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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. Michael
    February 20, 2021 @ 2:00 pm

    Two nitpicks and a request(I love the actual content of this piece)

    1: In the second paragraph “persom” should be “person”

    2: The number of male presidents is now forty-six out of forty-six

    3: I think there should probably be a content warning for discussion of sexual assault towards the end.


    • Ben Knaak
      February 20, 2021 @ 5:21 pm

      2 is incorrect – Grover Cleveland is counted twice. But only once on the list of rapist presidents, of which there are more than one.


      • Michael
        February 20, 2021 @ 7:38 pm

        Ah correct, sorry


  2. Liface
    February 20, 2021 @ 3:06 pm

    “The Reddit community around his work is the sort of place where posting the fourteen words gets dozens of upvotes and complaining about that gets you banned”

    I like it when authors put false statements early on in their long essays, so I know when to stop reading.


  3. Salman
    February 20, 2021 @ 3:48 pm

    “ My contention is that Siskind’s prose—which I view as representative of a larger style—works through a sort of logorrheic beigeness. Siskind is good at giving readers the sense that they are being intelligent—that they are thinking about serious issues at considerable length. In practice, he says… not quite nothing, but very little, at least on a moment to moment basis. Instead he engages in a litany of small bullshits—shoddy arguments that at their best compound into banality, but at their worst compound into something deeply destructive, all made over such length that smoking guns are hard to find, which is of course the point.”

    To be fair, after following your writing for a few years, I’d say this is actually a fairly solid description of your own work.


    • no
      February 20, 2021 @ 4:00 pm

      if i can direct your attention to the precedent of Rubber V. Glue, 1969, I think you’ll find that the person best described by the quoted passage is actually you


    • BurrowBrook
      February 20, 2021 @ 4:20 pm

      Thing is, El largely writes about comics and old TV shows, subjects that leave a certain room for rhetorical flights of fancy that shouldn’t be allowable when you’re arguing about the nature of racism, or trying to pretend that white, male, American nerds are the world’s most put upon minority.


      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        February 20, 2021 @ 4:49 pm

        It’s also just not true. Do I write long and sometimes difficult pieces? Absolutely. Are they structured so as to make it difficult to provide Twitter-sized evidence of my strongest claims? Quite the opposite—I all but giftwrap the punchy lines that people will be able to quote to make my work sound unreasonable. Examples:

        “Scott Siskind provided intellectual legitimacy to a movement that led directly to a fucking fascist coup.”

        “Scott Siskind is yet another example of extreme stupidity that’s nevertheless extremely dangerous—one that ties in directly to neoreaction, to the rise off the alt-right, to the malevolence of Peter Thiel, and to everything else I talk about in that book.”

        “What I want is for Scott Siskind to stop hurting people while the number of people whose deaths his actions have directly and materially contributed to is still in the single digits.”

        It’s an almost diametrically opposed style; I make damn sure my key beats are punchy and quotable.


        • BurrowBrook
          February 20, 2021 @ 4:56 pm

          Oh, sure. I don’t think anyone could honestly accuse your style of being beige.


    • mx_mond
      February 21, 2021 @ 9:43 am

      Nah. Our host’s posts always have a lot to say and actually say it.


  4. Anonymous
    February 20, 2021 @ 7:21 pm

    Replace “shy and nerdy” with “black” and see how it feels.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      February 20, 2021 @ 7:31 pm

      Congratulations on your groundbreaking discovery that you can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence by arbitrarily replacing words with other words.


    • skaffen-amtiskaw
      February 20, 2021 @ 7:50 pm

      context, dove, is important.


    • Soy
      February 20, 2021 @ 10:41 pm

      Wait you think it is acceptable for black men to talk over sexual abuse victims when they are talking about their abuse?

      You thought this gotcha was good?


      • Anonymous
        February 21, 2021 @ 2:42 pm

        “As for the “shy and nerdy” bit…you know, some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion. I can only speculate on why that’s so, but no, I would certainly not equate shy/nerdy with harmless. In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women.”

        Hmmm. Wonder how we would feel about this statement if it was directed at a different identity group.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 21, 2021 @ 5:08 pm

          Again, I congratulate you on your discovery that changing the words in a sentence changes its meaning.


    • Anon
      February 20, 2021 @ 11:46 pm

      But you’re nethier anon, you’re the high school bully who pretended to be the victim.


  5. Anonymous
    February 20, 2021 @ 9:33 pm

    The neckbeard-fedora-virgin-manchildren era was bad, very bad. Very real, remarkably popular among feminists for a couple years until the people pointing out the fat-shaming and ableist aspects finally won. Those insults, however, did not originate from feminists. They were the background bullshit of internet conflict in general at the time, used widely by feminists and anti-feminists alike but popularized by channers and goons in ages before.

    Notably, ‘sperglord’ was never popular among internet feminists, despite being a well-established part of that cluster of insults (the one insult where anti-autistic dogwhistles became blunt anti-autistic statements). The cluster existed independently of feminists.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      February 20, 2021 @ 10:19 pm

      I will reiterate, though, that talking about that era without noting the existence of a weaponized misogynistic hate mob rallying around “gamer” as an identity is a recipe for bad conclusions.


      • Anonymous
        February 20, 2021 @ 11:24 pm

        True to a point, but there’s more going on. Gamergate and its predecessors made it easier for a bunch of channer shit aimed vaguely in the direction of nerd stereotypes to be actively valorized in feminist communities, but even without said hate mob, most of those insults would likely have been popular for a while.

        This is because that shit was popular in the general internet public. It was 2000s-early 2010s goon and channer and Kiwifarmer behaviour, and it was widespread and well normalized online before Gamergate began. There were feminists using it because everyone was using it. It was simply normal across ideologies and demographics, and since the aspects that made that insult cluster harmful were in the realm of dogwhistles and, well, fat shaming, it was easy to accept a bunch of effective and not obviously harmful insults.

        Siskind reduces this widespread popularity to strictly being popularity among feminists, as if anti-feminists weren’t routinely saying the exact same things with “white knight” attached. He drags in insults that were part of the popular cluster but that weren’t in feminist use, such as sperglord, and attaches them to feminists. It’s deeply revisionist, and it’s a common revisionism in his circles.


  6. Soy
    February 20, 2021 @ 10:46 pm

    I brought this up on reddit, but thought it was interesting to also mention here.

    A thing which Scott doesn’t mention here:

    Talking about “entitled nerds” is the Hot New Internet Feminism thing these days. Here’s [The Entitlement And Misogyny Of Nerd Culture]. Here’s [Sex, Nerds, Entitlement, and Rape]. Here’s Is [Nerd Culture Filled With Entitled Crybabies]? There’s [On Male Entitlement: Geeks, Creeps, and Sex.]

    Three of these four articles are written partially in reaction to E Rodger murdering people. That is why ‘it was a hot new feminism thing’, the murders. Nobody in the comments of SSC seems to have noticed at the time. (Also one of the articles even speaks about how hard dating is as a socially awkward person).


    • Annie
      February 21, 2021 @ 1:55 pm

      I’m sure many of them did notice, but they didn’t allow it to affect their view because it doesn’t fit into the narrative.
      The whole point he is making is that feminists are obsessed with men because they hate them so much, he wasn’t going to undermine his own point by adding in the necessary context to understand the argument, and his readers werent going to do it either because they already believe that it’s true, so even if some bright spark could put together that many of these articles were written as a response to the shootings by Elliot Raja, I don’t think it would’ve made much difference to the audience of that blog who were already inclined towards that particular mindset.


  7. Ron Skurat
    February 20, 2021 @ 11:52 pm

    I’m in a medical field and I genuinely wonder how SAS can function as a psychiatrist. I’ve known surgeons as conceited & ignorant, but theoretically psychiatrists are supposed to forge some sort of connection with their patients.

    Maybe he’s really good at compartmentalization, who knows.


    • Hugh Dingwall
      February 21, 2021 @ 2:11 am

      People can continue being bad at jobs for a distressingly long time, you know.


      • Doctor Memory
        February 23, 2021 @ 5:31 pm

        True. Contriariwise a surprising number of terrible people manage to be good at their jobs or at least good enough to have a lifelong career.

        Admittedly “psychotherapist” is in this sense a worrisome edge case but I can certainly imagine that Alexander is as capable of prescribing the correct dose of anti-anxiety medications to someone complaining of symptoms of anxiety as any other person with an MD, and there are presumably plenty of patience who would prefer a less-emotional affect in their mental health practitioner.


    • Kris
      February 23, 2021 @ 5:17 pm

      He’s very technical/emotionless. He’s written about how he found it weird that colleagues had people crying to them. QC, another guy vaguely in the rationalist sphere, has said something to the effect of “I love scott, but I cannot imagine having a tearful moment with him”


    • Devin
      February 24, 2021 @ 12:01 pm

      Actually wouldn’t surprise me if he was a decent shrink, at least for the right patients. I read a good chunk of his psych site and it seemed okay, levelheaded and fairly to-the-point. Then I went a little farther afield and… pretty soon the beige got to me.


  8. Austin George Loomis
    February 21, 2021 @ 3:23 am

    Let’s start by asking what exactly an outgroup is.

    Sadly, it would be four calendar years before Frank Wilhoit, in summing up what he considered the defining proposition of conservatism, gave a very good, maybe even the best, answer to that question, defining out-groups as those “whom the law binds but does not protect.”

