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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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208 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    So the NYT has figured out it can dox bloggers it doesn’t like in the hopes of silencing them?Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I wonder, though, what motivation does the NYT have for silencing SSC?

      He is, honestly, pretty lukewarm. He posts plenty of bad takes. He’s kind of spineless. His extended online community is full of fascists (which ironically his irl community is a batch of the weirdest queerbies in North America). But even given all that, there isn’t much value in silencing him.

      I say this as a person who very much dislikes him and the online community he created. Still, shutting down SSC — nothing is gained by this for anyone.

      What would motivate the NYC editorial staff to do this?Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

        Doesn’t have to be a motivation for this specifically. Sometimes the leviathan just crushes things because it is the leviathan.

        The more pertinent question is, why does the NYT have a policy of doxxing bloggers for a story who specifically request not to be doxxed, when they aggressively protect other sources who request anonymity.

        Such a policy strikes me as a tool specifically to target anonymous bloggers they don’t like, that might occasionally impact bloggers they are ambivalent to.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          The cruelty is the point.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

            From the milquetoast editors of the NYT?Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

              Structural racism does not require that anyone in the structure be racist. Likewise, structural cruelty need not require anyone in the structure to be cruel, merely unwilling to challenge the system.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I agree about structure. However, when we bash Trumpaloos by saying, “The cruelty is the point,” we mean that they outright enjoy causing suffering. They favor putting immigrants into cages, because they think immigrant deserve it. They want cops to blind protestors.

                Yes, it is structural, but when we say the, “cruelty is the point,” we’re naming the aspects that go beyond structure. We’re naming the deliberate part.

                Do the NYT editors want Scott to suffer? I find that unlikely.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Did he tell them what tying his professional name to his pseudonym would do?

                Did this change their behavior?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                I got the impression that he told the writer, who informed him of editorial policy. Who knows what happened behind the scenes among the editors.Report

              • As several news stories have pointed out, the NYT has repeatedly run stories, including one pretty recently about a blog, in which they gave the blogger’s pseudonym but not his real name.

                Two of the people interviewed for the story report that they were told that it would not be necessary to giver their real names.

                So the explanation that Cade Metz gave Scott appears to have been a lie.

                I think the most likely explanation is not that they wanted to get Scott but that they wanted to make the story more interesting in order to get more clicks, and didn’t much care if that happened to hurt the person the story was about.Report

              • Avatar David Friedman in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes he told the journalist. Read his explanation, linked above.

                So far it has not changed their behavior.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

                Most structural racism has no desire to see anyone oppressed. Hell, I bet in a lot of cases everyone involved in such racism wants the opposite.

                But people really like to see every policy as a Chesterson’s Gate kinda problem, so change is hard.

                So I return to, why the policy in the first place?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I agree. I’m drawing a line between “systemic {whatever}” and “the cruelty is the point.”

                When Trumpaloos encounter structural racism, they double down and say, “Yep! More of that!” That’s the cruelty. To them, police violence is good because it targets the subhuman.

                Cruelty — it’s the point.

                Is this the case for the NYT. If the editors discover that doxxing Scott will hurt them, will they say, “Fuck yeah. Let’s get that guy.”

                Maybe, but I’m not convinced.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

        Scott Alexander deeply needs an editor. He meanders too much in his posts. I mind myself loosing patience long before I get to the end of the post even if I find it interesting. He has too much tolerance for some really dangerous people on his blog. The comments section was the equivalent of the Weimar Reichstag, with everybody from squishy liberal pacifists to outright Nazis debating.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

          The way I see it, his primary flaw is a kind of spinelessness. He wants everyone to get along. However, he sucks at subtext. Moreover, while he intellectually understands how fash can manipulate people, he doesn’t want to confront them directly. So he lets them stick around and they fester.

          The big thing is male nerd resentment. That is a big part of how Scott built his brand. Thus, that is a big part of his audience. That is also prime feeding ground for online fash recruitment.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

            I think Scott is really big on the free market of ideas and letting anybody make their point when other blogs would have bashed down on somebody like Uncle Steve or similar people. In some ways it reminds me of usenet, where you had a bigger ideological spectrum in the group than you do on blogs. Most usenet groups would keep it Uncle Steve types though.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Someone I think Scott respects once said, that if you try to run a community that allows witches, you’ll end up with a community with three libertarians and a ton of witches.

              Sadly I can’t quote directly, because the person who said that just deleted his blog.

              Anyway, if you let the HBD crowd in — well they don’t argue in good faith. They gish gallop constantly, bad studies from bad journals, mixed with a smattering of good studies they have misrepresented, on and on. It’s tiresome. Trying to “logically argue” with them is a waste of time, because they’ll just drown you with verbiage, and they won’t change. The next day they’ll be back with the same wall-of-text.

              The correct response to such people is shunning, but Scott won’t do that.

              Anyway, given that, and given Scott’s nerd resentment, it was kind of inevitable which way his forum would fall.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “sure it’s bad what happened baby, but y’know, we told you all along that you were runnin’ with the wrong crowd, and it finally bit ya. cry about it all you like, it’s not gonna change what happened, and you could have stopped it any time you liked, but ya didn’t.”Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I also often have conversations with myself. However, I don’t post them online pretending to be talking to someone.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I like this symbol for me more than the other symbol. Is there a way that the administrators can make this my symbol. I think it reflects my personality better.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I think you would need to snip the screenshot and upload it to Gravatar.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

            The avatar is automatically generated based on a hash of your e-mail address. In layman’s terms, it converts your e-mail address to a number, and then uses that number to choose which parts to put together to make a face. Kind of like Mr Potato head. Just keep using the same e-mail address, and you get the same avatar. Admins have no control over it.

            For example, I’m changing one letter in my e-mail address for this comment, so I’ll get a completely different avatar.

            Or, like Aaron said, you can save the image and set it at the Gravatar site.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d says:

        I’m as puzzled as you. He already stopped calling out the Social Justice (sic, and sic) movement’s intellectual dishonesty and general awfulness years ago in response to the sustained campaign of harassment alluded to in the linked post.

        He did recently speak out against the smear campaign against Steve Hsu, so there’s that, but from what I understand, the guy who was writing the article is generally pretty cool and doesn’t really do kulturkampf.

        I’d be inclined to believe the explanation about having a strict real-name policy, if they actually had a record of consistently applying it, but apparently they don’t, so I’m not sure what’s going on.

        The author doesn’t even tweet very much, which makes me more inclined to believe that he’s a more or less decent person.Report

      • He’s kind of spineless. His extended online community is full of fascists

        I’ve only rarely engaged the comments section at SSC, and haven’t really followed Alexander elsewhere, although I’ve been dipping my toe in at Less Wrong and he shows up there.

        All that is to say, I don’t know really whereof I speak in addressing your comment. And if you’re referring primarily to his online community (and you said you were) or perhaps to his management of the comments section at SSCA, I don’t have much to say.

