Ari Armstrong's Web Log (Main) | Archives | Terms of Use

Self in Society Roundup 17

RFK, LGBTQ poll, tribalism, hierarchies of agriculture, education, 1619, lexical priority, Milan restaurants, Chomsky, 12 Monkeys, and more.

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
June 19, 2023; ported here on March 28, 2024

Juneteenth: Ilya Somin: "Juneteenth celebrates one of the greatest triumphs of America and its founding principles."

RFK: Judd Legum writes: "Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has spent the last two decades of his professional life using discredited, manipulated, and cherry-picked evidence to argue that life-saving vaccines are dangerous. . . . [For some] supporting Kennedy has become a trendy way to signal you have a rebellious streak. It's a very dangerous game." See also Legum's Twitter thread. See also Peter Hotez's thread on calls for him to "debate" RFK. In terms of his detachment from reality, RFK is the Democrats' Trump.

LGBTQ: While 79% of Democrats and 73% of independents tell Gallup that "gay or lesbian relationships are morally acceptable," only 41% of Republicans do—down sharply from 56% last year. Bigots are gonna bigot.

Transgender: Erin Reed writes, "Judge Patrick Hanlon, a Trump-appointed federal judge, issued a temporary restraining order halting Indiana's ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The ruling fully blocked the enforcement of the law, with Hanlon determining it likely violates the constitutional rights of equal protection under law. Hanlon pointedly stated that these bans unfairly discriminate against trans youth and that denying them necessary care could cause 'irreparable harm.'"

Theory vs. Tribe: A good observation from David Friedman: "[O]ne way of recognizing belief in a real scientific theory, in the broad sense in which neo-classical economics, or evolutionary psychology, can be thought of as a single theory, is by its inconsistency with other theories. If a particular point of view is merely a smokescreen for right wing or left wing, views it will conveniently produce arguments all of which support the same side. If it is a real theory, an internally consistent body of ideas for making sense of the world, it is almost certain to clash with other ways of making sense of the world."

Pitfalls of Agriculture: Jason Kuznicki argues (among other things) that early agricultural societies were basically hell holes for most people, in which violently enforced class hierarchies (including slavery) were common. This is the first episode of the new Freedom podcast by long-time associates Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus.

Education: "The College Board has notified Florida that it will not modify its curriculum for Advanced Placement Psychology to remove references to gender identity and sexual orientation."

Education II: "Instructional design . . . matters," notes Matt Bateman. He uses the example of teaching a backflip. I use Dimensions Math and am very impressed with how the program strategically advances conceptual learning.

Reading: Natalie Wexler writes, "In an effort to boost dismal reading scores, the New York City school system recently announced that all elementary schools in the district—the nation's largest—need to adopt one of three approved literacy curricula. But the most popular choice so far is also the least effective." Listen to the Sold a Story podcast series to understand the background of the "reading wars." At least more people are paying attention to the problem, as David Boaz notes.

AI: The Guardian now is officially using AI- (or LLM-) generated text.

Race in America: Timothy Sandefur writes, "[T]he 1619 Project's . . . purpose is to instill an attitude of separatism, persuading people that the American dream isn't for black people. It claims that racism has generated 'everything that has truly made America exceptional' and that white supremacy is inextricable from the country's identity." Paul Crider doesn't like Sandefur's article. I think it's pretty clear the 1619 Project had some serious problems. Whether we look at the 1619 Project or liberty in America, partly it is a question of whether the glass is half empty or half full.

Rights: Michael Huemer argues against absolute rights in favor of weak deontology. Actually he argues generally against "lexical priority," the idea "that there is some kind of reason that is infinitely more important than another kind." "You should reject lexical priority theories because they have no reasonable answer to how to deal with risk." (Note: Objectivists often say rights are absolute, but they also say rights are contextual and do not always apply in emergency situations.)

Human Activity: "The spin of the planet tilted 31.5 inches to the east between 1993 and 2010 due to humans pumping groundwater, according to a new study."

Regulations: I am frequently surprised to learn of some ridiculous government regulation. Milan lifted such a regulation: "In 2005, Milan abolished a minimum distance requirement that had kept the number of establishments artificially constant across neighborhoods." You'll never guess what happened: "Restaurants located in neighborhoods that experienced large increases in agglomeration reacted by increasing product differentiation."

San Francisco: The city is in a "doom loop," worries Noah Smith. One problem is anti-growth regulations.

Immigration: "Other countries are luring workers trained in U.S. universities." U.S. immigration policy is suicidal.

Christians: Aaron Ross Powell interviews Kristin Kobes Du Mez about how American evangelicals became anti-liberty nationalist. "Infused in these teachings is the idea that you need strong, rugged, masculine, aggressive men to be rulers of the home so that they can also be defenders of the nation, of the Christian nation."

Chomsky: Tyler Cowen interviewed Noam Chomsky, who discusses human language and evolution (of course), "manufactured consent" via government propaganda, etc. Chomsky is very worried about possible nuclear war as well as the "existential crisis of environmental destruction." One thing Chomsky mentions is Carolyn Woods Eisenberg's work on Nixon. One thing Cowen does is unveil Chomsky's weird idolization of Cuba.

Life Advice: Michael Shermer offers ten lessons for living a good life, in text and audio. A sample: "You are the architect of your life. You are responsible for what you do. So do it. How? Change your behavior and your cognition will follow. Change your habits and your thoughts will follow."

Film: I rewatched the film 12 Monkeys. It is a beautiful and horrifying film. Bruce Willis offers such a soulful performance; Brad Pitt is very good as a psychotic person. The problem is the film ultimately is about the futility of the actions of the main characters. That, I hate. But there is much else to appreciate about the film.

Ari Armstrong's Web Log (Main) | Archives | Terms of Use