Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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238 Responses

  1. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Though I was already in favor of “standing down” on the War on Drugs, I was a lot more skeptical of decriminalization of non-MJ drugs before coming here.

    Mark convinced me that Orion County, Tennessee, was perhaps not wrong to not have a public fire department.

    I think it was here that someone laid out the case of Emergency Managers in Michigan that made me a lot more comfortable with the concept.

    I don’t know how much of it can be attributed to this site and how much of it is from outside of it, but my economic views have become more liberal since I have started participating on this site.Report

  2. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    There’s been quite a few for me. Rather than list them all, I’ll just give a shout-out to Mark Thompson because he routinely writes things I wish I wrote, he has a clarity of vision about things that I think is immensely helpful for framing a discussion in a way that actually promotes the possibility of progress, and even when I disagree with him I at least understand him.Report

    • Wow. I’m extremely flattered. Seriously, this made my day.

      In response to your OP – I’ve probably forgotten more things that have persuaded me or helped me reach a better understanding than I remember. Scratch that, I know I’ve forgotten more than I remember.

      But the one that pops into my mind first is my evolution on the question of whether inequality (and specifically rising inequality) is a problem unto itself. That was a proposition that I was vehemently opposed to for as long as I can recall, and my opinion on it took quite awhile for it to change. But I can say with certainty that it was entirely because of commenters here that it evolved over the course of about a year. My recollection is that it was a series of exchanges I had with Stillwater that brought me around on the question and helped me get some clarity about the issue. To be sure, I still don’t believe inequality is a problem per se, but commenters here helped me understand that the inequality issue was really about rising inequality than it was about simply a comparison of Gini coefficients at a given point of time.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I’d have significantly fewer problems with rising inequality if I didn’t know that was being deliberately engineered by certain factions, in an effort to pervert democracy to their liking.
        (Yes, yes, America’s a big place. it’s not all engineered. But some people are deliberately trying to enhance it, and their goals aren’t savory.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I remember those discussion well. They were quite fun. And very interesting.Report

      • Ooooh – I just remembered another one of my favorite exchanges from relatively early on in the site’s history with Mr. Dwyer. It didn’t change my opinion on the substantive matters, but it helped me have empathy for police officers in a way that I hadn’t previously had. Having discussed it with him offline awhile after the exchange, I think Mike probably would say something similar in the opposite direction. One of the reasons that it’s noteworthy in my recollection, though, is that it was a highly-charged and intense exchange, though one that in our minds at least stayed civil throughout; despite that, at one point in the exchange, one of the other OGs intervened to complain about how the exchange was getting too heated and that we should back off.

        Point being that just because an exchange is heated does not make it without value.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Mike’s article on hunting gave me a newfound respect and appreciation for a past time that I knew very little about. He has a calm way of explaining things that one might not expect, but goes a long way towards offering a window into something without being preachy.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          Mark – I remember that conversation well. Was it after the police officer arresting that professor (name escapes me at the moment)? I believe it was Mike vs. The Libertarians in that thread. I also remember it as pretty civil and something that inspired me early on in my involvement here.Report

      • Mark,

        My evolution was probably in the other direction from yours. Before the inequality symposium, I had a vague notion that inequality was per se bad, and now I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m going to work from the notion that inequality is bad, I have to articulate how and in what ways.Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields says:

      I’m primarily a “lurker” here, but I wanted to second Patrick’s shout-out to Mark. It’s that possibility of progress in debate I find so compelling as well.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I always have to give a shout out to Will for breaking down stereotypes I had about people on the right side of the aisle. For a long time, I actually thought Will was a liberal. Then I noticed him coming down on the other side of a handful of issues for me, but always with thoughtful, nuanced arguments that often revealed we were seeking the same or similar ends but through different means. He opened up my eyes to the diversity of thought that exists on the right and challenged my own perspectives on issues such as affirmative action.

    Thanks, Will.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    Not exactly an answer to your question but i think progress, for me, has come when we have spoken to each other as individuals. To many commenter’s, even the good ones, speak in broad generalizations about “libertarians” or “liberals” or what have you. Not that may not be appropriate and a reasonable target of discussion but those kind of things are also the most frequent reason for panty/undie bunching. The best conversations are those between people speaking to directly to each other as individuals instead of as a member of some typically poorly defined group.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      The best conversations are those between people speaking to directly to each other as individuals instead of as a member of some typically poorly defined group.

      We might wanna add that to the Comment Policy.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I think there’s a natural tendency to look at arguments as deriving from a persons political views rather than as an expression of views which determine their politics. I’ve gone round and round on this topic with some folks (tho not recently!), but even if someone is just expressing a view stereotypically identified with an ism, the expression of it – and the correlated belief in its truth – come from an individual. The “political” dimensions of arguments usually (tho not universally) can be viewed as irrelevant.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          Years ago, I wrote some stuff on social essentialism, mostly about gender but with some nods to setereotypes generally and politics specifically, but given the way certain conversations have gone here, I’ve thought a bit about writing a guest post about concepts, labels, essentialism, and social categories. I’ve never really thought about writing a guest post, and I’m afraid that anything I’d write is a bit outside of the scope of what usually goes on here, but man, the “libertarians are X,” “progressives are Y,” “conservatives are Z” thing is really starting to drive me batty, particularly since it produces the least productive and most heated conversations.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            I’m pretty sure that anything you write, as a guest post, will fit in just fine in the scope of what goes on here. Maybe not the usual, but “usual” is usually less interesting anyway.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Eh, I’ll think about it. I’ve never thought about writing one before, really, but this does happen to be the sort of thing that I’m an actual expert in, and it’s clearly become an issue, so maybe I will. Maybe just essentialism and social categories generally; I’ve written about psychological essentialism in gender and mental illness concepts back when I was on ScienceBlogs, but race, politics, criminal history, and other things are also effected by our implicit theories about the immutability of certain group attributes as well.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Yes, yes yes! I’ve been trying to say this for a while (including on a thread today). See, I influenced someone (just kidding; I assume this is an obvious issue to anyone who’s not wrapped up in the team game).Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        There’s a bias thing there. So even though it’s obvious, it sits in a blind spot about the size of a Stegosaurus.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      This is an insightful observation.Report

  5. Avatar Plinko says:

    It’s hard to say if this is entirely attributable to the LoOG or not, since this is not the only blog I read daily, but I’ve definitely grown a lot more libertarian in a lot of ways since then. Not that I would call myself one, just that it’s influenced my particular brand of liberalism very heavily. I think you can credit the usual crew for that – Jaybird, James K., Hanley for sure. Not that I can point to a particular exchange but the sum of reading their posts and comments have been an important influence on me.

    I think Tim, Mark , Trumwill, Will H. and other conservatives (even TVD) have done more to help me respect and understand more conservative positions than I ever had before I came around here. Obviously, I’m not one and surely will not be one, but I have respect for much of the conservative critique now. I think I’m not alone in saying that most of what I’ve seen for conservative rhetoric out there elsewhere has been worthy of little beyond derision.

    Everyone else I mostly agree with all the time and just sit in awe of the quality of their writing. In general, that there is some ‘devolution’ of comment thread quality – something I attribute entirely to greater traffic – I still have developed a much greater capacity for respectfully listening and engaging with opposing views from here more than any other commentariat I’ve seen.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Just to nitpick slightly, James K is a liberal*, so don’t go ceding him to the libertarians!