        However…..I really appreciate his general approach to what he writes about. I’m very receptive to people who don’t take sharp argumentative approaches to a lot of the types of issues he addresses. I’ve tried recently to read an e-book by Eliezar Yudkowski (sp.?…apologies to him), and I was so turned off by his in-you-face style of showing people how wrong they were, even though I suspect (from his own account) that Alexander might share similar views as his. But Alexander seems less willing to call people stupid (or irrational, or “non-Bayesian.”).

        If this all results in SSC disappearing forever, it’s a loss for me and I regret it.

        ETA: deleted stray sentence.

        Also ETA: What you say below about sexual exploitation in the rationalist community does seem like a red flag for me. Not concerning Alexander or SSC, but Less Wrong, which I’ve started to read more and more of. I’m not sure I understand what “rationalist” means (to them), and I’m very wary, for a lot of reasons. But I have found their recent (last 3 or 4 months….I probably started when Covid started, but I’ve read earlier posts, too) posts interesting.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          I can introduce a contrast: Scott Aaronson. He is in the same broad subculture as Scott Alexander. Like Alexander, he has had run ins with feminist cancel culture. He often stans for the same folks that Alexander does. So what is the difference?

          Aaronson clearly opposes any hints of racism, fascism, HBD, and so on. When you browse Aaronson’s comments, you seldom encounter that stuff.

          Alexander wrote a tedious post arguing that Trump wasn’t racist. It was idiotic. He wrote a lot of waffly garbage like that. His comments, and worse his Reddit, was a fash breeding ground.

          He spun off the worst parts of his Reddit channel, but continued to recommend it.

          He’s clearly not fash, but he continuously enables them. He gave them access to a fertile environment.Report

          • I tried reading Aaronson’s blog for a while, but it just wasn’t for me. Mostly that’s because what he wrote about was/is usually way over my head. I haven’t had enough experience in his comments section or in Alexander’s comments section to compare them, though.

            I do remember the post that Alexander wrote saying Trump wasn’t a racist. He was wrong. It wasn’t clear to me, at the time, that he was wrong, though.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to gabriel conroy says:

              He didn’t say Trump wasn’t a racist. He said Trump was grandpa-racist, not David-Duke-racist. Accounting for the histrionic predictions that were being made at the time, It has actually aged pretty well.Report

              • As I recall (if I’m thinking of the right post), he was saying that Trump was more or less a regular politician and that a good number of his opponents were crying wolf. I believed that at the time. I don’t believe it anymore.

                (To be clear, the question of whether people are crying wolf doesn’t speak directly to whether he’s racist or what kind of racist he is.)

                ETA: And to be clear, Alexander actually had evidence. He may have been ignoring or underplaying countervailing evidence, but he did have evidence for his view.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to gabriel conroy says:

                Here’s an archived version of the post:


                I think this has held up very well.Report

              • Thanks for the link. It’s the post I remember. I didn’t re-read it, so I (still) am going from memory, but I don’t think it’s held up well. I mean, as a way to chastise those of us (myself sometimes included) for crying wolf, it works well.

                I personally think Alexander has been proved wrong. I believe it’s true that Trump isn’t a SYSTEMATIC racist, or other “-ist.” But he has, in my view, proving all too willing to indulge and promote the racism of others, without even the window-dressing of speaking to supposedly widely shared ideals. Of course, my wolf-crying qualities would have led me to claim such window dressing was evidence of an underlying bigotry. So again, Alexander has a point.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

            I’ve noticed that Scott has been way too sympathetic to ideas I think are dangerous like anarchs-capitalism over time than I would like,. There are many questionable people that I remember from usenet, I was in my late teens and early twenties when usenet was dying, on Scott’s blog. These are people that were at best meh and at worst what I’d call actively evil in their beliefs on Slate Star Codex.

            Trump not racist? That seems like the people who are arguing that Trump doesn’t mind LGBT people that much compared to other Republicans. It might be technically true but he keeps opposing some deeply committed homophobes and transphobes to positions of power, so the practical difference is null and void.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          Let me add, Scott was consistently pro trans. In fact, he wrote one of the most thoughtful pro trans blog posts I’ve seen come from a cis person. However, his comment section was a rough place for a trans person. Whenver the issue came up, the same batch of transphobes would show up with the same dumb arguments. Nothing progressed. Conclusions were never reached. He allowed his commenters to continuously re-litigate the same bad arguments ad nauseam.

          And gosh, that community always had a gaggle of energetic transphobes.Report

      • “full of fascists”

        Could you define your terms? As someone who posted to SSC I’m curious whether I classify.

        So far as self-identified position is concerned, we have had at least one communist and one admirer of Stalin, several Marxists, several Trump supporters, several anarcho-capitalists and a larger number of less extreme libertarians, but I don’t remember anyone ever identifying as a fascist.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to David Friedman says:

          You don’t have to self-identify as fash to be be fash. In fact, if you’re fash and you want to spread the word, it’s very useful to “hide your power level.” That’s fash playbook 101.

          There certainly are plenty of NRx types eagerly recruiting on TheMotte. Moreover, scum like Steve Sailor is found often enough in the main comments section. There are others.

          However, it was probably a mistake for me to merely say “fash.” After all, we have at least one open white nationalist on this forum (sadly). That alone doesn’t damn a forum (although, really, the correct amount of fash for any social space is zero).

          Let me shift gears. How many regular comments on SSC, r/slatestarcodex, and r/TheMotte believe in HBD/”race realism”/IQ fetishism?

          Hey, that’s a bigger number, right!


          I think because Scott finds those to be a super interesting topics to debate ad nauseam.

          And yes, I know he backs away from the topic under social pressure. I also know he considers himself a victim because he has to. All the same, if you want to spread the word about “human biodiversity,” you have an ally in Scott.

          When he wrote his “Kolmogorov Complicity” thing, he specifically referenced science under the soviets. He drew an analogy to science here. But which science? Which particular topics?

          He didn’t say, but we know what he was talking about. Everyone reading that knew. Don’t play dumb.

          Biodeterminism, IQ fetishism, race realism, and sexual dimorphism of mental capacity.

          Don’t even get me started on fucking autogynophelia.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

            I, too, have noticed that everybody who has criticized his Kolmogorov Complicity essay has known exactly what the science-he-can’t-talk-about is.

            I imagine that if you had a science grad student who had never encountered “rationalism” before and had her read the essay, she’d immediately know what particular topics the essay was talking about too.

            Without having to read a single other essay of his or the comments.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

              It’s funny, because as much as the rationalists are the “smartypants” types, who I would expect understand Lisp, you would think they could understand second order effects. Once they admit openly that they are going to dogwhistle about race science, then they lose their plausible deniability every time they dogwhistle about race science.

              Them: “I didn’t literally say black people were inferior.”

              Me: “True, but you’re part of a community whose leader has publicly endorsed hiding these things. Plus you keep stanning for Charles Murray. It’s kind of obvious.”

              Oh, and this guy is a fascist:


              How can I tell? Easy. “America … was painstakingly built by the blood, sweat, and tears of it’s original stock…”

              Some things are obvious.

              What follows is a tedious pseudo-intellectual debate among smartypants nerds. What should follow is, “Shut up you fucking fascist swine.”

