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The origin of the white walkers (GoT).

a-game-of-thrones Don’t click the above unless you want a major book spoiler. But the television show Game of Thrones is pushing deep into uncharted territory. And by book spoiler, I don’t mean the reveal about Hodor. Rather, the scene above reveals the origins of the Others, also known as the white walkers.

Or does it? We’re now in a zone where perhaps the show is deviating from George R. R. Martin’s own vision. But I doubt it, because the explanation is actually true to the author’s philosophy when it comes to fantasy. There’s a lot of naturalism, and magic and the supernatural are inferred, and their exact character are difficult to pin down. By this, I mean that in J. R. R. Tolkien the supernatural mythos was well developed, and all understood it to be concretely real in a straightforward sense. Similarly, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson have universes where gods clearly exist and have supernatural agency. George R. R. Martin’s world of grays is more attuned to the mindset of a religious skeptic, to the point of have a fair number of religious nonbelievers as major characters.

One month out now from the Evolution Meeting. Will probably drop in now and then as I’m normally not that far from the convention center.

A bunch of people in the tech scene in Austin are rather upset about the whole Uber/Lyft leaving town thing (honestly, I’ve been hearing about this for 6 months, but like a lot of people I just didn’t believe it would come to this). So there’s one solution, Nonprofit Uber alternative springs from Austin tech minds. Should be up and ready for the Evolution Meeting. So who knows.

Spent the weekend with some out of town friends who are immersed in genomics. Always fun when you can spend a day talking shop in this sort of fluid manner.

Some people complaining again that I’m not nice to commenters. First, these complaints never have any effect. Second, a lot of you shouldn’t comment when you have nothing valuable to contribute to a particular thread. Some of you lack domain specific insight. And some of you are just plain old stupid, even if well intentioned. I hope my irritation that you comment makes you feel appropriately unwelcome.

Speaking of rudeness, Bruenighazi: how a feisty Bernie blogger’s firing explains Democratic politics in 2016. And, Is Matt Bruenig a Populist Martyr? Bruenig certainly seems to behave in a nasty manner in relation to those on his “enemies list.” That probably justified Demos firing him, as that sort of behavior can ruffle too many feathers. But that doesn’t negate the reality that his picking on someone in a position of power, as he did, probably was the immediate cause of what happened to him. Additionally, I’m not going to lie, I exhibit more tolerance towards class-based attacks than I do race/sex/gender stuff, because so often the latter is just signaling and opportunism. I am not on the Left, so I don’t support a lot of Left economic policies, but the logic of self-interest here is at least somewhat logical. In contrast, race/sex/gender identity politics easily devolves into parody.

On the other hand, this massive decline in poverty is despite Left activism against markets.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Open Thread 
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  1. I have been meaning to ask you. Have you cracked “Seveneves” yet?

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    yeah, but not gotten far. have a hard time motivating myself to read fiction. i should though.
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  2. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Razib,

    One thing I really wish I could know…

    Did the Persians of the Sassanid era look Europoid (with super-pale skin, blue eyes and, possibly, blonde hair)?

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    no.
    , @syonredux

    Did the Persians of the Sassanid era look Europoid (with super-pale skin, blue eyes and, possibly, blonde hair)?
     
    Are you asking if most of them looked like Lithuanians? Clearly not. That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions. And a very small percentage even have have blond/light brown hair.

    Most Persians/Iranians, though, have complexions (and eye and hair coloring) that are in the Southern European/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern range.

    Here's a gallery of facial composites that includes an "average" Iranian male and an "average" Iranian female

    https://pmsol3.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/world-of-facial-averages-middle-eastern-and-central-asian/
  3. @Walter Sobchak
    I have been meaning to ask you. Have you cracked "Seveneves" yet?

    yeah, but not gotten far. have a hard time motivating myself to read fiction. i should though.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Walter Sobchak
    On this one, we are relying on you. Do it for the team.
  4. @Anonymous
    Razib,

    One thing I really wish I could know...

    Did the Persians of the Sassanid era look Europoid (with super-pale skin, blue eyes and, possibly, blonde hair)?

    no.

    Read More
  5. Twinkie says:

    First, these complaints never have any effect.

    I am going to be “stupid” and comment on this.

    There does seem to be an effect, Mr. Khan. You bother to write about the complaints and explain your rationale. So there must be at least a part of you who feels that being mean requires justification.

    There is hope for you yet.

    I go to Confession every week for the same sins. Every. Single. Time. Yet I (and my priest) remain hopeful that one day I may shed these sins. I am not giving up the hope that you might one day be nice to stupid people online, however you might construe “stupid.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    your comments aren't stupid. though you are obstinate on this point ;-) you keep trying to enjoin more christian charity on me, but i'd have to be xtian first!
    , @spandrell
    Razib becoming a charitable Christian, now that would be something. Maybe after 10 years in Texas pulls a Falkenstein too. As a reader though I hope he resists the temptation.

    In more functional terms: being nice encourages stupid comments, which is bad. Being nasty encourages constant complaints, which is at least annoying.

    An optimal strategy would discourage both stupid comments and annoying complaints.
  6. Twinkie says:

    By this, I mean that in J. R. R. Tolkien the supernatural mythos was well developed, and all understood it to be concretely real in a straightforward sense.

    I enjoyed Tolkien immensely as a young man and found it to be a colossal work of English literature. But I always found the underlying mythology unsastifying due to what I perceive to be the Manichean nature of it. I am convinced that the underlying theology of the Lord of the Rings series is not as Catholic as some of my fellow Catholics claim.

    I don’t think I will ever read the Game of Thrones books, but I enjoy the HBO series. It’s certainly closer to human history than Tolkien.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I am convinced that the underlying theology of the Lord of the Rings series is not as Catholic as some of my fellow Catholics claim.

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion. in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis' work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn't been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis' world wasn't nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don't think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).

    that being said, the men of the west in tolkien's work seem to follow a sort of 'noahide' code. they may not have been christian, but neither were they pagan, and some have asserted that the thinness of the religious texture of middle earth in comparison to language and other aspects may have had to do with with tolkien's strong catholic beliefs.
  7. @Twinkie

    By this, I mean that in J. R. R. Tolkien the supernatural mythos was well developed, and all understood it to be concretely real in a straightforward sense.
     
    I enjoyed Tolkien immensely as a young man and found it to be a colossal work of English literature. But I always found the underlying mythology unsastifying due to what I perceive to be the Manichean nature of it. I am convinced that the underlying theology of the Lord of the Rings series is not as Catholic as some of my fellow Catholics claim.

    I don't think I will ever read the Game of Thrones books, but I enjoy the HBO series. It's certainly closer to human history than Tolkien.

    I am convinced that the underlying theology of the Lord of the Rings series is not as Catholic as some of my fellow Catholics claim.

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion. in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis’ work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn’t been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis’ world wasn’t nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don’t think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).

    that being said, the men of the west in tolkien’s work seem to follow a sort of ‘noahide’ code. they may not have been christian, but neither were they pagan, and some have asserted that the thinness of the religious texture of middle earth in comparison to language and other aspects may have had to do with with tolkien’s strong catholic beliefs.

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    • Replies: @jb
    I followed a Tolkien newsgroup for a while, and there was some discussion of material in Tolkien's letters that isn't well known to most readers. The impressions I came away with was that Tolkien's Elves are basically idealized little Catholics. In particular, they are monogamous to the point where even the thought of straying is unheard of. By an early age (for them) they have found the one true love of their lives and reproduced, and after that is all taken care of they lose interest in sex (or rise above it, or something). All very high and noble, and IMO at least, very Catholic.

    When I first read LOTR as a teenager I noticed the absence of sex, which was very obvious compared to all the other science fiction and fantasy I was reading at the time. Frankly I would have been perfectly happy if Tolkien had thrown in a couple of naked Elf maidens, but clearly just that wasn't his thing.
    , @Twinkie

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.
     
    Yes. For me, the most strikingly non-Catholic part of Tolkien's writing is his determinism that strikes me as quite akin to the Calvinist theology of predestination. Where is free will? Are Orcs always fated to be evil? Where are dissident Orcs, for example? In Catholic theology, all men (or sentient beings, as the case might be in fantasy) are theoretically capable of being saved. All have free will and choice. No one is condemned by fate to be evil.

    in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis’ work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn’t been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis’ world wasn’t nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don’t think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).
     
    Indeed C. S. Lewis' writing is replete with Christian allegory. And I suspect that's why it is less popular - they are obviously Christian parables rather than, as you put it so aptly, richly-imagined new worlds. I always found Lewis' work a bit boring - preaching to the choir, as it were. But his writing can be quite useful for those considering conversion or have converted recently.
  8. @Twinkie

    First, these complaints never have any effect.
     
    I am going to be "stupid" and comment on this.

    There does seem to be an effect, Mr. Khan. You bother to write about the complaints and explain your rationale. So there must be at least a part of you who feels that being mean requires justification.

    There is hope for you yet.

    I go to Confession every week for the same sins. Every. Single. Time. Yet I (and my priest) remain hopeful that one day I may shed these sins. I am not giving up the hope that you might one day be nice to stupid people online, however you might construe "stupid."

    your comments aren’t stupid. though you are obstinate on this point ;-) you keep trying to enjoin more christian charity on me, but i’d have to be xtian first!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie
    Mr. Khan, I appreciate that you seem to have read my comment in the spirit in which it was written.

    you keep trying to enjoin more christian charity on me, but i’d have to be xtian first!
     
    While you becoming a Christian would certainly be very welcome, I do not think that is necessary for you to be more generous toward "the stupid."

    Surely at least a part of the motivation for running a blog such as this is pedagogical. I think education, by its very nature, requires charity and kindness from the intellectual superior to those upon whom the former seeks to impart edification.

    And as an added bonus, being nice makes your more popular.
  9. spandrell says: • Website
    @Twinkie

    First, these complaints never have any effect.
     
    I am going to be "stupid" and comment on this.

    There does seem to be an effect, Mr. Khan. You bother to write about the complaints and explain your rationale. So there must be at least a part of you who feels that being mean requires justification.

    There is hope for you yet.

    I go to Confession every week for the same sins. Every. Single. Time. Yet I (and my priest) remain hopeful that one day I may shed these sins. I am not giving up the hope that you might one day be nice to stupid people online, however you might construe "stupid."

    Razib becoming a charitable Christian, now that would be something. Maybe after 10 years in Texas pulls a Falkenstein too. As a reader though I hope he resists the temptation.

    In more functional terms: being nice encourages stupid comments, which is bad. Being nasty encourages constant complaints, which is at least annoying.

    An optimal strategy would discourage both stupid comments and annoying complaints.

    Read More
  10. Brett says:

    I think broadly the explanation for the Others will be the same in the books as well as the show, although how it happened will be vastly different. People have suggested that the Others are the opposite of Dragons (“fire made flesh”) before, which may be a more apt comparison now given one of the theories for the origins of dragons in the World of Ice and Fire book (the one coming from Septon Barth).

    There seems to be a shifting set of accusations against Bruenig. The principle person who claimed that he was the ringleader of harassment said in a recent post that it wasn’t so much that he was deliberately egging people on to harassment, but rather that he had been told that his followers had a tendency to dog-pile with gender-based attacks and worse threats on women he was arguing with, and yet he did nothing about it and declaimed any sort of responsibility (and may have said they deserved it in one case, although since he deleted the tweets there’s no proof). I’m divided on that – on the one hand, you can’t really control your Twitter followers if some fraction of them are awful people. But on the other hand, if you know that the way you do an argument is going to put someone in serious danger and yet you do it anyways . . .

    I don’t know. Despite the insistent claims from the anti-Bruenig folks that this isn’t a demand for civility and self-censorship, it still feels like that’s ultimately what they’re asking for.

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.

    The argument I’ve heard for it being “fundamentally catholic” is that the great sin that drives most of the evil in the setting is pride, and an unwillingness to submit before God’s will. Melkor sets himself against Eru’s will (and the will of his selected Valar and their domains), Sauron does so as well, the Noldori Elves do in the Silmarillion, etc.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i don't think this is necessarily catholic.
    , @j mct
    That scene with Melkor is pretty Christian, but it isn't Catholic in the sense of being not Protestant. Milton wasn't Catholic. He was really really English though.
  11. Bran Vras says: • Website

    Concerning the origin of the White Walkers, there is a profound line in the first book. Grenn, who is Jon Snow’s dumb friend, remarks that he doesn’t see any weirwood at the Wall to witness the vows of the Night’s Watch. Indeed, it’s curious, since all castles of the north (and many in the south as well) have a godswood with a weirwood. The origin of the Wall is lost in the mist of time, but it seems that weirwoods were banned there by design (which seems confirmed when the young weirwood of the Nightfort is destroyed when that castle is restored, while a sept is allowed at Castle Black).

    Hence the Night’s Watch, which is entrusted to protect Westeros from the White Walkers, deliberately stayed away from the culture of the children of the forest. Another case when Martin places a deep truth in the mouth of a lackwit.

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  12. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Razib Khan and Peter Frost, though very different from each other, both stick out like sore thumbs on unz.com. However, I think their presence keeps the general level from descending even deeper into the cesspit of class envy, rejection of the scientific method, antisemitism, paranoid conspiracy mongering, and self-pity.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    Peter Frost doesn't really blog here anymore, due to concern about the legal situation in Canada...which is unfortunate. Personally I liked his articles, but I don't think it can be claimed they were disinterested science...they obviously did have a political agenda (one I broadly agree with).
  13. @Brett
    I think broadly the explanation for the Others will be the same in the books as well as the show, although how it happened will be vastly different. People have suggested that the Others are the opposite of Dragons ("fire made flesh") before, which may be a more apt comparison now given one of the theories for the origins of dragons in the World of Ice and Fire book (the one coming from Septon Barth).

    There seems to be a shifting set of accusations against Bruenig. The principle person who claimed that he was the ringleader of harassment said in a recent post that it wasn't so much that he was deliberately egging people on to harassment, but rather that he had been told that his followers had a tendency to dog-pile with gender-based attacks and worse threats on women he was arguing with, and yet he did nothing about it and declaimed any sort of responsibility (and may have said they deserved it in one case, although since he deleted the tweets there's no proof). I'm divided on that - on the one hand, you can't really control your Twitter followers if some fraction of them are awful people. But on the other hand, if you know that the way you do an argument is going to put someone in serious danger and yet you do it anyways . . .

    I don't know. Despite the insistent claims from the anti-Bruenig folks that this isn't a demand for civility and self-censorship, it still feels like that's ultimately what they're asking for.


    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.
     
    The argument I've heard for it being "fundamentally catholic" is that the great sin that drives most of the evil in the setting is pride, and an unwillingness to submit before God's will. Melkor sets himself against Eru's will (and the will of his selected Valar and their domains), Sauron does so as well, the Noldori Elves do in the Silmarillion, etc.

    i don’t think this is necessarily catholic.

    Read More
  14. I’ve been online for twenty years now, and people still seem to think that when you comment on the internet, you’re in a public square, when you’re really shouting inside someone’s house at their sufferance.

    That said, ever since you moved to Unz’s website, the quality of comments has gone downhill. I’m sure you block the worst of it, but much of what even gets through moderation doesn’t seem worth engaging, because it’s clearly just a bunch of alt righters who want an echo chamber to rage about classes of people they do not like.

    Come to think of it, that seems to me to be one of the fundamental differences between the lowest common denominator discussions on the left and the right. The left’s focus is usually on people in power – politicians, CEOs, lobbyists, etc. The rank-and-file supporters of right wing politics are often talked down to – considered rubes misled by those in power (which is true, but also true for those who vote for Democrats). But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn’t super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises. In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people, including those who really have no effective political power to enact change (which honestly, is almost everyone on the left).

    As to Bernie, unfortunately I think you’d be let down if you knew more supporters. It is true he favors universalist solutions would help everyone, regardless of race or gender. It’s also true that the Hillary campaign attacks his on SJW-ish grounds, and Hillary’s own campaign is an ill-cobbled together mess of pandering to various factions without a coherent core message. But given Bernie’s supporters skew young and very left wing, it’s undoubtedly the case that there are more “SJW” supporters of Bernie than Hillary. Perhaps part of what this shows is while people like transparent social signalling within their peer networks, it comes across as crass when coming from politicians – that SJWism is really about the personal, not the political.

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    • Replies: @Matt_
    Karl, do you really believe that? Really seems hard to square with reality for me. I just don't really see any difference (in focus on leaders vs voters).

    If you never have (and you might not have), I advise you to go to the Guardian newspaper website Comment Is Free website and check out what they say about "Tories". And this is Right Wing voters they talk about, not the politicos. Hatred of Right Wing voters ("Tories", "'Kippers") as a class of people on there seems, well, huge. And very typical of the undertone (if not overtly) in real life conversation when talking to left voters.

    (Or take any article on that website on Trump - they're certainly not sitting there going "Oh, well the people are great. What a shame there's this terrible leader, who's misled them". There's this idea that there's something fundamentally wrong with their moral compass and psychology.)

    People talk about the "shy Tory" effect. They don't really talk about the "shy Labour voter" effect. That's not because people are intimidated that they will be seen as misled rubes. It's social consequences of dislike and stigma.

    Maybe it's different if you hang with the American Liberal Left. I know the left there has been less militant (changing a bit with the infection of SJWism, which is nothing more than a viral mutation of the same old left wing student politics, mixing with the mass shame machine of the internet). But it's hard for me to imagine it from the way US led social science at least generally seems so oriented to being a hit piece on the Right Wing having inadequate personalities, narrow minds, sheltered backgrounds, psychopathic traits, greed. I find it hard to believe that they aren't prey to the same kind of ideas that "We are the special liberated, aware, altruistic, fully realized, rational and matured humans, complete as people. Our enemies are stunted, limited, venal, irrational, fundamentally unhealthy and something less than fully human.", that I see on the British Left.
    , @Razib Khan
    two points

    1) it does irritate me that some commenters appeal to possible political commonalities to become repetitive about their particular hobby horses. also, there's a general issue with anti-egalitarian folks on altright/NRx spectrum assuming that they are natural aristocrats...so you have the same human bias where 90% of ppl think they are above average in intelligence.