      *albeit one with a libertarian bent.Report

      • Avatar Plinko says:

        I always had him pegged as one of those that claims the “I’m the real liberal!” types, but I am happy to have him on our team if so!Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Are we sure? I know he’s called himself a “marginal libertarian,” because I shamelessly stole that line from him. But maybe that still leaves him in the liberal camp? Y’all do have a pretty big tent, what with your liberals, center-left, leftists, progressives, commie-dems and whatnot.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I’m quite sure, he pushed back one time on being lumped in with the libertarians and I have seized upon it ever since. But I think he’s quite libertarianishly leaning as Liberals go.Report

      • Avatar James K says:

        For the record, I self-identify as libertarian, though I have a strong liberal bent, certainly by American standards.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      Every conservative has a lot of crazy to live down, in a way that the liberals just don’t.
      I’m really not so concerned about defining a personal philosophy as much as just understanding things better.
      I can only understand with this noggin I got. Kicking on it don’t help. It’s been tried. Enough to get a statistically valid data set.Report

    • “but I’ve definitely grown a lot more libertarian in a lot of ways since then.”

      Same here, although for me, it probably started earlier when I began reading Volokh Conspiracy and the belated Positive Liberty.Report

  6. Avatar Chris says:

    If I named everyone who has influenced me around here, I’d be here a while, but definitely Jason K, James H, and Jaybird need mentioning. The thing is, I don’t agree with them on much, if anything, that I didn’t agree with them on before, but they’ve helped change the way I think about certain things.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      One of these days, you and I need to have a beer or a dozen.

      Because I think you and I are in a very similar orbital pattern but I never quite know where the differences lie. I think we both spend about equal time disagreeing with other people.

      I think that might be our core competency.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Sounds good. Austin has a lot of beer, so if you’re ever out this way…

        You’re in California, right? They have some beers too, I hear.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I’m a disagreeable git too. I tend to start “arguments” with Blaise that end in us agreeing. Perhaps we started out agreeing too? I’m not always sure.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          If I could offer you one piece of advice, it would be to spend a week forcing yourself to write comments that are exactly 10 sentences long.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I think that might be our core competency.

        I think anyone who’s ever given a brown bag, job, or department-meeting talk on their research at which I was in attendance would agree with you.Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields says:

      This is the influence I wanted to cite and the individuals I would have credited, so I’ll just +1 Chris here.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    I tried to participate for a couple of months some time back, couldn’t stick around because of folk who were, in the meantime, asked to leave.

    But I kept on reading occasionally, and finally commenting, mostly because of Jaybird. First, he made me feel welcomed both then and now. Second, there’s some strange WTF twist to his logic that makes me think and rethink; a puzzle.

    I’m not sure about the concept of ‘changing positions,’ because I think I’m always trying to collect new information to challenge my assumptions; that there are other folk here who seem intent on that same purpose — challenging their own thoughts as more important then challenging others — is why it’s a good place.

    What I do understand better, particularly in the endless griping between ideology is that we often get to similar places from opposing reason, that we often put up defenses first and foremost because of knee-jerking. Roger and I both believe in perfecting government. We just have a hard time hearing what each means by that; I get sick of being told I’m about ‘big government’ and he gets sick of being told he’s about ‘anarchy.’ That gets in our way.

    If I wanted an echo chamber, I’d go to Daily Kos. I don’t. I value diversity of opinion. I think very highly of variety of voices here.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      I believe in perfecting government too -=- through argumentation, reason, and logic.
      It wouldn’t be a party if we didn’t have arguments, after all.
      I look at the messages that people send — and the ones that others listen to; I find it teaches me a lot about people.

      Roger listened to a very deep, and rather subtle message last election, “Romney is not fit to be President. He is not presidential material.”

      To liberals this may seem obvious — I hasten to say that it’s not about values (and it obviously doesn’t help that McCain was also illsuited to the post).

      I’m almost tempted to go back to what I was saying a while ago: We ought to reject ideology altogether — but keep the values. Without values, we are creatures of instinct alone, blindly nosing in the dark.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      That’s kinda why I like this place.
      There are any number of places I could go to get an anticipated response.
      And JB is really good at throwing curveballs like that. I like it.Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      “I’m not sure about the concept of ‘changing positions,’ because I think I’m always trying to collect new information to challenge my assumptions; that there are other folk here who seem intent on that same purpose — challenging their own thoughts as more important then challenging others — is why it’s a good place. ”

      As the kids say, “this”.Report

  8. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I’ve become marginally more libertarian or accepting of some libertarian arguments on economics from Hanley and others.

    Only marginally though. 🙂Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Well, we’re economic marginalists, so it seems appropriate. 😉

      I’d say I don’t think I can remember much of anything where I’ve actually changed my mind, although there are a few areas where I didn’t have a strong view and others have definitely helped shape my view (sorry, can’t remember specific issues). Part of this for me is that I was a definitive liberal before sliding towards libertarianism, so there aren’t many arguments liberals can make that I’m not familiar with (that’s not a knock on them; the same thing happens when Christians try to witness to me–there’s just not much that they can say that I’m not familiar with). But the liberals here have definitely contributed to ensuring that my libertarianism remains fairly moderate. To the extent y’all can say, “yeah, Hanley, but you’re not the stereotypical libertarian,” you all have a hand in that. Too many folks to name, because then I’d inevitably leave out someone I ought to include.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:


        Part of this for me is that I was a definitive liberal before sliding towards libertarianism, so there aren’t many arguments liberals can make that I’m not familiar with (that’s not a knock on them; the same thing happens when Christians try to witness to me–there’s just not much that they can say that I’m not familiar with).

        I’ve experienced a similar thing, though in a different direction. Some time ago, I was largely a libertarian. For me, it just didn’t survive contact with the adult world (I’m not arguing that libertarian isn’t or is naturally just a “phase”… but it was for me) and I became more socially conservative and less economically libertarian. So it was a source of agitation that when I talked to doctrinaire libertarians that they would explain to me arguments that I was already well familiar with and often arguments that I had previously made. It was… aggravating.

        Which actually brings me to something I missed in my above thing, which is that prior to coming here, I had associated libertarianism with something not on display here. Partially my former self, but a lot of being talked down to by people who would tell me that I didn’t understand freedom and liberty unless I supported such-and-such policy (or non-policy, if that makes sense. It was Jaybird that kind of knocked me out of that with his whole “libertarianism as a vector rather than a destination” thing. It got me to more earnestly re-evaluate some of the beliefs I thought I had left behind (drug decriminalization, for example) as having libertarian arguments, but not as something I had to be a libertarian to agree with. (In other words, I didn’t have to accept all of it to accept some of it.) You also played a role in this, though Jaybird had softened me up by the time you came along.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Yes, I like Jaybird’s “vector, not destination” approach. It’s not a phrasing that would have occurred to me, but it encapsulated much of my approach. And by the way, I paid Jaybird to soften you up first; there’s no way I could have handled you if he hadn’t gotten in his licks first.Report

  9. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Generally I think everyone here is a good folks.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I think that the number one thing that this site has given me is a number of gay friends that I see *EVERY DAY*. I mean, sure, I have gay friends (don’t we all?) and gay relatives (don’t we all?) but, for the most part, the ones where I work either are pretty closeted or they just aren’t there.

    As such, I’ve found that I’ve changed how I argue for such things as “gay marriage”. When we used to argue gay marriage in the lab, one of the jokes I used to enjoy telling was saying “so long as they’re both white!” in response to the question whether I supported gay marriage. Big laughs, usually.