    There is not a lot that I want from this essay other than to have it written. […] I had bits of fun doing it, but I didn’t do it for fun and I mostly didn’t enjoy it.

    In the words of one of Rafael Edward Penisnose’s favorite comic book characters, we do it because we are compelled.


    • mx_mond
      February 21, 2021 @ 9:42 am

      “Sadly, it would be four calendar years before Frank Wilhoit, in summing up what he considered the defining proposition of conservatism, gave a very good, maybe even the best, answer to that question, defining out-groups as those “whom the law binds but does not protect.””

      that’s the quiet part reactionaries don’t like to say out loud


  9. TracingWoodgrains
    February 21, 2021 @ 10:44 am

    Why are you lying about the context of Aaronson’s piece?

    I’d think, for something you put as a centerpiece of your work here, something you reference no fewer than five separate times throughout the article, you’d have the intellectual honesty or sheer decency not to, well, fabricate the entire thing outright.

    Seriously, readers should look at the original comment Aaronson was responding to. You didn’t bother to link it:

    At no point does she “talk about [her] experiences of sexual assault”. At no point does she come even close to talking about her own experiences of sexual assault. The closest she gets—the only place where you can squint and begin to make out a fraction of what you’re twisting into “sexual assault”—is the line “…some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion”.

    A valid point! Definitely a worthwhile addition to the conversation. But saying that she’s met gropy, misogynistic guys is absolutely not a personal, vulnerable expose of her own experiences with sexual assault, and framing it that way repeatedly through your essay is despicable.

    Really, everyone, read it yourself. Check her other comments, too, at #120, 156, 157, and 158. Scour them, because Sandifer’s performative outrage rides on the claim that Aaronson was talking over someone opening up about sexual assault, and the claim is simply, unambiguously false. Sandifer leans on the claim again and again, scattering it throughout the essay for vindication and shock value, even taking a moment to pat herself on the back at the end for presenting it in a particularly incendiary, all-caps way in response to Scott’s seventh bullet point.

    Let’s be clear: Sandifer is not interested in reaching truth. She’s not aiming towards an honest analysis or critique or Scott Alexander or his community. She’s a propagandist with a propagandist’s aim: to mix an ounce of truth with an equal dose of falsehood and several tons of angry insinuation, not caring who she hurts in the meantime so long as her ends are served.


    • Annie
      February 21, 2021 @ 1:42 pm

      Some of the gropiest men does imply some familiarity with being groped, otherwise how would she know that they were gropy men in the first place, being groped by the way is definitely sexual assault you should never touch someone without their permission, it goes along with treating people as you know actual human beings.


      • TracingWoodgrains
        February 21, 2021 @ 2:47 pm

        Of course being groped is sexual assault. And of course it’s possible to know someone is ‘gropy’ without them having personally groped you. People do share stories and warnings about others.

        It’s incredibly presumptuous and dangerous to leap from someone saying they know others to have done bad things to the conclusion that they’ve been personally victimized by those people. Is it possible? Yes. Is it appropriate to place on someone who hasn’t directly claimed it? Absolutely not. It comes off as assigning the experience of abuse onto the writer for Sandifer’s own ends.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 21, 2021 @ 5:27 pm

          It is certainly possible in a theoretical sense that when Amy (the person Aaronson was replying to) talked about having met shy/nerdy men who were misogynistic and assaulted people she was not in fact meaning that they assaulted her. I do not think that is the most obvious assumption one can make about what she said, but certainly if it had turned out that she had not been assaulted by nerdy men she would have been able to say “I didn’t lie” and be correct. Again, though, the obvious implication of “some of the gropiest men I’ve met” is that she experienced the groping.

          But of course, Amy comes back in the thread and notes that she is in fact a rape survivor while also talking about how smaller scale abuses have on the whole been the bigger problem in her life. Which again suggests that what she spoke of earlier was her own experience.

          And of course, Aaronson responds to that post with, and I admit that I’m paraphrasing, “sorry you were raped, can’t imagine what that’s like, here are my ideas on how to improve feminist discourse.” Which, again, shows that he’s got a very bad understanding of “is this a situation where my views on feminism will be helpful” as a question.

          All of this makes me confident that the default reading of Amy’s comment—that when she talks about gropey men she’s met she is talking about her experience of them, not whisper networking—is in fact correct.

          At the end of the day, however, I point to my comments elsewhere in the piece about the rhetorical strategy of “high level claims when it’s about what I want to talk about, minute particulars when I’m refuting” and its general bullshitness.


    • Alva
      February 21, 2021 @ 2:07 pm

      “…some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion.”

      Thanks for quoting this directly and linking the original comment, because I think it gets to something at the heart of what was so problematic about Aaronson’s response. Contrary to what you claim, the author here is talking about her experience of sexual assault, because, bluntly, groping is sexual assault and she is saying she has been groped. Elsewhere in the comment, she talks about her experience of attending tech conferences vs attending medical conferences and how the latter are far more pleasant for women to attend as they have established structures to prevent and deal with sexual harassment and assualt.

      The reason, I suspect, that you are not reading this as someone talking about their experience of sexual harassment and assault is that the comment discloses trauma in a very matter of fact way – as a common hazard of being a woman in certain spaces (which, to be clear, it is, which is horrendous). The author isn’t foregrounding her or others’ distress at these experiences (partly, I suspect, because she knows that isn’t a tactic that her audience would accept from a woman), and is instead approaching this as an issue of safety and equity in tech/rationalist spaces. Which is a valid choice – no survivor should have to perform a particular emotional response in order to be heard when they discuss their trauma. But she is still talking about her own experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

      And, to be clear, what Aaronson did in response to that was, essentially, derail the conversation by saying, in effect ‘Screw your need to be safe, my trauma matters more.” The conversation from that point onwards was about and only about Aaronson’s trauma, and the point the original commenter was trying to make about how tech/rationalist spaces could make themselves safer for women based on her own traumatic experiences was entirely lost. Which was, presumably, what Aaronson was doing.

      The point here isn’t that Aaronson’s trauma isn’t real or isn’t or isn’t distressing. It sounds like a horrible thing to go through, and I hope his life is better now. But what he did here was use it as a cudgel to prevent other traumatised people – people with much less social and structural clout than himself – from making the changes they need in order to be safe in tech/rationalist spaces. And that’s not okay.


      • Alva
        February 21, 2021 @ 2:11 pm

        Typo correction – the last sentence of para. 4 should read ‘Which was presumably what Aaronson was trying to do.’


      • TracingWoodgrains
        February 21, 2021 @ 2:57 pm

        Contrary to what you claim, the author here is talking about her experience of sexual assault, because, bluntly, groping is sexual assault and she is saying she has been groped.

        Of course groping is sexual assault. She explicitly isn’t saying she’s been groped. That’s the issue. Look at the sentence “One of the gropiest, most misogynistic men I know of is Donald Trump.” Many, many people would be willing to make that statement—and should have room to make statements like that—without having been personally assaulted by him. Later, in comment 156, the commenter makes a point to center the experiences of other women. The whole time, she goes out of her way to talk in generalities and not to personalize it.

        Making the leap from there to “she must have been personally sexually assaulted” is a pernicious way of removing agency from her, interpreting her words in the most personal and extreme possible light without any confirmation that was the intent. Neither you nor Sandifer have the right to claim personal trauma for someone who hasn’t herself claimed it, particularly as Sandifer does so to weaponize the commenter in order to forward her own grudge.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 21, 2021 @ 5:29 pm

          In contrast to your other comment I replied to, in which you were overstressing a fairly implausible interpretaton, this—with the claim that she has not claimed any personal trauma—is just an outright lie.


          • TracingWoodgrains
            February 21, 2021 @ 6:02 pm

            I was referring to her commentary before Aaronson responded in what you frame as a horribly disrespectful way. There’s a massive difference between his opening up like that in response to a personal story about being sexually assaulted and his opening up in response to what, as I said, was general commentary about the experience of women in tech (which itself was a response to a number of connected topics earlier in the thread).

            Their later conversation, too, reinforces that she doesn’t consider his opening up to have been inappropriate, and in fact responds with vulnerability and thoughtful commentary of her own. None of this is reflected in your carnival-mirror portrayal of the conversation.

  10. Alva
    February 21, 2021 @ 5:17 pm

    Content note: I briefly reference my own experience of sexual assault in the first paragraph of the following.

    But she didn’t reference people she knew of only by repute, she referenced people she knew – which means that it has to be at least a strong possibility that she has been assualted by them. When I think of the gropey people I have personally known, the main reason I know that they are gropey and would describe them as such is that they have tried to grope me. That line is also not the only place where she references her own experience – she also discusses her experience of attending medical and tech conferences and mentions that medical conferences are much more pleasant because they have structures in place to address harassment and assault.

    That said, I doubt any further close reading on my part of this particular blog comment is likely to convince you. The reason I responded to your initial comment as I did was to demonstrate to other readers that your principle claim – that the present author has deliberately mischaracterised the context in which Scott Aaronson made his now famous statement – is questionable and based on the parameters you are putting around what a discussion of one’s own experience of sexual harassment/assault should look like (i.e. that the survivor has to use a highly specific form of words or has to sound emotional).