    2) i disagree with your general framing of how left/right people think/view others, though there are inflections here. eg the way some upper middle class social liberals (who are not economically focused, but support welfare state market liberalism) talk about the white working class is pretty reductive. they also talk in a similar way about evangelical protestant whites, but would never talk in the same manner about conservative black protestants or moderate muslims.
    , @PD Shaw
    Generally, I see Republicans or people on the right described as racists for their positions on drug policy or healthcare or law and order issues. This is seen as hateful speech, and causes one group to withdraw from the field angrily to forums with fewer people on the left, and another group to joyfully take up the challenge to "prove" that liberals are the real racists.
    , @jb
    If you think that leftists who hate conservatives as people are rare, try reading the comments in the New York Times for a while. A disturbingly high percentage of the commenters are just frothing at the mouth with bitter and open hatred for Republicans or "The Right."
    , @Winthorp
    Yes, the Left that mocks SJWs still shares most of their priors and are disposed to similar prejudices, e.g., the fraternity or cop caught up in the hate crime hoax may be innocent of this particular charge, but they probably did worse stuff and never got caught, so fuck em. But even if resistant to whole swathes of evidence, they do still believe in and utilize logic and evidence. You can meaningfully debate them in a way you can't with a solipsist or latter-day red guards. Some of us even change our minds.
  15. AG says:

    This study raises many questions about college admission and group privilege.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/opinion/sunday/professors-are-prejudiced-too.html?_r=0

    Professors Are Prejudiced, Too

    Professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities. We found the most severe bias in disciplines paying higher faculty salaries and at private universities. In a perverse twist of academic fate, our own discipline of business showed the most bias, with 87 percent of white males receiving a response compared with just 62 percent of all females and minorities combined.

    Surprisingly, several supposed advantages that some people believe women and minorities enjoy did not materialize in our data. For example: Were Asians favored, given the model minority stereotype they supposedly benefit from in academic contexts? No. In fact, Chinese students were the most discriminated-against group in our sample. Did reaching out to someone of the same gender or race — such as a black student emailing a black professor — reduce bias? No. We saw the same levels of bias in both same-race and same-gender faculty-student pairs that we saw in pairs not sharing a race or gender (the one exception was Chinese students writing to Chinese professors).

    Numerous factors are involved here. For white and Chinese professors, ethnic genetic interest (EGI) might explain their behavior. For other minority and women professors, their behavior is likely caused by learned helplessness (or self-hate) due to long term ideology/religion style indoctrination. For people following religion/ideology, all rationality is thrown out of window.

    This also explains that standard tests like SAT, GRE, even IQ test have better prediction about candidates success than subjective interviews. Human brains are not very good at predicting other human due to subjective bias (emotional bias). We all know emotion is product of primitive part of brain instead of objective neocortex. Our reptile part brain has impact. Emotional impulses often make people do stupid stuff.

    Thus, any evauluation or awards based on subjective voting are not very good indicators either. Voting is a political process which reflects populism, not truth. It is no surprise that people with average intelligence only can vote with their feeling instead of cold machine like objectivity. Even higher intelligent people have hard time escaping subjective bias toward something they like. Only Olympic game like open competition can yield something comparable.

    Only machine like objectivity can change the situation. Only artificial intelligence (AI) with computer algorithm can produce more objective findings.

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    • Replies: @j mct
    In case you might not have heard, there is a real sort of crisis going on in the social sciences in that some large percentage, as in north of half, (most?) empirical studies and or experiments in the social sciences are not replicable, as in they're crap. Care to venture if this were done over one would get the same result?
  16. @Anonymous
    Razib Khan and Peter Frost, though very different from each other, both stick out like sore thumbs on unz.com. However, I think their presence keeps the general level from descending even deeper into the cesspit of class envy, rejection of the scientific method, antisemitism, paranoid conspiracy mongering, and self-pity.

    Peter Frost doesn’t really blog here anymore, due to concern about the legal situation in Canada…which is unfortunate. Personally I liked his articles, but I don’t think it can be claimed they were disinterested science…they obviously did have a political agenda (one I broadly agree with).

    Read More
    • Replies: @TGGP
    What are the issues with the "legal situation in Canada"?
  17. notanon says:

    Feminists mount group attacks on people they don’t like but squeal when it’s done to them – ironically on the basis of women needing protection.

    They get away with it because too many men don’t make the distinction feminists != women – be nice to women but if feminists want to be treated like men then treat them like you would men, no mercy.

    #

    But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn’t super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises.

    Yes it is and no it isn’t

    In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people,

    and you do it yourself in the next sentence.

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    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    Care to explain further?

    There is well-defined narrative on the left about why the "working-class white" vote was lost, and attempting to get it back. See Thomas Frank's What's The Matter With Kansas? as an example. The basic thrust is poor white voters left the Democratic party, given it turned its back on universalist left-leaning economic policy in favor of corporatism coupled with liberal social issues - offering absolutely nothing to these voters. The fault is clearly placed at the blame of the Democratic establishment for giving up courting left-wing populist voters, not working-class white voters for being social conservatives/

    The truth of the matter is Mr. Frank's argument is somewhat spurious. Discounting the South, there has been no net movement of the working-class white vote towards the Republican party in a systematic fashion. And he wrongly links evangelicals to working-class voters, when the base of the evangelical movement has always been the middle class. Still, this is but one example in a long lineage of left-wing pundits attacking the liberal establishment for not reaching out to these voters. I remember Michael Moore, for example, clearly having an editorial about this in The Nation twenty years ago - asking liberals to stop talking at the working class, and actually listen to what they have to say. Do some people say things like "no, we should just give up on the white working class?" Sure. But most of those people are on college campuses and have very little impact on the political system. Indeed, they mostly cannot come up with a coherent vision of how they would form a majority coalition which would be in support of their stated policies. Hence I don't think they are engage in serious politics, only petty tribalism.

    I admit I don't read much right wing media (though I read some paleoliberarians). But I don't think there has been the same discussion about how to engage with sections of the "liberal" base. I know Ron Unz has suggested in the past that one could appeal to black voters by pointing out with immigration restrictions, wages for low-paid service jobs would begin to rise. And there are the spurious, largely fruitless attempts by the institutional Republican party to woo minority support over things like school vouchers. But the general attitude seems to be that the voters themselves are the root of the problem, rather than the leadership. See voter suppression for example.

    On your other point, I may be somewhat blind to criticism of those "not of my tribe" (but I'm neither a Democrat nor a self-defined liberal, but a socialist). Still, I don't think I made an unfair or insulting judgement in that sentence. I don't think that the left's furor against is based in any way upon personal dislike of right wingers.

    As the most cogent example, consider the furor about the NC transgender bathroom law, which has been burning up my Facebook feed. I have read articles attacking the idea that there is a genuine concern men wearing dresses will loiter in women's bathrooms in an effort to assault women and girls sexually. I've seen articles noting that now many biological women who happen to be butch or not particularly pretty are having their gender questioned in public restrooms. I've seen invectives attacking the North Carolina state government. I've seen simple statements that the law is based in bigotry. I haven't seen one thing which has said something along the lines of "This is all the fault of transphobic straight conservative male shitlords!"

  18. Slon says:

    … this massive decline in poverty is despite Left activism against markets.

    Do you have examples of mainstream Left’s activism against market reforms in places like China, India, etc., that are the primary drivers of the decline in poverty?

    Read More
  19. @notanon
    Feminists mount group attacks on people they don't like but squeal when it's done to them - ironically on the basis of women needing protection.

    They get away with it because too many men don't make the distinction feminists != women - be nice to women but if feminists want to be treated like men then treat them like you would men, no mercy.

    #

    @Karl Zimmerman


    But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn’t super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises.
     
    Yes it is and no it isn't

    In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people,
     
    and you do it yourself in the next sentence.

    Care to explain further?

    There is well-defined narrative on the left about why the “working-class white” vote was lost, and attempting to get it back. See Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas? as an example. The basic thrust is poor white voters left the Democratic party, given it turned its back on universalist left-leaning economic policy in favor of corporatism coupled with liberal social issues – offering absolutely nothing to these voters. The fault is clearly placed at the blame of the Democratic establishment for giving up courting left-wing populist voters, not working-class white voters for being social conservatives/

    The truth of the matter is Mr. Frank’s argument is somewhat spurious. Discounting the South, there has been no net movement of the working-class white vote towards the Republican party in a systematic fashion. And he wrongly links evangelicals to working-class voters, when the base of the evangelical movement has always been the middle class. Still, this is but one example in a long lineage of left-wing pundits attacking the liberal establishment for not reaching out to these voters. I remember Michael Moore, for example, clearly having an editorial about this in The Nation twenty years ago – asking liberals to stop talking at the working class, and actually listen to what they have to say. Do some people say things like “no, we should just give up on the white working class?” Sure. But most of those people are on college campuses and have very little impact on the political system. Indeed, they mostly cannot come up with a coherent vision of how they would form a majority coalition which would be in support of their stated policies. Hence I don’t think they are engage in serious politics, only petty tribalism.

    I admit I don’t read much right wing media (though I read some paleoliberarians). But I don’t think there has been the same discussion about how to engage with sections of the “liberal” base. I know Ron Unz has suggested in the past that one could appeal to black voters by pointing out with immigration restrictions, wages for low-paid service jobs would begin to rise. And there are the spurious, largely fruitless attempts by the institutional Republican party to woo minority support over things like school vouchers. But the general attitude seems to be that the voters themselves are the root of the problem, rather than the leadership. See voter suppression for example.

    On your other point, I may be somewhat blind to criticism of those “not of my tribe” (but I’m neither a Democrat nor a self-defined liberal, but a socialist). Still, I don’t think I made an unfair or insulting judgement in that sentence. I don’t think that the left’s furor against is based in any way upon personal dislike of right wingers.

    As the most cogent example, consider the furor about the NC transgender bathroom law, which has been burning up my Facebook feed. I have read articles attacking the idea that there is a genuine concern men wearing dresses will loiter in women’s bathrooms in an effort to assault women and girls sexually. I’ve seen articles noting that now many biological women who happen to be butch or not particularly pretty are having their gender questioned in public restrooms. I’ve seen invectives attacking the North Carolina state government. I’ve seen simple statements that the law is based in bigotry. I haven’t seen one thing which has said something along the lines of “This is all the fault of transphobic straight conservative male shitlords!”

    Read More
  20. You once asked someone for a good book about dinosaur natural history. I finished a recent one called “The Tyrannosaur Chronicles”by David Hone. The title makes it sound like its not about dinosaurs as a whole, but in a way it is because the clade tyrannosaur is an informative microcosm of paleontology (in the end he calls Tyrannosaurus the Drosphila or C.elegans of dinosaur research).

    https://archosaurmusings.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/the-tyrannosaur-chronicles-is-here/

    Read More
  21. Comments on the analysis described here questioning the importance of age-correlated mutations in sperm on autism in offspring?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    the team which worked on this is very good. OTOH, jayman says there are family based studies which conflict.
  22. Matt_ says:
    @Karl Zimmerman
    I've been online for twenty years now, and people still seem to think that when you comment on the internet, you're in a public square, when you're really shouting inside someone's house at their sufferance.

    That said, ever since you moved to Unz's website, the quality of comments has gone downhill. I'm sure you block the worst of it, but much of what even gets through moderation doesn't seem worth engaging, because it's clearly just a bunch of alt righters who want an echo chamber to rage about classes of people they do not like.

    Come to think of it, that seems to me to be one of the fundamental differences between the lowest common denominator discussions on the left and the right. The left's focus is usually on people in power - politicians, CEOs, lobbyists, etc. The rank-and-file supporters of right wing politics are often talked down to - considered rubes misled by those in power (which is true, but also true for those who vote for Democrats). But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn't super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises. In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people, including those who really have no effective political power to enact change (which honestly, is almost everyone on the left).

    As to Bernie, unfortunately I think you'd be let down if you knew more supporters. It is true he favors universalist solutions would help everyone, regardless of race or gender. It's also true that the Hillary campaign attacks his on SJW-ish grounds, and Hillary's own campaign is an ill-cobbled together mess of pandering to various factions without a coherent core message. But given Bernie's supporters skew young and very left wing, it's undoubtedly the case that there are more "SJW" supporters of Bernie than Hillary. Perhaps part of what this shows is while people like transparent social signalling within their peer networks, it comes across as crass when coming from politicians - that SJWism is really about the personal, not the political.

    Karl, do you really believe that? Really seems hard to square with reality for me. I just don’t really see any difference (in focus on leaders vs voters).

    If you never have (and you might not have), I advise you to go to the Guardian newspaper website Comment Is Free website and check out what they say about “Tories”. And this is Right Wing voters they talk about, not the politicos. Hatred of Right Wing voters (“Tories”, “‘Kippers”) as a class of people on there seems, well, huge. And very typical of the undertone (if not overtly) in real life conversation when talking to left voters.

    (Or take any article on that website on Trump – they’re certainly not sitting there going “Oh, well the people are great. What a shame there’s this terrible leader, who’s misled them”. There’s this idea that there’s something fundamentally wrong with their moral compass and psychology.)

    People talk about the “shy Tory” effect. They don’t really talk about the “shy Labour voter” effect. That’s not because people are intimidated that they will be seen as misled rubes. It’s social consequences of dislike and stigma.

    Maybe it’s different if you hang with the American Liberal Left. I know the left there has been less militant (changing a bit with the infection of SJWism, which is nothing more than a viral mutation of the same old left wing student politics, mixing with the mass shame machine of the internet). But it’s hard for me to imagine it from the way US led social science at least generally seems so oriented to being a hit piece on the Right Wing having inadequate personalities, narrow minds, sheltered backgrounds, psychopathic traits, greed. I find it hard to believe that they aren’t prey to the same kind of ideas that “We are the special liberated, aware, altruistic, fully realized, rational and matured humans, complete as people. Our enemies are stunted, limited, venal, irrational, fundamentally unhealthy and something less than fully human.”, that I see on the British Left.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    no-platforming. also, "zios".
    , @Karl Zimmerman
    My impression is that the American left, compared to the British left, is much more anarchic and less tribal. Respect towards those in leadership roles is typically very low, as is solidarity. Which makes sense given the institutional linkage to the labor movement - which pretty much requires all of us versus all of them thinking - is much more tenuous. By U.S. standards Labour is disturbingly hierarchical and authoritarian. When I tell other Americans how MPs are picked (by party committees, rather than through primaries) they are typically horrified.

    I think it's fair to say in general that the American left wing is more befuddled by conservative voters than it is enraged by them. Jonathan Haidt has noted that according to his "moral foundations" theory, left-liberals in the U.S. don't even really understand a number of moral values that conservatives hold dear - specifically the values of loyalty (to the group), authority (of the leader) and sanctity (where intuitions about moral disgust come from). The low sanctity explains social liberalism, while caring little about group loyalty or the authority of leaders leads to relatively low conscious levels of "groupness" compared to conservatives. Unconsciously, of course, everyone who isn't on the autism spectrum has groupness - but American liberals are less likely to see themselves as a coherent embattled minority even when they are losing on an issue.

    Regarding relative moderation, there has been polling which shows Democrats in the U.S. have held a broadly more moderate viewpoint than Republicans - insofar that a greater proportion believe it's important for political leaders to compromise than to stick to their beliefs - for going on 30 years now. Hence I'd say it's likely true that overall the U.S. left wing is more moderate than the British left wing - and certainly more moderate than the American right wing.
  23. @Karl Zimmerman
    I've been online for twenty years now, and people still seem to think that when you comment on the internet, you're in a public square, when you're really shouting inside someone's house at their sufferance.

    That said, ever since you moved to Unz's website, the quality of comments has gone downhill. I'm sure you block the worst of it, but much of what even gets through moderation doesn't seem worth engaging, because it's clearly just a bunch of alt righters who want an echo chamber to rage about classes of people they do not like.

    Come to think of it, that seems to me to be one of the fundamental differences between the lowest common denominator discussions on the left and the right. The left's focus is usually on people in power - politicians, CEOs, lobbyists, etc. The rank-and-file supporters of right wing politics are often talked down to - considered rubes misled by those in power (which is true, but also true for those who vote for Democrats). But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn't super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises. In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people, including those who really have no effective political power to enact change (which honestly, is almost everyone on the left).

    As to Bernie, unfortunately I think you'd be let down if you knew more supporters. It is true he favors universalist solutions would help everyone, regardless of race or gender. It's also true that the Hillary campaign attacks his on SJW-ish grounds, and Hillary's own campaign is an ill-cobbled together mess of pandering to various factions without a coherent core message. But given Bernie's supporters skew young and very left wing, it's undoubtedly the case that there are more "SJW" supporters of Bernie than Hillary. Perhaps part of what this shows is while people like transparent social signalling within their peer networks, it comes across as crass when coming from politicians - that SJWism is really about the personal, not the political.

    two points

    1) it does irritate me that some commenters appeal to possible political commonalities to become repetitive about their particular hobby horses. also, there’s a general issue with anti-egalitarian folks on altright/NRx spectrum assuming that they are natural aristocrats…so you have the same human bias where 90% of ppl think they are above average in intelligence.

    2) i disagree with your general framing of how left/right people think/view others, though there are inflections here. eg the way some upper middle class social liberals (who are not economically focused, but support welfare state market liberalism) talk about the white working class is pretty reductive. they also talk in a similar way about evangelical protestant whites, but would never talk in the same manner about conservative black protestants or moderate muslims.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    I do agree 100% that the left liberal tends to talk in paternalistic fashion about certain white groups. I've mentioned before this strange issue of learned blindness in the cultural left. If cultural relativism is accepted as a moral value, than you cannot critique a culture which is not your own. However, in a U.S. political context, this would mean policy change would be impossible, given it would interfere with someone's culture. Hence the solution is to deny that there are any separate white American cultural folkways, and to make false claims that it's all just about urban/rural divisions.

    I've come around to Jonathan Haidt's viewpoint that while no particular nation's moral framework is superior to any other, having a common moral framework is preferable. Hence I have no with total assimilation of any immigrant groups, or even that the values of racial integration and retention of a separate black American identity totally conflict, and we must choose between the two.

    Looping back for a second, there have been particular points where social liberals have attacked socially conservative nonwhites. I'm thinking, for example, about the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, where LGBT groups and their allies directly attacked homophobia in the black and Latino communities. But still, I agree that in general the attitude is that the liberals within those communities need to get their houses in order, and that wealthy white people should butt out of it.
  24. @marcel proust
    Comments on the analysis described here questioning the importance of age-correlated mutations in sperm on autism in offspring?

    the team which worked on this is very good. OTOH, jayman says there are family based studies which conflict.