    Then I found out that our North is in what would be called “a mixed-race” marriage.

    And I realized that I wouldn’t tell that joke in front of North… and, as such, I probably should never tell it at all.

    I think it’s reading Rose that got me to stop using the word “retarded”.

    One thing that this community has done is given me a number of friends that I see every day that aren’t anything like the number of friends I have that I do see every day… and I find myself modifying my behavior accordingly. “Would you tell that joke in front of North? Would you make that comment in front of rose? Would you use that analogy in front of JHG?”

    And, when I find that I wouldn’t… I’m finding that I try not to, even in real life.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I feel kinda bad because I don’t know how much my mind has changed on the big hot button topics we perennially argue over. (Is that a warning sign?)

      The stuff that I *HAVE* learned is stuff like “I need to be nicer”. And, yes, if you’re a commenter here and you’re wondering “was I part of Jaybird learning that?”, the answer is probably yeah. Everybody in this comment thread, the folks in the masthead… yeah. Thanks, all.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        (Is that a warning sign?)

        I dunno. Is it?

        Seems to me that you’re not all that convinced that you’re right. Just that you think “thataway” is probably going to be better than “thisaway”. You’re not so much an end destination sort of guy (although people often think that you are.)

        In that sense, I’m not sure your really a hot button topic absolutist. Usually the hot button topic absolutists are talking about end destinations, not journeys.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Actually I kindof found that joke funny.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I guess I’m carrying an imperfect North mapping in my head.

        In any case, you (among others here) are the reason I try to argue gay marriage to change minds rather than score points.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I’m sure the Husband would probably scowl so your map is probably better than I’m giving it credit for.

          I appreciate that, thank you. Back when I commented a ton here and argued with you a lot my Husband once asked me if I was dating you online. Especially because I’d squint and stare to look at your cats on your icon.Report

    • Avatar Bob2 says:

      As a matter of entertainment Jaybird, this comment of yours from 2006 is what I ran into when I was looking for a certain someone’s old response about gay marriage. I needed it to read against her latest post about it.

    • Rose’s writing is really powerful (and fun, too!). She’s certainly helped shape the way I look at life issues that I used to ignore. (Vague, I know, but I can’t go into specifics here.)Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        I’ll second this. Some of the most interesting changes of mind for me are the ones that cause me to see the importance of something I had never really thought of as important. Not so much a 180 as it is a broadening of worldview that comes from understanding things that are relevant to others that didn’t seem relevant to me until they were laid out in a really human way.Report

  11. I’m remembering another one that deserves special mention – I can’t remember the exact topic, but it was in a post (IIRC, one I had written) about race in some regard. It was one of the first appearances by one John Howard Griffin (maybe this one? Regardless, JHG has done more to challenge and change my perceptions of race in this country than anyone I can recall other than the friend I referenced in this post:

    • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

      You are kind to say this, Mr. Thompson.

      I fear I am getting(!) repetitive, for I used the same Twain quote (from that old post) in Blaise’s post a few days ago.

      One of my realizations is that all of you seem to think and write much faster than me. I can’t keep up with the speed or volume, except in uncommon circumstances for short durations.

      Another of my realizations is that all of you are not all nearly as wrong as I (often) think you are, on some (or many) subjects. And, you listen more intently (sometimes) than I give you credit for (often). And, this surprised me.

      I am happy enough just to consider you worthy adversaries, and respect you as such.

      There’s a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off.

      – Mark Twain


  12. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I’ve changed my mind

    – public unions (a bit). I don’t know if it was any one particular argument but I think Roger was influential on that front.

    public education. I’ve never been very enthusiastic about so it’s not revelatory change or anything like that.

    – trials in abstentia. That one was a pretty big revelation, do to a few conversations with jaybird over a few weeks. My argument was that gummint had the authority to kill enemy combatants because of yaddayaddayadda, and Jaybird said “why not have a trial anyway? It’s the law”, or something to that effect. Bam!

    – some wierd and very deep views of conservatism that I can’t quite articulate. Tim K has changed my mind about the nexus between the Constitution, originalism and natural law theory. I realized that even if I think natural law is hooey, and originalism is patooey, there is still compelling argument grounding conservative’s views of governance in a narrow reading of the Constitution. That came as a bit of a jolt.

    I’m sure there are others, of course. Simon K (where are you?), James K, Plinko, others, have had an effect I’m sure is real even tho I can’t identify in what ways. I just think differently about that stuff now. And I think my liberalism has been tempered to some extent as a result of discussions here. Not in the direction of libertarianism or conservatism, but along some other plain, one I can’t quite identify.

    But the important thing, I think, is that there’s movement. Thanks to the LoOG. Progress!Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I want to add one other thing: Hanley. More than anyone else at this site he’s challenged and changed my views in very constructive ways, ways which I’m quite sure I can’t clearly articulate.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Arguing with Hanley has made me sharper. He seems to define the argument in precise terms very well. Makes me look at connections I hadn’t before.
        Hanley, JB, & Jason K have done an awful lot to change the way I look at libertarians.
        Before, I thought they were all kooks.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Yes. Hanley doesn’t let a person slide right past important distinctions or relevant counter arguments or circularity when expressing their views. Very sharp, very clear, very congenial (most of the time :).

          If the term Big Thinker picks out anything interesting in the world, then we have several here at the LoOG. Hanley is one of them.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Yeah, where is Simon K.? He’s good folks.

      And this:
      I realized that even if I think natural law is hooey, and originalism is patooey, there is still compelling argument grounding conservative’s views of governance in a narrow reading of the Constitution.

      Not just about natural law, but in general being confronted with compelling explanations of others’ views that help us realize there is some real ground there, and that if we in fact shared their assumptions, we might very well feel ourselves compelled to travel the same logical path. That really helps us see each other as individuals who have reason, not as deranged idiots who couldn’t possibly believe X unless they were really really stoopid.Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I’ve said this before but the big one for me, hands down, is libertarianism.

    Before hanging out here my only real exposure to libertarians were those social conservative pundits who trumpeted the word “libertarianism” with a of populist, FYIGM message. Every time I heard someone say on air that they were for libertarianism, is seemed to be attached to a diatribe giving viewers or listeners permission to s**t on those less fortunate and be gleeful about it.

    I was surprised, the, when I first engaged with actual libertarians here. Jay, James, Will (Dustin Hoffman circa 1980 Will, that is), and others here certainly helped, but the biggest eye opener for me was Jason. I remember at one point coming to the unexpected realization that Jason and I actually wanted pretty much the same end result; we just had different opinions of the best strategy to get from point A to point B.

    I still believe that real libertarians spend far too much energy mocking liberals that confuse their opinions with the so-called libertarians that are always in the spotlight and not nearly enough energy defending their philosophy against those same usurpers, but I have a completely different (and better) opinion of the philosophy now.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      A paycheck’s a paycheck.
      What you do with it afterwards is a different question.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I’ll second that about Jason. His was the first expression of libertarianism that seemed even remotely appealing/coherent/practical to me.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Jason Kuznicki often irritates me because he remembers, verbatim, stuff that I read twenty years ago and can’t quite articulate because I read it twenty years ago and in the interim there was drinking and partying and getting older and having kids and to be honest I’m probably just not as smart as him in the first place so the way I understood it twenty years ago was probably at least partially wrong in the first place and it’s only the intervening twenty years where I’ve figured out why, but the whole thing is tacit and buried in the back of my head because I don’t spend enough time on it.

