nowadays there's more misinformation which harms their political prospects. "The government faked the moon landing" is an old-school conspiracy theory with no particular partisan valence. "The Democratic Party is controlled by satanists" is a new type of conspiracy theory which affects the outcome of elections.

But when you look at it this way you can see that partisan misinformation is mostly an effect, not a cause. Most normies don't pay much attention to politics and they evaluate the two main political parties using various heuristics, with cultural affinity being one of the most popular.

So if you start with some of the common perceptions of the two parties among low-information voters, e.g.:

"Republicans are normal people like us, who don't believe that women have penises. Democrats are different from us, and weirdly believe that some women do have penises":

it's easy to see why "Republicans are secret satanists" is a conspiracy theory nobody's going to fall for, whereas "Democrats are secret satanists" will get a certain amount of traction.

I'm not trying to defend the conservative position on trans issues here. The point is that you have to start by acknowledging that Democratic elites are further from the cultural mainstream than Republican elites. Under those circumstances, misinformation is always going to have a partisan bias in favor of the GOP.

There's no reason to think misinformation can be eliminated, so you have to address this by narrowing the culture gap. That doesn't necessarily mean moving to the right on cultural issues, although sometimes it might. But if you don't intend to do that, you have to present the progressive position on those issues in a way that doesn't sound bizarre: something like "Trans people deserve dignity and equal rights" rather than "Words don't mean what everyone thinks they mean".

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"The problem is that nowadays there's more misinformation which harms their political prospects."

Yes, most of it believed by their own side.

Most of the utter shit (Q, for example) coming out of the right is transparent to the voters in the mushy middle who matter. Then you get lots of Democrat-coded folks saying insane crap in public about the history of race, how terrible America is, and how it's impossible to understand what female/male and woman/man mean without a Ph.D in something.

That's *way* more impactful than QAnon, or whining about taxes, or "death panels".

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Agreed.

The people in my extended social group that I know who voted for Trump don't, as far as I know, believe in Q or any of that nonsense. They didn't believe in Pizzagate either.

There might be some "misinformation" to Latino voters on how socialist Biden was going to be but the Democrats weren't exactly fighting "socialist" charges tooth and nail either.

I don't think that the persuadable mushy middle is mostly the conspiracy group.

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Agreed, but I think QAnon-type beliefs affect elections mainly by encouraging turnout, not by changing the views of swing voters.

People who are prone to believe weird things are a specific personality type, which is why they tend to believe more than one weird thing. They probably have a below-average likelihood of voting--I don't know if there's data on that, but it seems plausible--but can be motivated to vote if one of the conspiracy theories they embrace has partisan implications.

Just a hunch; empirical data welcome.

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I _thought_ that turnout measures generally affected both parties. That is, the fact that a bunch of Trump supporters believe in QANON makes a bunch of _other_ people say "we really need to stop this guy"

I know that turnout doesn't necessarily correlate any more with Democrat vs. Republican - but that doesn't invalidate your hypothesis by itself - perhaps it correlates less because more Republicans are driven by high-turnout issues than used to be (I would expect the college/non-college divide to probably be the actual culprit here, but I'm not sure)

I wasn't easily able to find research showing that high-turnout ISSUES affect both parties equally.

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"...not that the total level of misinformation is higher than in the past; there's not much evidence that's the case."

I'm a social historian by trade, and I can definitely say there was more misinformation *and* disinformation per capita in the past than the present. That's because of the simple fact that the wealth of information at our fingertips in the present means it's hard for fake or misleading stories to have legs; the vast majority sink quickly, while a select few prove hard to kill. Conversely, through most of human history journalism was mostly gossip, often cribbed from other local newspapers verbatim, becoming an ouroboros of sorts. Inserting disinformation into this ouroboros, deliberately or accidentally, meant that often the disinformation can continue even into the present!

For example, I recently had trouble figuring the details of a particular court case from Paris in 1789-1790. Turns out it's because the details reported in newspapers were factually false, but it was picked up by other newspapers and reported throughout Paris. Later recollections from those who lived through the Revolution was from the newspaper accounts, not the factual record; that's what made it into the history books. I only stumbled upon the solution when I found physical evidence that directly contradicted the newspaper accounts.