              I do believe we should confront the ideas of fascism, and debate surely plays a role. But this isn’t that. This is masturbatory nerdwank. It ain’t good.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                The only thing that one really has to worry about if the people who are saying “Shut up, you fascist swine!” start being joined by people who are saying things that would have been mocked as being fascist fewer than 3 cycles ago.

                Or, I suppose, if the cycles get short enough that you can easily find examples of today’s fashy position being a fashionable one post-twitter (but pre-today).

                (The “premature anti-whatever” position might be able to take off… now that people don’t read anymore… but it’s likely to turn into arguments over whether someone who opposed police unions in 2018 really deserves clout in 2020 for opposing them. “It’s not about clout. It’s about ending police unions.” “That’s what someone who only cares about clout would say! Ooooh, wait. There’s a flash mob pulling down the Emancipation statue! Gotta run!”)Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, I agree there is an inevitable slippery slope, but that goes both ways. I don’t have a good answer. Nor can I give a perfect place to draw the line. That said, race science should certainly be way outside of the Overton window.

                And indeed, the reason for this is moral. It’s also social. There are not-good reasons that the Stalinists purged certain viewpoints —

                About which, sometimes the Stalinist motivations were absurd. They suppressed the knowledge of linear programming, for {reasons}. Honestly I can’t even begin to understand why. You would think the cult of central planning would jump at tools like linear programming. They did the opposite.

                However, linear programing and race science are different, because … *deep breath* *another deep breath* … I mean jimminy fucknuggets look at how fucking racist our society has been. Look at the inertia of racism. Look at how the founders of the Pioneer Fund thought Hitler was peachy keen.

                I mean, just look!

                “Oh, but we must be empirical” (about bad studies published by racist liars).


                The social reasons we should summarily reject this stuff is because of racism and the clear desire for so many people to justify racism.

                Sure, investigate this stuff empirically — but it only needs to be done once, by experts. We don’t need to keep doing it. Nor should we have a gaggle of half educated nerds debating this topic endlessly. It’s nerdwank. It’s a cesspool.

                It will attract very terrible people to your forum.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Eh, it seems like crucifying wrongthinkers and people who hint at being able to conceive of wrongthought independently gets used as a way to distract from the fact that, no, we’re not going to change the zoning laws.

                It does appear, on the surface, to be “doing something” though.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m pretty sure I’ve never suggested crucifying anyone, only banning “race realists” from any forums you run.

                I remind everyone, I don’t approve of the NYT publishing Scott’s name. I certainly don’t want people harassing him at work, or any similar thing. That isn’t the point. All I’ve said is he created a fertile ground for spreading hateful reactionary views. He could have, and should have, chosen otherwise.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Then let me rephrase.

                Eh, it seems like cancelling wrongthinkers and people who hint at being able to conceive of wrongthought independently gets used as a way to distract from the fact that, no, we’re not going to change the zoning laws.

                It does appear, on the surface, to be “doing something” though.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                That sounds like whataboutism to me.

                I’m not sure if it’s really an argument for our against. After all, you can debate zoning laws in a forum free of white nationalists with ample fervor. Plus, your conversations will get sidetracked less.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                It’s more asking “what’s the goal?”

                If the goal is to address racism, I can’t help but notice that we’re making people anathema instead of changing things.

                Maybe the goal is only to change who holds the whip.

                I guess that’ll be obvious enough, in a short enough amount of time to notice.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                The goal is to have a better forum. Race realists attract more race realists. Moreover, the more otherwise high quality forums that do this, the less space for racists to recruit.

                That’s it. It isn’t complex.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d says:

                What this conversation is dancing around is whether it is acceptable to have taboo subjects.

                Subjects which simply are prohibited to be discussed, at the risk of social banishment.

                Most people have boundaries where they are willing to agree with taboos, for instance those who question age of consent laws.

                The question on the table is whether questioning racial equality is one of those taboo subjects or not.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I think things have gone well beyond that. Anyone who asserts that people should be treated like people without regard to race is probably going to be labeled a fascist now.

                Suppose someone popped into this forum and said
                “Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy, and God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men.” Clearly, this is an attack on BLM activists and is a racist dog whistle to white male chauvinists.

                Yet one of the defining features of a moral panic is everybody one day looks back on them on wonders “Why were people so angry and stupid?”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Well, we now live in a world without SSC.

                Some people think it’s better. Good people, I’m told.

                Some people think it’s worse.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “The goal is to have a better forum. Race realists attract more race realists.”

                And censors attract the censorious. Which is preferable is, of course, your opinion.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d says:

            The moralization of empirical questions is epistemic cancer. All of the hypotheses you listed above are entirely compatible with liberalism, so yes, it was very much a mistake to abbreviate this to “fascists.”

            Incidentally, I have never seen a “debunking” of a genetic contribution to racial gaps in cognitive ability that actually holds water. Although I think the balance of the evidence points towards a genetic factor, I remain open-minded and think that this question is unlikely to be conclusively settled until we actually have a good model for predicting IQ from genes. This is an empirical question, and people keep trying to make a priori arguments, which are invariably dumb because it’s not a question that can be settled that way.

            You accuse HBD proponents of arguing in bad faith, but seriously, have you seen the garbage your fellow travelers try to pass off as serious arguments? Not to mention the moralization, which is a nuclear-grade bad-faith move.

            All that aside, I didn’t even get the impression that that’s what the Kolmogorov Complicity post was about. The narrative machine has pushed so much more than that out of the window, and IIRC Scott never really wrote much about that sort of thing even before he got bullied into bowing out of the culture war. He called out bad SJ arguments and behavior, but I don’t recall him writing much about the biological aspects.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Here’s the thing. None of us are genetic biologists. So we have to depend on expert consensus.

              The consensus is against race realism, very much so. That said, the race realists have created an alternative publishing framework. They publish and cite each other, under the auspices of various pro-eugenics organizations. These organizations often date back to the 30s, such as the Pioneer Fund. They try to appear like empirical science, but they are not.

              And so the debate goes on and on. And yes, people like you will play the “both sides” card. Fine. I get it.

              It’s rubbish.

              What motivates people to create these alternative publishing frameworks? A commitment to truth? Why do you believe that? They have a long history of extreme racism.

              This is not Galileo saying “but it moves.” It’s people deeply committed to the idea that black people are stupid, who will do everything in their power to sell that conclusion.

              And yes, it’s a moral issue, because their racist motives are primarily immoral.


              And here is the big thing. There is a high degree of probability that someone will respond to this comment with a gish gallop of shit studies, which if I wanted to I could dig through and try to debunk, but no, I’m not going to do that. It’s been done many times by people more qualified than I am. It’s been done again and again and again and again and again.

              Just stop. Ban the “race realists.” They offer nothing but tedious bullshit that carefully masks their belief that black people are stupid.

              And like, at this point the proper response is, “Shut up you racist swine.” Really, we don’t have to engage with racists who pretend to be empirical.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

                This is from an essay I need to finish reading someday, but to me it sums up perfectly why trying to link genetics and intellectual ability is so fraught (hint: too many variables).

