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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.

82 Comments

  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.

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • Michael
        February 20, 2021 @ 7:38 pm

        Ah correct, sorry

        Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

    • 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

      Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

        • BurrowBrook
          February 20, 2021 @ 4:56 pm

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

          Reply

    • mx_mond
      February 21, 2021 @ 9:43 am

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

      Reply

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

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

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

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

      context, dove, is important.

      Reply

    • 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?

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

        • 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.

          Reply

    • Anon
      February 20, 2021 @ 11:46 pm

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

      Reply

  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.

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

  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).

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

  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.

    Reply

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

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

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

    • 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”

      Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

  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.

    Reply

    • 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

      Reply

  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: https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2091#comment-324136

    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.

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

        • 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.

          Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • 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.’

        Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

        • 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.

          Reply

          • 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.

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

  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.”

    Reply

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

      Reply

      • 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.”

        Reply

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

          Lol ok

          Reply

        • 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.

          Reply

          • 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.

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

    Change the title. You’re winkingly encouraging murder.

    Reply

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

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

      Reply

      • 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.

        Reply

        • 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.

          Reply

  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)

    SCOTT AARONSON WAS RESPONDING TO SOMEONE TALKING ABOUT THEIR 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.

    Reply

    • 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?

      Reply

      • Kris
        February 22, 2021 @ 7:04 am

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

        Reply

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

          You’re not missing much.

          Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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!

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

    • 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.

      Reply

      • 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.)

        Reply

        • 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.

          Reply

          • 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.

          Reply

          • 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?

      • Aapje
        March 2, 2021 @ 3:44 pm

        Devin,

        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).

        Reply

  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…

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

    • T
      July 21, 2021 @ 7:21 am

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

      Reply

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