Open Thread, 12/24/2017


Well, Merry Christmas Eve!

I’ve been rereading Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Recommended. A little different now that I’ve been involved in start-ups.

I would say that a lot of it is a pretty straightforward application of stuff you’ll encounter in economics and economic history to Silicon Valley (e.g., economic growth through technology vs. Smithian growth through globalization).

Haven’t had time to work on the South Asian Genotype Project much since I’ve burned a lot of hours on the margin moving websites. I’ll get back to it in the next few days.

Just a reminder, two days now to get $80 off Helix products (say early hours of December 26th), including Neanderthal, Metabolism and Regional Ancestry.

A friend asked about which podcasts I listen to. Here are the ones I listen to habitually:

In Our Time. I’ve been listening to this podcast for 10 years now. The Glenn Show on bloggingheads.tv. Probably listen to 75% of these discussions. Planet Money and Tides of History.

Secular Jihadists. One of the cohosts pointed out on the last episode that Stalin and Mao killed more people than Hitler. Oh, and that white people are the “least racist.” We live in a predictable world, and this podcast always surprises me with the originality of the hosts (though I demur from their New Atheism).

Chap Trap House. I don’t really get it, but the bro-banter is pretty amusing to me.

Stuff You Missed In History Class.

Politics Podcast from FiveThirtyEight.

Also, my podcast with Spencer Wells is going well (if downloads are any measure). We have some stuff coming up on Neanderthals (two episodes), as well as the Aryan invasion of India. You can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play too (Spotify hasn’t gotten back to me).

I’ll be taking some time off from this weblog and my day job spending some time with my kids the week after Christmas. I’ll probably post stuff if I really have to, but otherwise might be a little quieter….

17 thoughts on “Open Thread, 12/24/2017

  1. Hey Razib, Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I looked up “The Insight” and “Razib Khan” on Apple’s podcast app and your podcast doesn’t show up though more than one interview with you does. Thanks for the years of intellectual stimulation and good luck with your business ventures.

  2. Surprising? “that Stalin and Mao killed more people than Hitler. Oh, and that white people are the “least racist.”” As surprising as people saying Hitler was kind of like Napoleon. Facts without the most important context do indeed sound surprising, if superficial. Such statements are hardly rare at the moment? Everyone on the internet seems to be into them.

    Merry Christmas though! 🙂

  3. As surprising as people saying Hitler was kind of like Napoleon.

    who the fuck says that? except net-nazis. i assume you aren’t comparing ex-muslim activists to net-nazis.

  4. As surprising as people saying Hitler was kind of like Napoleon

    Both were doomed by the Russian winter?

    Happy New Year, y’all!

  5. Hi Razib, yes “net nazis” make that particular statement which I picked as a striking example of a type of meme rhetoric which is very successful, but which I do not like: making a comparison without key context, so that people say “hey that sounds surprising, but when you think about it is right”. …and then people re-tweet it (which is why we all get to see stuff that originated with net nazis).

    For example Napoleon also killed lots of people, including many civilians and prisoners, many by direct orders, but he continued to have intelligent fans even in England, because he was considered to have done many good things also. Stalin and Mao were more brutal than Napoleon, and did less good, but none of them had industrialized death factories with efficiency targets for eliminating whole races, which is kind of a big thing to remember about Hitler, normally, you would think.

    Furthermore, 3 reasons that raw numbers for Stalin and Mao are bigger than say dictators in Latin America and Africa should also be obvious: big diverse countries, reigns that started during internationally influenced civil wars, and long reigns.

    But that would all make a hopeless tweet I guess. 🙂

  6. Mao are bigger than say dictators in Latin America and Africa should also be obvious: big diverse countries, reigns that started during internationally influenced civil wars, and long reigns.

    china is big, but not diverse. also, mao’s biggest impact was during the ‘great leap fwd.’ well past civil war. sloppy.

    no idea what you’re getting at. perhaps i should read more history to get your subtle context.

    and most people who make that statement are not net-nazis. so why the fuck are you bringing that up? net-nazis reiterate anti-zionist stuff too. so? most people who say anti-zionist stuff are not net-nazis.

  7. Razib the point is that comparing Mao and Hitler using one number (kills) and then saying “wow interesting” is exactly like comparing Napoleon and Hitler using one number, like net nazis do. It is exactly like using one number to be “surprising” in any complex field. It is a cheap trick, and the internet does not need more of that particular cheap trick. (Comparison of the two with more data is something which by the way conservative historian Andrew Robertson has done.)