However, fact-checking was much rarer and could take months, if not years. Because of this, defamation cases were much more common (at least in Europe), because it was a way to force a correction to a story in a matter of days or weeks.

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Your research sounds fascinating! Do you have any papers on this? I’d be very interested in reading.

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I'm actually finishing my thesis this month to hopefully go to publication with our university press! I'd have given more papers on it, but COVID really did a number on conferences the past 2 years. However, it did make research in Paris much more enjoyable without the tourists!

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May I ask your name and university affiliation?

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Apr 21, 2022·edited Apr 21, 2022

Trevor Rhodes, University of Nebraska at Kearney. Mostly an Old West department with some early modern European specialists and Progressivism scattered in there. My work is early modern European criminal justice history, although for the state historical society I work with we end up researching just about every topic related to the state.

EDIT: If you're interested in my last paper I presented at a 2019 conference I can send that along! Was reviewing the court case of Gilles de Rais. That was a doozy.

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I think the major reason the Dems have lost minority ethnic and non-college grad support has been the culture wars, not misinformation. Lots of folks are truly frightened by LBGT & BLM rhetoric or the social changes they and immigrants have brought.

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Democrats have been too dismissive of resistance to cultural change. You're going to need some abortion moderates and trans-skeptical people in your coalition in you want the median voter.

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Well, ok, but are you going to moderate your views on abortion and become trans-skeptical? Cuz I'm not - I don't think moderate views on abortion are correct views, and I might be closer to a "trans-skeptical" view but I still don't think I really should have anything to say about how parents, with the help of their doctors, treat medically-recognized conditions.

And who would do that? Again, if even a figure such as Barack Obama finds he can no longer pretend to evince the necessary soupçon of bigotry and intolerance to get middle America votes, who among the rest of us is going to? Even if you find someone whose views naturally lean to abortion moderation and trans skepticism (and "civil unions; marriage is for men and women" to boot), those people are going to liberalize on those views just by virtue of education, exposure, and proximity to a more liberal peer group.

So how's it supposed to work? Do you see what I'm asking?

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"Abortion should be safe, legal and rare"

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What does "rare" entail in this context?

Genuinely asking – no snark intended.

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That's the best part. It can mean different things to different people. But I view that statement as an aspirational goal - through a combination of birth control, support for lower-income pregnant women, etc, we can make abortions rare.

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This is generally what I think Bill Clinton was going for when he said it. We should take reasonable steps to prevent abortions, both by reducing unwanted pregnancies and by better supporting poor and working-class mothers, without making it illegal.

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My interpretation is that we should try to reduce the need for abortions in the first place via birth control, (age-appropriate) sex ed, and of course reducing sexual assaults that cause unwanted pregnancies. But even if we could completely eliminate assault and everyone who did not want to have kids was using birth control (and we obviously can't eliminate 100% of this) protection doesn't always work and of course accidents happen, there can be threats to the mother's life, etc. So while we should again try to reduce the need for abortions, there will always be some need and it should be safe and legal.

Banning abortion is only going to make poor women a) go to the black market where there are no safety regulations or b) not be able to get the procedure, while rich women will be able to hire a private doctor or fly out of the country to get it done.

I think abortion is not the black-and-white issue that activists on either side make it out to be (see this Atlantic story on abortion and Down's syndrome in Denmark: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/the-last-children-of-down-syndrome/616928/) but an total ban seems ill-advised. And at the end of the day I think this really is something women should have the final word on because it's their bodies.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

About 1.2% of abortions in the US are performed during the third trimester, or about 10,000 annually. That’s about 53% of the number of gun homicides. Therefore, gun homicides are rare.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

Gun homicides *are* rare, and every damned time I talk to someone who wants to kick down doors and take guns from everyone, I point that out. Better to deal with enforcing speed limits and DUI laws than ban guns, from the standpoint of harm reduction.

So are late-term abortions, virtually every single one of which is performed out of medical necessity, either to save a mother's life or because the child will die in horrific pain within days of birth.

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Apr 21, 2022·edited Apr 21, 2022

Right, so this was not very helpful or on-point. Happy that Josh and Ken (from Minneapolis) popped in to give some actual answers.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

First, plenty of people hold those views and are in the educated class (Notre Dame and Baylor). I believe that medical professionals are also governed by the social contract for providing services. Reducing all medical choices to medical rationale is reductionist; there are social consequences of actions and health is not the only condition.