    Read More
  25. @Matt_
    Karl, do you really believe that? Really seems hard to square with reality for me. I just don't really see any difference (in focus on leaders vs voters).

    If you never have (and you might not have), I advise you to go to the Guardian newspaper website Comment Is Free website and check out what they say about "Tories". And this is Right Wing voters they talk about, not the politicos. Hatred of Right Wing voters ("Tories", "'Kippers") as a class of people on there seems, well, huge. And very typical of the undertone (if not overtly) in real life conversation when talking to left voters.

    (Or take any article on that website on Trump - they're certainly not sitting there going "Oh, well the people are great. What a shame there's this terrible leader, who's misled them". There's this idea that there's something fundamentally wrong with their moral compass and psychology.)

    People talk about the "shy Tory" effect. They don't really talk about the "shy Labour voter" effect. That's not because people are intimidated that they will be seen as misled rubes. It's social consequences of dislike and stigma.

    Maybe it's different if you hang with the American Liberal Left. I know the left there has been less militant (changing a bit with the infection of SJWism, which is nothing more than a viral mutation of the same old left wing student politics, mixing with the mass shame machine of the internet). But it's hard for me to imagine it from the way US led social science at least generally seems so oriented to being a hit piece on the Right Wing having inadequate personalities, narrow minds, sheltered backgrounds, psychopathic traits, greed. I find it hard to believe that they aren't prey to the same kind of ideas that "We are the special liberated, aware, altruistic, fully realized, rational and matured humans, complete as people. Our enemies are stunted, limited, venal, irrational, fundamentally unhealthy and something less than fully human.", that I see on the British Left.

    no-platforming. also, “zios”.

    Read More
  26. PD Shaw says:
    @Karl Zimmerman
    I've been online for twenty years now, and people still seem to think that when you comment on the internet, you're in a public square, when you're really shouting inside someone's house at their sufferance.

    That said, ever since you moved to Unz's website, the quality of comments has gone downhill. I'm sure you block the worst of it, but much of what even gets through moderation doesn't seem worth engaging, because it's clearly just a bunch of alt righters who want an echo chamber to rage about classes of people they do not like.

    Come to think of it, that seems to me to be one of the fundamental differences between the lowest common denominator discussions on the left and the right. The left's focus is usually on people in power - politicians, CEOs, lobbyists, etc. The rank-and-file supporters of right wing politics are often talked down to - considered rubes misled by those in power (which is true, but also true for those who vote for Democrats). But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn't super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises. In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people, including those who really have no effective political power to enact change (which honestly, is almost everyone on the left).

    As to Bernie, unfortunately I think you'd be let down if you knew more supporters. It is true he favors universalist solutions would help everyone, regardless of race or gender. It's also true that the Hillary campaign attacks his on SJW-ish grounds, and Hillary's own campaign is an ill-cobbled together mess of pandering to various factions without a coherent core message. But given Bernie's supporters skew young and very left wing, it's undoubtedly the case that there are more "SJW" supporters of Bernie than Hillary. Perhaps part of what this shows is while people like transparent social signalling within their peer networks, it comes across as crass when coming from politicians - that SJWism is really about the personal, not the political.

    Generally, I see Republicans or people on the right described as racists for their positions on drug policy or healthcare or law and order issues. This is seen as hateful speech, and causes one group to withdraw from the field angrily to forums with fewer people on the left, and another group to joyfully take up the challenge to “prove” that liberals are the real racists.

    Read More
  27. @Matt_
    Karl, do you really believe that? Really seems hard to square with reality for me. I just don't really see any difference (in focus on leaders vs voters).

    If you never have (and you might not have), I advise you to go to the Guardian newspaper website Comment Is Free website and check out what they say about "Tories". And this is Right Wing voters they talk about, not the politicos. Hatred of Right Wing voters ("Tories", "'Kippers") as a class of people on there seems, well, huge. And very typical of the undertone (if not overtly) in real life conversation when talking to left voters.

    (Or take any article on that website on Trump - they're certainly not sitting there going "Oh, well the people are great. What a shame there's this terrible leader, who's misled them". There's this idea that there's something fundamentally wrong with their moral compass and psychology.)

    People talk about the "shy Tory" effect. They don't really talk about the "shy Labour voter" effect. That's not because people are intimidated that they will be seen as misled rubes. It's social consequences of dislike and stigma.

    Maybe it's different if you hang with the American Liberal Left. I know the left there has been less militant (changing a bit with the infection of SJWism, which is nothing more than a viral mutation of the same old left wing student politics, mixing with the mass shame machine of the internet). But it's hard for me to imagine it from the way US led social science at least generally seems so oriented to being a hit piece on the Right Wing having inadequate personalities, narrow minds, sheltered backgrounds, psychopathic traits, greed. I find it hard to believe that they aren't prey to the same kind of ideas that "We are the special liberated, aware, altruistic, fully realized, rational and matured humans, complete as people. Our enemies are stunted, limited, venal, irrational, fundamentally unhealthy and something less than fully human.", that I see on the British Left.

    My impression is that the American left, compared to the British left, is much more anarchic and less tribal. Respect towards those in leadership roles is typically very low, as is solidarity. Which makes sense given the institutional linkage to the labor movement – which pretty much requires all of us versus all of them thinking – is much more tenuous. By U.S. standards Labour is disturbingly hierarchical and authoritarian. When I tell other Americans how MPs are picked (by party committees, rather than through primaries) they are typically horrified.

    I think it’s fair to say in general that the American left wing is more befuddled by conservative voters than it is enraged by them. Jonathan Haidt has noted that according to his “moral foundations” theory, left-liberals in the U.S. don’t even really understand a number of moral values that conservatives hold dear – specifically the values of loyalty (to the group), authority (of the leader) and sanctity (where intuitions about moral disgust come from). The low sanctity explains social liberalism, while caring little about group loyalty or the authority of leaders leads to relatively low conscious levels of “groupness” compared to conservatives. Unconsciously, of course, everyone who isn’t on the autism spectrum has groupness – but American liberals are less likely to see themselves as a coherent embattled minority even when they are losing on an issue.

    Regarding relative moderation, there has been polling which shows Democrats in the U.S. have held a broadly more moderate viewpoint than Republicans – insofar that a greater proportion believe it’s important for political leaders to compromise than to stick to their beliefs – for going on 30 years now. Hence I’d say it’s likely true that overall the U.S. left wing is more moderate than the British left wing – and certainly more moderate than the American right wing.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I think it’s fair to say in general that the American left wing is more befuddled by conservative voters than it is enraged by them.

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050092
    We investigated the moral stereotypes political liberals and conservatives have of themselves and each other. In reality, liberals endorse the individual-focused moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives do, and conservatives endorse the group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity more than liberals do. 2,212 U.S. participants filled out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire with their own answers, or as a typical liberal or conservative would answer. Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about “typical” liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup's morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.


    fwiw, i've had many friends over the years deny that i was conservative, because i'm a reasonable and nonstupid person. basically they think it's a semantic confusion and/or false consciousness. as they get to know me better they'll often come around....
  28. @Razib Khan
    two points

    1) it does irritate me that some commenters appeal to possible political commonalities to become repetitive about their particular hobby horses. also, there's a general issue with anti-egalitarian folks on altright/NRx spectrum assuming that they are natural aristocrats...so you have the same human bias where 90% of ppl think they are above average in intelligence.

    2) i disagree with your general framing of how left/right people think/view others, though there are inflections here. eg the way some upper middle class social liberals (who are not economically focused, but support welfare state market liberalism) talk about the white working class is pretty reductive. they also talk in a similar way about evangelical protestant whites, but would never talk in the same manner about conservative black protestants or moderate muslims.

    I do agree 100% that the left liberal tends to talk in paternalistic fashion about certain white groups. I’ve mentioned before this strange issue of learned blindness in the cultural left. If cultural relativism is accepted as a moral value, than you cannot critique a culture which is not your own. However, in a U.S. political context, this would mean policy change would be impossible, given it would interfere with someone’s culture. Hence the solution is to deny that there are any separate white American cultural folkways, and to make false claims that it’s all just about urban/rural divisions.

    I’ve come around to Jonathan Haidt’s viewpoint that while no particular nation’s moral framework is superior to any other, having a common moral framework is preferable. Hence I have no with total assimilation of any immigrant groups, or even that the values of racial integration and retention of a separate black American identity totally conflict, and we must choose between the two.

    Looping back for a second, there have been particular points where social liberals have attacked socially conservative nonwhites. I’m thinking, for example, about the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, where LGBT groups and their allies directly attacked homophobia in the black and Latino communities. But still, I agree that in general the attitude is that the liberals within those communities need to get their houses in order, and that wealthy white people should butt out of it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I’m thinking, for example, about the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, where LGBT groups and their allies directly attacked homophobia in the black and Latino communities.

    in fact, there was some straight up verbally aggressive racism at protests after that measure aimed at blacks there to protest prop 8. which gets to one weird thing about people: the disjunction btwn what they say and their inner 'id' so to speak. it's easy to be anti-racist in an all white suburb, but most white libs don't really embrace diversity in their own lives outside of particular periods (e.g., that period in your 20s before you settle down). also, i've had a few rare occasions in my life when white friends have become angry at me and blurted out racist insults. these were aberrations, but they suggest to me that social norms and signaling are sublimating a lot (i've talked to women who have experienced the same shocking outbursts from 'feminist' men in extremis).
  29. @Karl Zimmerman
    My impression is that the American left, compared to the British left, is much more anarchic and less tribal. Respect towards those in leadership roles is typically very low, as is solidarity. Which makes sense given the institutional linkage to the labor movement - which pretty much requires all of us versus all of them thinking - is much more tenuous. By U.S. standards Labour is disturbingly hierarchical and authoritarian. When I tell other Americans how MPs are picked (by party committees, rather than through primaries) they are typically horrified.

    I think it's fair to say in general that the American left wing is more befuddled by conservative voters than it is enraged by them. Jonathan Haidt has noted that according to his "moral foundations" theory, left-liberals in the U.S. don't even really understand a number of moral values that conservatives hold dear - specifically the values of loyalty (to the group), authority (of the leader) and sanctity (where intuitions about moral disgust come from). The low sanctity explains social liberalism, while caring little about group loyalty or the authority of leaders leads to relatively low conscious levels of "groupness" compared to conservatives. Unconsciously, of course, everyone who isn't on the autism spectrum has groupness - but American liberals are less likely to see themselves as a coherent embattled minority even when they are losing on an issue.

    Regarding relative moderation, there has been polling which shows Democrats in the U.S. have held a broadly more moderate viewpoint than Republicans - insofar that a greater proportion believe it's important for political leaders to compromise than to stick to their beliefs - for going on 30 years now. Hence I'd say it's likely true that overall the U.S. left wing is more moderate than the British left wing - and certainly more moderate than the American right wing.

    I think it’s fair to say in general that the American left wing is more befuddled by conservative voters than it is enraged by them.

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050092

    We investigated the moral stereotypes political liberals and conservatives have of themselves and each other. In reality, liberals endorse the individual-focused moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives do, and conservatives endorse the group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity more than liberals do. 2,212 U.S. participants filled out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire with their own answers, or as a typical liberal or conservative would answer. Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about “typical” liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup’s morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.

    fwiw, i’ve had many friends over the years deny that i was conservative, because i’m a reasonable and nonstupid person. basically they think it’s a semantic confusion and/or false consciousness. as they get to know me better they’ll often come around….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    To be clear, I wasn't saying that I didn't think liberals could't understand in an intellectual sense that conservatives were driven by loyalty, authority, and sanctity. I was saying that on an emotional level they can't grok these values because they are totally alien to the left-liberal intellectual tradition, which has systematically suppressed them.

    There is the widespread belief, however, that the right wing elite (both the Republican leadership and major corporate donors) doesn't really believe what they say, and are putting on an act regarding various issues in order to dupe the base. A few years back I read an enlightening article from Bruce Bartlett directly challenging this false belief among liberals, citing that he has many millionaire acquaintances who sincerely believe that Obama is a socialist not born in the United States. Still, in the minds of many liberals, anyone who is an intelligent conservative must be either a closet social liberal or a disingenuous Machiavellian sociopath. No one who has thought deeply could genuinely hold those thoughts after all.
  30. @Karl Zimmerman
    I do agree 100% that the left liberal tends to talk in paternalistic fashion about certain white groups. I've mentioned before this strange issue of learned blindness in the cultural left. If cultural relativism is accepted as a moral value, than you cannot critique a culture which is not your own. However, in a U.S. political context, this would mean policy change would be impossible, given it would interfere with someone's culture. Hence the solution is to deny that there are any separate white American cultural folkways, and to make false claims that it's all just about urban/rural divisions.

    I've come around to Jonathan Haidt's viewpoint that while no particular nation's moral framework is superior to any other, having a common moral framework is preferable. Hence I have no with total assimilation of any immigrant groups, or even that the values of racial integration and retention of a separate black American identity totally conflict, and we must choose between the two.

    Looping back for a second, there have been particular points where social liberals have attacked socially conservative nonwhites. I'm thinking, for example, about the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, where LGBT groups and their allies directly attacked homophobia in the black and Latino communities. But still, I agree that in general the attitude is that the liberals within those communities need to get their houses in order, and that wealthy white people should butt out of it.

    I’m thinking, for example, about the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, where LGBT groups and their allies directly attacked homophobia in the black and Latino communities.

    in fact, there was some straight up verbally aggressive racism at protests after that measure aimed at blacks there to protest prop 8. which gets to one weird thing about people: the disjunction btwn what they say and their inner ‘id’ so to speak. it’s easy to be anti-racist in an all white suburb, but most white libs don’t really embrace diversity in their own lives outside of particular periods (e.g., that period in your 20s before you settle down). also, i’ve had a few rare occasions in my life when white friends have become angry at me and blurted out racist insults. these were aberrations, but they suggest to me that social norms and signaling are sublimating a lot (i’ve talked to women who have experienced the same shocking outbursts from ‘feminist’ men in extremis).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    To be fair, it could be that some of these people are motivated to support anti-racist/anti-sexist policies in part because they are conscious they have aspects of this within themselves. Sort of like all of the religious conservatives who believe that without religion they would be leading a life of hedonistic depravity.

    Speaking personally, I don't think I've ever had these issues arise. But there are areas you could call me a hypocrite. Despite being a social egalitarian, I don't give money to charity, and am even irked when my college calls for money. I tell myself it's because I went to a public university and I sincerely believe that 100% of the funding for state universities should come from general taxation. But it might just be that my underlying personality isn't very generous, even though my politics are. Similarly, I think periodic social movements are essential to challenge the status quo and create real change. However, I'm actually a pretty introverted and non-confrontational guy, so unless a campaign needs someone to do back-end database work, I make a lousy activist. I don't see a conflict here myself - I simply recognize the need for something I'm not capable of doing - but someone could look at it and claim hypocrisy.
  31. Sean says:

    Re white walkers

    http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(16)30184-1
    The strongest genetic associations with perceived facial age were found for multiple SNPs in the MC1R gene (p < 1 × 10−7). This effect was enhanced for a compound heterozygosity marker constructed from four pre-selected functional MC1R SNPs (p = 2.69 × 10−12), which was replicated in 599 Dutch Europeans from the Leiden Longevity Study (p = 0.042) and in 1,173 Europeans of the TwinsUK Study (p = 3 × 10−3). Individuals carrying the homozygote MC1R risk haplotype looked on average up to 2 years older than non-carriers. This association was independent of age, sex, skin color, and sun damage (wrinkling, pigmented spots) and persisted through different sun-exposure levels. Hence, a role for MC1R in youthful looks independent of its known melanin synthesis function is suggested. Our study uncovers the first genetic evidence explaining why some people look older for their age and provides new leads for further investigating the biological basis of how old or young people look

    Read More
  32. @Razib Khan
    yeah, but not gotten far. have a hard time motivating myself to read fiction. i should though.

    On this one, we are relying on you. Do it for the team.

    Read More
  33. @Razib Khan
    I think it’s fair to say in general that the American left wing is more befuddled by conservative voters than it is enraged by them.

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0050092
    We investigated the moral stereotypes political liberals and conservatives have of themselves and each other. In reality, liberals endorse the individual-focused moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives do, and conservatives endorse the group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity more than liberals do. 2,212 U.S. participants filled out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire with their own answers, or as a typical liberal or conservative would answer. Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about “typical” liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup's morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.


    fwiw, i've had many friends over the years deny that i was conservative, because i'm a reasonable and nonstupid person. basically they think it's a semantic confusion and/or false consciousness. as they get to know me better they'll often come around....

    To be clear, I wasn’t saying that I didn’t think liberals could’t understand in an intellectual sense that conservatives were driven by loyalty, authority, and sanctity. I was saying that on an emotional level they can’t grok these values because they are totally alien to the left-liberal intellectual tradition, which has systematically suppressed them.

    There is the widespread belief, however, that the right wing elite (both the Republican leadership and major corporate donors) doesn’t really believe what they say, and are putting on an act regarding various issues in order to dupe the base. A few years back I read an enlightening article from Bruce Bartlett directly challenging this false belief among liberals, citing that he has many millionaire acquaintances who sincerely believe that Obama is a socialist not born in the United States. Still, in the minds of many liberals, anyone who is an intelligent conservative must be either a closet social liberal or a disingenuous Machiavellian sociopath. No one who has thought deeply could genuinely hold those thoughts after all.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i went to a CATO event (for social reasons) in 2003 where the oil trader i was sitting with didn't seem to understand why the bottom 50% of the population would want payment transfers from the 'productive' members of society.
  34. @Karl Zimmerman
    To be clear, I wasn't saying that I didn't think liberals could't understand in an intellectual sense that conservatives were driven by loyalty, authority, and sanctity. I was saying that on an emotional level they can't grok these values because they are totally alien to the left-liberal intellectual tradition, which has systematically suppressed them.

    There is the widespread belief, however, that the right wing elite (both the Republican leadership and major corporate donors) doesn't really believe what they say, and are putting on an act regarding various issues in order to dupe the base. A few years back I read an enlightening article from Bruce Bartlett directly challenging this false belief among liberals, citing that he has many millionaire acquaintances who sincerely believe that Obama is a socialist not born in the United States. Still, in the minds of many liberals, anyone who is an intelligent conservative must be either a closet social liberal or a disingenuous Machiavellian sociopath. No one who has thought deeply could genuinely hold those thoughts after all.

    i went to a CATO event (for social reasons) in 2003 where the oil trader i was sitting with didn’t seem to understand why the bottom 50% of the population would want payment transfers from the ‘productive’ members of society.