                How did my mom go from a top-tier student with a strong family background to selling perfumes at a flea market as a single mom hovering preciously close to Medicaid-level poverty? This isn’t my autobiography, so I’ll cut that part of the story short and summarize: mental illness. Many people fail to appreciate how success is just as much about emotional intelligence/stability as it is about intellectual and analytical capacity; and the formula for producing the former is often far more complex and nuanced than what’s necessary for the latter.

                And from what I read, that is but one variable that impacts intellectual development and ability. Other variables include diet, sleep, stress, culture, exercise, etc.

                You just can’t control for them all in any meaningful way.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                And as far as genetics, there isn’t any reason to think the the process of natural selection would select for that one variable of intelligence.

                What we call IQ is mostly abstract problem solving ability. In the Industrial age this is an important variable for a lot of the tasks we perform, but historically it was not any more important than physical dexterity or sociability.
                That is, the final outcome- whether you lived to pass on your genes- was only slightly affected by your IQ.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              The problem with “genetic component of cognitive ability” is that there isn’t much evidence of it in the wild. That is, it doesn’t seem to correlate to real world outcomes over time and geography.

              It doesn’t explain the past or predict the future, both of which are critical components of any valid scientific theory.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                One distinction that I see fail to get made a lot is the difference between “heritable” and “genetic”.

                There are many things that are both genetic and heritable, of course.

                There are a handful of things that are heritable but not genetic, though.Report

          • I note that you didn’t actually answer my question about what you mean by “fascist.” From the rest of your response, I conjecture that what you mean by it is someone who holds views on some politically relevant issues that you think he shouldn’t hold, or at least shouldn’t express. Combining that with your comment on the correct amount of fash for any social space, I conclude that you don’t want to talk with people who disagree with you and would prefer that other people not have an opportunity to talk with them either. The second half of that strikes me as closer to a fascist attitude than any of the things you mentioned.

            I don’t read r/theMotte or r/slatestarcodex, so can’t comment on them, but I have been a regular reader of SSC for years. I expect most people who post on SSC, like most other people, believe there are biological differences among humans, since it’s obviously true — I don’t know what beyond that you require for HBD. I expect most of them believe that IQ measures something and that it is of some importance — is that what you mean by “IQ fetishism”? If “race realism” means the belief that the only important reason for differences in outcomes by race is differences in heritable characteristics, I expect that few people commenting on SSC believe that, since it’s pretty clearly inconsistent with the evidence, but if you mean the belief that there are significant differences in the distribution of heritable characteristics by racial group as commonly defined, I expect most people on SSC, like most other people, believe it, and perhaps more people on SSC than elsewhere are willing to say so.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to David Friedman says:

              her opinion is that there’s absolutely no difference of any kind between any person in any way at all whatsoever, and anyone who says differently is an evil person who’s addicted to hate and wants an excuse for hating.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I find it especially interesting that the Journalist (and presumably the NYT itself) are citing it as policy. What exactly is the Policy, and why would one even have that as a policy… especially a policy that doesn’t employ prudence?

      What is “policy” in this case, and how in the world do we have institutions incapable of managing their “policies?”

      It’s Policy is a strange talisman.Report

  2. Avatar InMD says:

    So the basic lesson- if you are a government operative, politician, or appointee with serious and obvious self-interest in the matter on which you are commenting your anonymity is safe with the NYT. If, on the other hand, you are the hoi polloi rif raf of the land, daring to aim for intellectual honesty? Insert evil laughter here.Report

    • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to InMD says:

      This was exactly my take. Anonymous White House sources must be quaking in their boots this morning. /s

      (Written as someone who’s never read a word of that blog.)Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    There can be no dissent.

    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984Report

  4. Avatar veronica d says:

    One of Scott’s problems is his real name is fairly well known. I’ve heard it before, although I didn’t write it down. I work on the same team with people who know him irl. The point is, it isn’t a huge mystery. Sooner or later this was going to happen.

    Still, I see no point in doxxing him other than malice. Moreover, I’m not certain deleting his blog will help much, unless it motivates the NYT to change their minds. If they print the article, then anyone googling his name will still find a ton of unpleasant information about him.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      “If they print the article, then anyone googling his name will still find a ton of unpleasant information about him.”

      It’s not about what Internet People Are Saying About Him.

      If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Here is the way I see it: a patient googles his name. They find the NYT article. They google “Scott Alexander”. They don’t find SSC. Instead, they find things others have written about Scott Alexander. Those things will include fierce criticism, along with out-of-context excerpts.

        If, instead, his blog was present, they may spend their time digging into the blog, instead of what people say about the blog. I suspect this would be better for Scott.

        I’d rather be attacked for what I say rather than what others say that I say.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

          If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.

          If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.

          If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.
          If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.
          If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.
          If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.If you want to know what it’s about, ask your therapist if they have a blog and whether they’d want you reading it if they did.

          It’s not about Internet People Saying Mean Things. Internet people say mean things about therapists, by name, all the time, on Yelp and Google Reviews and Facebook and the internet in general. It’s about forming a personal relationship with your therapist outside of the session, which is a bad idea, and how Scott Alexander considered “reading my weblog” to be forming such a relationship, which is why he didn’t want a high-profile news source to publish his full name and directly link it to his weblog.

          “I’d rather be attacked for what I say rather than what others say that I say.”

          it’s fucking jawdropping that you say this while at the same time ignoring what he wrote in the sole post remaining on his weblog about why he deleted it.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Are you okay, dude?

            Don’t forget to breathe.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

              I mean, this is you:
              “I’d rather be attacked for what I say rather than what others say that I say.”
              and this is also you:
              “The correct response to such people is shunning, but Scott won’t do that. Anyway, given that, and given Scott’s nerd resentment, it was kind of inevitable which way his forum would fall.”

              And I kind of think you mean the second thing more strongly than you mean the first thing.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

                The difference here is Scott runs the forum. I’m not blaming him for what some rando said on another blog. I’m blaming him for the comment section on his own blog, where he moderates.Report

  5. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    It seems that the fundamental thing Scott wants to address is “what happens when a patient types my name into Google, in a naive way?”

    I can’t say this makes me more likely to read the NYTimes. Rather than asking whether he has a right to anonymity, we could ask what purpose is served by doxxing him? What value is added for the readers?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      A million years ago, I expressed concern that Joe the Plumber got doxxed for asking Obama a question on the campaign trail. I learned how much debt he had and how much money he made.

      Ken Bone? I know that he has a vasectomy.

      Soon I will know Scott Alexander’s last name.

      Never attract the attention of the gods.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        It’s not like he closely guarded the secret.

        He used to blog under his full name, then when he decided to go pseudonymous he changed is blogging account name rather than create a fresh account.

        So you can read his older articles on the site where they currently appear under the name “Scott Alexander”, and read the same article on as it originally appeared, where it’s under the name “Scott Alexander Lastname”.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I can’t think of any reason why the NYT or really any other mainstream media source wants to cover Slate Star Codex. It isn’t even really internet famous as a blog. The only thing more weird might be Good Morning America wanting to do a piece on Slate Star Codex.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    This story is weird in a few ways. It is very questionable ethics of the NYT to dox someone for a piece like this. Not sure what they are thinking or what their editors are doing. There is no purpose in it. They have a lot of editors trying to explain what they hell they are doing and this should lead to another, probably poor, explanation.