      So he writes something, and I’m simultaneously saying, “That’s the words I’ve been trying to use!” and “Goddamn it, I’ve sounded like a hack for the last two weeks trying to articulate something and this guy did it in a sidebar post!”

      So I have to give some particular props to Jason for reminding me that my brain needs that particular sort of exercise.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Yes, Jason is the kind of person who can remind you of how brilliant people are and give you that creeping anxious feeling in the back of your brain that whispers “more brilliant than you”. Also he’s married to a fishing rocket scientist! Who gets to do that!?!?Report

  14. Avatar Pinky says:

    A year ago, I was a lot more sympathetic toward gun control. It wasn’t just this site that steered me in the gun-nut direction, but I remember an article here about mass killings worldwide that really changed the way I looked at the issue.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      I did not consciously write this post looking for external validation, but all sorts of weird spots in my brain lit up when I read this comment with, “Hey! That was me! I wrote that! Pinky is talking about something I wrote!”

      I so routinely poo-poo external validation that it’s weird when I get some and I react like that inside my head.

      Thanks for that, Pinky.Report

  15. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I am no longer immediately dismissive of wealth inequality as a problem. I still don’t think it’s a big problem, but I could see how current trends could develop into big problems down the line, and it’s probably better and easier to do something about it now than later.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      I think people often fail to understand the extent of the problem, how a person with low enough wealth really isn’t middle class, in a very real sense of the term.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        In fact, thinking back, reducing wealth inequality may very well be a big fix to a lot of bigger problems. I think it’s less that wealth inquality is bad perse… but that it causes big problems that we think society ought to fix. Health problems, Housing Problems (slums), Judicial Problems, the list just goes on.

        We can fix each thing with a new and different solution, or we can use occams razor and “fix” wealth inequality.Report

  16. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    For me, LoOG is a little camp fire in the woods at . We come out of the darkness, our faces in chiaroscuro. Some of us are not seen at all, the lurkers. We sometimes forget they’re there until they step close enough to the fire to be seen. They’re there, nonetheless.

    It may not illuminate very much, our little fire, but it’s a beacon. If there’s more heat than light in our discussions, there is no validation in mere agreement. We do not see ourselves changing, subtly shaped by each exchange.

    But we do change: we are the summation of our deeds and words and all that has happened to us. Out to the right of each Sigma, the formula. Below, the index variable and above is only the n of our days to describe the endpoint. The equation only describes the summing. But we control the terms of the formulas, slowly amending them, if we’re honest, in the light we are given. Nobody has a grip on the whole truth. In man’s struggle against the world, bet on the world. In man’s struggle against other men, bet on the other guy being at least as honest as yourself.

    You have all been a great bulwark and support to me, personally, even those of you who disagree with me, most especially you. Often two or three days go by where I do not speak to another person, face to face. I learn nothing from those who agree with me. The world is not guided by justice and never was. Life is not fair and there’s no point whining about it.

    But somewhere out in that darkness there is a little fire around which we all gather and throw in a stick or three from time to time. I care for each of you more than you will ever know.Report

  17. I can’t say I’ve outright changed my mind about any particular issue, but this site has served as a corrective to my thinking in a number of ways.

    First of all, because I have found myself strongly opposed to various parts of the conservative agenda and strongly disliking the past several Republican presidential candidates/presidents, it’s been all too easy to believe that anyone sympathetic to that agenda or supportive of those candidates must flawed in some way. This is, of course, a ridiculous and shameful thing to think, but one that’s distressing comforting during fraught political contests. Exposure to such obviously intelligent and good-hearted people as Mike and Tim (and even, at his occasional best, TVD) served to remind me how wrong it was to think that way. Though I know I disagree with them on several major issues, I admire them tremendously and have learned to respect dissenting political viewpoints in a deeper way than I did before.

    Similarly, posting hereabouts has been a wonderful way for me to spot the gaps in my own thinking. There have been so many times I’ve learned that my own position was ill-informed because I was working on a post, knew I needed to be damn sure my reasoning was good because very smart people who didn’t necessarily agree with me would be reading it, and in researching my piece found information that made me rethink my viewpoint.

    As maudlin as I know this may sound, I actually think participating here has made me a better person.Report

  18. Avatar Damon says:

    I’ve learned that there is intelligent, rational, reasonable people on the other two sides that think critically, and that the those sides are not entirely composed of mouth breathing, jargon slinging fools that ape the TV commentators.

    This has me mildly pleased. Now if you all would just agree with me we could fix some things.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      Agreement fixes nothing. Arguments fix many things. So long as we aren’t churlish when we lose.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Arguments fix nothing. They may clarify each person’s side, but they actually don’t result in progress.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          You’ve never seen an audience, I take it? In a debate there are always winners and losers. Someone’s got the stronger argument. Or they both have good ones, in which case, you look for a different choice.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Not really, Kimmi. Rhetoric only convinces the already-convinced. There’s no winning other people over to Your Side of any fight. They must convince themselves based on what evidence you can bring to the table.

            See, most people’s opinions are based on axioms, presuppositions, nebulous First Principles, ill-defined affinity with some position. But not everyone’s opinions work on that basis: everyone, no matter how obtuse they might be, must rely on some factual basis for their opinions.

            Facts don’t take sides. He who brings more facts to the table isn’t trying to Win the Debate. He only asks for his facts to be accepted as facts, wrapping them in the humility of Doubt, embodied in the Scientific Method.

            Even then, the audience might not think they’re changing their minds when they add your facts to the basis enumeration upon which their opinions are based. People’s opinions change all the time. But the human mind is this abstract framework, like Joe Walsh said “Everybody’s so different / I haven’t changed.” I’m writing a post on transhumanism just now. Everything we think we “know” is just an abstraction. It has to be, otherwise we couldn’t “think” about it.

            Upstream I said “count on other people to be at least as honest as you are.” That’s a knife that cuts both ways. Opinions aren’t facts. Human beings are endlessly delusional. We sorta have to be, to “Make Sense” of the world.Report

  19. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    I’ll just sign up with everyone else who has pointed out that conversations here have driven them in a kind of distinct libertarian direction. I was, once upon a time, a literal card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party, but that was during an Ayn Rand phase that is best not discussed. My motivations, preconceptions, instincts, etc. – as I’m sure you all well know by know – are pretty strongly liberal, though, so that phase never lasted long. Jason, in particular, does a really remarkable job of selling a kind of libertarianism that trades on the instincts I already have. I find him virtually always thought-provoking and compelling. Jaybird and Hanley have generally reinforced that too.

    To echo Jay, I *never* use the word “retarded” any more, which is thanks entirely to Rose. That’s not a deep lesson, but I’ve always considered empathy one of the most important virtues (and Tod has generally made me feel good about my focus on it), and learning ways in which I can continue to improve myself on that score is extremely valuable.

    I’ve also made a lot of what I would consider friends. I’ve gotten wedding gifts from people here, I’ve had some of them over to my house for a cookout, I’ve shared quite a few drinks with y’all, and so on. That’s pretty awesome.