    Even if your reading of the comment in question is correct, however, it doesn’t substantially alter the ramifications of what Aaronson did, which was derail a conversation about women’s safety in tech and rationalist spaces and make it exclusively about him and his feelings, preventing the actual issue from being meaningfully addressed.


    • TracingWoodgrains
      February 21, 2021 @ 5:57 pm

      Content note: More on sexual assault

      Again, it’s simply not a question of if my reading is correct. The comment leaves the possibility open, but Sandifer is treating it not just as a certainty but as a central aspect of the point the commenter, Amy, was making, and the defining point that made his response ‘inappropriate’. Given what the actual conversation looked like, that’s an outright lie.

      Your own reading still strips context. Amy, after all, didn’t originate the thread, she was just one of many adding (a valuable, and under-represented in that sphere) perspectives on a decision to take an abusive MIT professor’s videos down. Her comment added breadth and depth to the conversation. It didn’t define it or demand that the entire conversation center around her view. Aaronson responded with sincerity and vulnerability, and

      As it happens, Amy does open up later in the comment chain about having been raped, in direct response to Aaronson’s vulnerability, thanking him for his openness. Sandifer can’t reference this part of the conversation without destroying her point, though, because Aaronson treats her experience with openness, sympathy, and respect, and the two go on to have a raw, honest, and respectful conversation (marred by a few boorish onlookers who I absolutely will not defend) about feminist issues, listening across chasms of experience, and finding common ground. It’s an extraordinarily far-reaching conversation topic-wise, covering much more ground than either of their initial comments.

      One of Amy’s comments is particularly telling:

      I’m enjoying the civility of this, btw, is making me nostalgic for usenet days.

      Don’t get me wrong: they disagree passionately on a number of topics, even towards the end of the conversation, but the conversation between the two doesn’t even slightly resemble Sandifer’s caricature. I expect any fair-minded reader would gain a lot from both Amy and Aaronson in the conversation, and the behavior of each throughout the thread strikes me more as a model of respectful conversation across vastly different frameworks than anything else.


      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        February 21, 2021 @ 6:05 pm

        To follow up on my earlier comment, my patience for pedantry and rules lawyering around sexual assault is minimal.

        Getting away with something doesn’t mean it was appropriate, and that absolutely applies to Aaronson’s response to Amy’s original post. Which, as I’ve noted, the clear implication was that it was about her own experiences.

        You’re done on this topic now.


  11. Upthorn
    February 22, 2021 @ 2:31 am

    Someone to whom I’ve linked this essay used to know Roko personally and has requested elaboration/citation on the statement “He’s a Nazi now, if you didn’t know.”


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      February 22, 2021 @ 3:53 am


      • AureolumMalum
        February 22, 2021 @ 4:37 am

        I’m not sure this is enough to call him a Nazi. Basically what he’s saying (if I understand him correctly) is that the superstimuli made possible by modern technology are harmful and people should be constrained from overexposure to them. This doesn’t seem like a wierd fringe belief to me; cf. recent discussion of social media and video games as addictive, Bloomberg’s (IIRC) restrictions on soft drink sizes, &c.
        As for the political part, he specifically renounces “strongmen or personality cults, and … loyalty and obedience to an unhealthy level.”


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 22, 2021 @ 5:15 am

          Lol ok


        • Upthorn
          February 22, 2021 @ 8:07 am

          If you read the linked thread rather than just the first tweet:

          “Generically, freedom leads to disaster.”
          “Sex freedom: loneliness, catladies, incels”
          Here he makes an assertion that the world we live in, where people face loneliness and involuntary celibacy is worse than a hypothetical world where people don’t have freedom of choice in their sexual partners.

          “I should note that I don’t think fascism is a good idea; the core problem is that fascism as it existed in the 20th century was fragile”

          I interpret this to be saying: Fascism is bad primarily because you can’t make it last forever.

          All in all, this paints a picture of Roko as being fundamentally opposed to a society based on individual freedom. “Nazi” may not be a technically accurate label for these views, but is certainly “close enough” for me.


          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            February 22, 2021 @ 5:03 pm

            Sure. Or you could see a self-described traditionalist talking about “an idealized version of the past” free of “freaks with pink hair” and just go “yeah, this sounds like more than a dozen other neo-nazi fucks I’ve blocked” and move on without bothering with the rest of the thread.

          • Upthorn
            February 23, 2021 @ 4:31 am

            “An idealized version of the past” certainly throws up at least a yellow flag for me, but my eyes just kept sliding off that tweet even as I was trying to read it because it just felt so pointless.

            The rest of the thread, though, is extremely fucking damning even if you can only manage to make yourself read solitary disconnected sentences.

            Thanks for the link, I’ve passed it on and I believe it will be sufficient supporting evidence.

          • Aapje
            March 2, 2021 @ 4:08 pm

            All in all, this paints a picture of Roko as being fundamentally opposed to a society based on individual freedom.

            He literally says that it should be voluntary. If your interpretation goes against what someone actually says, your interpretation is probably wrong.

            I interpret this to be saying: Fascism is bad primarily because you can’t make it last forever.

            He explicitly rejects what many see as a defining feature of historical fascism: central control/illiberalism. I’m not sure what view of fascism he has, but he clearly doesn’t argue that fascism was perfect aside from not lasting indefinitely.

            “Nazi” may not be a technically accurate label for these views, but is certainly “close enough” for me.

            Do you understand that there is a difference between Nazism and fascism? In fact, there have been a bunch of fascist regimes that were not Nazis.

          • z
            February 16, 2022 @ 4:27 am

            You mean he’s not literally a card-carrying member of NSDAP, a political party that hasn’t existed for decades? Color me shocked.

  12. Beren
    February 22, 2021 @ 4:22 am

    Change the title. You’re winkingly encouraging murder.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      February 22, 2021 @ 4:29 am

      This is stupid even for the comment section of a post about Scott Alexander


      • Beren
        February 22, 2021 @ 4:59 am

        People’s safety matters, especially when you write a big, very angry text open to the whole world. I mean, imagine how you’d feel about giant angry blog post going around called “How to Kill People With Bad Writing: the Elizabeth Sandifer method”. Don’t callously double-down when you know the risks that accompany inciting words.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 22, 2021 @ 5:15 am

          I am confident that nobody is going to take this as incitement to write more shitty blogposts.


  13. AureolumMalum
    February 22, 2021 @ 4:32 am

    I think that significant parts of this are correct, but others are biased or incorrect.

    [I]t’s revealing that [the Anti-Reactionary FAQ] consists of a tedious Gish gallop working its way through a host of minor claims, whereas his corresponding essay “Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell” offers a credulous account of the high level claims of neoreaction, a disparity that does not exactly amount to refutation.

    This is easily explained by Siskind’s having different purposes in writing both of them, as he states in “Nutshell”:

    Other such ideas I have not included simply because I was totally unable to understand or sympathize with them and so couldn’t give them fair treatment include: an obsession with chastity, highly positive feelings about Catholicism that never go as far as actually going to church or believing any Catholic doctrine in a non-ironic way, neo-formalism, and what the heck the Whigs have to do with anything.

    and in the FAQ:

    I worry I may have done too good a job of steelmanning Reactionary positions in that post, emphasizing what I thought were strong arguments, sometimes even correct arguments, but not really the arguments Reactionaries believed or considered most important.

    In this FAQ, I will be attacking not steel men but what as far as I can tell are actual Reactionary positions. Some of them seem really dumb to me and I excluded them from the previous piece, but they make it in here. Other points from the previous post are real Reactionary beliefs and make it in here as well.

    In “Nutshell”, he was trying to write a devil’s-advocate defense of neoreaction, so he focused on the ideas he considered most plausible, presented stronger versions of those, and ignored the parts of neoreaction that were obvious nonsense even to him. In the FAQ, he was trying to discuss neoreaction in a somewhat more balanced way, so he included the implausible nonsense in addition to the parts he was able to steelman.

    But having looked at the essay [“I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup] pretty extensively, I’m confident in this claim: its conclusions are not actually supported by evidence, not merely in the sense that the argument does not work but in the sense that the argument is not actually there in the first place.

    This is generally true and useful in countering bad arguments of this sort.

    So right off the bat Siskind opens with his familiar mode of tarrying disavowal. “Here is a 15,000 word essay that I stand by and that got a lot of attention. Please don’t take it seriously.” It is in a very real sense the most audacious iteration of his non-speech yet—an attempt to classify an entire essay as non-speech that ought not be engaged with while simultaneously asserting its truth.

    This is also true and important: it is disingenuous of Siskind to talk about this essay this way. He might have been more successful in this regard if he had simply noted his bias against social justice, as he has done elsewhere:

    So suffice it to say I am triggered by social justice. Any mildly confrontational piece of feminist or social justice rhetoric sends me into a panic spiral. When I read the essay this post was based on, I got only about four hours of sleep that night because my mind was racing, trying to figure out whether I was going to get in trouble about it and whether anyone who supported it could hurt me and how I could defend myself against it.

    Because my mind doesn’t just let me feel sad for a minute and then move on – no, that would be too easy. It gives me this massive compulsion to “defend myself” against any piece of social justice I see by writing really long and complete rebuttals. Which inevitably attract more social justice people wanting to debate me. And unfortunately, outrage addiction is a very real thing, and I find myself actively seeking out the most horrible social justice memes in order to be horrified by them.

    and allowed readers to adjust their confidence in his opinions on the subject accordingly.