    SA has been doxxed as a i recall and as he says he already uses his first two names and his last name is out there. He is dancing around wanting to stay hidden but not really doing it. If you are really concerned about a pseudonym why use your first two names. I’ve never understood that about him. If you really want to not be known, then do that.

    I completely understand a doc or mental health pro not wanting a lot of their personal views out there. There are ways to do that of course. One is to not share them. If you want to share them then maybe a giant comment section is not a good thing to have. If you want a comment section then maybe it should be very tightly moderated.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak says:

      ” It is very questionable ethics of the NYT to dox someone for a piece like this.” Really? It’s just another step in the path away from “impartially” and providing the full story and towards full on support of the Left and their politics. I’d expect nothing less..Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon says:

        Ummm huh? The NYT is fully supporting the left is ludicrous based on the history of who and what they have published for years. Nobody is truly impartial. How doxing SA relates to being impartial is another big, huh?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

          See also: Lincoln was a Republican and the Dixiecrats were all Democrats.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            Comment rated almost 15% coherent.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              I’ll let you go back to appealing to the history of the institution to defend against recent misadventures then.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Umm yeah. I guess this is over 50% conherant. It is ludicrous to see the NYT as a vehicle for The Left. Tom “no quarter” Cotton doesn’t really get printed in The Nation. I guess cheerleading the rush to Iraq I is to far back to count as not being Left. It’s good to know Bari “IDW” Weiss works at a bastion of the left. Good work Mother Jones.

                The local paper of NY that often focuses on the interests of the richest NYer’s is a real bastion of the left. Yeah.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                We you aware of the various argle-bargles, kerfuffles, and foofaraws in the editorial office that followed Tom “no quarter” Cotton’s editorial? Here’s a Voxsplainer, if you haven’t.

                The editor who okayed Cotton’s editorial resigned for having run it.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah i’m aware of the struggles of a once great paper. Seeing the NYT at left wing is silly. It may be a lot of things but that ain’t it. There are all sorts of adjectives to describe the NYT, feel free to use them. But Left is still silly.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Well, you gave the Tom Cotton editorial as an example as if it didn’t result in people being tossed out on their hind end.

                I’m just trying to point out that defending the editorial posture today as if it were the same one as, oh, 2019 is a mistake.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to greginak says:

                I’m sure you can find editorials on NYT that are broadly supportive of social democracy. I doubt you’ll find any that advocate for anything to the left of that. You’ll find no arguments for anarcho-syndicalism, nor for Marxism, nor anything else of that caliber. For example, find an article that advocates the elimination of private property? I don’t think you can, particularly in the last five years.

                Regardless of the “kerfuffles” around Cotton’s essay, it was outright authoritarian. He advocated using state violence to suppress popular dissent.

                One can easily argue that the NYT favors “enlightened centrism” or “neoliberalism” or many similar positions. However, they aren’t “leftist,” not even close.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Sure. And the NYT has since accepted the resignation of the person who ran it and has given hints that if they knew then what they know now, they wouldn’t have run it. Certainly not in its current form.

                I’m not sure that it’s fair to use the editorial as evidence of how they’re totally willing to run that sort of thing given the resignations and apologies for running that sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar Zac Black in reply to Jaybird says:

                I agree, and I think hyperfocusing on this one incident when there are a million other examples of the point you’re trying to make is…odd. Does nobody remember when they were refusing to call torture torture? Are our memories so short?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Zac Black says:

                Hey, I’m down with saying that the NYT isn’t on the left… it pushed for the Iraq war! It published Tom Cotton!

                I’m also down with saying “those people don’t work there anymore and there was a revolt in editorial that resulted in a significant resignation and here’s a link explaining what’s going on there” as a response to that.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Fine, but how often do they “accidentally” publish an op-ed calling for a worker’s revolution?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d says:

                And even (or especially) when they leave Manhattan to do a field survey of “Real Americans in Flyover” they invariably find a rural white male conservative.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Can someone summarize that. I’m not signed up for NYT, and I don’t want to give them access to my info.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I opened it into an incognito window and listened to it using the audio recording.

                Basic summary: We need to dismantle a whole lot of institutions before we can rebuild America to achieve what America originally promised to be.

                (It’s really a sweet essay, if you don’t think about what dismantling institutions has looked like when attempted before.)Report

              • Avatar David Friedman in reply to Jaybird says:

                An OpEd, not an editorial. OpEds, unlike editorials, often present positions that the editors don’t agree with.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak says:

          I didn’t say that the NYT is fully supporting the left. I said very clearly that “it’s another step in that direction”.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Damon says:

            Can you support that claim? The NYT, as far as I can tell, tries to balance lukewarm centrism with an occasional gesture to the right. Can you show any editorials that supports any flavor of leftism stronger than AOC or Bernie? How frequently do they even stan for AOC or Bernie. In other words, if AOC and Bernie are on the edge of their local overton window, is that really “a step in that direction,” when they give as much attention to the right?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:


      maybe there’s just a tiny little itty-bitty baby BIT of a difference between “if you search the Reddit archives with the right terms you can find where someone posted my full name, and if you know that I’ve got a weblog and you know that’s my name you can link the two” and “the freakin’ New York Times posted my full name and tagged my blog directly to it”.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to greginak says:

      Yeah, Scott has been doxxed a million times over. He never even tried to separate his online identity from his identity-among-the-rationalists. We knew who he was dating, for example. He shared a lot of personal stuff.

      Note, back then he was a minor poster on a weird subcultural blog. Although it was partly online, the subculture always had a meatspace presence. Moreover, being a known online person will improve your status in meatspace. Thus it is unsurprising he would be open about who he was, not his real name, but enough so that when he showed up at a rationalist meetup people would know who he is.

      More or less anyone can show up at a rationalist meetup. They aren’t secret. Moreover, there are a ton of ex-rationalists who left the scene. A fair number of them know Scott IRL.Report

  8. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    I remember the thing with CNN and HanAssholeSolo, and CNN saying “well we COULD doxx this guy, but that would be WRONG”.Report

  9. Avatar Zac Black says:

    Well, this really sucks. SSC was one of the few blogs I still read with regularity, and while Scott and I may be pretty far apart politically in a lot of ways, I always enjoy his writing. Really hoping this blows over and SSC can come back like nothing ever happened.Report

    • Same here.

      Once in a while, I encounter a blog author whose writing I like and it’s a pleasure for me to read, that I start going through their archives and read…not everything, but everything that I find interesting. I started doing that with SSC just a couple weeks ago, although I had read occasional blog posts for the last several years when they came to my attention or I happened over thee.