    Okay, now one thing that will jar a lot with the general love-in and also my second paragraph: I’ve never particularly liked conservatives or religious folks, but hanging out at this site has really, really reinforced that. The quality of argument and civility from the sorts of people who get a reputation for being “thoughtful conservatives” around here has made it all the more obvious to me that it’s a political philosophy founded in the angry bleating of people who are threatened by the reality that people have preferences. Responses to some of Tod’s posts about same sex marriage have done them precisely zero favors. I have essentially no conservative friends left in my life, having jettisoned most of them over the last few years, and I couldn’t be happier about that.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Ironically, it’s ‘conservatives’ here — Will Truman, Will H., Mike Dwyer (though I’m not sure if he considers himself conservative) that give me hope; it’s people who display a willingness to live their conservative values, rather then just accepting the appearance of conservative values.

      Signaling a value and living a by a set of values are not the same thing.Report

    • I’m willing to admit that it is because of Ryan that I’ve developed an appreciation for Michigan basketball. (Your love of which might classify you as one of us religious folk, though.)Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      First off, I want to say thank you for the compliment. I think empathy is really important and not always used to its best effect, both here and in the “real world,” so it means a lot to me that you’d say this.

      I’d also like to encourage you to give conservatives a chance. My guess is you don’t see it this way, but hearing that you’ve jettisoned so many people over the last few years made me sad.

      As for the type of conservative we have around here, I for one am impressed with the quality if not the quantity. Tim strikes me as not only a gifted writer and a sharp mind, but also someone who gives a fair ear to arguments he doesn’t agree with – often to the point of admitting where his own stances are weak. (And like you, he’s also an amazingly great guy in real life.) I feel the same way about Mike. To the extent that I’ve gotten to know him here, Dennis seems to be cut of the same cloth. And although they’re not as socially conservative as others, I know that Will, Burt, Will H and others here are good and honest people who often have things to say that blow my mind.

      One of the dynamics we have at the League right now is that there just aren’t as many social conservatives as there are liberals/progressives, libertarians, or economic conservatives. (There are a bunch of reasons for this; some of it has to do with the nature of the site, some of it has to do with the behavior/treatment of other conservatives here, and some of it has to do with the fact that these days social conservatives are feeling pretty embattled and defensive just about everywhere.)

      But the way this often shows up here is that if we get pushback on posts from strong social conservatives, it’s just as likely as not that it’s someone that linked here by some place like 5 Feet of Fury or the Washington Beacon. It’s true that every now and then thanks to these links we pick up someone that treats everyone with respect and adds to the conversations (Henshaw comes to mind most recently – I’m really hoping he sticks around, since I think he’s been both a great fit for the League and a great representative for his “tribe”), but it’s also true that most of the drive-bys we get are from people whose behavior would be unfair to lay at the feet of all conservatives. Those tend to be people that like being an asshole so long as they can be one anonymously on the internet and not face consequences for dickish behavior; that’s less a conservative thing than a “some people are just jerks” thing.

      I’d encourage anyone on either side of the aisle that feels so strongly against everyone on the other side to remember that the really important things are the things that connect us regardless of political philosophy. We’re taught by politicians and pundits to think in terms of Us and Them, but the truth is that there is far, far, far more that connects us than divides us.

      Anyway, enough of me on the soap box…Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “Tim strikes me as not only a gifted writer and a sharp mind, but also someone who gives a fair ear to arguments he doesn’t agree with – often to the point of admitting where his own stances are weak.”

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the exchange Tim and I had way back when over Muslims and “branding” (him via a series of posts, me via comments) was really powerful. In a nutshell, he put forth an essay that I (and others) strongly disagreed with, he heard our disagreements and looked at our evidence, and did a follow up essay amending his position on account of what we offered and I think helping all of us to a more nuanced understanding of the issue. It was a great moment in LoOG history, as far as I’m concerned, with much of the credit going to Tim for being so willing to revisit his position.Report

  20. Avatar Jack says:

    Since I had already been so corrupted by the Positive Liberty crew (Jason K, Hanley, Rowe, Sandefur etc) I am having trouble naming specific issues that LoOG shifted me significantly on, but I can say I have strong opinions about things now that I had no opinion on before, such as Never Build a Boat (that shit looks hard).Report

    • Avatar Miss Mary says:

      “I am having trouble naming specific issues that LoOG shifted me significantly on, but I can say I have strong opinions about things now that I had no opinion on before, such as Never Build a Boat (that shit looks hard).”

      This. I’ve learned a lot here.Report

  21. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Beyond changing minds, there are a number of folks here who I think enrich my life…

    At the risk of playing favorites, the members of Blinded Trials have added to my world in untold ways. Though I have yet to meet either, my correspondences with both have been deep and meaningful. They’ve stretched me as a person and rounded out parts of my life that were otherwise lacking. And I maintain that my Oscar exchange with Russell was one of the funnest things I did in recent memory… not only because it was a silly little game to play, but because it gave me an opportunity to try something new that I otherwise wouldn’t have. So, thanks, to both of you.

    I *love* Tod’s writing. Whenever I write a post, I envision it coming out just like Tod’s, then I read one of his and think, “Shit… he really knows how to craft a piece in ways that I don’t. Asshole.” His ability to be fair-minded and even tempered on even difficulty issues is a daily reminder to try to do the same.

    Glyph… Glyph is more me than me. He reminds me of my sister, in that she is the only person in my real life that I can’t out-argue (and she has the law degree to prove it). Sometimes I hate Glyph, in a good way.

    Jay… Jaybird easily tells the best anecdotes. I still remember the one he told about a guy doing the breast stroke or butterfly or whathaveyou… not only was it a good story, but his writing was perfect. He reminds me to enjoy life. I think it is telling that he regularly asks us what we’re playing. We should all play more.

    There are many others I’m forgetting, but I think this community enriches and enlivens even if it isn’t changing minds. For that, I am eternally grateful.Report

    • What a lovely thing to say, Kazzy! Thank you. I had so much fun, too, and I can safely say for the first time in my life that I’m looking forward to watching a basketball game, knowing we’ll be reversing our Oscar experiment with you in the “expert” role.

      And yeah, Tod totally gets my “I’d Hate Him If I Didn’t Love Him So Much” award for constantly writing things I wish I had, and for exemplifying the blogger I wish I was.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        On that note, the NBA Finals are slated for sometime between June 4th and June 20th. It is a 7 game series, so it doesn’t have the penultimate energy that the Oscars or a Super Bowl do, but it will suffice. Ideally, we’d target one of the weekend games early in the series to guarantee it happens. Dates probably won’t be set until shortly beforehand do to playoff scheduling, but plan to block out a day in there.

        Arggghhhh… just realizing now I’m in New Orleans for that first weekend and will be unavailable. Alright, we need to hope the series goes through the second weekend. My hunch is that they’ll play games on the 6th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 20th, though only those first 4 are guaranteed to happen. Hmm, the 6th would work, actually, and you’d get to see all the hullabaloo that surrounds the opening game. Let’s tentatively plan for that…

        See! Even scheduling sports is exciting!Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Wow, thanks to both of you! ANd I know you’re aware that sentiment runs both ways.

        One of these days, Kazzy, I’m going to do a post on our very first email exchange.Report

  22. Avatar Dave says:

    I’ll put it this way…

    While 2008 had a huge impact on my views on markets at large, having some conversations with commenters here, predominantly liberal ones, has helped shape them as well. Even when I’m not in agreement, I’m far more understanding and sympathetic towards them than I may have been several years ago. I think it helps that I try not to argue in principles and view markets based on their fact patterns.