    More broadly, Siskind is referring to nerd hate that was happening in the white hot heat of Gamergate. He’s talking at a time when outspoken women who were at all adjacent to nerd culture—-and note that Siskind treats “nerds” as a gendered term that excludes women in this bulletpoint—were immediately set upon by an absolute mob of invective spurred on by actual neo-nazis. This was the period when Milo Yiannopolous was still on Twitter for fuck’s sake. There might be some discussion to be had about whether some of the snark and jokes that the women surviving this began to make went too far. That discussion cannot happen without acknowledging the larger context, however, which Siskind doesn’t.

    If you want this last claim to be taken seriously, you should support it with arguments rather than just stating it and expecting everyone to believe it. You can, I think, consistently believe that Gamergate &c. was bad and needed to be pushed back on while also believing that attaching negative stereotypes to a large group (e.g. male nerds) because of the misdeeds of a smaller subset thereof (the participants of Gamergate) is bad. (Obviously Siskind’s actual argument was weaker than this; I am simply stating that your counterargument may not be as broadly applicable as you think.)

    Note that “getting relationships” becomes the sole standard of oppression. It apparently really does collapse to getting laid.

    This is not necessarily true: shaming male nerds does not always have to be based on sexual attractiveness, although given the situation that is what Siskind chose to focus on.

    [I]n a heteronormative society in which polyamory is discouraged it’s necessarily true that roughly the same number of men and women have relationships at any given point. Like, the basic claim here [that “men really do have a harder time getting relationships”] is literally mathematically impossible.

    This is only true if you assume that all straight men and all straight women want relationships in the same way; if a larger proportion of straight men and a smaller proportion of straight women want relationships, or if straight women tend to be more selective than straight men about who to form a relationship with such that there are more unattractive straight men than there are women willing to form a relationship with them, then Siskind’s claim could be true.

    Critiquing feminism while declaring that its central claims are “not the point under discussion” and “not relevant” is self-evidently arguing in poor faith.

    There is a difference between the “central claims” of feminism and the ways specific feminists act on those claims, and it is possible to argue in good faith against the latter while not arguing against the former. Indeed, Siskind says that that is what he is doing in his introductory note:

    Not meant as a criticism of feminism, so much as of a certain way of operationalizing feminism.

    (CW: discussion of sexual assault)


    On this subject I agree with what TracingWoodgrains said in an earlier comment, but since you said you don’t want to discuss the subject further I will not elaborate.

    Again, the word “entitlement” was used specifically because Aaronson was responding to an expression of pain by situating his pain as a trump card. It was used because an inescapable part of the underlying logic of Aaronson’s post, and of Siskind’s based on point two, is that there’s some degree of right to relationships. Also, wow, “some of the most untitled people there are.” Nerds. Fucking… wow. I’d pick, say, much of the global south. But sure. Nerds.

    This is quite right: this sort of comparison of degrees of oppression is generally unhelpful except for purposes of prioritization, and in that context a focus on American nerds is self-evidently absurd.

    (CW: discussion of sexual harassment)

    9. The feminist problem of nerds being desperate and not having any social skills (and therefore being creeps to women) is the same as the nerd problem of nerds being desperate and not having any social skills (and therefore having to live their life desperate and without social skills). Denying the problem and yelling at nerds who talk about it doesn’t help either group.

    The lack of agency assigned to men here is revealing and appalling in equal measures.

    I am not entirely sure what you’re trying to argue here. If you’re saying that it’s men’s responsibility to not sexually harass women, then I generally agree but think that that point is inapplicable to this specific context. It is reasonable to say that male nerds have a responsibility to not intentionally sexually harass women; this is true of anyone in any society with reasonable ethics. It seems less reasonable to insist that male nerds with low social skills have a responsibility to not act creepy in any way, since it is a logical consequence of having low social skills that they will often not know how to do that; in this case there is clearly a tradeoff, where people with low social skills risk offending or harming others by being socially active but will themselves be made unhappy and harmed (through reduced opportunity to learn/practice social skills causing the problem to persist longer) if they are not socially active. It may be that the latter choice is better overall, but if you want to persuade readers of this you should explicitly argue for it.

    And one more time, the nerd complaint, in 2015, was that Anita Sarkeesian made some videos about sexism in video games and Zoe Quinn made a Twine game about depression. It was that the new Thor was a woman. It was that the boobs of some video game character didn’t jiggle as much in the remake. It was that people criticized the Penny Arcade strip with the dickwolves. And if it was that feminists were shaming them, it has to be asked whether this was actually an honest recounting of feminism given how little of what was going on then was honest. Certainly Siskind hasn’t been.

    One more time, this was the complaint of one group of nerds (those involved in Gamergate), and as far as I know Siskind is not defending them but rather criticizing part of the response to them as overly broad.

    (CW: sexual assault, and responses to accusations thereof)

    Siskind’s essay is an argument for ignoring women when they talk about their experiences of sexual assault. That is, after all, what the Aaronson piece he’s defending does. It takes a woman who said “actually shy and nerdy men have sexually assaulted me multiple times” and howls “WHAT ABOUT OUR PAIN.” And sure enough, it completely shut down the conversation that had been going on beforehand. But it’s also what the overall sum of the arguments being made in Siskind’s bullet point list does. “Feminist arguments cause harm. They’re irrelevant. Nerds have so much pain and it’s unreasonable to criticize us for how we treat women.”

    Nowhere in the essay does Siskind say that sexually assaulted women should be ignored. He argues that the arguments the feminists he’s criticizing use cause harm, but the idea that the problems those feminists are concerned about should be ignored is neither stated nor logically inferrable from his statements. Indeed, at the end of the essay he says that those problems should be addressed by feminists and nerds in cooperation. It may be true that Siskind and Aaronson shut down the conversation about sexual assault that had been going on before (I wasn’t there then and am not as familiar with the situation as you apparently are), but it is inaccurate to claim that that was the content or the intended purpose of the essay.

    (CW: suicide; sexual assault, and responses to accusations thereof)

    In the wake of this, Scott Siskind wrote a Tumblr post in which he repeated accusations that Forth had made false reports of sexual assault, concluding, “Kathy was obviously a very disturbed person. I feel bad for her. But not as bad as I feel for everyone she hurt, so I’m not okay with giving her martyrdom.” This from the same man who was outraged that feminists would criticize Scott Aaronson’s outpouring of emotion. About a woman who killed herself.

    I wish I could tell you that Siskind was the worst of it. He wasn’t. Discussion about Forth’s suicide within the rationalist community amounted to discussions of her mental illnesses. Some people said her suicide was emotionally manipulative and so discredited everything she said. Her calls for the community to have a reckoning about sexual abuse went unheeded, just as they had when she was alive. Here’s a proposal about it she put together four months before she died. Here’s a reply saying the community is too intelligent to rape people. Actually, more specifically because the community is too high IQ. Because of course that comment exists within a community where one of its most prominent members is a eugenicist who wrote an essay about how you should ignore women when they talk about sexual assault in nerd spaces.

    You seem to be assuming that Kathy’s accusations of sexual assault were entirely true and Siskind & al.’s claims that the accusations were fabricated as a result of mental illness were entirely false. This is possible, but since Siskind cites several other people as corroborating his version of events, it does not seem as implausible as you think, so its dismissal demand more evidence than you have provided.

    On the other hand, your criticism of the Effective Altruists’ broader response appears to be basically correct, in that it seems to have partly gone beyond a reasonable presumption of innocence into ignoring a significant problem. While the reply you cite says not that people with higher IQs don’t commit rapes but rather that they are less likely to, even that may not have been accurate as applied to the rationalists and effective altruists in particular. You mention several other cases of sexual assault or harassment in these communities, and some members of these communities (for instance, Qiaochu Yuan here) argue that this is partly because rationalism and effective altruism tend to attract nerds with low social skills, who tend to be unusually vulnerable to abuse.

    Eliezer Yudkowsky, who the other day declared that anyone who hates him, Scott Siskind, or Scott Aaronson is “a bad person inside and has no ethics,” …

    This is indeed egregious, and I would have hoped for him to do a better job of living up to his community’s ideals.

    I mean, yes, I enjoyed writing some of the lines. That reuse of the “probably not the literal worst” image? I’m proud of that. Also the all caps bit in response to point #7 in the “you’re allowed to respond to this” section of “Untitled.” I like my craft, and I like doing things I’m good at.

    This essay was indeed well-written, and to that extent I enjoyed it even when I disagreed with it.

    I cannot imagine consequences of an intellectually dishonest eugenicist and rape apologist being tremendously influential among tech CEOs to be good, y’know?

    What I want is for Scott Siskind to stop hurting people while the number of people whose deaths his actions have directly and materially contributed to is still in the single digits. What I want is for people to stop listening to his poorly written and poorly argued bullshit.

    Even leaving aside the (in my opinion) overly harsh characterization of Siskind, if you want to convince people sympathetic to Siskind, you should at least engage with his counterarguments to this idea that ideas currently considered immoral should be ignored or censored (I assume you are referring here to the racism, eugenics, sex differences, and related controversial subjects). The argument for free speech that I think Siskind and his sympathizers support is essentially as follows:

    In general, it is good to try to determine the truth about any important subject, since knowing the truth is essential to technological progress and helpful to social progress. This general argument applies even when one of the possible explanations for something important is currently considered immoral and taboo. Moreover, by the outside view, we should realize that most past societies considered certain ideas taboo that are now known to be true and conclude that the same may be true of some ideas considered taboo today. For each particular taboo idea, if it turns out to be true, then allowing consideration of it will be helpful because it improves our understanding of the world, and if it turns out to be false, then allowing consideration of it will at least make it clear to everyone who cares to investigate it that it is completely false, rather than giving some people the impression of the Secret Knowledge That Society Doesn’t Want You To Know™.