      And now I’m only in April 2013, and it’s canceled. Too bad.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to gabriel conroy says:

        I suspect it will be back. First, the NYT might back down. In fact, I hope they do. Moreover, someone will probably post the archive. It’s floating around. Likewise, the expect Scott will start posting again with a new pseudonym.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

          Why would they back down? They don’t care what a bunch of neckbeard alt-right-adjacent Internet Males think, but they very much care what their friends think, and their friends all think that Scott Alexander getting doxxed is A-O-K…and even if their friends worried slightly about doxxing someone who specifically asked you not to do it, their friends definitely don’t think that you should do things because a bunch of neckbeard alt-right-adjacent Internet Males said you should.Report

  10. Avatar Carl Schwent says:

    Here’s what I wrote to the NYT –
    “About the Slate Star Codex, two points:
    First, you routinely protect sources names citing “journalistic ethics” (quotation marks deliberate), even risking jail sentences. Next time you’re in court, expect to have this thrown in your face. But he’s not a source, he’s a subject of an article. That makes him fair game?
    “Second, I don’t know if you have any reporters or columnists who are pseudonymous, but I do know of other papers where the restaurant reviewer, e.g., is pseudonymous and never has their picture shown so that they can go into a restaurant and not be recognized. Other people who need anonymity or pseudonymity to do their jobs don’t get that consideration?
    “I’m sorry, but I expected better out of the New York Times.”

    It’s not about Alexander’s politics or writing ability, or the NYT’s politics (or writing ability). It’s about a stupid policy. The right to privacy has always been tenuous, but can we at least have some respect for privacy? Any paper CAN publish anything about anyone and if it’s reasonably true, you have no recourse. But that doesn’t mean they should. To not honor a reasonable request for privacy in despicable.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Carl Schwent says:

      I’d write them, but do they even read that stuff? I wonder if bashing them on Twitter is more effective. Is anything effective?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Carl Schwent says:

      Well written.

      Thank you.Report

    • Avatar Paul in reply to Carl Schwent says:

      For me, the fact that he’s the subject of the article rather than a source for it is all the more reason for them to not reveal his actual name.
      I can see a prima facie reason for journalists to ask a source to put their name to a given comment (particularly if the source initiated the contact). I don’t see any such reason when writing about a pseudonymous online personality. If you’re writing a piece on a pseudonymous blogger, then all things being equal the piece you’re writing should leave her/his pseudonymity intact.
      It’d be extremely weird if the NYT published a feature article on Banksy an insisted on publishing his actual name, saying “Sorry, [Banksy’s real name]. We have this policy.” I don’t see that this situation is any different. Hard to say whether its incompetence or malice that’s in play here.Report

  11. Avatar veronica d says:

    Welp, someone I follow on Twitter just doxxed him.

    I unfollowed them. Needless to say I’m disappointed.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

      Just doxxed Scott Alexander?Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Yep. They posted his real name.

        The poster is a well known ex-rationalist who has an axe to grind with them. I followed them because they have legit complaints, dealing with systemic sexual exploitation in the rationalist community. I agree with them on many particulars.

        However, posting Scott’s real name seems out of line to me. It won’t help.

        I enjoy many of this person’s tweets. They’re smart and interesting. The fact they had beef with the rationalists never bothered me, because their beef was legit. That said, posting Scott’s real name is irresponsible and petty.

        It’s probably not a big deal. Those who follow this person are probably the sort of people who either already knew Scott’s name or could easily find out. They aren’t exactly the NYT. Moreover, they only posted Scott’s real name. They did not post “Scott Alexander,” so a person would have to be familiar with current events to connect the dots. This won’t leave a google trail.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      Lotsa people doing it, actually, to show how morally superior they are by spreading around the name of a guy who said “I don’t really want my name spread around kthx”.

      But I guess it’s his own fault really, for, y’know, not shunning the HBD gish-gallop crowd and all that. He should have known what he was in for, letting those people hang around his blog.Report

  12. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I don’t have a strong opinion on SSC, but it doessound like the guy is getting a raw deal from the NYT for no apparent reason.

    I will say that the issue of anonymity is complicated and whether it is right or wrong is highly dependent on context and conditions. There’s a good reason why we as a society simultaneously protect whistleblowers and enshrine the right to confront ones accuser in law.

    As for myself, I cloak my real identity in an obviously absurd Big Nose, Beard and Glasses disguise.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    From The New Yorker (note: this is not The New York Times):


    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

      It seems like a fair article. Personally I would have been far more critical of Scott, but all the same, the article hits some important points.

      I think the whole “mistake” versus “conflict” theorist thing is kind of self-congradulatory bullshit. The way I can tell is this: notice how the “greys” are in full “conflict theory” mode with the NYTs. Notice how, previously, they considered “skin in the game” to be a monetary bet, which most of them can well afford to lose, and not their literal skin in the game. However, now that Scott has real skin in the game, and by extension his community feels a manifest threat, then suddenly they go gloves off. There is little attempt to reason with the reporter or the NYT. Instead, they switch to power moves, such as threatening to cut off access to tech journalists. It’s very much “us versus them.”

      Which of course, it is. It has been for a long time. The wealth of the “app crowd” involves big VCs investing big money into products that deepen precarity. The threat of an extreme wealth gap is real. The threat of a permanent underclass is also real. The machine of Silicon Valley largely feels exempt from this, and they act accordingly. Some claim to care, but they do little to give the precariat either voice or power.

      Their battle with the “establishment media” is not a challenge to elites. It’s a battle over who gets to be the elite — in other words, who gets to act with impunity.

      To my view, neither side leaves much to recommend it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

        The article was better than I expected going into it.

        But I pretty much agree with this entire thread here:

        I agree that it’s about power. And Scott destroyed his blog instead of allowing himself to be doxxed (or even cancelled).

        Masada 2020.

        (I’m also surprised at the sheer number of folks who think that defecting back is a bad play in an iterated game.)Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

          Obviously “defecting back” is a good strategic choice, at least sometimes. On the other hand, game theory is simplistic and life is not. Moreover, I really don’t want the SV crowd to get good at the game, given that they are a social space that lionizes people like Thiel, Hanson, and Murray. The lords of Silicon Valley are too powerful already. The rationalist types are clever nitwits who don’t really grasp the context of what they do.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

            “The lords of Silicon Valley are too powerful already. ”

            you’re…really going with “Scott Alexander is one of the dark lords of the universe”, here, you’re unironically going with thatReport

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

              No I’m not “going with that.” Go reread the headline of the article: Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media

              Okay, read it carefully. Sit back. Take a breath. Notice the part that says “…and Silicon Valley’s…”

              See, it’s not just about Scott. There is a bigger context here.

              Now don’t you feel clever.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “it’s not just about Scott.”

                I see Scott Alexander saying “please allow me to control my identity”, and I see a powerful media organization saying “no, we think we should control your identity”, and I see you, of all people, saying “yes, the powerful organization that probably doesn’t have individuals’ best interests in mind is should definitely have the power to control individuals’ identities.”

                And you’re saying it because you don’t like the people who comment on his weblog.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Show me where I said the NYT was right to reveal (or I guess threaten to reveal) Scott’s name.

                You’re a liar.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                If you mind it, you’re certainly doing everything possible to convince us otherwise.