The band of people going to Trump are culturally more conservative and economically left of center. The Democratic party does not have to embrace the views, but instead give those folks a home and permission to disagree. There used to be a chunk of pro-life Democrats and blue dog Democrats. The party moderate on economic issues to capture the moneyed social liberals (see Sinema or Clinton) but no longer has room for union types that go to church or Joe Rogan fanboy that just thinks a man's a man "despite" his college education.

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> if even a figure such as Barack Obama finds he can no longer pretend to evince the necessary soupçon of bigotry and intolerance to get middle America votes, who among the rest of us is going to?

We live in a democracy last time I checked. If one politician chooses not to pander to voters, another one will, and they'll win instead. You are allowed to hold any views you want and vote accordingly. If all left of center politicians choose to call half of America bigots, then the right will simply win every election until the left stops doing that. This is not that complicated.

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Sure, but what do you do about that? Imagine you're an elected official in a position of power and suddenly you're faced with the choice between winning your next election or voting against yet another grossly discriminatory anti-LBGT bill like recently passed in Florida.

How do you let yourself let that bill pass without it appearing to be, feeling like, and being-in-fact outright rank cowardice? What if you yourself are LBGT? Apparently Barack Obama can't talk himself into making those kinds of compromises.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

This is exactly the sort of Dem delusion Matt is taking about. During the 2020 Dem primary, most candidates backed decriminalisation of illegal immigration. That is toxic among all major demographics.

That’s the problem. Dems doing DEI stuff that’s unpopular even among most of the minorities they claim to be championing.

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I mean, let's posit for a second that things are genuinely as bad as we're supposed to believe, that the other side is a monolithically incipient-fascist party and they're winning by fearmongering against our culturally-open stances.

The correct response, in that situation, is to toss those stances overboard, sell the minority groups down the river rhetorically, and then govern on bread-and-butter issues, leaving those people alone as best possible, to head off an actual fascist government coming to power and rounding them (and lots of us) up to throw in camps or shoot quietly.

We have the luxury of saying "let's hold all these unpopular or just downright wrong stances that signal virtue" precisely because no one genuinely believes the GOP is ready to start shooting opposition politicians or rounding up LGBT folk after retaking the presidency in 2024 or '28.

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I agree that, rationally speaking, that would be the correct response. I do, in fact, believe we're going to see more right-wing violence deployed to political ends, as occurs in many other countries. I don't see any reason why it couldn't happen here - certainly the eliminationist rhetoric from the right isn't getting any better.

I'm simply saying I can't imagine a theory of human agency where a good person is able to talk themselves into doing it. It's like a kind of weird trolley problem - the rational case is certainly to pull the switch (selling gays down the river for votes) but you wouldn't want anyone who would do it to babysit your kids.

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As MY mentioned in his post, Obama held all kinds of public positions that he probably didn't personally believe in.

And it doesn't seem like it was very hard for him to do that.

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My point is that he doesn't do it anymore, though. So if even he can't do it anymore, how would any of the rest of us?

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"I'm simply saying I can't imagine a theory of human agency where a good person is able to talk themselves into doing it."

I dunno if I'm a good person... but I like living in a first-world country, climate change not killing millions and degrading the standard of living my kids will enjoy, a healthcare system that functions, and pro-worker policy.

So yes, if I had a button to press that read "Toss the DEI rhetoric and silence everyone who uses it" I would.

Unfortunately no one has that button. Democratic politicians are trying to distance themselves from it, but the party is coming to embody it faster than they can leave it behind. Which is going to lead down paths I've discussed elsewhere, and leave our fate mostly in the hands of what the GOP becomes once it achieves the same level of dominance the Democrats had two generations ago.

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Not really talking about whether you'd push a button that says "toss the DEI rhetoric" because we all know you already want to do that. We're talking about whether you'd push a button that says "your gay brother's marriage is dissolved and he's chemically castrated for the crime of notorious homosexuality." Selling minorities down the river, you said. That's what we're talking about.

If even Obama, championed in this article as the hard-headed rationalist button-pusher, won't push those buttons anymore, who would?

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"Don't take stances that lead to you losing elections"

Since the Democrats are now a social club for suburban professionals, it is indeed heresy.

