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The Coalition of Chaos

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Anthony D Herrera
    May 6, 2016 @ 11:47 am

    Do you ever worry that you yourself are a crackpot? Or do you worry that you will never truly be a crackpot?


    • Froborr
      May 6, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

      I don’t think Phil was more than half joking when he subtitled the Super Nintendo Project. His crackpot credentials are solid and undeniable.


    • Jane
      May 6, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

      He must be a crackpot — he’s got me writing over here.


      • David Gerard
        May 6, 2016 @ 3:02 pm

        That’s more Phil as cult leader.


  2. Lawrence D'Anna
    May 6, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

    Moldbug is a neo-monarchist nutbag, not a neo-fascist nutbag.


    • Gox Way
      May 6, 2016 @ 6:58 pm

      In practice it doesn’t make much difference if you call the absolute leader you want to bring back the good old days a King, a Duce, or a CEO. Narcissism of small differences, People’s Front of Judea, and all that rot.


      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        May 6, 2016 @ 11:09 pm

        Let’s just call a spade a trowel.


      • Lawrence D'Anna
        May 7, 2016 @ 12:05 am

        Given that Moldbug himself seems to think there is a very big difference, I’d say calling him a neo-fascist is dishonest or ignorant.


        • Dan
          May 7, 2016 @ 2:47 am

          It’s like no one wants to be called a fascist these days. Just ‘Kaiser’ or ‘Ceasar’ or something.


          • Adrienne
            May 7, 2016 @ 3:34 am

            Yeah, “don’t call this fascist a fascist because HE thinks he’s not a fascist” is … not a position i think anyone needs to have much sympathy for.

  3. Kit Power
    May 6, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

    To misquote The Commitments – he’s a crackpot, all right. But he’s OUR crackpot.



  4. nydwracu
    May 6, 2016 @ 9:30 pm

    “Of course, he’s a white nationalist,”


    I hardly even care about politics anymore beyond “holy shit, Puritans are insane” (pop quiz: how many degrees are there between Yale and Hitler? between the New York Times and Stalin? between Harvard and the Khmer Rouge?) — and the alt-right people keep getting mad at me for associating with the maybe 1/3 of the rationalists who don’t have me blocked, so — but I’m one of the maybe five people on the planet who bothered to read most of Unqualified Reservations and people are frequently wrong on the internet.

    (I’ll probably email you a list of all my disagreements with your summary of Moldbug once I’ve finished reading the book, but maybe that was part of the point. And, to be clear, I don’t think it would matter much with regard to the effect of the book on the false Yudkowsky-NRx narrative if it had nothing in it but pictures of Teletubbies.)


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      May 6, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

      Yes, I’m going to be fascinated to read any defense of Moldbug from the perspective of someone with an aversion to writing about things based on a mere constellation of associations.


    • Dan
      May 7, 2016 @ 2:53 am

      What’s this pop quiz? What counts as a “degree” of separation? Wittgenstein went to the same school as the Nazi leader. That seems closer than the NYT. Does that count?


  5. nydwracu
    May 6, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

    Incidentally, what do you think the three most commonly assigned books in college syllabi are? (The Bible and the Constitution aren’t on the list — the Open Syllabus Project’s scraping algorithm has difficulty with works without listed authors.)

    As the clickbaiters say, #3 might surprise you…


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      May 6, 2016 @ 11:07 pm

      I would assume it’s some Intro Chemistry textbook favored by the University of Phoenix or something, but I’m sure you have some particular list in mind that you’re quizzing me on, so why don’t you just post the link.


      • nydwracu
        May 6, 2016 @ 11:34 pm

        The list is biased toward fields that tend to assign primary texts, and against fields that tend to assign textbooks (toward the humanities and against everything else), but #4 is a biology textbook.


        • taiey
          May 6, 2016 @ 11:54 pm

          Called it.


          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            May 7, 2016 @ 3:40 am

            Indeed. Hardly a surprise – at 17,000 words, it’s a nice “done in one day” work that adds that slight note of transgressiveness to a syllabus.

            It’s also telling, in other words, how many writers get second and even third works in before you get to Capital, i.e. Marx that Marxists care about.

          • nydwracu
            May 7, 2016 @ 6:58 pm

            Capital is #44.

            The authors who get second works in are Foucault (Power and History of Sexuality), Homer (the Odyssey and the Iliad), Mill (On Liberty and Utilitarianism), Sophocles (Oedipus and Antigone), and Turabian, who writes writing guides. Plato gets three — Republic, Apology, and Dialogues — but Dialogues includes Apology, so Apology could be considered as a selection from Dialogues. Aristotle gets four: Ethics, Politics, Poetics, and Nicomachean Ethics. If Ethics and Nicomachean Ethics are the same text, the Communist Manifesto falls to #4 and Capital rises to #43. #42 if Apology is counted as part of Dialogues.

            Marx’s second work comes before Shakespeare’s. Capital comes in above Democracy in America, Huckleberry Finn (or anything else by Twain), the Meditations, Locke’s Second Treatise — and even the Declaration of Independence.

          • Devin
            May 9, 2016 @ 9:41 am

            Twain is unlikely college-level reading unless you’re studying him for a writing class or something, though. Same for the Declaration of Independence: you’ll have read those in high school, they’re not terribly likely to be assigned in college (even if you have something to teach from the Declaration, you can probably handle it with a few slides in a lecture rather than actually adding it to your reading list. Plus it’s short enough that it’s probably in many relevant textbooks).