    Read More
  35. @Razib Khan
    I’m thinking, for example, about the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, where LGBT groups and their allies directly attacked homophobia in the black and Latino communities.

    in fact, there was some straight up verbally aggressive racism at protests after that measure aimed at blacks there to protest prop 8. which gets to one weird thing about people: the disjunction btwn what they say and their inner 'id' so to speak. it's easy to be anti-racist in an all white suburb, but most white libs don't really embrace diversity in their own lives outside of particular periods (e.g., that period in your 20s before you settle down). also, i've had a few rare occasions in my life when white friends have become angry at me and blurted out racist insults. these were aberrations, but they suggest to me that social norms and signaling are sublimating a lot (i've talked to women who have experienced the same shocking outbursts from 'feminist' men in extremis).

    To be fair, it could be that some of these people are motivated to support anti-racist/anti-sexist policies in part because they are conscious they have aspects of this within themselves. Sort of like all of the religious conservatives who believe that without religion they would be leading a life of hedonistic depravity.

    Speaking personally, I don’t think I’ve ever had these issues arise. But there are areas you could call me a hypocrite. Despite being a social egalitarian, I don’t give money to charity, and am even irked when my college calls for money. I tell myself it’s because I went to a public university and I sincerely believe that 100% of the funding for state universities should come from general taxation. But it might just be that my underlying personality isn’t very generous, even though my politics are. Similarly, I think periodic social movements are essential to challenge the status quo and create real change. However, I’m actually a pretty introverted and non-confrontational guy, so unless a campaign needs someone to do back-end database work, I make a lousy activist. I don’t see a conflict here myself – I simply recognize the need for something I’m not capable of doing – but someone could look at it and claim hypocrisy.

    Read More
  36. syonredux says:
    @Anonymous
    Razib,

    One thing I really wish I could know...

    Did the Persians of the Sassanid era look Europoid (with super-pale skin, blue eyes and, possibly, blonde hair)?

    Did the Persians of the Sassanid era look Europoid (with super-pale skin, blue eyes and, possibly, blonde hair)?

    Are you asking if most of them looked like Lithuanians? Clearly not. That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions. And a very small percentage even have have blond/light brown hair.

    Most Persians/Iranians, though, have complexions (and eye and hair coloring) that are in the Southern European/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern range.

    Here’s a gallery of facial composites that includes an “average” Iranian male and an “average” Iranian female

    https://pmsol3.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/world-of-facial-averages-middle-eastern-and-central-asian/

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions.

    but fair persians still retain persian features (and their genotypes are clear). this is similar to light skinned (or blonde!) south/west asians (e.g., nuristanis).
  37. TGGP says: • Website
    @German_reader
    Peter Frost doesn't really blog here anymore, due to concern about the legal situation in Canada...which is unfortunate. Personally I liked his articles, but I don't think it can be claimed they were disinterested science...they obviously did have a political agenda (one I broadly agree with).

    What are the issues with the “legal situation in Canada”?

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux
    "What are the issues with the “legal situation in Canada”?"


    Peter Frost:

    I made a decision to continue with my postings until the end of this month. If the situation doesn’t improve, I won’t continue in the new year.

    The legal environment in Canada has changed over the past few months, especially with Bill 59. It’s not just the $10,000 fine. I could also be put on a list of “terrorists,” which would make it hard for me to travel abroad, get my passport renewed, or do jobs that require RCMP clearance (yes, I’ve done that kind of work).


    In Canada, human rights commissions have become quasi-judicial bodies with police powers. Like the police, they prefer to go after “soft targets.” It’s like the police officer who hands out speeding tickets to little old ladies on Sunday morning, as opposed to going into a tough neighborhood.

    For our human rights commissions, a soft target is a blog that features long, rambling comments about “n[******],” “homos,” and “Jews, Jews, Jews.” That’s a slam-dunk prosecution.

    No one wants a court trial that may turn out badly for their side. In that case, the tables can be turned, especially if the prosecution is trying to get a conviction under a controversial law. This was the case with Philippe Rushton. After a while, he gained a certain immunity from prosecution because he was too articulate, too calm, and too scholarly. The Ontario premier and the Ontario Provincial Police tried to make him look like a nut case … and finally gave up.

    I don’t fear being prosecuted for stupid things I write. I can defend my beliefs in a courtroom, if need be. But I fear being prosecuted for stupid things that others write.
     
    http://www.lukeford.net/blog/?p=82172
    , @German_reader
    Peter Frost was concerned he could be prosecuted under some "hate speech" or "human rights" laws...according to him it was possible he could be held responsible for readers' comments (some of whom were rather extreme, especially in regards to antisemitism). Since he didn't have the power to moderate or delete comments, that seemed too risky to him. At least that's how I understood the situation.
  38. syonredux says:
    @TGGP
    What are the issues with the "legal situation in Canada"?

    “What are the issues with the “legal situation in Canada”?”

    Peter Frost:

    I made a decision to continue with my postings until the end of this month. If the situation doesn’t improve, I won’t continue in the new year.

    The legal environment in Canada has changed over the past few months, especially with Bill 59. It’s not just the $10,000 fine. I could also be put on a list of “terrorists,” which would make it hard for me to travel abroad, get my passport renewed, or do jobs that require RCMP clearance (yes, I’ve done that kind of work).

    In Canada, human rights commissions have become quasi-judicial bodies with police powers. Like the police, they prefer to go after “soft targets.” It’s like the police officer who hands out speeding tickets to little old ladies on Sunday morning, as opposed to going into a tough neighborhood.

    For our human rights commissions, a soft target is a blog that features long, rambling comments about “n[******],” “homos,” and “Jews, Jews, Jews.” That’s a slam-dunk prosecution.

    No one wants a court trial that may turn out badly for their side. In that case, the tables can be turned, especially if the prosecution is trying to get a conviction under a controversial law. This was the case with Philippe Rushton. After a while, he gained a certain immunity from prosecution because he was too articulate, too calm, and too scholarly. The Ontario premier and the Ontario Provincial Police tried to make him look like a nut case … and finally gave up.

    I don’t fear being prosecuted for stupid things I write. I can defend my beliefs in a courtroom, if need be. But I fear being prosecuted for stupid things that others write.

    http://www.lukeford.net/blog/?p=82172

    Read More
  39. Slon says:

    It’s easy to come up with he said/she said examples of both liberal and conservative over-generalizations, reductivism, condescension, whatever. I am a liberal living in the liberal bubble of Seattle, but I consume a wide range of media across the spectrum. While both sides engage in demagoguery (conservatives are racist warmongers, liberals hate success, feminists are ugly, conservatives are heartless, etc.), I see a difference in kind between the two sides. A consistent theme that runs through the Right’s rhetoric is the suspicion that the Left is somehow un- or even anti-American. There is the explicit identification of rural/small town regions as “real America” (can anyone imagine a liberal politician telling a crowd in NYC or SF how good it is to be back in real America? Lines like that are standard issue red meat for mainstream Republican politicians campaigning in Midwest or South.) There are dark intimations of treachery (from Rubio’s “Obama knows exactly what he is doing” dogwhistles to explicit accusatory rants of conservative talk shows and blogs.) There is the apocalyptic hysteria about standing on the brink of losing real America. I could go on and on. These are not fringe voices. These are common everyday tropes in the rhetoric of the conservative establishment. I don’t see this kind of delegitimizing framing of the opposition as “the Other” from the Left.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jokah Macpherson
    "This is not who we are."
    , @Matt_
    As a non-American, I have seen a lot of US *press* rhetoric about how multicultural migrant heavy urban communities are really what America is all about, and are therefore authentic in a way that White rural communities aren't. The real America is the urban melting pot, sort of idea. The idea that the US needs constant churn and turnover of new migrations in its cities, lest it lose its soul and special character, replete with the full gamut of conspiracy theories about what those right wing leaders from "flyover country" will do to this precious ideal, should they take power.

    I can't see it being mainstream for what a Liberal politician would use though, because it would divide their voters, at least some of whom appreciate some continuity, and would be bad for them. Certain members of the liberal press, of course they have a lot of fun with it, because they serve a more segmented marketplace. But, as I say, non-American, so limited value to this perspective and you'd have to run it by the right wing on the ground in the US.
    , @random observer
    Even 20 years ago I knew a guy born and raised in Missouri, who at the time could have been characterized as a 90s moderate Democrat with some hawkish tendencies in foreign policy, who nevertheless seemed to think of the South as a foreign country populated by racist knuckledraggers and not really America at all.

    There was a fairly widespread meme at the time [it may have been part of, related to, or just prior to the "F*** the South" meme of the 90s] suggesting that the South had contributed nothing to America. Even I as an outsider had the thought to bring up Washington, Jefferson, and the whole Virginia tradition. My associate and other Americans I then knew seemed to think that wasn't really "the South". I get that there are gradations of "South", whether in the 1850s or today, but I can't see any model for most of US history in which the South excludes Virginia. The original south, once with slaves and everything, reimagined as somehow not "The South"! Imagine that. And all this with a Arkansan liberal as the sitting President.

    So, yes, American liberals have previously embraced a model in which entire regions of America are not really American.

    YMMV, but to my mind the regular evocations of flyover country as a place in which racist losers cling bitterly to their religion and guns sufficiently externalizes those people, from the point of view of the cities of the coasts, as to imply they are not the "real America" of high-tech urban strivers, diversity, and belief in the proposition nation. I am somewhat conditioned to hear GOP types' comments about being "back in real America" in good humour, thinking it representative of the generations-old tradition of taking shots at places like New York. I can see where, in the current climate, many may take the idea more seriously and it might seem exclusionary and aggressive from the perspective of an urban liberal. But it doesn't sound to me half as menacing as the language coastal liberals use about the heartland.
  40. @TGGP
    What are the issues with the "legal situation in Canada"?

    Peter Frost was concerned he could be prosecuted under some “hate speech” or “human rights” laws…according to him it was possible he could be held responsible for readers’ comments (some of whom were rather extreme, especially in regards to antisemitism). Since he didn’t have the power to moderate or delete comments, that seemed too risky to him. At least that’s how I understood the situation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    to be clear, on *other* blogs on this website, not his own (where he could/can control content). and to be fair, i'm not too excited about some of the random stuff that i see get through mod, but i'm the most conservative re: comments policy in these parts i think. though i don't much read the comments on other blogs.
  41. @Slon
    It's easy to come up with he said/she said examples of both liberal and conservative over-generalizations, reductivism, condescension, whatever. I am a liberal living in the liberal bubble of Seattle, but I consume a wide range of media across the spectrum. While both sides engage in demagoguery (conservatives are racist warmongers, liberals hate success, feminists are ugly, conservatives are heartless, etc.), I see a difference in kind between the two sides. A consistent theme that runs through the Right's rhetoric is the suspicion that the Left is somehow un- or even anti-American. There is the explicit identification of rural/small town regions as "real America" (can anyone imagine a liberal politician telling a crowd in NYC or SF how good it is to be back in real America? Lines like that are standard issue red meat for mainstream Republican politicians campaigning in Midwest or South.) There are dark intimations of treachery (from Rubio's "Obama knows exactly what he is doing" dogwhistles to explicit accusatory rants of conservative talk shows and blogs.) There is the apocalyptic hysteria about standing on the brink of losing real America. I could go on and on. These are not fringe voices. These are common everyday tropes in the rhetoric of the conservative establishment. I don't see this kind of delegitimizing framing of the opposition as "the Other" from the Left.

    “This is not who we are.”

    Read More
  42. Matt_ says:
    @Slon
    It's easy to come up with he said/she said examples of both liberal and conservative over-generalizations, reductivism, condescension, whatever. I am a liberal living in the liberal bubble of Seattle, but I consume a wide range of media across the spectrum. While both sides engage in demagoguery (conservatives are racist warmongers, liberals hate success, feminists are ugly, conservatives are heartless, etc.), I see a difference in kind between the two sides. A consistent theme that runs through the Right's rhetoric is the suspicion that the Left is somehow un- or even anti-American. There is the explicit identification of rural/small town regions as "real America" (can anyone imagine a liberal politician telling a crowd in NYC or SF how good it is to be back in real America? Lines like that are standard issue red meat for mainstream Republican politicians campaigning in Midwest or South.) There are dark intimations of treachery (from Rubio's "Obama knows exactly what he is doing" dogwhistles to explicit accusatory rants of conservative talk shows and blogs.) There is the apocalyptic hysteria about standing on the brink of losing real America. I could go on and on. These are not fringe voices. These are common everyday tropes in the rhetoric of the conservative establishment. I don't see this kind of delegitimizing framing of the opposition as "the Other" from the Left.

    As a non-American, I have seen a lot of US *press* rhetoric about how multicultural migrant heavy urban communities are really what America is all about, and are therefore authentic in a way that White rural communities aren’t. The real America is the urban melting pot, sort of idea. The idea that the US needs constant churn and turnover of new migrations in its cities, lest it lose its soul and special character, replete with the full gamut of conspiracy theories about what those right wing leaders from “flyover country” will do to this precious ideal, should they take power.

    I can’t see it being mainstream for what a Liberal politician would use though, because it would divide their voters, at least some of whom appreciate some continuity, and would be bad for them. Certain members of the liberal press, of course they have a lot of fun with it, because they serve a more segmented marketplace. But, as I say, non-American, so limited value to this perspective and you’d have to run it by the right wing on the ground in the US.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Slon

    I have seen a lot of US *press* rhetoric about how multicultural migrant heavy urban communities are really what America is all about
     
    I've seen this done as an inclusive gesture to counteract the Right's identity politics demagoguery. To wit, the point is that real America is all these things: multicultural cities, farm country, rural South, Appalachia, Left Coast, etc. Liberal commentators do criticize the exclusionary language of the Right, but to call that itself exclusionary is a rhetorical sleight of hand, like calling opposition to prejudice prejudice. I am genuinely curious for you to show me a real example of mainstream liberal framing of White rural communities as inauthentically American.
  43. Tobus says:

    RE: Massive Decline in Poverty

    Interesting graph… what happened in 1970 that would cause such a dramatic reversal of the trend?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Slon
    Movement toward market-based economic reforms in Asia, mainly. Contra Razib, I don't recall any activist opposition to those reforms from the mainstream Left (although his broad-brush statement does look kinda ironic now in light of the subsequent discussion in the comments about overgeneralizing rhetoric...)
    , @Razib Khan
    the beginning of the end for third world socialism (a lot of it is china 1980 and later).
  44. ohwilleke says: • Website

    Leading Indo-Europeanist J.P. Mallory recently wrote a nice meaty article on the historical linguistics of the Tocharian language.

    http://sino-platonic.org/complete/spp259_tocharian_origins.pdf (open access).

    Read More
  45. Slon says:
    @Matt_
    As a non-American, I have seen a lot of US *press* rhetoric about how multicultural migrant heavy urban communities are really what America is all about, and are therefore authentic in a way that White rural communities aren't. The real America is the urban melting pot, sort of idea. The idea that the US needs constant churn and turnover of new migrations in its cities, lest it lose its soul and special character, replete with the full gamut of conspiracy theories about what those right wing leaders from "flyover country" will do to this precious ideal, should they take power.

    I can't see it being mainstream for what a Liberal politician would use though, because it would divide their voters, at least some of whom appreciate some continuity, and would be bad for them. Certain members of the liberal press, of course they have a lot of fun with it, because they serve a more segmented marketplace. But, as I say, non-American, so limited value to this perspective and you'd have to run it by the right wing on the ground in the US.

    I have seen a lot of US *press* rhetoric about how multicultural migrant heavy urban communities are really what America is all about

    I’ve seen this done as an inclusive gesture to counteract the Right’s identity politics demagoguery. To wit, the point is that real America is all these things: multicultural cities, farm country, rural South, Appalachia, Left Coast, etc. Liberal commentators do criticize the exclusionary language of the Right, but to call that itself exclusionary is a rhetorical sleight of hand, like calling opposition to prejudice prejudice. I am genuinely curious for you to show me a real example of mainstream liberal framing of White rural communities as inauthentically American.

    Read More
  46. Slon says:
    @Tobus
    RE: Massive Decline in Poverty

    Interesting graph... what happened in 1970 that would cause such a dramatic reversal of the trend?

    Movement toward market-based economic reforms in Asia, mainly. Contra Razib, I don’t recall any activist opposition to those reforms from the mainstream Left (although his broad-brush statement does look kinda ironic now in light of the subsequent discussion in the comments about overgeneralizing rhetoric…)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Contra Razib, I don’t recall any activist opposition to those reforms from the mainstream Left

    who do you mean mainstrean Left? lots of my anti-WTO friends from the late 90s were not excited about neoliberalism and 'disaster capitalism' etc. this gained little purchase among centrist liberals, but that's a different crowd altogether.
  47. jb says:
    @Razib Khan
    I am convinced that the underlying theology of the Lord of the Rings series is not as Catholic as some of my fellow Catholics claim.

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion. in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis' work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn't been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis' world wasn't nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don't think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).

    that being said, the men of the west in tolkien's work seem to follow a sort of 'noahide' code. they may not have been christian, but neither were they pagan, and some have asserted that the thinness of the religious texture of middle earth in comparison to language and other aspects may have had to do with with tolkien's strong catholic beliefs.

    I followed a Tolkien newsgroup for a while, and there was some discussion of material in Tolkien’s letters that isn’t well known to most readers. The impressions I came away with was that Tolkien’s Elves are basically idealized little Catholics. In particular, they are monogamous to the point where even the thought of straying is unheard of. By an early age (for them) they have found the one true love of their lives and reproduced, and after that is all taken care of they lose interest in sex (or rise above it, or something). All very high and noble, and IMO at least, very Catholic.

    When I first read LOTR as a teenager I noticed the absence of sex, which was very obvious compared to all the other science fiction and fantasy I was reading at the time. Frankly I would have been perfectly happy if Tolkien had thrown in a couple of naked Elf maidens, but clearly just that wasn’t his thing.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    basically you are saying that the elves are priests or monks? it could be that that is where he got that, but this sort of asceticism isn't limited to catholics in xtianity, or even to xtianity. also, a lot of western christian/catholic stuff explores human sinfulness and the elves don't exhibit much of this, except perhaps for the pride of the sons of feanor?

    here's some history
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf#Relationship_to_Christian_cosmologies

    , @PD Shaw
    I think one has to distinguish the high elves who "saw the light," and those that did not. In the Children of Hurin, Hurin is captured by Morgoth, who seeks to bend him to his will, but Hurin retorts that his ancestors had escaped him before, but now that we have looked on those that have seen the Light and spoken with Manwe, we have knowledge of you and we know that there are powers greater than you. Hurin knows not whether they will intercede to shield him from Morgoth, he knows they can.