    Again, of course, there is a tradeoff, and it is possible that some ideas’ social consequences would be bad enough that the net effect of their being considered true would be bad even if they were actually true.

    (Note: Your site’s ReCaptcha doesn’t seem to be working well; I had to reload the page several times before it would show me anything other than an error message.


    • Kris
      February 22, 2021 @ 6:54 am

      This comment is very difficult to read, specifically telling which bits are from the essay and which are from you. Consider italicizing your quoted bits?


      • Kris
        February 22, 2021 @ 7:04 am

        I see now that both italicizing and editing comments are not supported. Mb.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 22, 2021 @ 7:06 am

          You’re not missing much.


    • Aapje
      March 2, 2021 @ 3:27 pm

      Like, the basic claim here [that “men really do have a harder time getting relationships”] is literally mathematically impossible.

      It is only mathematically impossible if you misinterpret the claim. If women want a relationship less often or have higher standards of men than men have of women, then it is harder for men. In the first case, there is a disparity in relationship-seekers. In the second case, men have a harder time meeting the standards of the other sex.

      Note that “getting relationships” becomes the sole standard of oppression. It apparently really does collapse to getting laid.

      Those things are not the same. Equating the two seems to often be done to play into masculine stereotypes, where men are not seen as real human beings, who seek more than just sex.


  14. Kris
    February 22, 2021 @ 7:02 am

    Thank you for this. I appreciate the work you put into this and your extensive interaction with his posts, and the emotional labor that went into dealing with them. I had recommended several of his essays to some friends (mainly Moloch and a few of his psychiatry pieces), so I shared this essay and one of the linked twitter threads as a mea culpa. I had been questioning the general space around his blogs, and this definitely put a lot more nails in the coffin.

    Again, thanks.


  15. DeathCultTourGuide
    February 22, 2021 @ 7:15 am

    “Like, the basic claim here is literally mathematically impossible.”

    I mean, it is if you aren’t huge on Incel logic. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Scott is acquainted with it. Basically the idea is that women are hypergamous sluts who try to sleep with as many attractive men as possible.

    It’s a bunch of misogynistic garbage from disturbed and dangerous people, but it may help contextualize where this nonsense is coming from.


  16. BurrowBrook
    February 22, 2021 @ 8:54 am

    I’m not particularly invested in Scott Siskind one way or the other, but just figured I’d say, I’m consistently impressed by, and honestly slightly envious of your skill at diving into text and surgically dissecting them. I’ve studied a bit of rhetoric in my day, so I’ve got just enough of a sense of the basic approach to be in awe at how well you pull it off.


  17. Doctor Memory
    February 22, 2021 @ 7:55 pm

    Jesus fuck I could happily have gone my entire life without having to think about Scott Aaronson ever again, but since I guess we’re doing this can I point out that Scott Alexander managed to vomit forth ten thousand words on the subject of Aaronson’s terrible, terrible experiences at the hands of those dastardly feminists somehow without ever seriously engaging with the obvious fact that Aaronson’s self described reaction (“so terrified of accidentally hurting women that he became suicidal and tried to get himself castrated”) to encountering feminist thought (in the abstract!) is… indicative of rather a lot of serious internal problems?

    Siskind/Alexander is a practicing psychotherapist but somehow managed to observe and participate in that entire debacle without once asking himself “is there any form of external critique which would not be perceived as terrifying and traumatic by someone with such a strong anxiety reaction that he considered suicide and voluntary castration a practical response to the problem of (presumably) other men committing violence against women?”

    Various of Aaronson’s other interlocutors might or might not have been reasonably expected to realize from context that they were dealing with someone with serious issues and decline to engage with him, but his erstwhile friend owed him far better than turning him into a post-hoc debating point, and if he were actually serious about wanting to demonstrate his concern for Aaronson’s well-being, I think his first duty should have been to attempt to talk Aaronson into engaging less with this topic in public rather than more.


  18. Devin
    February 24, 2021 @ 12:24 pm

    “The people suffering from these stereotypes are pretty much in agreement that feminists are the ones who push them a lot of the time, and that a small but vocal contingent of feminists seem to take special delight in making nerds’ lives worse.”

    Seriously, buddy? THAT’S the bullet point you thought was sound enough to “allow” people to argue with? That’s the hill you picked for its commanding views and formidable defensive qualities?

    You know you could say that about the Nazis, right? Here, watch:
    1. A lot of people suffered in Germany in the late 20s and early 30s.
    2. Many of those people would loudly agree that Jews were responsible. (This is VERY OBVIOUSLY FALSE, but there are lots of examples of German people saying it in this period.)
    3. A small but vocal contingent of (for instance) Jewish soldiers took special delight in mocking Nazis. (Sometimes quite hilariously: the Finnish tradition of allowing Jewish soldiers who had been offered German decorations to tell the Nazis where to shove that Iron Cross always makes me smile.)

    The problem there is that “X suffered and X blames Y for that suffering” is not actually at all related to “Y is in fact responsible.”

    Also, speaking as a fat nerd who certainly did a bit of suffering in my younger years, no, it wasn’t ever feminists who made me feel bad about it. So not only is your logic bad, your premises are also incorrect. But keep trying, brozinski, I’m sure you’ll get to Rationalistan someday!


  19. Placid Platypus
    February 25, 2021 @ 6:27 pm

    It seems to me that the reason “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup” doesn’t support the point you think it’s trying to make is that you’re completely wrong about what point it’s trying to make in the first place?

    In particular all the stuff about the tribes is very much not about saying “look how much better my tribe is than the Blue Tribe.” The last section is Scott specifically pointing out that when the earlier sections tended into Blue-bashing, that was him falling into the same trap the essay as a whole is warning against.

    If I had to sum up the actual point it would be something like:

    It’s a lot easier to “tolerate” people and ideas that don’t actually bother you than ones that you actually view as your enemies.


    • Devin
      February 26, 2021 @ 7:27 am

      It seems to me that you didn’t read Suskind’s explanation of his “motte and bailey” tactic? Or you think we didn’t and will fall for it?

      Or, perhaps you’re right and Suskind is an even sloppier writer and shallower thinker than we’d been guessing, and that really is his whole point, and the fact that he spends almost all of his essay wandering around offtopic instead of supporting that (quite trivial) point is just because he ain’t about much.


      • Placid Platypus
        February 26, 2021 @ 4:35 pm

        I’m not sure why you think “My ingroup is great and my outgroup sucks” is a less shallow and trivial point than the one I mentioned.

        Scott’s writing style is definitely verbose and not for everyone- he spends a lot of time on different examples that connect to the topic in different ways. But I don’t think the wandering is actually “offtopic”. What parts do you think aren’t related to his actual point?

        (And I’m not sure if “Suskind” is just a typo or some kind of petty burn but either way not a great look.)


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          February 26, 2021 @ 5:01 pm

          I think making a typo in a blog comment is a far better look than being a dick about it.


          • Devin
            February 27, 2021 @ 7:33 am

            I mean, this is coming from the crew who brought us “better a Nazi than kinda rude,” so who knows? Maybe doin’ a typo is a matter of grave, lasting shame over there.

          • Placid Platypus
            March 1, 2021 @ 4:34 pm

            You’re right. I figured the same typo twice in three sentences was unlikely but if it was an honest mistake I apologize.

        • Devin
          February 27, 2021 @ 8:04 am

          “X group has a more productive and useful take on politics and major cultural issues than Y or Z groups” is a significant thesis. If you could actually support that thesis, it would not be a trivial or shallow one. Of course, in order to do so in any practical sense, you usually have to get more specific: there is not one group that is right about all politics and all hot-button cultural issues,* so if you want to say something useful here you need to start talking about particular issues or at least narrower sets of issues. Or you could do what Siskind does and just claim that “Democrats are wrong, so are Republicans, I will dodge defining “grey tribe” by claiming on first reference that they are functionally an element of the blue tribe but then treating them like a separate entity every other time they come up, which allows me to say that a largely-undefined group is right instead.” An uncheckable, unfalsifiable No True Greytribesman thesis, in other words.

          On the other hand, “People listen better to people they don’t consider enemies” is, uh, not profound. It barely needs to be said, let alone argued. And proving that thesis certainly doesn’t require an extensive digression into why a certain group might regard one group as an enemy but not another: it is enough to show that they do and to show how that affects their tolerance of those groups.

          *With, of course, the obvious exception of “me and anyone who agrees with me.” Which, I suspect, is probably the only rigorous definition of “grey tribe” that would actually fit every condition in Siskind’s essay. Notably, even his initial backhanded “libertarians who like Dawkins, are sick of hearing about the gays, and listen to filk” is problematic: he claims that those people are basically Blue Tribe, but Toni Weisskopf is very busy, even as we speak, proving that you can be quite devoted to the Red Tribe while checking most of those boxes.