            And, uh, de Tocqueville is at #32, distinctly above Capital at #44. He also places at #59, for some reason. Adding the two together would place Democracy In America at #5, but I’m not sure they’re actually the same work: the lower-placed version has additional authors and may be a textbook or something.

            Shakespeare’s second work may come (slightly) after Marx’s, but his third and fourth and fifth come rather sooner. He’s only farther down the list because he’s got a lot of good entries.

        • Dan
          May 7, 2016 @ 2:57 am

          How can a list be biased if it’s simply of the most commonly assigned texts in a multiplicity of college courses?


          • Adrienne
            May 7, 2016 @ 4:44 am

            Presumably because a lot of professors who use only a single textbook don’t name said textbook on their syllabi, so it doesn’t get scraped? Makes sense to me. I don’t think dude is saying the Open Syllabus Project is /ideologically/ biased (although that’s certainly what he’s implying about the colleges themselves) – he’s saying that the data is weighted in certain ways by the habits of professors wrt syllabi, and i don’t see any reason to think that isn’t a possibility.

          • nydwracu
            May 7, 2016 @ 7:04 pm

            It’s biased toward certain fields, certainly — fields where you read original texts rather than textbooks. If you take a class on Shakespeare, you’re going to get assigned Shakespare; if you take a class on Western philosophy, you’re going to get assigned Plato; but if you take a class on astronomy, there are a lot of astronomy textbooks in the world.

            That said, #4 is a biology textbook, so.

        • Andrew Hickey
          May 7, 2016 @ 10:31 pm

          I’m utterly horrified.

          They’re actually still teaching STRUNK & WHITE in US universities? Posturing prescriptivist pseudo-pedantry like that can corrupt impressionable young people’s minds irreparably!


          • Jeff Heikkinen
            May 8, 2016 @ 5:06 am

            I was just going to say, by far the most offensive thing on that list is that Strunk and White are on it, let alone at #1.

          • Devin
            May 9, 2016 @ 9:47 am

            Dunno about that. I’m not a fan, but… Imagine you’re trying to get a lecture hall full of MBA students to write an actual readable English sentence. Your first week’s essays came back full of… well, they clearly know how to leverage synergies in best-in-class linguistics, but not one of them can say what they mean. If writing’s not your field and you’re just looking for something to help your students turn in a readable essay on whatever you are supposed to be teaching, I can absolutely see someone reaching for Strunk and White.

            I can even see it working, at least somewhat. (Say what you will, they’re wrong about a lot of things, but I’d buy tickets to the beatdown they’d put on anyone “leveraging” in front of them.)

    • mtraven
      May 7, 2016 @ 4:37 am

      Well Plato’s Republic beats out Karl and Frederick, so by your implied logic I suppose academia is in thrall to a conspiracy to ban poetry and raise all children by the state.


      • Jane
        May 7, 2016 @ 4:47 am

        It’s not a ban on poetry, just a reconception of what should actually be considered poetic.


      • Adrienne
        May 7, 2016 @ 4:49 am

        It’s a really stupid line of implication to start with, too. I mean, Ethics is #6 and The Prince is #8. Cherry-picking a single popularly-taught book as evidence that colleges are indoctrinating students into communism or some shit is, well, it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect of Mr. Moldbug and Mr. nydwracu. Which is to say that it’s dishonest, disingenuous, and fucking stupid.


        • nydwracu
          May 7, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

          It’s not “evidence that colleges are indoctrinating students into communism” — it’s evidence that Marx isn’t marginalized in American colleges. And it matches up with what I saw: I didn’t go to a particularly left-wing college, but at least three of my professors were Marxists, including the head of the political science department.


  6. Kate
    May 6, 2016 @ 10:50 pm

    This is a deep and terrifying ocean.

    I was saddened to see a tongue-in-cheek bit of SJW-trolling by Gareth Roberts on Facebook. I prefer to remember him as the young man reading out some rant from the Daily Mail in a Davros voice (complete with wizened hand).


  7. Kate
    May 6, 2016 @ 10:52 pm

    … omg, I just followed the Roko’s Basilisk link and hit a Shriekback lyric.


  8. Kate
    May 8, 2016 @ 9:24 am

    This stuff is highly nutritious for me. I read the entry on Roko’s Basilisk on and, as well as being hilarious, it led me to loads of other stuff about AI which I simply hadn’t encountered before, despite wanting to write SF about robots and AIs and stuff. It was interesting to make the connection between the rationalwiki stuff about the echo chamber of LessWrong – how people genuinely scared by the Basilisk could help themselves by seeking outside perspective – and this article on how the paucity of women in AI affects its development, not in hazy “diversity is good” terms, but in direct ways:

    Not that this will be news to you, but it’s all news to me!


    • David Gerard
      May 8, 2016 @ 7:47 pm

      It’s important to note, by the way, that the stuff on LessWrong is pretty much nothing to do with actual practical real-world AI. Actual AI researchers punch walls when MIRI comes up.


      • Kate
        May 9, 2016 @ 1:33 am

        lol – I shall keep that in mind.


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