I assume many of you are familiar with the NYT’s (rumor has it it’s Cade Metz) insistence/threat on doxing Scott Alexander in an upcoming article on the Slate Star Codex/LessWrong rationalist community.
As a result, Scott Alexander has just deleted his blog [threads at /r/slatestarcodex, /r/TheMotte; see also Steve Sailer’s roundup on The Unz Review]. He says it is likely to stay deleted unless the NYT goes back on the doxing threat.
Needless to say, this is very sad – the SCS community is one of the biggest “coffee salon” (high IQ, garrulous) societies on the Internet, hosting some of the most sophisticated discussions possible on nerdy topics from political theory to AI risk away from the ideological strictures of the media/academic establishment. This is enabled by Scott Alexander’s consistent adherence to the principles of classical liberalism, which has attracted a diverse range of political outlooks broadly ranging from Socialism and Social Democracy to Neo-Reaction, with 7% even identifying as Alt Right. Following Scott’s own schema, we may classify this heterodox community as a “Gray Tribe”, in contradistinction to the “Blue Tribe” (e.g. driving Priuses, blank slatism, #BLM cult) and “Red Tribe” (e.g. AGW denial, country music, #MAGA cult) that define the great mass of normies/NPCs. This space is also ~90% white and ~90% male, which may well have served as a major additional source of subconscious ressentiment.
Coupled with his skeptical views towards idpol (from both Left and Right) and high focus on conflict-avoidance, this has made Scott Alexander a target to psychopathic SJWs. Unfortunately, this is a proclivity that Scott himself very likely de facto indulged, rendering a soft ban on HBD discussions on his blog and spinning off more politically controversial discussions to the /r/TheMotte subreddit.
It is my dour suspicion that the message was received that he was an easy mark, hence the bullying now coming from the NYT’s pulpits. As I said, these people are psychopaths. Give them an inch and they will take a mile.
This brings us to another issue, is Scott’s maximalist response (“No, you can’t cancel me! I cancel myself!”) optimal?
On the plus side, I suppose, he is taking the initiative and preempting what may well be more of a hit piece than the largely positive depiction that Scott Alexander at least publicly supposes it will be (“by all indications, this was just going to be a nice piece saying I got some things about coronavirus right early on“). This channels the fury of his not inconsiderable and highly erudite following against the NYT – there have already been strong statements of support from Steven Pinker, Tyler Cowen, and some other heavy hitters.
Tragedy in the blogosphere: One of the best is being taken down. Scott Alexander (not his real name) explains: NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog | Slate Star Codex https://t.co/TKI4fjUSpV
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) June 23, 2020
This raises the probability that they cancel the dox, though perhaps not by that much, if the pessimistic takes that it is a hit job that has already been decided upon are correct.
FWIW, the Metaculus prediction market already has a question on whether the NYT is going to dox Scott Alexander by July 8. (As of the time of writing it stands at 40%).
On the minus side, so far, Scott has “punished” his own people more than anybody else. And it’s not clear how he expects to “win” either way. If the dox goes ahead, he’d have ended up “canceling” his own blog, which the SJW outrage mob wanted to do anyway; meanwhile, backtracking on the decision would be bad optics and a further display of weakness (if still the superior choice – after all, we certainly don’t want what is an immense store of value to simply vanish). Even in the good scenario that the dox is canceled, Scott will still look like a bit of a histrionic.
Regardless of how it panned out, this apotheosis of a socially liberal Jewish psychiatrist with a fondness for deli sandwiches potentially getting unpersoned from handshakeworthy society contains an extra element of irony in that it fulfills a prediction that Scott Alexander made on the eve of Trump’s election victory:
One more warning for conservatives who still aren’t convinced. If the next generation is radicalized by Trump being a bad president, they’re not just going to lean left. They’re going to lean regressive, totalitarian, super-social-justice left.
Everyone has already constructed the narrative: Trump is the anti-PC, anti-social-justice candidate. If he wins, he’s going to be the anti-PC, anti-social-justice President. And he will fail. First of all, because he doesn’t really show much sign of knowing what he’s doing. Second of all, because all presidents fail in a sense – 80% of Americans consistently believe the country is headed the wrong direction and the president is the natural fall guy for this trend. And third of all, because even if by some miracle Trump avoids the first two failure modes, the media will say he failed and people will believe them. And when the anti-PC, anti-social-justice President fails, the reaction will be a giant “we told you so” from the social justice movement, and a giant shift of all the disillusioned young people right into their fold.
Trump is all set to be the biggest gift to the social justice movement in history. They thrive on claims of persecution, claims that they’re the ones fighting a stupid hateful regressive culture that controls everything. And people think that bringing their straw man to life and putting him in the Oval Office is going to help?
I am skeptical that this can be ascribed to Trump – the seeds of the Great Awokening predate him.
Nonetheless, this makes it no less true that, as Scott Alexander himself might say, the Gray Lady ensures there is no country for the Gray Tribesman in the America of the Current Year.