    The High Elves are not missionaries, they have acted on a feud against Morgoth in transgression of the will of the Valor and killed kin in the process, thus igniting an intergenerational tale of woe befitting the sagas. They do not tell men that any higher power is concerned about them personally, just that some day they will chain Morgoth.

    But as Morgoth appears ready to resume torture, Hurin receives a revelation from his heart, not from the Elves:

    Hurin: "Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you."
    Morgoth: "For beyond the Circles of the World there is Nothing. But within them they shall not escape me, until they enter into Nothing."
    Hurin: "You lie."

    Hurin is a "virtuous pagan," who has received encouragement from the Holy Spirit. But his grim story unfolds without salvation, and interspersed with acts of great courage and tragedy that are the pagan's fate. Ultimately, this is a pre-Christian world and there are limits to how Catholic it can be.
  48. jb says:
    @Karl Zimmerman
    I've been online for twenty years now, and people still seem to think that when you comment on the internet, you're in a public square, when you're really shouting inside someone's house at their sufferance.

    That said, ever since you moved to Unz's website, the quality of comments has gone downhill. I'm sure you block the worst of it, but much of what even gets through moderation doesn't seem worth engaging, because it's clearly just a bunch of alt righters who want an echo chamber to rage about classes of people they do not like.

    Come to think of it, that seems to me to be one of the fundamental differences between the lowest common denominator discussions on the left and the right. The left's focus is usually on people in power - politicians, CEOs, lobbyists, etc. The rank-and-file supporters of right wing politics are often talked down to - considered rubes misled by those in power (which is true, but also true for those who vote for Democrats). But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn't super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises. In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people, including those who really have no effective political power to enact change (which honestly, is almost everyone on the left).

    As to Bernie, unfortunately I think you'd be let down if you knew more supporters. It is true he favors universalist solutions would help everyone, regardless of race or gender. It's also true that the Hillary campaign attacks his on SJW-ish grounds, and Hillary's own campaign is an ill-cobbled together mess of pandering to various factions without a coherent core message. But given Bernie's supporters skew young and very left wing, it's undoubtedly the case that there are more "SJW" supporters of Bernie than Hillary. Perhaps part of what this shows is while people like transparent social signalling within their peer networks, it comes across as crass when coming from politicians - that SJWism is really about the personal, not the political.

    If you think that leftists who hate conservatives as people are rare, try reading the comments in the New York Times for a while. A disturbingly high percentage of the commenters are just frothing at the mouth with bitter and open hatred for Republicans or “The Right.”

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  49. j mct says:
    @Brett
    I think broadly the explanation for the Others will be the same in the books as well as the show, although how it happened will be vastly different. People have suggested that the Others are the opposite of Dragons ("fire made flesh") before, which may be a more apt comparison now given one of the theories for the origins of dragons in the World of Ice and Fire book (the one coming from Septon Barth).

    There seems to be a shifting set of accusations against Bruenig. The principle person who claimed that he was the ringleader of harassment said in a recent post that it wasn't so much that he was deliberately egging people on to harassment, but rather that he had been told that his followers had a tendency to dog-pile with gender-based attacks and worse threats on women he was arguing with, and yet he did nothing about it and declaimed any sort of responsibility (and may have said they deserved it in one case, although since he deleted the tweets there's no proof). I'm divided on that - on the one hand, you can't really control your Twitter followers if some fraction of them are awful people. But on the other hand, if you know that the way you do an argument is going to put someone in serious danger and yet you do it anyways . . .

    I don't know. Despite the insistent claims from the anti-Bruenig folks that this isn't a demand for civility and self-censorship, it still feels like that's ultimately what they're asking for.


    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.
     
    The argument I've heard for it being "fundamentally catholic" is that the great sin that drives most of the evil in the setting is pride, and an unwillingness to submit before God's will. Melkor sets himself against Eru's will (and the will of his selected Valar and their domains), Sauron does so as well, the Noldori Elves do in the Silmarillion, etc.

    That scene with Melkor is pretty Christian, but it isn’t Catholic in the sense of being not Protestant. Milton wasn’t Catholic. He was really really English though.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    & even milton's 'war in heaven' took a lot of liberties and extended the source material. i think the analogy to milton is pretty obvious, but don't know if tolkein commented on it....
  50. Winthorp says:
    @Karl Zimmerman
    I've been online for twenty years now, and people still seem to think that when you comment on the internet, you're in a public square, when you're really shouting inside someone's house at their sufferance.

    That said, ever since you moved to Unz's website, the quality of comments has gone downhill. I'm sure you block the worst of it, but much of what even gets through moderation doesn't seem worth engaging, because it's clearly just a bunch of alt righters who want an echo chamber to rage about classes of people they do not like.

    Come to think of it, that seems to me to be one of the fundamental differences between the lowest common denominator discussions on the left and the right. The left's focus is usually on people in power - politicians, CEOs, lobbyists, etc. The rank-and-file supporters of right wing politics are often talked down to - considered rubes misled by those in power (which is true, but also true for those who vote for Democrats). But outright hatred of conservatives as people really isn't super common, and frequently attacked internally when it arises. In contrast, I find that people predisposed to right-wing politics tend to attack left wingers more as an entire class of people, including those who really have no effective political power to enact change (which honestly, is almost everyone on the left).

    As to Bernie, unfortunately I think you'd be let down if you knew more supporters. It is true he favors universalist solutions would help everyone, regardless of race or gender. It's also true that the Hillary campaign attacks his on SJW-ish grounds, and Hillary's own campaign is an ill-cobbled together mess of pandering to various factions without a coherent core message. But given Bernie's supporters skew young and very left wing, it's undoubtedly the case that there are more "SJW" supporters of Bernie than Hillary. Perhaps part of what this shows is while people like transparent social signalling within their peer networks, it comes across as crass when coming from politicians - that SJWism is really about the personal, not the political.

    Yes, the Left that mocks SJWs still shares most of their priors and are disposed to similar prejudices, e.g., the fraternity or cop caught up in the hate crime hoax may be innocent of this particular charge, but they probably did worse stuff and never got caught, so fuck em. But even if resistant to whole swathes of evidence, they do still believe in and utilize logic and evidence. You can meaningfully debate them in a way you can’t with a solipsist or latter-day red guards. Some of us even change our minds.

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  51. j mct says:
    @AG
    This study raises many questions about college admission and group privilege.


    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/opinion/sunday/professors-are-prejudiced-too.html?_r=0

    Professors Are Prejudiced, Too

    Professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities. We found the most severe bias in disciplines paying higher faculty salaries and at private universities. In a perverse twist of academic fate, our own discipline of business showed the most bias, with 87 percent of white males receiving a response compared with just 62 percent of all females and minorities combined.

    Surprisingly, several supposed advantages that some people believe women and minorities enjoy did not materialize in our data. For example: Were Asians favored, given the model minority stereotype they supposedly benefit from in academic contexts? No. In fact, Chinese students were the most discriminated-against group in our sample. Did reaching out to someone of the same gender or race — such as a black student emailing a black professor — reduce bias? No. We saw the same levels of bias in both same-race and same-gender faculty-student pairs that we saw in pairs not sharing a race or gender (the one exception was Chinese students writing to Chinese professors).

     
    Numerous factors are involved here. For white and Chinese professors, ethnic genetic interest (EGI) might explain their behavior. For other minority and women professors, their behavior is likely caused by learned helplessness (or self-hate) due to long term ideology/religion style indoctrination. For people following religion/ideology, all rationality is thrown out of window.

    This also explains that standard tests like SAT, GRE, even IQ test have better prediction about candidates success than subjective interviews. Human brains are not very good at predicting other human due to subjective bias (emotional bias). We all know emotion is product of primitive part of brain instead of objective neocortex. Our reptile part brain has impact. Emotional impulses often make people do stupid stuff.

    Thus, any evauluation or awards based on subjective voting are not very good indicators either. Voting is a political process which reflects populism, not truth. It is no surprise that people with average intelligence only can vote with their feeling instead of cold machine like objectivity. Even higher intelligent people have hard time escaping subjective bias toward something they like. Only Olympic game like open competition can yield something comparable.

    Only machine like objectivity can change the situation. Only artificial intelligence (AI) with computer algorithm can produce more objective findings.

    In case you might not have heard, there is a real sort of crisis going on in the social sciences in that some large percentage, as in north of half, (most?) empirical studies and or experiments in the social sciences are not replicable, as in they’re crap. Care to venture if this were done over one would get the same result?

    Read More
    • Replies: @AG
    I am fully aware that social science is full of shit.
    http://www.unz.com/comments/gnxp/when-science-gets-hard/
    I hope this finding is crap like you hope. Do you know any repudiating study?

    It is always advantage to be ideologue / religious with faith to deny anything you do not like. It is easier for some people to do so.
  52. sprfls says:

    ***spoilers*** re: White Walkers

    Here’s what I don’t fully buy. If the Children of the Forest have that level of technology/magic, they shouldn’t have ANY issues dealing with the First Men (if I recall correctly basically Bronze Age level humans with nothing special about them). I realize that the creation of the White Walkers was a novel experiment, and obviously they didn’t realize the consequences themselves, but still… If they can do that…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    they were always few in number. i think that explains most of it. also, a lot of their power is rooted in the trees. burn the trees, and diminish their power...
  53. @syonredux

    Did the Persians of the Sassanid era look Europoid (with super-pale skin, blue eyes and, possibly, blonde hair)?
     
    Are you asking if most of them looked like Lithuanians? Clearly not. That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions. And a very small percentage even have have blond/light brown hair.

    Most Persians/Iranians, though, have complexions (and eye and hair coloring) that are in the Southern European/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern range.

    Here's a gallery of facial composites that includes an "average" Iranian male and an "average" Iranian female

    https://pmsol3.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/world-of-facial-averages-middle-eastern-and-central-asian/

    That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions.

    but fair persians still retain persian features (and their genotypes are clear). this is similar to light skinned (or blonde!) south/west asians (e.g., nuristanis).

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions.

    but fair persians still retain persian features (and their genotypes are clear). this is similar to light skinned (or blonde!) south/west asians (e.g., nuristanis).
     
    Sure. I didn't mean to imply that Persians with Baltic-type complexions have Baltic features.
  54. @German_reader
    Peter Frost was concerned he could be prosecuted under some "hate speech" or "human rights" laws...according to him it was possible he could be held responsible for readers' comments (some of whom were rather extreme, especially in regards to antisemitism). Since he didn't have the power to moderate or delete comments, that seemed too risky to him. At least that's how I understood the situation.

    to be clear, on *other* blogs on this website, not his own (where he could/can control content). and to be fair, i’m not too excited about some of the random stuff that i see get through mod, but i’m the most conservative re: comments policy in these parts i think. though i don’t much read the comments on other blogs.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    IIRC, Unz took away Frost's power to moderate comments below his articles after Frost deleted one of Unz' comments.
  55. @Tobus
    RE: Massive Decline in Poverty

    Interesting graph... what happened in 1970 that would cause such a dramatic reversal of the trend?

    the beginning of the end for third world socialism (a lot of it is china 1980 and later).

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  56. @j mct
    That scene with Melkor is pretty Christian, but it isn't Catholic in the sense of being not Protestant. Milton wasn't Catholic. He was really really English though.

    & even milton’s ‘war in heaven’ took a lot of liberties and extended the source material. i think the analogy to milton is pretty obvious, but don’t know if tolkein commented on it….

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    • Replies: @j mct
    Per the Milton parallel, it's so obvious I'd think it wouldn't need to be mentioned, Milton for a guy like Tolkien, as in his education, class, and time, would be like footnoting 'May the Force be with You' in the present. I also think that was published posthumously too, and though lots of the Silmarillion is referenced in LOTR, but that part isn't.

    Also, Tolkien lifts other parts of his work almost directly from other sources, the magic ring that makes one invisible, and even the details of cup that Bilbo steals that set Smaug off, are lifted right out of Beowulf. There are probably myriad other borrowings that you have to be a real expert, which I am not but Tolkien certainly was, on old stories like Beowulf to actually notice.

    Lastly, per the "Christian" pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it's pretty obvious, doesn't loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner. Wagner was into German myth too, but he was into it in the opposite way, he wanted to dechristianize, or dejew as he would have put it, as much from it as he possibly could. His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren't based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I'm not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now), who's versions of the sagas date from before they were corrupted, per Wagner, by Christianity. I remember reading somewhere a synopsis of the differences between the same story in the Icelandic and Burgundian versions and those Burgundians have lots of stuff in them about incest, fratricide... as in every kind of cide you can think of, and lots lots more that isn't in the Icelandic versions, which aren't all that tame to begin with.

    I'm pretty sure there is a quote from him somewhere, when asked about the Ring, as is it a nuclear bomb or something, which he always said no to, responding in a sly 'you found me out' affirmative that the One Ring is the Ring of Nibeling, and that what he was trying to fix, in his small hobbit like way, what Wagner did to German mythology. That really fits too, but Wagner isn't really well known anymore, but he was a big big deal when Tolkien was a young man.
  57. @sprfls
    ***spoilers*** re: White Walkers

    Here's what I don't fully buy. If the Children of the Forest have that level of technology/magic, they shouldn't have ANY issues dealing with the First Men (if I recall correctly basically Bronze Age level humans with nothing special about them). I realize that the creation of the White Walkers was a novel experiment, and obviously they didn't realize the consequences themselves, but still... If they can do that...

    they were always few in number. i think that explains most of it. also, a lot of their power is rooted in the trees. burn the trees, and diminish their power…

    Read More
  58. @jb
    I followed a Tolkien newsgroup for a while, and there was some discussion of material in Tolkien's letters that isn't well known to most readers. The impressions I came away with was that Tolkien's Elves are basically idealized little Catholics. In particular, they are monogamous to the point where even the thought of straying is unheard of. By an early age (for them) they have found the one true love of their lives and reproduced, and after that is all taken care of they lose interest in sex (or rise above it, or something). All very high and noble, and IMO at least, very Catholic.

    When I first read LOTR as a teenager I noticed the absence of sex, which was very obvious compared to all the other science fiction and fantasy I was reading at the time. Frankly I would have been perfectly happy if Tolkien had thrown in a couple of naked Elf maidens, but clearly just that wasn't his thing.

    basically you are saying that the elves are priests or monks? it could be that that is where he got that, but this sort of asceticism isn’t limited to catholics in xtianity, or even to xtianity. also, a lot of western christian/catholic stuff explores human sinfulness and the elves don’t exhibit much of this, except perhaps for the pride of the sons of feanor?

    here’s some history

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf#Relationship_to_Christian_cosmologies

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    • Replies: @jb
    No, not priests or monks, but rather unfallen natural Catholics who naturally follow Catholic moral teachings without the need for redemption or the guidance of the Church. Hence their effortless lifetime monogamy (Catholicism does not merely condemn fornication and adultery, it also forbids divorce and remarriage). Hence the close connection between sexuality and procreation (artificial birth control violates natural law), and the disinclination to pursue sexual pleasure for its own sake. Hence their natural, unforced goodness. It's been a while, and Tolkien never said it explicitly in his letters, but the sense I came away with from the discussion was that the Elves were Tolkien's idealized vision of what mankind would have been without the Fall.

    None of this is in the books of course. Tolkien lived for a long time after LOTR was published, and it appears that he became more and more unhappy with the discordance between his world and Catholic teachings, and did what he could in his letters (to fans mostly) to retcon Middle Earth. For example, the fact that his Orcs were irredeemable bad began to trouble him, because it seemed to rule out free will and the possibility of redemption, contrary to Church teaching. Wasn't much he could do there of course, but there were other instances where he would try to reinterpret what he had written to make it less pagan and more Christian, specifically more Catholic. Unfortunately it's been too long (I got involved in the newsgroup in advance of the first LOTR movie), and I don't remember any more examples of this. They were there though.
    , @random observer
    Apologies for intervening in a conversation but two quick points come to mind in addition to what jb says in reply.

    1. I don't think the elves can be described as 'ascetics'. To be that, one has to have the urge and resist/transcend it. The elves, as jb notes, don't have to be sexual ascetics. Their natural behaviour just looks ascetic to a human. Also, they aren't necessarily ascetic at all in most other senses- they take great pleasure in aesthetics of many kinds, including their modes of dress and built environment, as well as in altering natural environments for aesthetic reasons.

    2. I don't know if Tolkien intended the elves to represent 'unfallen' man, as jb argues, or not. There would be problems with that, at least as applied to the elves of Middle Earth [as opposed to those who went to Aman and stayed there]. I always found the elves to embody the sin of pride that presumably Tolkien would expect an unfallen man not to have.

    The sons of Feanor represent the sin of pride to the nth degree, considering they and their heirs thought they could take on a [more or less] god in the form of Melkor, and they paid for their hubris with something that almost reached collective suicide [that sequence of events sounds like a Greek or Norse myth to me rather than a Christian lesson, but it does teach the problems associated with pride]. But all the remaining elves even into the Third Age seem to represent the sin of pride right to the end. They maintain a pretty high level of arrogance and condescension toward humans, whether resisting helping them or intervening on their behalf. On one hand, this attitude of superiority is perhaps justified by their superior abilities. On the other hand it is contradicted by what the elves are presumed to know about the true nature of the world and the relative place of elves and men in the grand design.

    Or to put a more positive spin on it, the elves of the Third Age are struggling to manage their own pride, to behave in accordance with their understanding of their own decline and the grand design of events, and to in effect play out their punishment for the decisions of the Noldor in the dim past.

    Not that that has to be a Catholic interpretation, or necessarily a Christian one. I could see it fitting into the cosmologies of the pre-Christian west, or of traditional India or China to the extent I am aware of these.
    , @notanon
    i'd say warrior-monk aesthetic rather than priest/monk - rangers similar

    (except it's combined with limited necessary reproduction)

    not unique to Catholicism or Christianity but definitely a thing - i wonder how universal?

    white blood cells / soldier ants
  59. @Slon
    Movement toward market-based economic reforms in Asia, mainly. Contra Razib, I don't recall any activist opposition to those reforms from the mainstream Left (although his broad-brush statement does look kinda ironic now in light of the subsequent discussion in the comments about overgeneralizing rhetoric...)