          • Placid Platypus
            March 1, 2021 @ 5:21 pm

            I don’t think I did a very good job summing up the point of the essay, so I’m going to take another crack at it. I think the most important thing Scott is saying is:
            “Hey you, yes you the reader: you personally are probably a lot less tolerant and a lot more driven by tribalism and ingroup/outgroup thinking than you want to admit.”

            Now maybe you were already exceptionally self aware and thus don’t think that’s a very insightful point. But most people, especially the kind of well educated liberal types who are likely to be reading his blog, don’t think of themselves that way. So the illustrations of how tribalism manifests in that kind of person seem valuable.

            Either way I remain very confident that “Blue Tribe sucks, Grey Tribe rules” is not the point. Scott ends the essay by specifically saying he “should feel bad” for spending so much of it making fun of the Blue Tribe, and that he aspires to become more willing to criticize the Greys and tolerate the Blues, who he describes as “powerful and necessary crusaders against the evils of the world.”

          • Devin
            March 4, 2021 @ 10:26 am

            Hm. Your point, I’ll agree with: I am sufficiently self-aware to know both that I’ve got that sort of tribalism in me and that it can sneak up on you even when you know you’ve got it.

            I’m just not convinced that was Siskind’s point, or that one couldn’t get a better essay on that topic by assigning it to a high school English class and then picking the sixth-best submission.

            If nothing else, he clearly doesn’t mean “should feel bad” so much as “should feel bad, but not, like, bad enough to scroll up and edit my writing before hitting POST.”

            Which, honestly… “X is bad and I want credit for opposing it, but it’s not bad enough that anyone should expect me to alter my behavior in the slightest” is kind of a Thing in those circles, isn’t it?

        • b
          November 25, 2022 @ 4:03 pm

          In a later comment which I can’t reply to for some reason, you said this:

          I don’t think I did a very good job summing up the point of the essay, so I’m going to take another crack at it. I think the most important thing Scott is saying is:“Hey you, yes you the reader: you personally are probably a lot less tolerant and a lot more driven by tribalism and ingroup/outgroup thinking than you want to admit.”

          I agree with that characterization of the post. I actually think it’s not a bad point. I would definitely categorize myself as one of Scott Alexander’s haters, but I think the basic point of “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup” is that, is true, and is worth making, even though Scott Alexander, specifically, says several wrong and/or evil things in order to make it. But I do think that “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup” has a second, dog-whistle-y purpose, which is in fact to establish the Grey Tribe. I think that the overt purpose is what you said, but there is a second covert purpose, and it’s that.


        • b
          November 25, 2022 @ 4:14 pm

          In a later comment which I can’t reply to for some reason, you said this:

          I don’t think I did a very good job summing up the point of the essay, so I’m going to take another crack at it. I think the most important thing Scott is saying is:“Hey you, yes you the reader: you personally are probably a lot less tolerant and a lot more driven by tribalism and ingroup/outgroup thinking than you want to admit.”

          I would agree with that point. I have read “I Can Tolerate Anyone Except the Outgroup” and that was what I walked away with. I’m no fan of Siskind, I would probably count myself among his haters, but I think the basic point he makes in that specific essay is probably true and if true, worth making, although Siskind makes it using inaccurate examples and some dishonest thinking. But I also think that the essay has a kind of second, covert purpose, which is to establish “The Grey Tribe” as a concept. It’s like a dogwhistle. Siskind is saying one thing (people are driven by ingroup/outgroup thinking, yes even you and me) and accomplishing another quietly (naming and defining his ingroup).


      • Aapje
        March 2, 2021 @ 3:44 pm


        I think that this essay’s point wasn’t necessarily new, but it gave a vocabulary and common understanding to something that many already felt/noticed on some level: that people don’t hate ‘the other,’ but ‘threats.’

        I don’t think that this is a shallow observation, because many people do argue that there are two groups (friend/enemy), rather than three (friend/enemy/bystander).


  20. yuck
    March 18, 2021 @ 2:11 pm

    “And if I can’t have that, I want to go back to writing about my Batman comics and never think about Scott fucking Siskind again.”

    Judging from the quality of this post, better stick to Batman comics…


  21. Casey
    March 28, 2021 @ 7:21 am

    Just want to let you know that you did kinda get me to realize I’d been suckered by Siskind’s writing, so you did achieve one of your goals in writing this piece.


  22. T
    July 21, 2021 @ 7:20 am

    I got into the whole rationalist/SSC sphere late 2019 when I was in an emotionally troubled place and feeling like I had no one speaking my language, I felt utterly alone. A language seemingly fueled by empathy, understanding over assumptions and the willingness to try and live a life free of cognitive distortions(based of a rudimentary understanding of CBT). It didn’t help that I had run into and ran with(reluctantly) with some groups IRL who were really relationally harmful, manipulative and thought dunking on people passed for fun and a great bonding exercise.

    In other words, I was ripe material for LW/Emil/Jordan-Harris/SSC’s bullshit rhetoric and the kind of environment they fostered. One thing I am thankful for is that I never directly interacted with anyone, but I would spend literal hours reading their articles, feeling like I was being let in on important information, feeling like the world was finally making sense(which it never did for me due to sheer familial neglect and therefore not knowing many things, although I was a feminist at least) and so on and so forth. It also rattled my worldview heavily and left me depressed AF and as if none of my goals mattered.

    A subreddit, a couple of content creators who have tackled this phenomenon and this article helped me break out of all of that, but I will be dealing with its ramifications for some time to come. Especially the damning ramification that I am in fact susceptible to shit like this, and that I really need to:
    1. Improve my English skills heavily somehow. I have incomplete education here, and its not my first language. Also unintentionally funny when you consider that for the longest time I have wanted to make it as a writer.
    2. Look into how cults operate and work. Really research this.
    3. Somehow find empathy fueled groups that aren’t secretly hate groups(to simplify, because lets face it, this is a clusterfudge) or in other words, find my people and proper decent frens.
    4. Never again assume I can see this coming from a mile away, and learn enough so as to be able to protect myself in my vulnerable states should I run into anything remotely close in the future.

    Thank you for writing this. Sincerely.


    • T
      July 21, 2021 @ 7:21 am

      rip I tried formatting this but apparently half of it was lost.


    • j
      May 31, 2023 @ 11:11 pm

      Hi T,
      I assume you wont see this comment but asking anyway… can you share what these were: “A subreddit, a couple of content creators who have tackled this phenomenon”? Though I think there is value in some of what I’ve learned from the rationalists, I’ve also experienced the rabbit-hole /let in on a secret / feeling like my previous goals are worthless effect.


  23. Pat
    January 22, 2022 @ 4:56 pm

    I can’t understand your snark about the in-group / out-group thing even after having read it multiple times. So maybe i am slow today.
    Is it possible you misread what he said?

    What I understand is he said:
    Outgroup is proximity + small differences and gave examples of that.
    Then next paragraph he says:
    “What makes an unexpected in-group?” … German+Japanese, British + Sikhs…

    Those are examples about how unexpected ingroup (not outgroup) can be over large distances and large differences. The examples of German+Japanese, British + Sikhs – unexpected in-groups – are explicitly chosen to have both large distance and large differences.

    Yet your critique / snark is:
    “Literally the paragraph after he has stressed “proximity” and “small differences” as foundational elements in the outgroup, […] The Sikhs, on the other hand, originated in the Punjab in the Indian subcontinent. Go ahead and find a map and look for Britain, Ireland, and the Punjab while you contemplate the ideas of “proximity” and “small difference.”

    Literally the paragraph after he has stressed “proximity” and “small differences” as foundational elements in the outgroup is a paragraph where he is talking about unexpected in-groups i.e. the opposite of outgroups.

    He is not saying British and the Sikhs are outgroups, he is saying they are unexpected in-groups. (First sentence of the paragraph you are quoting)
    The fact the British and the Sikhs originated on two different continents is exactly his point. (which might be right or wrong).

    If he was claiming that the British and the Sikhs were outgroups (when there is no proximity between them) then he would be contradicting himself and your critique would make sense… but that is not what he said in that paragraph. Did you think he was claiming they were outgroups? Did you simply misread “in-group” as “outgroup” in the opening sentence of that paragraph?

    Am I misunderstanding you? Am I misunderstanding him?

    Sorry if am repeating myself in this comment I am just baffled at how much I am not understanding your point in this section ( or at how much you are not understanding his point if that is the case)


    • z
      February 16, 2022 @ 4:47 am

      yeah, I also noticed that misidentification; but then, it’s telling that he exemplifies the Troubles (which, to be clear, is as much a colonial context as Israel’s occupation of Palestine or PRC occupation of Tibet) in both the ‘weird in-groupand 'neighboring out-group categories. Which is it, Scott?


    • eggynack
      March 7, 2022 @ 8:56 am

      He actually claims that Sikhs were both in-group and out-group. Yes, his point is that Sikhs were rendered a temporary in-group by the demands of WWII, but this explicitly contrasts with centuries of subjugation. that occurred previously. Which, y’know, that made them an out-group, and they still had the qualities Sandifer listed during that state of affairs. He’s not particularly employing them as an example of an out-group, but they are clearly positioned as one even within his essay. Y’know, until they weren’t.