    It’s hard to articulate in a post because I don’t know where to start writing, but I remember having a nice discussion about predatory lending several months ago. If anyone can jog my memory, please do.Report

  23. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    I’ve learned that there may be some conceptual middle ground on the concept of equality of opportunity between liberals, libertarians, and traditional conservatives that could lead to some compromise and agreement on policies designed to increase equality of opportunity.

    Conservatives can accept that the is a moral duty to make sure everyone gets a fair shake.

    Libertarians can accept that some redistribution of wealth, resources, and opportunity from wealthy children (or their parents or society) to poor children can be justified as necessary to keep a free and fair society that is laissez-faire with adults.

    Liberals can want a more level playing field and more equality of outcome, but be okay with whatever equality of opportunity they can get.Report

  24. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    My awards:

    Blaise: Best Prose
    Todd: Most Engaging Essay Writing
    Patrick Cahalan: Most Clever in arguments
    James H: Most Interesting take on political philosophy
    Mike Schilling: Most Pithy
    Kazzy: Most Diplomatic and Charitable

    Generally, I find myself agreeing with Still, Zic, and Elias and the liberal faction more generally, and I’m not sure I’ve had my mind changed about anything specific, but I have been reminded in the to and fro that my arguments might not be nearly as powerful as they seem when I talk to myself.

    So I’ve learned to be more epistemically humble by interacting with all the people who I disagree with who are smarter than this simple robot.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “Kazzy: Most Diplomatic and Charitable”


    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Most interesting take on political philosophy? I thought I mostly stayed out of the more philosophical discussions, since I’m relatively uncomfortable with normative argumentation. I’m not arguing with you, since this is your view of things and therefore is surely not a wrong interpretation of your views, but I will say it definitely surprises me.

      Or is it my relative amoralism that’s interesting?Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

        And yes, it is your amoralism (in principles of politics, not in personal behavior) plus a sort of pragmatic-ish libertarian account of justice that I think is on the edge of liberalism, which you deny is liberal, that I think is interesting and very well defended, no matter what you call it.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 says:

      Most Unable to Take a Compliment: It’s a tie! Kazzy and Hanley win this year.

      All prior awards are rescinded.


    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Shaz, I hear ya. Epistemic humility is a great vitrue. A hard won lesson-learned which yields great rewards. Like peace and stuff.Report

  25. Avatar North says:

    I didn’t learn nothin ‘cause I came here perfect; like Athena sprung fully formed from the forehead of Zeus!

    Seriously though there’s so much I’m having trouble listing it. The League’s like a perennial component of my daily routine. Oddly enough I’ve learned to comment a bit less; it’s a weird pattern, I think I’ve become more discriminating in what I say.

    I’ve definitely developed a fully idea of libertarianism. I still think of it more as a powerful critique than a self sufficient governing ideology but then I don’t understand it fully yet.

    Some of the cooking posts made gave me enough courage to buy a cast iron item of my own and I love it.

    I’ve learned I know even less about stuff than I thought I did (and I never thought I knew a lot to begin with!)

    I’ve also learned I’m a better commenter than I am an online writer (a humbling lesson that). I don’t think I have the discipline or the courage to throw something into the gaping maw of a page with my name on it every day (Scott, wherever you are, I’m sorry!)

    I’ve learned I can talk to someone who I disagree with massively and feel so much frustration/fury that my eyes ache but I can (mostly) manage to still be cheerful and whimsical (thanks Koz and Mike with his Stick).

    I’ve learned I can be a good enough Liberal to get a Mcsnarksnark award!

    I’ve learned to feel that there’re some severely brilliant and clever and humane conservatives. I used to believe this on an intellectual level but the League was my first personal commenting contact with them.

    I’ve learned that you can love some people even when they sometimes behave like total cranks (I still miss Bob, he still owes me a guest post on Demons). Also I learned that Gnostic is totally a thing.

    God(ess) I miss Roque Neuveua <-spelling!

    I’ve learned I can love a married gay doctor (I’ve never felt so proud of a stranger in my life as the time you did your batman post) and simultaneously hate him with every fiber of my being; nobody should have such easy access to cheap lobster without being a fisherman consarn it! *fume*fistshake*

    I learned that there’re people who can write with an eloquence and depth of knowledge that make me feel like a three year old banging rocks together. BlaiseP, Hanley, Kowal, Jason K, and sundry others, damn you all to Hell (I luv y’all).
    I think I could go on like this for pages. I love all of you regular posters here (just not biblically) and I totally want to play with Jaybirds cats (that is not a euphemism).

    Also I learned how to mansplain. A valuable life skill there.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Oddly, maybe, i also find myself commenting far less than years ago but i read this place everyday.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “Some of the cooking posts made gave me enough courage to buy a cast iron item of my own and I love it.”

      We need more of these. And if we are accepting applications, I nominate Zic, who manages to write about food with a love that tells you everything she makes is delicious, heartwarming, and soul nourishing.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        You say you’re a Foodie; I think you should give it a try, too.

        And I love Tod’s food Cheap-ass Gourmet posts, though they’re not worth the cost to his hand right now.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I enjoy eating food and can do a few things in the kitchen, but I’m too raw. More importantly, you have a way of painting pictures with your word that would take such posts to a new level. It is one thing for me to share a meatloaf recipe; I imagine you would transport the reader to your kitchen as you cook, communicating the visceral experience of what you’re doing in a way that I simply cannot.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          I think we ought to consider putting out a League cookbook, based on the recipe posts.

          I’ve been thinking that for a while now.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            Cookbook? What are we? In the dark ages?

            We should make a League Recipe Wiki, where we can share recipes and have people comment and append to the recipes with annotations as they try them.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              I can scribble notes in a paper book. Besides, I build a nice bookshelf for cookbooks in my kitchen last year, and it still has room. Besides, I am a luddite, what of it?Report

    • What a sweetheart you are. Yours was the first encouragement I got to post it at the main page. (I thought it was too frivolous.)

      If you should ever be in the area, it would delight me tremendously to stroll five minutes behind my house and get a lobster fresh off the boat for you!Report

  26. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’ve only been posting for a short time but I’ve learned that you can have a website filled with divergent views and have discussions that don’t end in a shooting match.Report

  27. Avatar Zac says:

    As one of the lurkers who’s been reading this site for years, I will say it has definitely deeply affected by views in countless ways. When I started reading this site, way back in the hoary days when Freddie deBoer was still a regular (man do I miss that guy being here, I read this site and L’hote every day), I was pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. Thanks to those two sites and few others, mainly Andrew Sullivan and Matt Taibbi, I’ve reached a weird point where I’m basically a socialist on economic policy, a libertarian on social policy, and completely exasperated with foreign policy (in the BlaiseP mode of ‘if only these idiots knew what they’ve done’). I also find myself constantly wishing I could write (and think) half as well as the regulars here so I could participate in a meaningful way.Report

  28. Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    Not much to add. I’ve learned to TRY to turn down my rhetoric. I’ve learned that some pro-gun floks aren;’t raving luniti9cs, but actually have some good ideas about guns. I’ve learned that not all libertarians are Ayn Rand FYJIGM a**holes.

    I wish I had the time and resources to play here more regularly, but I try to read all the posts ESPECIALLY the ones I think I’m going to disagree with!)Report

  29. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Kazzy has changed, if not my mind on any particular issue, my perception of two things.