    Contra Razib, I don’t recall any activist opposition to those reforms from the mainstream Left

    who do you mean mainstrean Left? lots of my anti-WTO friends from the late 90s were not excited about neoliberalism and ‘disaster capitalism’ etc. this gained little purchase among centrist liberals, but that’s a different crowd altogether.

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    • Replies: @Slon
    You identify your "anti-WTO friends" with "the Left" really? Who I mean is pretty much every liberal economist, politician and public figure of the time of the reforms and since. Now, to be fair, I lived in Seattle during the WTO riots (and still live there,) and I and a lot of my liberal friends did feel some sense of exhilaration and sympathy with the protesters, even with the understanding that most of them were pretty much thugs. But I can tell you with certainty that this came from our frustration with the dominance of the absolutist neoliberal dogma at the time, especially among the cocktail set, and a sense that it needed to be countered. It was not because we were anti-market. To put it in a nutshell, every liberal I know, including a couple of self-proclaimed "socialists," believes the economy should be left to the markets, but those markets need to be structured and regulated via public policy to counter well-known market failures (monopoly and monopsony, externalities, asymmetric information, adverse selection, etc.) while guarding against regulatory failures (market distortion, regulatory capture, crony capitalism, etc.) and providing some redistribution and social safety nets. Not a trivial problem, but far from anti-market activism.
  60. syonredux says:
    @Razib Khan
    That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions.

    but fair persians still retain persian features (and their genotypes are clear). this is similar to light skinned (or blonde!) south/west asians (e.g., nuristanis).

    That being said, some Persians do have blue eyes and Baltic-type complexions.

    but fair persians still retain persian features (and their genotypes are clear). this is similar to light skinned (or blonde!) south/west asians (e.g., nuristanis).

    Sure. I didn’t mean to imply that Persians with Baltic-type complexions have Baltic features.

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  61. Shaikorth says:

    The Walker reveal does look awfully Martin.

    “Sam the Slayer!” he said, by way of greeting. “Are you sure you stabbed an Other, and not some child’s snow knight?”

    This isn’t starting well. “It was the dragonglass that killed it, my lord,” Sam explained feebly.
    (ASOS)

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  62. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Razib Khan
    to be clear, on *other* blogs on this website, not his own (where he could/can control content). and to be fair, i'm not too excited about some of the random stuff that i see get through mod, but i'm the most conservative re: comments policy in these parts i think. though i don't much read the comments on other blogs.

    IIRC, Unz took away Frost’s power to moderate comments below his articles after Frost deleted one of Unz’ comments.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    alright, did not know that. obviously comment control is important.
  63. jb says:
    @Razib Khan
    basically you are saying that the elves are priests or monks? it could be that that is where he got that, but this sort of asceticism isn't limited to catholics in xtianity, or even to xtianity. also, a lot of western christian/catholic stuff explores human sinfulness and the elves don't exhibit much of this, except perhaps for the pride of the sons of feanor?

    here's some history
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf#Relationship_to_Christian_cosmologies

    No, not priests or monks, but rather unfallen natural Catholics who naturally follow Catholic moral teachings without the need for redemption or the guidance of the Church. Hence their effortless lifetime monogamy (Catholicism does not merely condemn fornication and adultery, it also forbids divorce and remarriage). Hence the close connection between sexuality and procreation (artificial birth control violates natural law), and the disinclination to pursue sexual pleasure for its own sake. Hence their natural, unforced goodness. It’s been a while, and Tolkien never said it explicitly in his letters, but the sense I came away with from the discussion was that the Elves were Tolkien’s idealized vision of what mankind would have been without the Fall.

    None of this is in the books of course. Tolkien lived for a long time after LOTR was published, and it appears that he became more and more unhappy with the discordance between his world and Catholic teachings, and did what he could in his letters (to fans mostly) to retcon Middle Earth. For example, the fact that his Orcs were irredeemable bad began to trouble him, because it seemed to rule out free will and the possibility of redemption, contrary to Church teaching. Wasn’t much he could do there of course, but there were other instances where he would try to reinterpret what he had written to make it less pagan and more Christian, specifically more Catholic. Unfortunately it’s been too long (I got involved in the newsgroup in advance of the first LOTR movie), and I don’t remember any more examples of this. They were there though.

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  64. AG says:
    @j mct
    In case you might not have heard, there is a real sort of crisis going on in the social sciences in that some large percentage, as in north of half, (most?) empirical studies and or experiments in the social sciences are not replicable, as in they're crap. Care to venture if this were done over one would get the same result?

    I am fully aware that social science is full of shit.

    http://www.unz.com/comments/gnxp/when-science-gets-hard/

    I hope this finding is crap like you hope. Do you know any repudiating study?

    It is always advantage to be ideologue / religious with faith to deny anything you do not like. It is easier for some people to do so.

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  65. @Slon
    It's easy to come up with he said/she said examples of both liberal and conservative over-generalizations, reductivism, condescension, whatever. I am a liberal living in the liberal bubble of Seattle, but I consume a wide range of media across the spectrum. While both sides engage in demagoguery (conservatives are racist warmongers, liberals hate success, feminists are ugly, conservatives are heartless, etc.), I see a difference in kind between the two sides. A consistent theme that runs through the Right's rhetoric is the suspicion that the Left is somehow un- or even anti-American. There is the explicit identification of rural/small town regions as "real America" (can anyone imagine a liberal politician telling a crowd in NYC or SF how good it is to be back in real America? Lines like that are standard issue red meat for mainstream Republican politicians campaigning in Midwest or South.) There are dark intimations of treachery (from Rubio's "Obama knows exactly what he is doing" dogwhistles to explicit accusatory rants of conservative talk shows and blogs.) There is the apocalyptic hysteria about standing on the brink of losing real America. I could go on and on. These are not fringe voices. These are common everyday tropes in the rhetoric of the conservative establishment. I don't see this kind of delegitimizing framing of the opposition as "the Other" from the Left.

    Even 20 years ago I knew a guy born and raised in Missouri, who at the time could have been characterized as a 90s moderate Democrat with some hawkish tendencies in foreign policy, who nevertheless seemed to think of the South as a foreign country populated by racist knuckledraggers and not really America at all.

    There was a fairly widespread meme at the time [it may have been part of, related to, or just prior to the "F*** the South" meme of the 90s] suggesting that the South had contributed nothing to America. Even I as an outsider had the thought to bring up Washington, Jefferson, and the whole Virginia tradition. My associate and other Americans I then knew seemed to think that wasn’t really “the South”. I get that there are gradations of “South”, whether in the 1850s or today, but I can’t see any model for most of US history in which the South excludes Virginia. The original south, once with slaves and everything, reimagined as somehow not “The South”! Imagine that. And all this with a Arkansan liberal as the sitting President.

    So, yes, American liberals have previously embraced a model in which entire regions of America are not really American.

    YMMV, but to my mind the regular evocations of flyover country as a place in which racist losers cling bitterly to their religion and guns sufficiently externalizes those people, from the point of view of the cities of the coasts, as to imply they are not the “real America” of high-tech urban strivers, diversity, and belief in the proposition nation. I am somewhat conditioned to hear GOP types’ comments about being “back in real America” in good humour, thinking it representative of the generations-old tradition of taking shots at places like New York. I can see where, in the current climate, many may take the idea more seriously and it might seem exclusionary and aggressive from the perspective of an urban liberal. But it doesn’t sound to me half as menacing as the language coastal liberals use about the heartland.

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    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    FWIW. you can find "liberal hunting permit" signs being sold by vendors at conservative events. There is absolutely nothing like this on the left - except maybe the extreme fringes of anarchism. These signs are generally argued to be a joke, but I fail to see what is funny about murdering ones political rivals. Unless they die in Loony Tunes fashion I mean.
  66. @Razib Khan
    basically you are saying that the elves are priests or monks? it could be that that is where he got that, but this sort of asceticism isn't limited to catholics in xtianity, or even to xtianity. also, a lot of western christian/catholic stuff explores human sinfulness and the elves don't exhibit much of this, except perhaps for the pride of the sons of feanor?

    here's some history
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf#Relationship_to_Christian_cosmologies

    Apologies for intervening in a conversation but two quick points come to mind in addition to what jb says in reply.

    1. I don’t think the elves can be described as ‘ascetics’. To be that, one has to have the urge and resist/transcend it. The elves, as jb notes, don’t have to be sexual ascetics. Their natural behaviour just looks ascetic to a human. Also, they aren’t necessarily ascetic at all in most other senses- they take great pleasure in aesthetics of many kinds, including their modes of dress and built environment, as well as in altering natural environments for aesthetic reasons.

    2. I don’t know if Tolkien intended the elves to represent ‘unfallen’ man, as jb argues, or not. There would be problems with that, at least as applied to the elves of Middle Earth [as opposed to those who went to Aman and stayed there]. I always found the elves to embody the sin of pride that presumably Tolkien would expect an unfallen man not to have.

    The sons of Feanor represent the sin of pride to the nth degree, considering they and their heirs thought they could take on a [more or less] god in the form of Melkor, and they paid for their hubris with something that almost reached collective suicide [that sequence of events sounds like a Greek or Norse myth to me rather than a Christian lesson, but it does teach the problems associated with pride]. But all the remaining elves even into the Third Age seem to represent the sin of pride right to the end. They maintain a pretty high level of arrogance and condescension toward humans, whether resisting helping them or intervening on their behalf. On one hand, this attitude of superiority is perhaps justified by their superior abilities. On the other hand it is contradicted by what the elves are presumed to know about the true nature of the world and the relative place of elves and men in the grand design.

    Or to put a more positive spin on it, the elves of the Third Age are struggling to manage their own pride, to behave in accordance with their understanding of their own decline and the grand design of events, and to in effect play out their punishment for the decisions of the Noldor in the dim past.

    Not that that has to be a Catholic interpretation, or necessarily a Christian one. I could see it fitting into the cosmologies of the pre-Christian west, or of traditional India or China to the extent I am aware of these.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    so here is what JRRT said:
    "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," he wrote, "unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion", to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism" (Letter 142).


    i think the crux is what 'fundamentally' means. i think the religious part is hard to deny in any comprehensible understanding of what religion means to people. the work is predicated on the existence and operation of supernatural forces which intervene in the lives of mortals. but christian? catholic? i see the christian essence as easier to defend. the catholic? more tendentious. it can clearly have a catholic interpretation. but can it have others? i suspect so. that is, the distinctive, necessary, elements of the JRRT mythos are not indispensably catholic. obviously JRRT transcended the germanic folk tradition from which he drew, supplementing with other elements (e.g., high elvish was modeled on finnish), as well as imparting his own particularities (e.g., he admitted frankly that hobbits were patterned on english country gentlemen). catholicism certainly plays a role in this. but the same role as christianity in lewis' narnia? no. or, catholicism in brideshead revisited? no.

    if he'd left the "fundamentally" part off i'd probably raise my eyebrows less. JRRT was a devout catholic, and as he stated it can't help but suffuse his work.
  67. @Anonymous
    IIRC, Unz took away Frost's power to moderate comments below his articles after Frost deleted one of Unz' comments.

    alright, did not know that. obviously comment control is important.

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  68. @random observer
    Apologies for intervening in a conversation but two quick points come to mind in addition to what jb says in reply.

    1. I don't think the elves can be described as 'ascetics'. To be that, one has to have the urge and resist/transcend it. The elves, as jb notes, don't have to be sexual ascetics. Their natural behaviour just looks ascetic to a human. Also, they aren't necessarily ascetic at all in most other senses- they take great pleasure in aesthetics of many kinds, including their modes of dress and built environment, as well as in altering natural environments for aesthetic reasons.

    2. I don't know if Tolkien intended the elves to represent 'unfallen' man, as jb argues, or not. There would be problems with that, at least as applied to the elves of Middle Earth [as opposed to those who went to Aman and stayed there]. I always found the elves to embody the sin of pride that presumably Tolkien would expect an unfallen man not to have.

    The sons of Feanor represent the sin of pride to the nth degree, considering they and their heirs thought they could take on a [more or less] god in the form of Melkor, and they paid for their hubris with something that almost reached collective suicide [that sequence of events sounds like a Greek or Norse myth to me rather than a Christian lesson, but it does teach the problems associated with pride]. But all the remaining elves even into the Third Age seem to represent the sin of pride right to the end. They maintain a pretty high level of arrogance and condescension toward humans, whether resisting helping them or intervening on their behalf. On one hand, this attitude of superiority is perhaps justified by their superior abilities. On the other hand it is contradicted by what the elves are presumed to know about the true nature of the world and the relative place of elves and men in the grand design.

    Or to put a more positive spin on it, the elves of the Third Age are struggling to manage their own pride, to behave in accordance with their understanding of their own decline and the grand design of events, and to in effect play out their punishment for the decisions of the Noldor in the dim past.

    Not that that has to be a Catholic interpretation, or necessarily a Christian one. I could see it fitting into the cosmologies of the pre-Christian west, or of traditional India or China to the extent I am aware of these.

    so here is what JRRT said:
    “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work,” he wrote, “unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like “religion”, to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism” (Letter 142).

    i think the crux is what ‘fundamentally’ means. i think the religious part is hard to deny in any comprehensible understanding of what religion means to people. the work is predicated on the existence and operation of supernatural forces which intervene in the lives of mortals. but christian? catholic? i see the christian essence as easier to defend. the catholic? more tendentious. it can clearly have a catholic interpretation. but can it have others? i suspect so. that is, the distinctive, necessary, elements of the JRRT mythos are not indispensably catholic. obviously JRRT transcended the germanic folk tradition from which he drew, supplementing with other elements (e.g., high elvish was modeled on finnish), as well as imparting his own particularities (e.g., he admitted frankly that hobbits were patterned on english country gentlemen). catholicism certainly plays a role in this. but the same role as christianity in lewis’ narnia? no. or, catholicism in brideshead revisited? no.

    if he’d left the “fundamentally” part off i’d probably raise my eyebrows less. JRRT was a devout catholic, and as he stated it can’t help but suffuse his work.

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    • Replies: @random observer
    I think I can agree with all of that. One leaps to the term "Catholic" mainly from Tolkien's own known faith and his own words, but "Christian" with openings for other western and non-western interpretations is probably more accurate as a description of the works themselves.

    I don't know if this is the case for any other commenters, but I also find "Catholic" a useful if inaccurate catch-all because the kind of imagery and narrative Tolkien created makes me think of almost any kind of Christianity from Roman to Greek to Middle Eastern to Anglican [insofar as it mimics and proclaims to be part of the Catholic tradition], except for contemporary American Protestantism.

    This may be considered odd, insofar as Tolkien's world without a church, hierarchy or doctrines arguably would generate only individualized and unmediated religious experience that most closely matches some American traditions. Yet somehow I can't get away from the idea that describing the cosmology in Tolkien as "Christian" without any other distinction, in today's American religious environment, would convey the wrong sensibilities. Then again, there's a weak case to be made that anyone in Middle Earth after the First Age has been "left behind".
    , @PD Shaw
    I think Tolkien also said he had set out to create an English mythos, befitting as those possessed by the Celts, Greeks, Northmen and Finns. I think that is the internal conflict, he wants to create a pagan mythology but will not contradict his Catholicism. The most Catholic thing to me is the angelic hierarchy, but one could simply conclude that he assigned Greek mythology to angels. Its not very Protestant at least.
  69. Slon says:
    @Razib Khan
    Contra Razib, I don’t recall any activist opposition to those reforms from the mainstream Left

    who do you mean mainstrean Left? lots of my anti-WTO friends from the late 90s were not excited about neoliberalism and 'disaster capitalism' etc. this gained little purchase among centrist liberals, but that's a different crowd altogether.

    You identify your “anti-WTO friends” with “the Left” really? Who I mean is pretty much every liberal economist, politician and public figure of the time of the reforms and since. Now, to be fair, I lived in Seattle during the WTO riots (and still live there,) and I and a lot of my liberal friends did feel some sense of exhilaration and sympathy with the protesters, even with the understanding that most of them were pretty much thugs. But I can tell you with certainty that this came from our frustration with the dominance of the absolutist neoliberal dogma at the time, especially among the cocktail set, and a sense that it needed to be countered. It was not because we were anti-market. To put it in a nutshell, every liberal I know, including a couple of self-proclaimed “socialists,” believes the economy should be left to the markets, but those markets need to be structured and regulated via public policy to counter well-known market failures (monopoly and monopsony, externalities, asymmetric information, adverse selection, etc.) while guarding against regulatory failures (market distortion, regulatory capture, crony capitalism, etc.) and providing some redistribution and social safety nets. Not a trivial problem, but far from anti-market activism.

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  70. @Razib Khan
    so here is what JRRT said:
    "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," he wrote, "unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion", to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism" (Letter 142).


    i think the crux is what 'fundamentally' means. i think the religious part is hard to deny in any comprehensible understanding of what religion means to people. the work is predicated on the existence and operation of supernatural forces which intervene in the lives of mortals. but christian? catholic? i see the christian essence as easier to defend. the catholic? more tendentious. it can clearly have a catholic interpretation. but can it have others? i suspect so. that is, the distinctive, necessary, elements of the JRRT mythos are not indispensably catholic. obviously JRRT transcended the germanic folk tradition from which he drew, supplementing with other elements (e.g., high elvish was modeled on finnish), as well as imparting his own particularities (e.g., he admitted frankly that hobbits were patterned on english country gentlemen). catholicism certainly plays a role in this. but the same role as christianity in lewis' narnia? no. or, catholicism in brideshead revisited? no.

    if he'd left the "fundamentally" part off i'd probably raise my eyebrows less. JRRT was a devout catholic, and as he stated it can't help but suffuse his work.

    I think I can agree with all of that. One leaps to the term “Catholic” mainly from Tolkien’s own known faith and his own words, but “Christian” with openings for other western and non-western interpretations is probably more accurate as a description of the works themselves.

    I don’t know if this is the case for any other commenters, but I also find “Catholic” a useful if inaccurate catch-all because the kind of imagery and narrative Tolkien created makes me think of almost any kind of Christianity from Roman to Greek to Middle Eastern to Anglican [insofar as it mimics and proclaims to be part of the Catholic tradition], except for contemporary American Protestantism.