  24. Don F
    January 22, 2022 @ 9:07 pm

    This article exemplifies all that is wrong with the current ‘rational’ rhetoric. It puts into words very clearly all of the disingenuous tactics they employ to be as damaging as the people with the same level of misogyny that they’d disparage as ‘stupid’. It’s all word games all the way down to pretend they’re not as racist and sexist as they really are, yet I could have never expressed it as well as you did, and with as many sources. Great job, this was worth writing.


  25. Avram
    February 17, 2022 @ 10:35 pm

    I can’t believe it took me this long to notice that by including a numbered list of claims about feminism, in the middle of a long rant about feminism, and insisting that people engage with the list rather than the rest of the rant, Scott Siskind was following in the footsteps of Dave Sim. (See “Tangent,” published in the back of Cerebus #265, April 2001, and its revised version, “Fifteen Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast That Make You A Good Feminist.”)


  26. Scott Aaronson
    May 31, 2022 @ 11:48 pm

    Dear Elizabeth,

    One of the central claims on which you hang your argument in this essay is categorically false. When, for better or worse, I wrote the comment that caused thousands of strangers to hate me and thousands of other strangers to support me, I was not responding to Amy’s account of being raped. I was simply responding to Amy’s depiction of “gross, creepy, misogynistic” male nerds. I was trying to explain the devastating effect that the casual deployment of that sort of essentializing discourse had had on me over my life, in an attempt at radical openness and honesty, at breaking out of the usual tropes of these sorts of Internet debates and getting to the bottom of things to everyone’s benefit.

    Amy wrote LATER — yes, LATER — about a boyfriend forcing oral sex on her. When she did, I expressed only sympathy and support. And it was Amy, not me, who wrote that what I had gone through sounded worse than what she had. Anyone can check all of this for themselves by rereading the thread.

    Notably, my attempt at radical empathy actually “worked,” albeit in a comically limited way. Even while it felt like half the Internet was attacking me, Amy became a real-life friend. When Amanda Marcotte, Arthur Chu, and others slimed me, Amy sent me messages of support. Amy and I still don’t agree about everything, but she does not think I minimized, or tried to minimize, her experience of being raped. She does not see things the way her would-be defenders do.

    I don’t expect you to edit your article in response to this information. I understand that you adhere to an ideology according to which Scott Alexander, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and well, me, whatever liberal values we might claim, are all secret fascist Nazis in cahoots with Curtis Yarvin, Peter Thiel, and each other. I understand that you think none of us (as you put it in your recent interview) “want you to be alive in our ideal world.” Against such vile foes, shading the truth would arguably be justified.

    I don’t know whether it troubles your certainty that most of my extended family was murdered by actual Nazis (shot in pits, mostly, rather than gassed). I don’t know whether it bothers you that actual fascists and Nazis don’t want me alive in their ideal world any more than they want you.

    But you know who else didn’t want “nerdy intellectuals” like me to be alive in their ideal world? Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. Pretty much every other Marxist revolutionary who was lionized on the way up, then retroactively disowned only after the mountains of corpses became undeniable. In our own time, Arthur Chu actually hold his 50,000 Twitter followers that he was “unhappy about my continued existence.” (That is, before Chu’s recent breakdown, in which he suggested that he and everyone else should kill themselves, then closed his public Twitter.)

    Say whatever else you want about the billionaire Silicon Valley tech bros, at least they definitely seem to want me alive.

    If I were world dictator (which — rest easy — I won’t be 🙂 ), my inflexible Enlightenment principles would force me, grudgingly or not, to extend the full package of rights and freedoms even to people who wanted me dead, so long as they weren’t planning or inciting violence or anything of the kind. You’d be protected, ironically, by the very liberal principles you sneer at. Have you, or Arthur Chu, or Amanda Marcotte, or David Gerard, or any of the other expletive-throwing online revolutionaries, given me any reason to believe that you’d extend me the same courtesy were the tables turned?

    Scott Aaronson


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      June 1, 2022 @ 12:12 am

      Wow, this is more unhinged than I could possibly have dreamt of, thanks.


      • Scott Aaronson
        June 1, 2022 @ 7:32 am

        Wow. While I didn’t expect your mind to be changeable about anything, I honestly thought that you’d at least TRY to rebut the part where I explained why the central factual claim, on which you hang your proof of my and Scott Alexander’s misogyny, is easily checked by anyone to be false.

        As for the second part, rebutting it would be as easy as explicitly affirming that, in the new world that you and your friends want to create, I’d still be suffered to continue as now, with the successful scientific career and the wife and two kids and the public expression of opinions that disagree with yours. I suspect that you can’t affirm anything of the kind without betraying your whole ideology, which is all about “smashing the power” (such as it is) of nerdy white male tech bros like, well, me.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          June 1, 2022 @ 8:47 am

          It turns out that you in particular showing up on a post I made over a year ago to whine that the icky girls really did mistreat you doesn’t really move me to more than a faint amusement. Fundamentally, and I think I make this pretty clear in the post above, I’m just not that interested in you.


          • Scott Aaronson
            June 1, 2022 @ 9:57 am

            I can’t imagine how thoroughly I’d have to kill everything intellectually honest in myself before someone could come to my blog saying, “hey, you’ve actually libeled me and others based on a total misreading of a comment thread — reread it for yourself and see!” and rather than thinking “oh shit! I’d better at least check to see if they have a point,” my response would just be “faint amusement” and more insults.

            But this has actually been useful for me. If I ever see anyone persuadable bring up your “rigorous scholarship” debunking Scott Alexander, etc., etc., I’ll simply point them here so they can see for themselves the intellectual standards that we’re dealing with.

          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            June 1, 2022 @ 11:27 am

            What is it exactly you think you’re entitled to, Scott? That I put down my paying work to double check my wording on a sixteen month old post because you don’t like it?

            I stand by the post. But writing it didn’t come with a lifetime obligation to appease your objections.

          • Scott Aaronson
            June 1, 2022 @ 12:00 pm

            Yes, I do think I’m entitled not to be libeled as a misogynist based on a demonstrable, uncontroversially verifiable falsehood (namely, that my comment was in response to Amy talking about being raped … once again, it was not). You obviously hold a different view. As a mere quantum computing theorist, perhaps I’m simply unfamiliar with the intellectual standards of those who blog about Batman comics.

          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            June 1, 2022 @ 2:55 pm

            Well, I’m not the one who’s getting spun around by the ambiguity of “talking about” such that it can mean both “explicitly divulging one’s assault” and “describing emotions connected to one’s assault without disclosing it overtly,” such that I’m farcically accusing someone of libel, but I’m sure your computers are very shiny.

          • Scott Aaronson
            June 1, 2022 @ 4:17 pm

            A: I must say, I find Indonesian people to be bloodthirsty and cruel, especially toward pets.

            B: As an Indonesian who’s often faced hostility, could I explain why I find that kind of talk so hurtful?

            A: I wasn’t going to mention it, but my own puppy was murdered yesterday.

            B: Oh my god. I’m so, so sorry to hear that. I’d even understand how…

            A: Nah, it’s not as big a deal as you’d think. In any case, the guy who shot the puppy wasn’t even Indonesian.

            B: I see. Well, as I was saying about tolerance and mutual respect…

            Elizabeth Sandifer: Hey everyone, come look here! B is a monster who literally just minimized the murder of a puppy, steering the conversation back to his own neuroses!

          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            June 1, 2022 @ 6:15 pm

            Oh, gosh, I hadn’t even reread the actual quote, because, again, this is a year old post and I’m not inclined to work for free.

            She said shy and nerdy men were among the gropiest men she’d met.


            So sexual assault was in fact mentioned in her initial comment, and it’s absolutely horrifying that you are disputing that.

          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            June 1, 2022 @ 6:43 pm

            Sorry Scott, but I’m afraid I don’t let rape apologism like your last comment on my blog, and I’ve had to delete that.

          • Scott Aaronson
            June 1, 2022 @ 7:31 pm

            You know perfectly well that I did nothing in the same moral universe as “rape apologism.” What I did was to call out a campaign of dehumanization against nerdy guys who’d never hurt anyone, but merely look or act differently — a campaign where, if anyone ever doubted its reality, they’d need look no further than here. I did so in a way that called your whole moral framework into question, and that, being the dishonest hack you are, you preferred not to answer.

    • Lambda
      June 1, 2022 @ 10:12 am

      There are actually quite a few very liberal (in a non-capitalist sense) nerdy intellectual Marxist revolutionaries around here.

      It’s right-wing authoritarians who use left-wing rhetoric, (like any ‘Communist’ dictator etc.) who hate intellectuals because intellectuals can point out the differences between their rhetoric and their actions. Non-bullshitting left-wingers and non-bullshitting intellectuals get on very well because both are interested in truth.


      • Scott Aaronson
        June 1, 2022 @ 1:07 pm

        @Lambda: Certainly there are Marxists and other leftists who care about truth. On the other hand, reading the exchange above, can you tell me with a straight face that Elizabeth Sandifer does?


        • Lambda
          June 1, 2022 @ 1:38 pm

          Indisputably, yes. I think you might have too narrow a perspective to follow what’s going on, given your disdain towards “blogging about Batman comics”. As a pure mathematician and secure software architect myself, I have learned a great deal about life in general from pop culture analyses by clever people. Trying to understand everything from one perspective or a narrow group of perspectives leads to large blind spots. There’s no hierarchy between different fields of study, they’re tools for understanding different types of things, and the best toolbox to have in general is the most varied toolbox.