    The first is the role of teachers. Many teachers I’ve met socially have, shall we say, failed to impress me. Only a few seem like they have retained much of what they learned in higher education and only a few seem like they put a lot of intentional thought into what they do. Kazzy’s posts about how he approaches his job demonstrates a very high level of intentionality and care. If I had a kid, I’d be very happy to know that Kazzy or someone like him was my kid’s teacher. And this has impressed me that teachers are, or at least can be, every bit the skilled professionals that we both represented by their advocacy groups as being and that we hope they are.

    The other is the role of privilege and diversity. By repeatedly but not annoyingly mentioning that it’s easy to make lofty pronouncements from a position of privilege, Kazzy has reminded me that I sit in a very privileged position in society myself — and been something of a role model trying to make an effort to reach out to people of different positions and perspectives and listen with honesty to what they have to say.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Thanks, Burt. That really means a lot.

      Re #1, I often say that teachers unfortunately deserve the bad rep we’ve garnered, largely because how piss poor so many of us are. If we want reform within our ranks, at this point, it needs to come from within. I know I’ve got room to grow as an educator, but “intentionality” and “care” are two things I strive for so hearing you see that in my writing is encouraging.

      Re #2, I’m glad I’ve been able to do this without being a nag, which is how such efforts often feel, almost by definition. Given some of what you’ve written about the client base you serve, my hunch is that you do more reaching out than you probably realize.

      Most of all, thanks. Such praise from the likes of you comes with much gravitas.Report

  30. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    I hope this doesn’t seem like I’m damning with faint praise, but the thing I’ve learned and changed my mind about most is that sometimes, technocratic argument isn’t enough. There are issues beyond just presenting facts and dropping a QED and expecting people to change their minds. I’ve learned, somewhat, better to try to connect with issues outside of simply the policy scope, and also I’ve learned to let go of arguments and walk away. I think in some sense it’s a recognition of fallibility and a skepticism of positivism in the policy sphere in general.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Nob, one of my favorite moments here was you; the day you took a comment I’d made on a joke post about a certain runner who shot his wife, and front paged it. It was such a breathtaking awareness on your part. I don’t think you’ll ever know how much that meant to me.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        That’s certainly something I’ve also learned here, I think. The need to be more self aware when making arguments or even posts. I’ve taken a lot of things for granted, and when faced with people’s experiences and conversations I feel I have a lot of making up to do.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      Facts almost never stand alone. They mean very little by themselves, and are subject to interpretation. With fact, there is always an assimilation process before understanding may occur. Thus, fact is always subject to interpretation through our own experience.Report

  31. Avatar Freeman says:

    Kazzy actually changed my mind during the final TVD debates. He said TVD was among the League’s best when he was at his best — something I’d never observed, mainly because I’d rolled my eyes at so many of his comments on other posts that I rarely read any of his. So I went back and read a few of his OP’s and discovered a whole new TVD that I hadn’t seen in his comments. If only he had spent more effort on thoughtful OP’s and less on fart-fogging the comment section!Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I was actually just thinking that the frequency, depth, and overall quality of religious conversation has suffered since TVD left. It’s a damn shame he couldn’t stay out of his own way.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        It’s not infrequently that I will read a post here and wonder how Tom would have responded to it.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          We were made better by good Tom and worse by bad Tom. Unfortunately, it seemed like the scales tipped more and more towards the latter as time went on. It eventually became self-fulfilling, as Tom responded to damn near any criticism by doubling down and becoming pointless provocative. It really is a shame.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I think that was the election dynamics. Things were getting a bit heated here more often than usual for some time. Then the election happened, and it’s back to normal.
            Pre-election, I thought just about everything Elias wrote was standard liberal diatribe. Post-election, I enjoy his writing, and truly appreciate his insights.

            I wonder what the mid-terms will be like.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:


  32. Avatar zic says:

    On the libertarian/liberal thing:

    I am, in very many ways, a libertarian. There’s a whole lot that’s legislated that I don’t think should be legislated. When I read about what it means to be a libertarian, I think, “Hell, yeah.” But then cracks on the ground take what seems seamless and reveals it for something else; one person’s liberty is another person’s intrusion; the liberty to make paper from our local trees impinges on the water, air and forests in my world.

    I tried, and repeatedly asked for help at McArdle’s blog for a long time to wrap my head around it. It only made me feel more liberal then I was before.

    Here, it makes more sense to me; particularly from the perspectives of Hanley and Patrick. But a big part of that is that they seem to have those same built-in reservations that temper the baser instincts of greed. Often libertarian/conservative values are more aligned in our political world; but more and more, I question that; particularly since our modern-day conservatism doesn’t really look much like what I think of as conservatism; but I’m bohemian, and social conservatism strikes me as an opposite of libertarian values.

    I don’t have much pretension that a blog has a big impact on the world, but in this case, I do think there’s some potential for an alignment of a better common language and understanding of the common ground between libertarian and liberal; a shying away from the big government/anarchist labels to something more meaningful. If any smalls seeds of that spread beyond these electronic pages, that feels like progress.

    And I do have hope of it, of participating in it.

    Thank you for that.Report

  33. Avatar Katelan says:

    Long-time lurker, but I love David Ryan’s musings on boats and film-making, and although I’m probably way to the left of BlaiseP I’ve learnt so much from his writings. (And as a geek, I didn’t even notice the weirdness of the IP address in “For me, LoOG is a little camp fire in the woods at ” – it looked fine to me.) Thanks for so much thoughtful writing, all of you.Report

  34. Avatar Murali says:

    Dammnit, I don’t get any love… *grin*. I know I’ve changed since I first started. MaybeI’ve become less antipathic towards democracy. I also take inequality somewhat more seriously than I used to.Report

    • Avatar Plinko says:

      Everyone else I mostly agree with all the time and just sit in awe of the quality of their writing.

      I’ll lump you in there.Report

  35. Avatar Maribou says:

    You know, the thing that contributors to this community have really changed my mind about the most?



    So, uh, thanks for making one of my husband’s foremost hobbies a lot more intelligible and attractive to me. It’s like 1996 all over again in our house. (Well, not LITERALLY. But, you know, Internet-wise.)Report

  36. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    One, LoOG has helped maintain/restore my faith in the Internet as an interesting and civilized place. A variety of perspectives, and some very good arguments. We all get hot-headed at times; this is one of the few places where people apologize for doing so. The level of the discussion has certainly encouraged me to attempt to be a better writer. I don’t say thank-you as often as I should.

    Two, I only have one issue that I’m really concerned about. It’s long term — I probably won’t live long enough to see it resolved — and it’s happening in slow-motion, so it doesn’t come up and (obviously) no one has changed my mind about it. OTOH, my own belief is that looking back from 2100 it will be viewed as the issue from the first half of the century.Report

  37. Avatar aaron david says:

    Well, a couple of things:
    This site, and a few others, has definitely been working on changing my opinion on the death penalty.
    Through Kazzy I have seen just how insidious privilege can be, and to look at myself first when analyzing someone else’s opinion. Downside of that is, unfortunately I see it too often in the comment sections.
    The Libertarians here have helped me crystallize the positions that I hold, and to help me understand why I needed to leave the Democratic party and not look back. For that I want to thank Jason K., James Hanley and Jaybird.
    And Last but not least, I think that Erik deserves a round of applause for showing the world that with a lot of work, we can have a civilized conversation.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Off topic – but this is my favorite of all your gravatars so far.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        Well, thank you! It’s a little odd though, as it isn’t a Herge, it was a tribute to Tintin by Enki Bilial, my other favorite comic artist.