                Yes, I see where you say “oh it’s bad”, and I see where you always follow with a “but”, and I know what it means when someone says “yes, but”.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

                It’s possible to both 1) dislike Scott and 2) think revealing his name would be unfair to him.

                Regarding your consistently pathetic attempts to trap me with “gotcha” arguments — it’s like, whatever dude. You provide irritation but no insight. I suppose you can be proud that I noticed you.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

      I know this is terrible, but it would be morbidly funny if the NYT ran the article tomorrow doxing him. That would generate more Twitter drama than hexing the moon.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

        He’s certainly painting a target on himself.

        That said, there was recently a bit of drama over the NYT doxxing Tucker Carlson (the NYT denies that they were going to, Tucker Carlson says that he successfully demonstrated that it’d be a bad idea).

        Doxing Scott Alexander would be a great opportunity for the NYT to demonstrate that they can do damage to *SOME* of their ideological enemies.

        Remember the scene in A Bug’s Life where Hopper wants to hit Molt, but doesn’t, so he hits another guy? That was funny.


        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

          Well, Carlson claimed they were going to print his home address, which is silly and demonstrates the gullibility of his audience — who in turn went after the reporter, who had done nothing.

          So something something cancel culture.

          At this point, the NYT would gain nothing by printing Scott’s full name, although I’d love to see them dig into the seedy side of SSC.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

            “I’d love to see them dig into the seedy side of SSC.”


            when you ask why there don’t ever seem to be any reasonable conservative voices on this site, why nobody from the Con side ever seems to want to have a discussion, why nobody wants to have a conversation…here’s one of the more active posters on the board suggesting that Slate Star Codex, of all places, has a seedy side.


            what’s the use of even talking to this person? if that’s where they’re starting then we’re gonna need to go from Mars to Venus before we’re even on the same planet, let alone somewhere that we can find common ground.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

            At this point, the NYT would gain nothing by printing Scott’s full name

            I don’t want to suggest that they’d gain something by doing it.

            I was suggesting that they could vent some frustration by harming someone.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

              It’s a fairly large organization. There is no reason to think those feeling directly hurt by the Colbert nitwits are the same people who would make decisions about SSC. Moreover, they could also vent frustration a multitude of healthy ways. Also, any reporter or editor who prints his name would have to deal with an army of socially maladjusted rage-nerds, both on Twitter and perhaps real life. No one wants to deal with rage-nerds. They have a lot of free time.

              In other words, I really don’t expect them to print his name.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Oh, I’m sure that they’re not the same people.

                I’m merely suggesting some sort of solidarity between the folks there who haven’t resigned yet.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                See, you have the same victim complex Scott does 🙂

                I mean, I’m yanking your chain, but I do think a lot of very powerful “nerd sphere” people are fueled by a nerd victim complex, which distorts how they view the world.

                Note, out in the broader world, a lot of “victim” stuff is just DARVO. I’m morally certain that Tucker Carlson plays constant DARVO games. Any fool can see that. It’s cynical and we should mock him.

                The “nerds” however — let’s take a pretty obvious case: Scott AAronson. In my view, Aaronson does not engage in DARVO. That said, he constantly plays the victim card. So what’s the difference?

                I think Aaronson has a genuine trauma response to any sense of social rejection. To this I’m sympathetic. I’ve mentioned before I have ADHD. Now go read this:

                It’s hard to describe how I felt the first time I read that. A light went on in my head. Heck, fireworks went off, a thermonuclear blast, fucking supernovas.

                Let’s just say it explained a lot.

                I’m not saying Aaronson has either ADHD or RSD. I’m saying his response to criticism and social difficulty is out of proportion. I believe it genuinely hurts him.

                He also has empathy, so what happens inside his head when he sees someone like Hsu being criticized?

                Obviously I can’t read his mind. I’m guessing. But it’s an educated guess based on my being a weird-nerd who can painfully recall how things feel to me.

                Aaronson has a lot of fucking hard trauma. I suspect he maps his pain onto Hsu. He puts himself into Hsu’s shoes.

                Of course, Aaronson isn’t chummy with holocaust denialists. His hobby isn’t eugenics and reductive IQ research. He doesn’t espouse race science. In other words, I think his empathy toward Hsu is misplaced, and we’d all be better served if he instead had empathy for the students who don’t want Hsu exercising administrative power over their research.

                Okay, enough about Aaronson. He’s just one guy. However, he’s also part of an “ideo-sphere,” which includes the VC crowd, Theil and Musk, the IDW, the “low decoupler” shitheels like Robin Hanson, the “race realist” crowd like Sailer, etcetera. As a group, these people have enormous social power. Moreover, many of them are as cynical as Carlson, and just as quick to deploy DARVO.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I see it more as he was sure that he was a “pre-victim” and everyone told him that he was, simultaneously, paranoid and someone who needed to change in order to prevent something bad from happening to him (which would be a shame, to be sure).

                I’m not sure that the NYT scare really disabused him of any of his notions (nor those of any of the people who see him as One Of The Good Ones That I Wish We Had More Of).

                My victim complex is probably similar. I know that I am a very, very small fish. Nowhere near as famous as Scott Alexander (who is, apparently, famous). So I’ve got that going for me, I guess.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “Okay, enough about Aaronson. He’s just one guy. However, he’s also part of an “ideo-sphere,” which includes the VC crowd, Theil and Musk, the IDW, the “low decoupler” shitheels like Robin Hanson, the “race realist” crowd like Sailer, etcetera. As a group, these people have enormous social power. Moreover, many of them are as cynical as Carlson, and just as quick to deploy DARVO.”

                …are we still talking about Scott Alexander? I mean, you just blew up at Jaybird for changing the subject, so, figured I’d ask.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

              And heck, signaling that You Don’t Knuckle Under To The Alt-Right, signaling that You Don’t Listen To Neckbeard Incels; these are signals that the NYT’s readers like to see, at least as far at the NYT seems to figure.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to veronica d says:

            I think its ironic that in all this breathless talk about the awfulness of reveling people’s real names, every single newspaper prints the real name of its reporter, editor and publisher under every story.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              There are hundreds of thousands of teenagers making Tik Toks right now trying to go viral.

              And Scott Alexander doesn’t want the NYT to print his real name.

              It really makes you think.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m having a hard time being sympathetic to Scott here.

                He wants to be famous as a pundit and blogger, but somehow shield his identity behind anonymity and is asking us to criticize anyone who punctures his self constructed veil.

                I don’t have much criticism of a journalist who prints his name. It seems entirely fair and reasonable.

                And I notice the creeping expansion of the word “doxxing”, from printing someone’s address and phone, to simply printing their name.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You don’t have to be sympathetic to anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

                I honestly find it gets in the way of maintaining moral superiority over them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m not sympathetic to someone demanding that I criticize a journalist for publishing the name of a famous person.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                This is being presented as a moral injustice, that a journalist is not respecting his request to be both famous and anonymous.

                We are being invited to consider publishing his name to be “doxxing” as if it were on par with publishing the home address of some minor blog commenter or non famous individual.