How the hell we claw our way back to being a serious political organization, I have no idea.

"We don't" is the most likely outcome.

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Illegal immigration has never been criminal. It's always been an administrative offense. That's why they deport you for it, rather than sentencing you to a jail term in a domestic prison.

The problem is that once you delude yourself to the contrary, doing anything whereby some people who couldn't immigrate to the US now can, can be described as "decriminalizing illegal immigration."

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That’s simply an inaccurate statement. Speaking as a lawyer.

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8 usc 1325. Also see 1306.

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Speaking as not-a-lawyer, I can't find a single case of anyone in any US jurisdiction being convicted of by a jury and sentenced to a term of prison for the crime of immigrating illegally.

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The next time a friend from abroad visits me, I'll tell them to run past border control at JFK and I'll report back as to whether they encounter any criminal punishment.

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That’s because they all plead guilty to avoid serious prison time.

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Even if accurate it’s irrelevant. No one cares about the distinction of state coercion.

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Literally all legal immigration is "decriminalized illegal immigration."

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“…grossly discriminatory anti-LBGT bill like recently passed in Florida.”

Oh, the irony!

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

Sorry Matt - while you're right that Democrats need to look inward and find real solutions rather than try to work a nonexistent ref, denying the magnitude of misinformation out there shows that *you* might not be following your own advice and not talking to lots of 'normie' voters. Whether it be just in the course of my life with the more conservative or apolitical people I know, or while canvassing/doing political activities, I am constantly floored by the amount of crazy shit that's out there widespread and widely believed. The Joe Biden is a/covers for pedophiles thing was EVERYWHERE in 2020, repeated as an article of fact... and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm constantly floored by how often I come across people who believe all kinds of crazy shit about local politics and politicians just because they saw it on Facebook or whatever. And not from crazy, raving rightwing lunatics who watch Fox all day, but just normal, nice enough people.

In fact, you even (correctly) point out yourself that a lot of people on the left are misinformed by "feelings-over-facts" takes about politics, stuff that becomes taken as fact because people see it enough times on social media. We've always had uninformed voters, but I can't imagine we had this level of people who are 'informed' by large amounts of nonsense.

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I’m extremely skeptical that the overall level of misinformation is higher now than in the past (how well informed were medieval peasants? Where between then and now did people become really well informed, before things got worse again? Maybe for a minute when there were 4 channels?). What wouldn’t surprise me though is if those false beliefs are more correlated along partisan lines. This could be both because of sorting (read: everything Ezra Klein wrote about polarization) and because of the modern mass media/internet landscape. While you always had even normal people putting on their tinfoil hats sometimes, now everyone knows which hats match their political outfits.

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Exactly. And during that "minute when there were 4 channels" was it really that people were "better" informed in some objective sense or just that there was an unusual degree of consensus and convergence in what what people believed?

And as others have pointed out in the other comments the definition of "misinformation" is not so clear -- is it much more than just shorthand for beliefs that lack a certain critical mass of acceptance among those who are labeling the beliefs as misinformation?

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Medieval peasants were likely about as well informed as medieval elites. It's not like Charlemagne had a secret physics lab or something. Both elites and peasants saw the world mostly the same, with a view of Christian dogma peppered with folk wisdom. Charlemagne probably knew more about the wider world, and but not by that much. Maybe he was more literate, and had canny political gifts, but he was operating from basically the same set of facts. News still traveled at the speed of a slow horse.

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Charlemagne never learned to read.

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Observing that people believe weird shit isn't evidence that

a) there are more people believing weird shit now than previously

b) the weird shit people believe has any effect on voting patterns

Everyone is more exposed to all of the weird shit people believe because of the internet and the ability to broadcast whatever trivial thought that comes into their head to hundreds of millions of people. Add onto that people choose who to vote for and backfill the reasons and I just don't see much evidence supporting a position that 2022 is uniquely worse off than any other point in history.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

I will die on this weird hill: the inability of the Clinton campaign in 2016 to even acknowledge that youtube existed, never mind engage with what was going on there, was its doom.

You probably didn’t watch “Clinton Cash”. Very likely no one you knew watched it. But I guarantee you that every person under 30% of the median income line in your city who had access to YouTube saw it.

Is this a “misinformation” problem? No, this is a _propaganda_ problem, and the problem is that one side is very good at it and the other side can’t find its own ass with a map when the subject comes up.