        My wife says that if other people have heard of it, Aaron is not interested. I am starting to think she might be right.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “Through Kazzy I have seen just how insidious privilege can be, and to look at myself first when analyzing someone else’s opinion. Downside of that is, unfortunately I see it too often in the comment sections.”

      Shiiiiit man, wasn’t it you who just the other day called me out for privilege on Russ’s sub?Report

  38. Avatar Fnord says:

    It’s weird to see so many people saying the League made them more libertarian, when I’d say the League has made me less libertarian (though, like some others, I’m not sure I can ascribe that solely to the League). Some of that is probably a different baseline: they started out as liberals and became more libertarian, I started out libertarian and became more liberal. But it’s weird.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I think this is pretty natural: when you actually have a conversation, rather than a shouting match, with people who disagree with you, it’s human nature to end up moving your own views a bit in their direction.Report

  39. Avatar Russell M says:

    I have learned that I CAN disagree with someone on the internet without it devolving into a
    bit-slap contest where all reason leaves mah heid.

    special shouts to Hanley and Roger. sometimes i agree with roger in a weird way(some market things we just go different ways to get at.) And Hanley is to me someone fun to disagree with. he makes you show the thought work on how you get from a to b and can help to sharpen my own argument.

    and Blasep gave the best written definition of a progressive a week or so ago that i have saved for faction day so i guess i learned to love his prose.Report

  40. Avatar Maribou says:

    Another non-substantive and yet interesting change of mind for me: I used to think photos were unnecessary clutter on good blog posts, and so when y’all decided to put images on most FP posts, I was quite grumpy.

    Nowadays I positively look forward to seeing what image will be up there – and I find they really add to my enjoyment of the posts. So, er, thanks for making me more visually-oriented, or something!

    (I think the tipping point was the incredibly gorgeous picture of an elephant that Tod posted to accompany his post on becoming a registered Republican.)Report

  41. Avatar James K says:

    I’ve learned two major things from my time here at the League:
    1) I’ve learned more about the United States – and how your culture differs from ours. There are a lot of nasty stereotypes about Americans floating around in New Zealand, and sites like this help me get past the prejudice.
    2) I’ve learned the value of being part of a community. I’m not a”joiner” by nature, so there aren’t many communities I feel truly part of. But the League is a place I feel I belong.Report

  42. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I can’t think of any distinct changes of mind or epiphanies. But I nevertheless feel obliged to try to put into words, inevitably insufficient words but words nonetheless, something of the valje of this place to me over the years.

    Basically, it’s the value of having a a large group of extremely smart people to think about and work on answers to interesting questions with. It inevitably influenced my thinking across the range of topics we discuss. But more importantly, I think what it’s done is constantly give me new suggestions and leads about ideas and topics that I want and need to learn more about away from here. The League has helped both put the ideas I’ve learned about in my own education and private studies in a larger context, helping to fill in gaps and situate the pieces of knowledge I did have inmy possession; AND it has helped my clarify and narrow the particular intellectual questions that most interest me, and occasionally resolved or advanced some open questions that I had been wrestling with since before I was aware of it. (Though it has certainly raised more questions for me than t has settled.)

    I’m sorry I can’t be more specific about the particulars, whether topics or individual League denizens, but I think that general sketch does more justice than particulars would. Just to give a sense, though: history, especially Founding and early 20th century U.S. history is probably the area where the most areas for new learning have been opened up for me. And the areas where my understandings have been most clarified or questions have been answered are around the range and relationships between political ideologies (particularly among liberals, conservatives, and libertarians in the U.S. but not only there), and then earlier in the League’s history the relationships between different systems of understanding (specifically science/empiricism/rationalism vis a vis other metaphysics, in particular spiritualism/religion) both as intellectual questions relating to “truth,”and ten also as a matter of how those systems are situated in civic and political life.

    So I want to thank all those who have given so much time and energy to make this place what it is, and also all those who have taken time to participate in these discussions, allowing all this development and learning to happen for me. Thanks everyone!Report

  43. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    I have only been here for a few months. I enjoy the wide variety of topics that get covered here, Front Page or otherwise. The post before this was about carpentry. I have learned about shipbuilding, baseball, and other topics that I cannot bring to mind right now. Some of these are things that I would never have thought to seek out on my own, but I really appreciate the exposure.

    Regarding the political discussion, this place is neither an echo chamber, nor a haven for trolls. Discussion tends to be much more civil than other places I have been to. Opinions tend to be well-thought out and well articulated. I cannot say that I have had my opinions changed on anything, but I have gotten a better understanding of some people who may hold the opposite opinion.

    All around, I find this a great place to hang out.Report

  44. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    The main thing I’ve learned from this blog is that there are libertarians who have something other than contempt or unconcern for poor, oppressed, or marginalized people/groups. I don’t agree with a lot of the libertarian viewpoints on this site, but I don’t automatically see them as actively malicious anymore.

    Russell’s contributed to a change in my thinking on same-sex marriage by making it a human issue rather than a political/policy one.

    Outside of political thinking – I’d like to give a huge thank-you to Jaybird for introducing me to The Sandman and providing a place where I can discuss so many things I like (Fringe! Game of Thrones! Babylon 5 soon!!) that’s so completely welcoming. It’s lovely to have a place where I can learn and talk about stuff I’m not very familiar with (comics, video games) without being treated like an outsider. Mindless Diversions is awesome.Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

      I don’t agree with a lot of the libertarian viewpoints on this site,

      I guess that means you are not Katherine Mangu-Ward, Managing Editor of Reason Magazine.

      I am also (im)patiently waiting for the B5 bookclub to start.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      (I am more than 2/3rds of the way through 2nd season of Game of Thrones, btw, and looking forward to discussing it with you soon.)Report

  45. Avatar Jason M. says:

    Since there was a call for lurkers, I’ll throw in my 2 cents. I can’t recall any major, mind-blowing changes to my thinking as a result of reading, but I have a much greater depth of understanding where libertarians are coming from; at least the ones posting here. I think the “No True Scotsman” problem remains, particularly as American Conservatives continue to sanctify certain libertarian planks as “Conservative Values (TM)”. As much as I now better understand and appreciate libertarian ideas, I still come away feeling its too little butter scraped over too much bread, but that could fairly describe any ideology.Report

  46. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I think I have written about this, but if not for me it has definitely been my stance on Same-Sex Marriage. After becoming friends with Jason and Russell and North (and Dennis Sanders long before he joined the League) it was impossible for me to not start thinking about how a lack of equality affected them. I’ve done a complete 180 on the issue and I’m glad it happened.Report

  47. Avatar Aidian says:

    Way late to this…and just a lurker… but I really appreciate the space you all have created here where there is rational discussion and even when it becomes heated debate it’s (almost) always respectful and about the issues.

    And if nothing else, this site is always worth a visit because once ever four or five days BlaiseP gets really worked up about something and goes on a tear, and it’s a beautiful thing. I mean that in (almost) complete seriousness… sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong, but the man is always entertaining as hell, and, most important, he never turns into an asshole while doing it. Big props.

    My opinion was changed about a relatively minor issue — regarding the boy scouts and gays, I had thought “eh, whatever, they’ll come around, lets not throw out the baby with the bathwater” and sometime while reading the comments I started thinking that this was actually a real issue that needed to be handled. Not that it matters…my scouting days are long past…so my opinion is meaningless, but it changed!Report