          • Scott Aaronson
            June 1, 2022 @ 1:51 pm

            @Lambda: Elizabeth libeled me, rearranging the order of events in a blog thread in order to caricature me as a misogynist. She then referred back to that easily-debunked falsehood, over and over, in her condemnation of me and Scott Alexander as misogynists: remove that brick, and her whole structure collapses. And when I brought this to her attention, her response was to ridicule me for imagining that I was “entitled” to any reconsideration of her false and defamatory attack.

            And you see all of this, and you say the problem is that “my perspective is too narrow”? If so, then let me die having never become “broad.”

    • Taylor
      June 1, 2022 @ 1:01 pm

      Scott, the issue you raise has actually already been discussed in these very comments (see the comment thread started by TracingWoodgrains on February 21, 2021 at 10:44 am and the related discussion). The thread makes clear that the substance of this dispute largely hangs on whether one finds it reasonable to read the following paragraph in Amy’s original comment as alluding to her own experience with sexual assault by shy and nerdy men.

      “As for the “shy and nerdy” bit…you know, some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion. I can only speculate on why that’s so, but no, I would certainly not equate shy/nerdy with harmless. In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women.”

      I don’t know what the most natural reading of the above is for you or most men, but I think that you’ll find that most women know exactly what the above paragraph implies and weren’t surprised (even if horrified) at Amy’s later revelations.

      I mention this only because you suggest elsewhere that this post might serve as a good place to send people in danger of being persuaded by Elizabeth’s writing ought to be sent here to reveal the hollowness of her intellectual standards, and so it seems only right that such people at least be pointed to the relevant commentary on the issue.


      • Scott Aaronson
        June 1, 2022 @ 1:38 pm

        @Taylor: For what it’s worth, I just rechecked the thread, and Amy never even describes the boyfriend who raped her as “shy,” “nerdy,” or anything else of the kind. Her talking about her rape simply occurred in a totally different thread of a wide-ranging conversation. Much of the thread, strangely, consisted of Amy repeating that her rape wasn’t that big of a deal to her, while other commenters insisted that it was.

        So, again, if anyone wants to judge my guilt or innocence on the charge of misogyny, or Elizabeth’s on the charge of libel, what’s relevant is that I was responding to the following passage:

        “Some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion. I can only speculate on why that’s so, but no, I would certainly not equate shy/nerdy with harmless. In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women.”

        While Amy never said that all shy and nerdy guys are gropy or misogynistic, if you want to understand how this passage comes across to someone who was nerd-shamed for most of his life, then following Scott Alexander’s analogy, please try the following on for size:

        “Some of the greediest, most scheming guys I’ve met have been of the Hebrew persuasion. I can only speculate on why that’s so, but no, I would certainly not equate Jewish with harmless. In fact I think a Jewish-normed world would be a significantly worse world for working people…”

        So that’s what I was responding to. I wasn’t defending or minimizing rape, which would’ve been as antithetical to my values as it is to yours.


        • Taylor
          June 1, 2022 @ 2:08 pm

          Scott, if you want to rest your case on whether or not Amy’s r*pist was shy and nerdy, and whether or not she took the time to clarify this in the context of your discussion, well, I will allow independent readers to make up their own minds on how strong a case they judge this to be regarding reasonable readings of the paragraph in question.

          With respect to the rest, you seem to be under the impression that you haven’t made the perspective of the nerd-shamed abundantly clear both in the the comment thread at the time and in the intervening 7 or so years. I assure you that this isn’t the case and that you’ve made your view — that women speaking about the abuse they suffer at the hands of shy and nerdy men should do so with an ear to how this might be comparable to rank antisemitism to some shy and nerdy men — perfectly clear. I don’t think that it strengthens your case to rehearse this kind of appeal here — 7 years after being initially criticized for a similar desire to focus on the feelings of the nerd-shamed in such conversations, in the comment section of an essay which criticizes you for this same tendency — but once again, I am happy to invite independent readers to judge this for themselves.


          • Scott Aaronson
            June 1, 2022 @ 2:30 pm

            @Taylor: THANKS! Compared to endless struggles to make myself understood, there’s something to be said for the simple clarity of “no, I understood you just fine, it’s just that I don’t give a shit about the suicidal sufferings of you or anyone else like you.” That way we all know where we stand; in particular, anyone like me knows to look for friends and allies elsewhere.

  27. Alexis (she/her)
    June 1, 2022 @ 12:30 am

    Thank you for writing this. <3

    Having been until recently genuinely taken in by Scott’s thin veneer of evenhanded rationality I really appreciate it. Although I was never super involved in the “rationalist” community, and found their outlook far too technocratic, cold, and prideful for me, for a long time there was a seductive allure to this pretense. No longer. Moreover I no longer see him as an honest man with a blinkered outlook; now I see him as an outright dangerous man: dangerously dishonest, stupid, or both. That’s an eye-opener, and it’s made me more wary and armed me with ways to be more critical of what I read in the future, which is a huge gift!

    If you’ll let me opine for a bit, I think that there’s an even more general pattern that Siskind represents: that of the person so convinced of their own objectivity and intelligence that they are utterly blind to their limits and biases and, thereby, rendered precisely the opposite. I know this person very well, because they were me.

    Siskind probably thinks that he is, in fact, carefully thinking these things through when he writes these incomprehensibly beige essays – because he’s so convinced of his own intelligence and objectivity, his own ability to produce rational arguments, that he fools himself with his own writing’s appearance of intellectualism. People like him will often get themselves stuck in an incorrect position by constructing an argument that’s just good enough that they can’t tell what’s wrong with it by themselves, and remaining confident in it because if they can’t see the problem with it, it must be right. This is why being genuinely in dialogue with people, and genuinely being open to uncertainty in your own position, is so important. Not in the “Bayesian” way Scott would probably say he’s doing, as in “I’m open to the very infinitesimal possibility that I could conceivably be wrong, just because being certain of things is an epistemic sin against Bayes, but you have to Debate Me to convince me,” but in the “I genuinely have a reasonably high probability of being wrong here and I should look for the important points in what other people are saying and be open to trying on their ideas for size” way.

    This general pattern can also be seen a lot in how people like Siskind deal with statistics. “Numbers don’t lie” is probably the most damaging saying ever conceived, but people who idolize science see numbers and their brains short-circuit. They think that numbers are the harbingers of Absolute Truth: to them, whatever seems to be the most obvious interpretation of those numbers to them must be the Absolute Truth. To people like this – STEMlords – numbers are GOD, and that blinds them to how their inbuilt expectations can shape how they interpret numbers, and all the myriad ways those numbers can be interpreted, including questioning the validity of them entirely. (This is something that Gould goes into detail on in The Mismeasure of Man, which I’m reading right now not-so-incidentally).

    All this is how you end up with Siskind being a proponent of “HBD” and eugenics. He sees statistics and is immediately convinced because it has the appearance of science. It’s cargo cult logic. So convinced, he produces a 25,000 word essay that is so incomprehensible it’s hard to respond to and so well-shielded in the trappings of intellectualism and deliberation that he doesn’t notice it’s stupid, and his belief hardens as he constructs arguments for his position. He’s so convinced of his own objectivity that he chooses to wholeheartedly double down on whatever he’s “rationally” convinced himself is true, without a care in the world for the harm it may do; after all, if he’s capable of arriving at Objective Truth, what does morality matter? He’s Right, and damn whoever tries to halt the progress of Truth! Someone more aware of their fallibility might realize that accepting and supporting some views can be extremely dangerous and harmful, and so the risk of doing so on the strength of one’s own convictions, except after extreme research and soul searching and consulting with experts, is far too great. But not Scott Siskind, seeker of Objective Truth.


  28. 100 iq enjoyer
    June 3, 2022 @ 2:58 pm

    “gropey”, what a mysterious word. what behavior could it be referring to. could be anything. perhaps it means “prone to unwanted groping”. perhaps it means “likes star wars”. what a mystery! if only my skull had the right bumps on it to puzzle it out. or is it a paper bag test these days? in any event, if these iq 8121 guys can’t solve the mystery how can me, a mere normie, ever be able to? maybe i should just donate my life savings to a peter thiel money laundering enterprise and call it a day


  29. mal
    February 17, 2023 @ 9:30 pm

    Siskind’s discussion of British attitudes to Irish people during the early 20th century is inaccurate and misleading. Basic common sense dictates that if you want a despised and subjugated people to be cannon fodder, you don’t need to boost their self esteem with nice songs. In reality, Irishmen had been cannon fodder for many years before WWI: poverty made the steady income provided by the British army attractive.

    It’s a bad sign for the accuracy of the rest of his essay that he’s this ignorant about a subject but still confident in making pronouncements about it.


    • muteKi
      March 2, 2023 @ 9:33 pm

      Yeah I think that his own argument for the Irish now being an in-group was that the English respected them enough to make them die in war strains credulity. It strains it so much I’m astounded anyone takes him seriously, but then the essay seems to do little more but try to tap-dance around the question of why fascists deploy racism strategically. And, you know, in a concrete form, a question like “why weren’t the Nazis as explicitly racist as America was” could be an interesting question, but from a guy like Siskind…I’m not surprised his audience came away holding a more laundered reputation of the Nazis. After all, it’s not a question that would be easy to answer, and it is very clear he’s not capable of the rigor (or even basic research!) a question like that requires.


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