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I disagree, the left is very good at creating propaganda.

It's just that all of it looks like the dreck turned out by the CCP at the height of the Cultural Revolution, and has about the same appeal.

You can get away with that when you're already in control of the state and can coerce people into pretending they agree, but not when you're actually obliged to persuade them.

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I think this is a category error. Cranking out lots of ineffective bilge that nobody even engages with never mind believes is not being “good” at creating propaganda. It’s not being good at anything.

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Perhaps "The left is very good at turning out propaganda-like content in quantity, it's just not effective."

I dunno, calling bad propaganda "not propaganda" seems wrong.

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Unwaveringly believing something without any evidence - correction, despite contrary evidence - is strong evidence that misinformation isn't really a problem.

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Exactly, it's not just edge cases believing in batshit crazy stuff, it's not just a difference of world views, normie conservatives have been getting hooked on more and more insane shit since the histrionics about the ACA's "death panels" over a decade ago.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

Tl;dr the makers of the Bible poll probably haven’t read a page of the Bible (or biblical scholarship) in their life and are as ignorant (or more ignorant) than those who understand it through a theist lens.

An incidental note- the poll on the Bible is badly conducted as it allows for 3 options that are all false (or unprovable) by scholarly standards. In fact, anyone who bothered to read even a significant portion of the Bible will immediately realize it’s not a “book” in the modern sense but rather a collection of texts, some composed many centuries apart and in 3 different original languages. While *some* parts can be labeled as “fables” (loosely defined) others are clearly of many other genres including poetry, historiography, and ancient near eastern genres for which there is no good modern equivalent (e.g. Wisdom Literature). While parts of the Bible are certainly mythical/legendary, others offer accounts of genuine historical events, well-corroborated by archaeology and independent written literary and epigraphical sources (e.g much of the books(s) of Kings).

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Yes thank you!

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I'm from Europe, so the most annoying thing for me in this misinformation conversation is socialism. I have seen many times organizations that are willing to fact check Trump's lies suddenly being unable to criticize DSA-affiliated politicians who describe strongly held beliefs of European conservatives (like universal healthcare) as socialism.

How many times have you seen the American media say something like "Actually, the Treaty of Lisbon bans member states from implementing any socialist policies, so European socialists are generally anti-EU."? How many times have you seen something like "Actually, Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist, so his policies can't have anything to do with Denmark."?

Joe Biden created joint policy groups with Bernie Sanders before the 2020 election. If you write an article about how it's fake news that Biden is a socialist and Latinos in Florida shouldn't freak out about Sanders, I also expect an article saying that none of the EU policies that Sanders supports are socialist.

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“How many times have you seen something like ‘Actually, Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist, so his policies can't have anything to do with Denmark.’?”

Kevin Williamson at National Review says things like that from time to time, but mostly as a way to point out that Sanders is batshit crazy and ignorant about Scandinavian countries.

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Tangential to this, but the noticeable decline in belief in biblical literalism amongst independents should call into question the progressive article of faith that independents are all just lying Republicans.

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Great piece. When I was growing up (in my 50s now as a Genx) people talked about Limousine liberals who essentially said things like "public schools and unions are the best" while sending their children to elite private schools that were not unionized. Little has changed with the DC Democratic elite (Sidwell Friends etc).

Today's elites from the Democratic Party are similar to those of my youth and there is now a level of condescending that voters can't ignore.

It is recorded and distributed online.

So when you call your opponents ignorant and a "basket of deplorables" in today's information environment, they will immediately know and they will not appreciate it.

And they will vote against you.

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Footnote 1:

[Say something here to placate the Christians by pissing off the Jews as well.]

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And something that continues to piss of Christians, too.

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Well, yeah, but I passed over that.

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Don’t forget pissing off Muslims as well!

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Two thoughts:

Being informed is work and stress with very little payoff. My realization at middle age is that life is mostly family, work and community. Understanding politics or policy rarely adds value, but often raises your blood pressure.

Human brains need simplifying narratives. Scientific explanations and religious ones provide the narrative. Religious events and memorials shape human lives and history as do scientific narratives, correct or not. The character of the narrative matters as much as the truth value. A truth can be communicated with ill intent (malicious gossip) and a fable can uplift and unite.

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