    This may be considered odd, insofar as Tolkien’s world without a church, hierarchy or doctrines arguably would generate only individualized and unmediated religious experience that most closely matches some American traditions. Yet somehow I can’t get away from the idea that describing the cosmology in Tolkien as “Christian” without any other distinction, in today’s American religious environment, would convey the wrong sensibilities. Then again, there’s a weak case to be made that anyone in Middle Earth after the First Age has been “left behind”.

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  71. notanon says:
    @Razib Khan
    basically you are saying that the elves are priests or monks? it could be that that is where he got that, but this sort of asceticism isn't limited to catholics in xtianity, or even to xtianity. also, a lot of western christian/catholic stuff explores human sinfulness and the elves don't exhibit much of this, except perhaps for the pride of the sons of feanor?

    here's some history
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf#Relationship_to_Christian_cosmologies

    i’d say warrior-monk aesthetic rather than priest/monk – rangers similar

    (except it’s combined with limited necessary reproduction)

    not unique to Catholicism or Christianity but definitely a thing – i wonder how universal?

    white blood cells / soldier ants

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  72. PD Shaw says:
    @jb
    I followed a Tolkien newsgroup for a while, and there was some discussion of material in Tolkien's letters that isn't well known to most readers. The impressions I came away with was that Tolkien's Elves are basically idealized little Catholics. In particular, they are monogamous to the point where even the thought of straying is unheard of. By an early age (for them) they have found the one true love of their lives and reproduced, and after that is all taken care of they lose interest in sex (or rise above it, or something). All very high and noble, and IMO at least, very Catholic.

    When I first read LOTR as a teenager I noticed the absence of sex, which was very obvious compared to all the other science fiction and fantasy I was reading at the time. Frankly I would have been perfectly happy if Tolkien had thrown in a couple of naked Elf maidens, but clearly just that wasn't his thing.

    I think one has to distinguish the high elves who “saw the light,” and those that did not. In the Children of Hurin, Hurin is captured by Morgoth, who seeks to bend him to his will, but Hurin retorts that his ancestors had escaped him before, but now that we have looked on those that have seen the Light and spoken with Manwe, we have knowledge of you and we know that there are powers greater than you. Hurin knows not whether they will intercede to shield him from Morgoth, he knows they can.

    The High Elves are not missionaries, they have acted on a feud against Morgoth in transgression of the will of the Valor and killed kin in the process, thus igniting an intergenerational tale of woe befitting the sagas. They do not tell men that any higher power is concerned about them personally, just that some day they will chain Morgoth.

    But as Morgoth appears ready to resume torture, Hurin receives a revelation from his heart, not from the Elves:

    Hurin: “Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you.”
    Morgoth: “For beyond the Circles of the World there is Nothing. But within them they shall not escape me, until they enter into Nothing.”
    Hurin: “You lie.”

    Hurin is a “virtuous pagan,” who has received encouragement from the Holy Spirit. But his grim story unfolds without salvation, and interspersed with acts of great courage and tragedy that are the pagan’s fate. Ultimately, this is a pre-Christian world and there are limits to how Catholic it can be.

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  73. PD Shaw says:
    @Razib Khan
    so here is what JRRT said:
    "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," he wrote, "unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion", to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism" (Letter 142).


    i think the crux is what 'fundamentally' means. i think the religious part is hard to deny in any comprehensible understanding of what religion means to people. the work is predicated on the existence and operation of supernatural forces which intervene in the lives of mortals. but christian? catholic? i see the christian essence as easier to defend. the catholic? more tendentious. it can clearly have a catholic interpretation. but can it have others? i suspect so. that is, the distinctive, necessary, elements of the JRRT mythos are not indispensably catholic. obviously JRRT transcended the germanic folk tradition from which he drew, supplementing with other elements (e.g., high elvish was modeled on finnish), as well as imparting his own particularities (e.g., he admitted frankly that hobbits were patterned on english country gentlemen). catholicism certainly plays a role in this. but the same role as christianity in lewis' narnia? no. or, catholicism in brideshead revisited? no.

    if he'd left the "fundamentally" part off i'd probably raise my eyebrows less. JRRT was a devout catholic, and as he stated it can't help but suffuse his work.

    I think Tolkien also said he had set out to create an English mythos, befitting as those possessed by the Celts, Greeks, Northmen and Finns. I think that is the internal conflict, he wants to create a pagan mythology but will not contradict his Catholicism. The most Catholic thing to me is the angelic hierarchy, but one could simply conclude that he assigned Greek mythology to angels. Its not very Protestant at least.

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    • Replies: @syonredux

    I think Tolkien also said he had set out to create an English mythos,
     
    Indeed. That's one of the reasons why he eschewed the easy solution of using the Arthurian corpus as a starting point. That would have meant a British mythos, and Tolkien very much wanted to fashion a properly English legendarium.
  74. @random observer
    Even 20 years ago I knew a guy born and raised in Missouri, who at the time could have been characterized as a 90s moderate Democrat with some hawkish tendencies in foreign policy, who nevertheless seemed to think of the South as a foreign country populated by racist knuckledraggers and not really America at all.

    There was a fairly widespread meme at the time [it may have been part of, related to, or just prior to the "F*** the South" meme of the 90s] suggesting that the South had contributed nothing to America. Even I as an outsider had the thought to bring up Washington, Jefferson, and the whole Virginia tradition. My associate and other Americans I then knew seemed to think that wasn't really "the South". I get that there are gradations of "South", whether in the 1850s or today, but I can't see any model for most of US history in which the South excludes Virginia. The original south, once with slaves and everything, reimagined as somehow not "The South"! Imagine that. And all this with a Arkansan liberal as the sitting President.

    So, yes, American liberals have previously embraced a model in which entire regions of America are not really American.

    YMMV, but to my mind the regular evocations of flyover country as a place in which racist losers cling bitterly to their religion and guns sufficiently externalizes those people, from the point of view of the cities of the coasts, as to imply they are not the "real America" of high-tech urban strivers, diversity, and belief in the proposition nation. I am somewhat conditioned to hear GOP types' comments about being "back in real America" in good humour, thinking it representative of the generations-old tradition of taking shots at places like New York. I can see where, in the current climate, many may take the idea more seriously and it might seem exclusionary and aggressive from the perspective of an urban liberal. But it doesn't sound to me half as menacing as the language coastal liberals use about the heartland.

    FWIW. you can find “liberal hunting permit” signs being sold by vendors at conservative events. There is absolutely nothing like this on the left – except maybe the extreme fringes of anarchism. These signs are generally argued to be a joke, but I fail to see what is funny about murdering ones political rivals. Unless they die in Loony Tunes fashion I mean.

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  75. syonredux says:
    @PD Shaw
    I think Tolkien also said he had set out to create an English mythos, befitting as those possessed by the Celts, Greeks, Northmen and Finns. I think that is the internal conflict, he wants to create a pagan mythology but will not contradict his Catholicism. The most Catholic thing to me is the angelic hierarchy, but one could simply conclude that he assigned Greek mythology to angels. Its not very Protestant at least.

    I think Tolkien also said he had set out to create an English mythos,

    Indeed. That’s one of the reasons why he eschewed the easy solution of using the Arthurian corpus as a starting point. That would have meant a British mythos, and Tolkien very much wanted to fashion a properly English legendarium.

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  76. Twinkie says:
    @Razib Khan
    your comments aren't stupid. though you are obstinate on this point ;-) you keep trying to enjoin more christian charity on me, but i'd have to be xtian first!

    Mr. Khan, I appreciate that you seem to have read my comment in the spirit in which it was written.

    you keep trying to enjoin more christian charity on me, but i’d have to be xtian first!

    While you becoming a Christian would certainly be very welcome, I do not think that is necessary for you to be more generous toward “the stupid.”

    Surely at least a part of the motivation for running a blog such as this is pedagogical. I think education, by its very nature, requires charity and kindness from the intellectual superior to those upon whom the former seeks to impart edification.

    And as an added bonus, being nice makes your more popular.

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  77. Twinkie says:
    @Razib Khan
    I am convinced that the underlying theology of the Lord of the Rings series is not as Catholic as some of my fellow Catholics claim.

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion. in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis' work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn't been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis' world wasn't nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don't think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).

    that being said, the men of the west in tolkien's work seem to follow a sort of 'noahide' code. they may not have been christian, but neither were they pagan, and some have asserted that the thinness of the religious texture of middle earth in comparison to language and other aspects may have had to do with with tolkien's strong catholic beliefs.

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.

    Yes. For me, the most strikingly non-Catholic part of Tolkien’s writing is his determinism that strikes me as quite akin to the Calvinist theology of predestination. Where is free will? Are Orcs always fated to be evil? Where are dissident Orcs, for example? In Catholic theology, all men (or sentient beings, as the case might be in fantasy) are theoretically capable of being saved. All have free will and choice. No one is condemned by fate to be evil.

    in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis’ work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn’t been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis’ world wasn’t nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don’t think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).

    Indeed C. S. Lewis’ writing is replete with Christian allegory. And I suspect that’s why it is less popular – they are obviously Christian parables rather than, as you put it so aptly, richly-imagined new worlds. I always found Lewis’ work a bit boring – preaching to the choir, as it were. But his writing can be quite useful for those considering conversion or have converted recently.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    re: orcs. in tolkein's world only elves and humans were created directly by god:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_Il%C3%BAvatar

    dwarves were imperfect imitations by one of the ainur, while other sentient creatures were abominations wrought by melkor and his successors.

    , @PD Shaw
    Tolkien believed in monsters. Orcs are monsters, as are the dragons, balrogs, giant spiders, trolls and others that are both sentient, but ultimately evil.
  78. @Twinkie

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.
     
    Yes. For me, the most strikingly non-Catholic part of Tolkien's writing is his determinism that strikes me as quite akin to the Calvinist theology of predestination. Where is free will? Are Orcs always fated to be evil? Where are dissident Orcs, for example? In Catholic theology, all men (or sentient beings, as the case might be in fantasy) are theoretically capable of being saved. All have free will and choice. No one is condemned by fate to be evil.

    in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis’ work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn’t been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis’ world wasn’t nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don’t think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).
     
    Indeed C. S. Lewis' writing is replete with Christian allegory. And I suspect that's why it is less popular - they are obviously Christian parables rather than, as you put it so aptly, richly-imagined new worlds. I always found Lewis' work a bit boring - preaching to the choir, as it were. But his writing can be quite useful for those considering conversion or have converted recently.

    re: orcs. in tolkein’s world only elves and humans were created directly by god:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_Il%C3%BAvatar

    dwarves were imperfect imitations by one of the ainur, while other sentient creatures were abominations wrought by melkor and his successors.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    re: orcs. in tolkein’s world only elves and humans were created directly by god
     
    Yes, I realize this. Orcs are supposedly Elves corrupted by Melthor. That still seems very deterministic - is there no chance of redemption for those who are corrupted by evil? That's not Catholic at all.

    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.
  79. ohwilleke says: • Website

    Almost all global poverty decline attributable to the chart is due to China, whose economic liberalization few liberals would quarrel with. Countries with purportedly more free market based economies like India and Nigeria and Brazil made very little contribution to the overall global absolute poverty rate.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Countries with purportedly more free market based economies like India and Nigeria and Brazil made very little contribution to the overall global absolute poverty rate.

    baseless caricature (google brazil 'miracle' of the 2000s, driven in part by commodity boom) and misrepresentation (india was a socialist democracy for most of the post-independence 20th century).
  80. j mct says:
    @Razib Khan
    & even milton's 'war in heaven' took a lot of liberties and extended the source material. i think the analogy to milton is pretty obvious, but don't know if tolkein commented on it....

    Per the Milton parallel, it’s so obvious I’d think it wouldn’t need to be mentioned, Milton for a guy like Tolkien, as in his education, class, and time, would be like footnoting ‘May the Force be with You’ in the present. I also think that was published posthumously too, and though lots of the Silmarillion is referenced in LOTR, but that part isn’t.

    Also, Tolkien lifts other parts of his work almost directly from other sources, the magic ring that makes one invisible, and even the details of cup that Bilbo steals that set Smaug off, are lifted right out of Beowulf. There are probably myriad other borrowings that you have to be a real expert, which I am not but Tolkien certainly was, on old stories like Beowulf to actually notice.

    Lastly, per the “Christian” pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it’s pretty obvious, doesn’t loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner. Wagner was into German myth too, but he was into it in the opposite way, he wanted to dechristianize, or dejew as he would have put it, as much from it as he possibly could. His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren’t based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I’m not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now), who’s versions of the sagas date from before they were corrupted, per Wagner, by Christianity. I remember reading somewhere a synopsis of the differences between the same story in the Icelandic and Burgundian versions and those Burgundians have lots of stuff in them about incest, fratricide… as in every kind of cide you can think of, and lots lots more that isn’t in the Icelandic versions, which aren’t all that tame to begin with.

    I’m pretty sure there is a quote from him somewhere, when asked about the Ring, as is it a nuclear bomb or something, which he always said no to, responding in a sly ‘you found me out’ affirmative that the One Ring is the Ring of Nibeling, and that what he was trying to fix, in his small hobbit like way, what Wagner did to German mythology. That really fits too, but Wagner isn’t really well known anymore, but he was a big big deal when Tolkien was a young man.

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    • Replies: @syonredux

    Lastly, per the “Christian” pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it’s pretty obvious, doesn’t loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner.
     
    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner's influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.

    His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren’t based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I’m not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now),
     
    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    RE: Burgundians,

    The fall of the Burgundians in AD 437 forms the nucleus of the Nibelungenlied. Of course, legends being quite ahistorical in character, lots of other stuff is inserted (Sigurd/Siegfried, Attila, Theodoric the Great, etc)


    RE: Wagner,

    Has his star sunk so low? I'm pretty sure that if you asked someone to name great opera composers, he would be in the top five.And he's ranked at number four in Murray's list of giants in the Western music category in Human Accomplishment:

    Figure Index score
    Ludwig van Beethoven 100
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 100
    Johann Sebastian Bach 87
    Richard Wagner 80
    Joseph Haydn 56
    Georg Friedrich Händel 46
    Igor Stravinsky 45
    Claude Debussy 45
    Franz Liszt 45
    Franz Schubert 44
    Robert Schumann 42
    Hector Berlioz 41
    Arnold Schoenberg 39
    Johannes Brahms 35
    Frédéric Chopin 32
    Claudio Monteverdi 31
    Giuseppe Verdi 30
    Felix Mendelssohn 30
    Carl Maria von Weber 27
    Christoph Willibald Gluck 26

     

  81. PD Shaw says:
    @Twinkie

    as you probably know tolkien famously claimed it was fundamentally catholic, but many people are skeptical of the depth of this assertion.
     
    Yes. For me, the most strikingly non-Catholic part of Tolkien's writing is his determinism that strikes me as quite akin to the Calvinist theology of predestination. Where is free will? Are Orcs always fated to be evil? Where are dissident Orcs, for example? In Catholic theology, all men (or sentient beings, as the case might be in fantasy) are theoretically capable of being saved. All have free will and choice. No one is condemned by fate to be evil.

    in contrast, a lot of c. s. lewis’ work was arguably fundamentally christian. but over the long haul lewis hasn’t been nearly as popular (i think though that lewis’ world wasn’t nearly as richly imagined, so unlike some i don’t think the thicker christian flavor was differentiated them).
     
    Indeed C. S. Lewis' writing is replete with Christian allegory. And I suspect that's why it is less popular - they are obviously Christian parables rather than, as you put it so aptly, richly-imagined new worlds. I always found Lewis' work a bit boring - preaching to the choir, as it were. But his writing can be quite useful for those considering conversion or have converted recently.

    Tolkien believed in monsters. Orcs are monsters, as are the dragons, balrogs, giant spiders, trolls and others that are both sentient, but ultimately evil.

    Read More
  82. syonredux says:
    @j mct
    Per the Milton parallel, it's so obvious I'd think it wouldn't need to be mentioned, Milton for a guy like Tolkien, as in his education, class, and time, would be like footnoting 'May the Force be with You' in the present. I also think that was published posthumously too, and though lots of the Silmarillion is referenced in LOTR, but that part isn't.

    Also, Tolkien lifts other parts of his work almost directly from other sources, the magic ring that makes one invisible, and even the details of cup that Bilbo steals that set Smaug off, are lifted right out of Beowulf. There are probably myriad other borrowings that you have to be a real expert, which I am not but Tolkien certainly was, on old stories like Beowulf to actually notice.

    Lastly, per the "Christian" pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it's pretty obvious, doesn't loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner. Wagner was into German myth too, but he was into it in the opposite way, he wanted to dechristianize, or dejew as he would have put it, as much from it as he possibly could. His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren't based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I'm not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now), who's versions of the sagas date from before they were corrupted, per Wagner, by Christianity. I remember reading somewhere a synopsis of the differences between the same story in the Icelandic and Burgundian versions and those Burgundians have lots of stuff in them about incest, fratricide... as in every kind of cide you can think of, and lots lots more that isn't in the Icelandic versions, which aren't all that tame to begin with.

    I'm pretty sure there is a quote from him somewhere, when asked about the Ring, as is it a nuclear bomb or something, which he always said no to, responding in a sly 'you found me out' affirmative that the One Ring is the Ring of Nibeling, and that what he was trying to fix, in his small hobbit like way, what Wagner did to German mythology. That really fits too, but Wagner isn't really well known anymore, but he was a big big deal when Tolkien was a young man.

    Lastly, per the “Christian” pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it’s pretty obvious, doesn’t loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner.

    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner’s influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.