    To remind about the first “subtle” point which you find hard to understand: “none of them had industrialized death factories with efficiency targets for eliminating whole races”.

    Subtle? Really?

    You of all people are very well equipped to understand this “subtle” point, and show the internet a more critical approach, and indeed to maybe even pass a history exam. I gave 4 very bloody obvious bits of basic textbook missing context that should kill the wow factor for any thinking person. Arguing back about those in terms of details on 1 or 2 subjective points regarding the least bloody obvious ones is very much missing the “subtle”, or indeed very bloody obvious, point(s).

  8. . It is a cheap trick, and the internet does not need more of that particular cheap trick.

    yeah, it’s fucking needed. you know how many people are actually surprised by how many people communism killed? i know, i’ve taught undergrads recently. they have no idea, though they know all about nazism. (the exceptions are the kids of cambodian or vietnamese refugees) i’ve had friends who are avowed communists. never one who was an avowed nazi. why is that?

    people should learn more. but it is needed today to remind people that communism was bloody. repeatedly.

  9. Your caching is set too aggressively. When I go to the front page, I don’t see the Jefferson post, despite it existing. I can break through caching by adding empty query parameters (ie, just adding “?”) (or, in this case, going to the second most recent post and clicking forward). You probably experience different cache settings because you’re logged in, or just because you have cookies.

    Edit: by the time I wrote this, the problem fixed itself, even in a browser w/o cookies, so maybe I jumped the gun.

  10. k keeping me updated. i set caching aggressively cuz sometimes i get lots of traffic and don’t want to crash. main reason i moved from nofe.me is that that box had issues scaling.

  11. Razib, I agree with your response. I am surprised to hear Americans who make it to University are not aware of how many people died as a direct result of communism, and it is good to teach people this. (Though this does not require any comparison to Nazis.) For one thing it shows how important economics is. (Not that bad economics was the only way communism caused deaths.)

    But the fact still remains that the causes of death were different in important ways to the Nazis.

    So I would have thought it is entirely rational that modern western societies teach their children differently concerning what the Nazis did, and what the communists did? Yet you seem to be critical of that difference?

    You almost seem to imply that teaching people about the bad things isms have caused requires deliberately over-simplified comparison to the Nazis. (Who are indeed a striking reference point, engrained into the culture.)

    But consider that Napoleonism also deserves criticism for the masses of people it “killed”, and let’s not start with Colonialism and America and its slavery. Should they all be explained by comparing them to the Nazis?

    …Because, surely we would not simply want to compare these to the Nazis with one number. Most 19th and 20th century isms including the ones still active today have created a mixture of good and bad results, and caused deaths partly by accident or thoughtlessness, rather than a deliberate industrialized killing plan, that was detailed all the way down to collecting human hair and children’s shoes.

  12. But consider that Napoleonism also deserves criticism for the masses of people it “killed”, and let’s not start with Colonialism and America and its slavery. Should they all be explained by comparing them to the Nazis?

    what specious bullshit. i’ve never lived with anyone who wanted to bring slavery back. i have lived with communists (self-identified fans of cuba and somone who was sad about the changes in china in the 1980s). i have never talked with someone in a class discussion who wanted to bring back colonialism. i have talked to people who were sad that the berlin wall fell and wanted a revival of state communism on a mass-scale.

    the new york times wrote a whole series, ‘red century’, exploring communism in all its complexities. and yet i don’t see the new york times writing about how slavery was a cross-cultural institution which can’t be reduced down to the dramatizations we see on television (though you can find that by some muslim intellectuals who argue this line, and it’s not without total merit, though muslim slavery was actually highly racialized, something they never bring up).

    to reiterate, what utter bullshit to make an analogy between slavery and communism. i’ve never fuck heard someone say ‘slavery was just not done right.’ the comments section of this weblog and my facebook feed are subject to ‘communism was not just done right.’ a minority viewpoint, but a living one nonetheless.

    in the 1990s the idea that we’d have to talk about communism in this day and age would seem ridiculous. but here we are. the DLC is dead and jacobin is thriving.

    the last direct victims of the nazis are dying. and we you can go to and california and talk to middle aged people and young adults who survived communist inspired class-based genocide in cambodia (well actually, i grew up with someone in oregon whose family fled that; most of her extended family was liquidated since they were property holders of some note in their village). nevertheless, it just wasn’t done right….

  13. Razib I responded to what you wrote in a generalized way for obvious reasons. Thanks for your further explanations. You are obviously thinking about various different groups of your acquaintances, and (I see now) specific left-wing arguments you do not like. I don’t know these people or their arguments.

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