    His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren’t based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I’m not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now),

    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    RE: Burgundians,

    The fall of the Burgundians in AD 437 forms the nucleus of the Nibelungenlied. Of course, legends being quite ahistorical in character, lots of other stuff is inserted (Sigurd/Siegfried, Attila, Theodoric the Great, etc)

    RE: Wagner,

    Has his star sunk so low? I’m pretty sure that if you asked someone to name great opera composers, he would be in the top five.And he’s ranked at number four in Murray’s list of giants in the Western music category in Human Accomplishment:

    Figure Index score
    Ludwig van Beethoven 100
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 100
    Johann Sebastian Bach 87
    Richard Wagner 80
    Joseph Haydn 56
    Georg Friedrich Händel 46
    Igor Stravinsky 45
    Claude Debussy 45
    Franz Liszt 45
    Franz Schubert 44
    Robert Schumann 42
    Hector Berlioz 41
    Arnold Schoenberg 39
    Johannes Brahms 35
    Frédéric Chopin 32
    Claudio Monteverdi 31
    Giuseppe Verdi 30
    Felix Mendelssohn 30
    Carl Maria von Weber 27
    Christoph Willibald Gluck 26

    Read More
    • Replies: @j mct
    I'd say that Wagner's music qua his music is still a big deal, I'd agree with you about that, but in his day and up to WWII I'd guess, Wagner was way more than a composer, he was a big foot cultural thinker, in the sense that he was influential, especially about 'Germanness'. That part was wended in with his operas too, but that part of Wagner isn't really thought about anymore, and perhaps in order to like his music in the present, one has to forget about it, especially if one is Jewish. They still do the Ring cycle at the Met in NYC most years, but I'd bet though the crowd knows the music, it doesn't know the whole part of the 'myth', and what Wagner wanted his audience to think of it. Per Wagner, the story was just as important, and in his day, people thought of his work that way.
    , @jb
    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    Your memory serves your right. I recently read a translation of The Nibelungenlied, and according to the Introduction:

    It is through Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle that most non-medievalists now know of the Nibelungenlied. Ironically, Wagner's operas are derived not for the most part from the MHG [Middle High German] lay, but from the Old Icelandic Völsunga Saga, which Wagner read in von der Hagen's translation of 1815.
     
    I have to say that I found The Nibelungenlied rather tedious. There was enormous emphasis on the fabulous clothing the lords and ladies wore, and the fabulous parties they threw for each other, the like of which had not been seen in all the world since at least three pages ago. But the story itself just didn't engage me much. I've also read a bit from the Norse sagas, and found them rather more interesting.
    , @reiner Tor

    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner’s influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.
     
    I read that the idea that the One Ring changes behavior came from Wagner. The ring doesn't just make you powerful (as in the old sagas), but it also has a lot of power over you.

    I'm not familiar with Beowulf or other sagas, so I cannot really tell if that was really Wagner's original idea.
  83. j mct says:
    @syonredux

    Lastly, per the “Christian” pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it’s pretty obvious, doesn’t loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner.
     
    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner's influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.

    His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren’t based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I’m not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now),
     
    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    RE: Burgundians,

    The fall of the Burgundians in AD 437 forms the nucleus of the Nibelungenlied. Of course, legends being quite ahistorical in character, lots of other stuff is inserted (Sigurd/Siegfried, Attila, Theodoric the Great, etc)


    RE: Wagner,

    Has his star sunk so low? I'm pretty sure that if you asked someone to name great opera composers, he would be in the top five.And he's ranked at number four in Murray's list of giants in the Western music category in Human Accomplishment:

    Figure Index score
    Ludwig van Beethoven 100
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 100
    Johann Sebastian Bach 87
    Richard Wagner 80
    Joseph Haydn 56
    Georg Friedrich Händel 46
    Igor Stravinsky 45
    Claude Debussy 45
    Franz Liszt 45
    Franz Schubert 44
    Robert Schumann 42
    Hector Berlioz 41
    Arnold Schoenberg 39
    Johannes Brahms 35
    Frédéric Chopin 32
    Claudio Monteverdi 31
    Giuseppe Verdi 30
    Felix Mendelssohn 30
    Carl Maria von Weber 27
    Christoph Willibald Gluck 26

     

    I’d say that Wagner’s music qua his music is still a big deal, I’d agree with you about that, but in his day and up to WWII I’d guess, Wagner was way more than a composer, he was a big foot cultural thinker, in the sense that he was influential, especially about ‘Germanness’. That part was wended in with his operas too, but that part of Wagner isn’t really thought about anymore, and perhaps in order to like his music in the present, one has to forget about it, especially if one is Jewish. They still do the Ring cycle at the Met in NYC most years, but I’d bet though the crowd knows the music, it doesn’t know the whole part of the ‘myth’, and what Wagner wanted his audience to think of it. Per Wagner, the story was just as important, and in his day, people thought of his work that way.

    Read More
  84. Tolkien had a Catholic education and he was a genius but Shakespeare too had a Catholic education and was a genius, same goes for Joyce and Agatha Christie and Waugh. None of them came close to adequately understanding what they were taught! God allows miracles but does not , objectively speaking, allow the miracle of divine revelation through art. (Yes you can understand much about the world from reading about Middle Earth but the major part of your learning – Tolkien, to his credit, insisted on this in his letters – is not the art of Tolkien it is what you have learned through your own decisions – based on your own prayers or those who prayed for you – to not be, for example, un-virtuous and inattentive in the common ways). Even the Bible only directly makes sense to very few people, with respect to verbal communications most people get their understanding of the Lord through honest teaching from other people whom they admire and respect. Please stop judging Christians by the low standards of Christian writers! It is like judging Newton by a dopey Bill Gates interview or like judging Einstein by the relativistic and sort-of-timely wisecracks of some smart card-sharping dude at a casino in a James Bond movie. Of course the “orcs” are an aesthetic failure and of course the “proud nostalgia of the elves” is a likable but phony sorority girl/fraternity guy plot-line construct that does not really fool anybody. Don’t look at what the artist did without looking at what the artist was looking at, don’t listen to what the artist said without listening to what the artist was trying to hear, et cetera …

    Read More
  85. Twinkie says:
    @Razib Khan
    re: orcs. in tolkein's world only elves and humans were created directly by god:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_Il%C3%BAvatar

    dwarves were imperfect imitations by one of the ainur, while other sentient creatures were abominations wrought by melkor and his successors.

    re: orcs. in tolkein’s world only elves and humans were created directly by god

    Yes, I realize this. Orcs are supposedly Elves corrupted by Melthor. That still seems very deterministic – is there no chance of redemption for those who are corrupted by evil? That’s not Catholic at all.

    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.


    it is primal, volkisch. at odds with universalist religious/philosophy ethos, where even the lowest are redeemed. in a fashion LotR is almost bronze age in its sensibility. pre-axial.

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day. though 'men' were children of eru, the easterlings and southrons were invariably the the tools of morgoth or sauron. the edain were clearly NW european archetypes, and exceptional among men in the first age in hewing to the elves.
    , @PD Shaw

    Orcs are supposedly Elves corrupted by Melthor.
     
    The orc species descended from Elves under the main theory espoused by Tolkien, no individual Orc encountered in these books was ever an elf. They are like the descendants of Cain mentioned in Beowulf, monsters sprung forth from a person.

    Gollum was a monster who was once a person, and here we see the role of Tolkien's Christian beliefs. Gollum chooses to kill a friend for a pretty object, but when Frodo is given the chance to kill Gollum to secure his own safety, he chooses an act of mercy, which permitted Gollum to guide them to Mordor, destroy the ring and save Frodo. In Tolkien's world there are always supernatural forces at work either magnifying acts of charity in sometimes unexpected ways or magnifying the consequences of sin.
  86. @ohwilleke
    Almost all global poverty decline attributable to the chart is due to China, whose economic liberalization few liberals would quarrel with. Countries with purportedly more free market based economies like India and Nigeria and Brazil made very little contribution to the overall global absolute poverty rate.

    Countries with purportedly more free market based economies like India and Nigeria and Brazil made very little contribution to the overall global absolute poverty rate.

    baseless caricature (google brazil ‘miracle’ of the 2000s, driven in part by commodity boom) and misrepresentation (india was a socialist democracy for most of the post-independence 20th century).

    Read More
  87. @Twinkie

    re: orcs. in tolkein’s world only elves and humans were created directly by god
     
    Yes, I realize this. Orcs are supposedly Elves corrupted by Melthor. That still seems very deterministic - is there no chance of redemption for those who are corrupted by evil? That's not Catholic at all.

    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.

    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.

    it is primal, volkisch. at odds with universalist religious/philosophy ethos, where even the lowest are redeemed. in a fashion LotR is almost bronze age in its sensibility. pre-axial.

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day. though ‘men’ were children of eru, the easterlings and southrons were invariably the the tools of morgoth or sauron. the edain were clearly NW european archetypes, and exceptional among men in the first age in hewing to the elves.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day.
     
    When German publishers wanted to put out an edition of The Hobbit, they sent a letter to Tolkien asking for proof of his "Aryan" descent. His response is worth quoting:

    Dear Sirs,

    Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

    Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.

    I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and

    remain yours faithfully,

    J. R. R. Tolkien
     
    http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/03/i-have-no-ancestors-of-that-gifted.html
    , @syonredux

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day.
     
    According to current PC standards, holding the " conventional racial views" of his era does make Tolkien a racist.At least that's how it works in Lit departments nowadays....
  88. syonredux says:
    @Razib Khan
    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.


    it is primal, volkisch. at odds with universalist religious/philosophy ethos, where even the lowest are redeemed. in a fashion LotR is almost bronze age in its sensibility. pre-axial.

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day. though 'men' were children of eru, the easterlings and southrons were invariably the the tools of morgoth or sauron. the edain were clearly NW european archetypes, and exceptional among men in the first age in hewing to the elves.

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day.

    When German publishers wanted to put out an edition of The Hobbit, they sent a letter to Tolkien asking for proof of his “Aryan” descent. His response is worth quoting:

    Dear Sirs,

    Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

    Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.

    I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and

    remain yours faithfully,

    J. R. R. Tolkien

    http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/03/i-have-no-ancestors-of-that-gifted.html

    Read More
  89. syonredux says:
    @Razib Khan
    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.


    it is primal, volkisch. at odds with universalist religious/philosophy ethos, where even the lowest are redeemed. in a fashion LotR is almost bronze age in its sensibility. pre-axial.

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day. though 'men' were children of eru, the easterlings and southrons were invariably the the tools of morgoth or sauron. the edain were clearly NW european archetypes, and exceptional among men in the first age in hewing to the elves.

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day.

    According to current PC standards, holding the ” conventional racial views” of his era does make Tolkien a racist.At least that’s how it works in Lit departments nowadays….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i think non-PC mainstream people would also probably say he was racist. mores have shifted a lot. i don't hold it against him, and i probably am not one to care too much anyway.

    anyway, i only bring it up to suggest it would be natural for him to depict non-european peoples as amorphous threatening hordes. his family lived in s. african when he was very young for a stretch and he flourished during the high tide of white geopolitical supremacy.

  90. @syonredux

    also, JRRT was not racist (in fact, he was anti-nazi), but he had conventional racial views for his day.
     
    According to current PC standards, holding the " conventional racial views" of his era does make Tolkien a racist.At least that's how it works in Lit departments nowadays....

    i think non-PC mainstream people would also probably say he was racist. mores have shifted a lot. i don’t hold it against him, and i probably am not one to care too much anyway.

    anyway, i only bring it up to suggest it would be natural for him to depict non-european peoples as amorphous threatening hordes. his family lived in s. african when he was very young for a stretch and he flourished during the high tide of white geopolitical supremacy.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    anyway, i only bring it up to suggest it would be natural for him to depict non-european peoples as amorphous threatening hordes.
     
    Tolkien's work always struck me as more than a little Nordicist.

    I do think Tolkien was a racist, but I also do not hold that against him. We can't judge people of another time and place by contemporary American standards. Heck, if I were to keep my distance from all racists, I'd have had to start with my own parents!
  91. jb says:
    @syonredux

    Lastly, per the “Christian” pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it’s pretty obvious, doesn’t loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner.
     
    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner's influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.

    His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren’t based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I’m not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now),
     
    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    RE: Burgundians,

    The fall of the Burgundians in AD 437 forms the nucleus of the Nibelungenlied. Of course, legends being quite ahistorical in character, lots of other stuff is inserted (Sigurd/Siegfried, Attila, Theodoric the Great, etc)


    RE: Wagner,

    Has his star sunk so low? I'm pretty sure that if you asked someone to name great opera composers, he would be in the top five.And he's ranked at number four in Murray's list of giants in the Western music category in Human Accomplishment:

    Figure Index score
    Ludwig van Beethoven 100
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 100
    Johann Sebastian Bach 87
    Richard Wagner 80
    Joseph Haydn 56
    Georg Friedrich Händel 46
    Igor Stravinsky 45
    Claude Debussy 45
    Franz Liszt 45
    Franz Schubert 44
    Robert Schumann 42
    Hector Berlioz 41
    Arnold Schoenberg 39
    Johannes Brahms 35
    Frédéric Chopin 32
    Claudio Monteverdi 31
    Giuseppe Verdi 30
    Felix Mendelssohn 30
    Carl Maria von Weber 27
    Christoph Willibald Gluck 26

     

    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    Your memory serves your right. I recently read a translation of The Nibelungenlied, and according to the Introduction:

    It is through Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle that most non-medievalists now know of the Nibelungenlied. Ironically, Wagner’s operas are derived not for the most part from the MHG [Middle High German] lay, but from the Old Icelandic Völsunga Saga, which Wagner read in von der Hagen’s translation of 1815.

    I have to say that I found The Nibelungenlied rather tedious. There was enormous emphasis on the fabulous clothing the lords and ladies wore, and the fabulous parties they threw for each other, the like of which had not been seen in all the world since at least three pages ago. But the story itself just didn’t engage me much. I’ve also read a bit from the Norse sagas, and found them rather more interesting.

    Read More
    • Replies: @notanon

    I’ve also read a bit from the Norse sagas, and found them rather more interesting.
     
    soap opera with swords

    (not a criticism)
  92. PD Shaw says:
    @Twinkie

    re: orcs. in tolkein’s world only elves and humans were created directly by god
     
    Yes, I realize this. Orcs are supposedly Elves corrupted by Melthor. That still seems very deterministic - is there no chance of redemption for those who are corrupted by evil? That's not Catholic at all.

    Indeed, the very existence of naturally evil subhumans in the mythology strikes me as utterly un-Catholic.

    Orcs are supposedly Elves corrupted by Melthor.

    The orc species descended from Elves under the main theory espoused by Tolkien, no individual Orc encountered in these books was ever an elf. They are like the descendants of Cain mentioned in Beowulf, monsters sprung forth from a person.

    Gollum was a monster who was once a person, and here we see the role of Tolkien’s Christian beliefs. Gollum chooses to kill a friend for a pretty object, but when Frodo is given the chance to kill Gollum to secure his own safety, he chooses an act of mercy, which permitted Gollum to guide them to Mordor, destroy the ring and save Frodo. In Tolkien’s world there are always supernatural forces at work either magnifying acts of charity in sometimes unexpected ways or magnifying the consequences of sin.

    Read More
  93. notanon says:
    @jb
    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    Your memory serves your right. I recently read a translation of The Nibelungenlied, and according to the Introduction:

    It is through Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle that most non-medievalists now know of the Nibelungenlied. Ironically, Wagner's operas are derived not for the most part from the MHG [Middle High German] lay, but from the Old Icelandic Völsunga Saga, which Wagner read in von der Hagen's translation of 1815.
     
    I have to say that I found The Nibelungenlied rather tedious. There was enormous emphasis on the fabulous clothing the lords and ladies wore, and the fabulous parties they threw for each other, the like of which had not been seen in all the world since at least three pages ago. But the story itself just didn't engage me much. I've also read a bit from the Norse sagas, and found them rather more interesting.

    I’ve also read a bit from the Norse sagas, and found them rather more interesting.

    soap opera with swords

    (not a criticism)

    Read More
  94. Twinkie says:
    @Razib Khan
    i think non-PC mainstream people would also probably say he was racist. mores have shifted a lot. i don't hold it against him, and i probably am not one to care too much anyway.

    anyway, i only bring it up to suggest it would be natural for him to depict non-european peoples as amorphous threatening hordes. his family lived in s. african when he was very young for a stretch and he flourished during the high tide of white geopolitical supremacy.

    anyway, i only bring it up to suggest it would be natural for him to depict non-european peoples as amorphous threatening hordes.

    Tolkien’s work always struck me as more than a little Nordicist.

    I do think Tolkien was a racist, but I also do not hold that against him. We can’t judge people of another time and place by contemporary American standards. Heck, if I were to keep my distance from all racists, I’d have had to start with my own parents!

    Read More
  95. Maus says:

    Just curious Razib, do you consider Herbert’s Dune works (which have a fairly well-developed religious aspect) to be sci-fi or fantasy? I favor the latter, preferring the spice and the Fremen to the axlotl tank and the Bene Tleilax.

    Read More
  96. @syonredux

    Lastly, per the “Christian” pagan myth stuff, Tolkien was trying to do that, but the impetus, when you realize it it’s pretty obvious, doesn’t loom large culturally anymore, and that would be Richard Wagner.
     
    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner's influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.

    His operas as in the Ring cycle, aren’t based on those wimpy Icelandic versions of the Norse Sagas, he found some really old versions, from the Burgundians I think (I’m not sure about that, but why start googling before I post now),
     
    Actually, if memory serves, Wagner tended to prefer the Norse versions ( Völsunga saga, etc) to the Nibelungenlied.

    RE: Burgundians,

    The fall of the Burgundians in AD 437 forms the nucleus of the Nibelungenlied. Of course, legends being quite ahistorical in character, lots of other stuff is inserted (Sigurd/Siegfried, Attila, Theodoric the Great, etc)


    RE: Wagner,

    Has his star sunk so low? I'm pretty sure that if you asked someone to name great opera composers, he would be in the top five.And he's ranked at number four in Murray's list of giants in the Western music category in Human Accomplishment:

    Figure Index score
    Ludwig van Beethoven 100
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 100
    Johann Sebastian Bach 87
    Richard Wagner 80
    Joseph Haydn 56
    Georg Friedrich Händel 46
    Igor Stravinsky 45
    Claude Debussy 45
    Franz Liszt 45
    Franz Schubert 44
    Robert Schumann 42
    Hector Berlioz 41
    Arnold Schoenberg 39
    Johannes Brahms 35
    Frédéric Chopin 32
    Claudio Monteverdi 31
    Giuseppe Verdi 30
    Felix Mendelssohn 30
    Carl Maria von Weber 27
    Christoph Willibald Gluck 26

     

    Tolkien always attempted to downplay/deny Wagner’s influence on his work, but no one really believes him on that point.

    I read that the idea that the One Ring changes behavior came from Wagner. The ring doesn’t just make you powerful (as in the old sagas), but it also has a lot of power over you.

    I’m not familiar with Beowulf or other sagas, so I cannot really tell if that was really Wagner’s original idea.

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