                Scott is like one of these celebrities that aggressively publicizes their every move, then gets upset when a papparazzi photographs them going out to dinner.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                (Hey, if I knew his real name, could I look up where he worked? Maybe even lived?)

                Ah, pseudonymity. It provides all of the benefits of fame without any of the costs.

                Outing him could be seen as redistribution of a sort. A tying of costs to benefits.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Even more creepy, what if we knew the real name of the reporter, or even the name of her employer and the address of their office??Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Does “consent” matter?

                Is there a point at which we should assume that it is implied?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes, there is a lot of legal theory of when a person becomes a “public figure” versus a private figure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t know about the legal theory.

                I do know that I know a lot of the private details of the lives of Joe the Plumber, Ken Bone, and a handful of other “viral” celebrities.

                And I think that my line of “public figure” is higher than what it seems to be in practice.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, we can always do some basic reading:

                Scott Alexander easily fits the definition of “limited public figure.” I consider that obvious on the face. Moreover, given that his defenders were fairly high profile people, public figures themselves, and some described him as on the level of Mark Twain, that is pretty good evidence he is a public figure.

                It’s hard to argue that 1) he isn’t a public figure, but 2) the loss of his blog is on the magnitude of the loss of the Library of Alexandria, which was a claim that was made.

                Personally I don’t believe that Scott is as important as Twain, nor that SSC is as important as the Library of Alexandria, but many influential folks in the Silicon Valley network seemed to think so.

                So this is definitely a “you can’t have it both ways” discussion.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “Scott Alexander easily fits the definition of “limited public figure.” ”

                so does literally everyone in the world, if you go by that webpage


                like I said, here you are riding like hell for the position of “you don’t control your identity, society controls your identity”, which, why are you doing that? why do you want that?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d says:

                Okay, so I’m looking for specifics. Sadly, trying to search for specific statements I recall seeing on Twitter is — well — beyond the scope of my meager google-fu. “Scott Alexander” gets a lot of hits on Twitter.

                Anyhow, I found this, from Scott Aaronson’s blog:

                I’ve considered SSC to be the best blog on the Internet since not long after discovering it five years ago. Of course my judgment is colored by one of the most notorious posts in SSC’s history (“Untitled”) being a ferocious defense of me, when thousands were attacking me and it felt like my life was finished. But that’s merely what brought me there in the first place. I stayed because of Scott’s insights about everything else, and because of the humor and humanity and craftsmanship of his prose. Since then I had the privilege to become friends with Scott, not only virtually but in real life, and to meet dozens of others in the SSC community, in its Bay Area epicenter and elsewhere.

                In my view, for SSC to be permanently deleted would be an intellectual loss on the scale of, let’s say, John Stuart Mill or Mark Twain burning their collected works. That might sound like hyperbole, but not (I don’t think) to the tens of thousands who read Scott’s essays and fiction, particularly during their 2013-2016 heyday, and who went from casual enjoyment to growing admiration to the gradual recognition that they were experiencing, “live,” the works that future generations of teachers will assign their students when they cover the early twenty-first century. The one thing that mitigates this tragedy is the hope that it will yet be reversed (and, of course, the fact that backups still exist in the bowels of the Internet).


                I guess all I can say is that, indeed, many high influence people in SV share these views, although Aaronson clearly feels them quite strongly. I saw many Tweets from names you know expressing similar views.

                So is Scott Alexander a “public figure”? More specifically, does being a “thought leader” among SV elites make one a public figure?Report

              • Avatar KenB in reply to veronica d says:

                So this is definitely a “you can’t have it both ways” discussion.

                I know many people have said many things about this issue, but I’m not sure who exactly wants to “have it both ways.”

                Scott’s position is that he would prefer to blog pseudonymously, but that if that’s not possible, he’ll stop blogging due to his professional and personal concerns. Given that, he and many of his readers feel that whatever little value there may be in printing his full name is more than outweighed by the loss of his blog.

                The rest of it is noise — who cares if other conventions and rules support the NYT’s “right” to do so, when there’s no obvious reason *to* do so?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to KenB says:

                Agreed. That analysis was limited to the question “Is he a public figure?” I was not (at least not in that and related comments) commenting on whether that implies he should have his name printed.

                “Should the NYT, as policy, always print the full names of public figures who prefer a pseudonym?” is a different question.

                As a matter of record, the answer is no. In the past they have respected the pseudonyms of a number of public figures, including one of the Chapo Trap House guys, plus Banksy. Therefore, the claim that it is “policy” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

                Another question is, “Should the NYT print the full name of people who prefer to use a pseudonym in some cases but not others? If so, which cases and why?”

                That’s a very good question. I expect the NYT will never answer it.Report

              • Avatar KenB in reply to veronica d says:

                Yes, that is a good question. In some ways, the “public figure” status cuts in the other direction, if it’s the pseud itself that’s the public face — I can see the argument for not letting someone hide behind a temporary mask that they could use to say/do something irresponsible and then toss away at a moment’s notice, but for people who are primarily known by their pseudonym and have a vested interest in maintaining the reputation of that name, I think the argument becomes much weaker; at least as long as they’re not obviously evading responsibility by using it (and here it starts to get fuzzy, I guess).Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to KenB says:

                One line of attack I’ve seen is this: that Scott often talks about patients on his blog, plus he’s obviously a terrible doctor for {reasons}. If that were the case, I could see a justification.

                To be very clear: I do not agree with those arguments, as least as they are applied to Scott.

                However, I do accept the form of the argument. Just because it doesn’t apply to Scott, I can see how it would apply in a hypothetical situation.

                (I’m just being a “high decoupler” here, folks! If you support Scott and his ethos, then you’re not allowed to get mad at me. That would make you a “low decoupler” who cares about context.)

                (You’re never allowed to get mad at a “high decoupler,” regardless of what we say — at least if you follow the SSC ethos.)

                (I’m getting sidetracked here. Anyway…)

                For example, there is a small handful of doctors who work with trans patients who are — well — literal fucking monsters.

                If you’ve seen the Netflix show Sense8, the character Whispers is based on a real guy who used to run a famous gender clinic. Obviously the details have been changed, but it was a pretty spot on portrayal of how awful he is.

                Anyway, say one of those doctors ran a blog where they were even more openly horrible toward trans folks than they are in public. Say I (or other trans activists) discovered this fact. Would we then be justified in letting people know that terrible blogger X is really terrible doctor Y?

                Fuck yeah we would.

                Anyway, I think there is a burden of proof here, or at least a “burden of argument.” I don’t find the “bad doctor” argument against Scott convincing. I don’t think the NYT should either.

                I suppose, in his case, this might fall under professional review. However, I’m led to understand that Scott’s employer is aware of his pseudonym and his blog — at least I’ve heard this. It seems plausible enough. In that case, I’m satisfied that any ethical questions have been resolved in his favor. That’s enough for me.

                I’m happy to focus my critiques of Scott on “Scott Alexander” and leave “Scott {last name}” out of it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yes, there is a lot of legal theory of when a person becomes a “public figure” versus a private figure.

                Oh good, then there should a relatively bright line test you can use to demonstrate how Scott has desired to be a public figure.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I think running a widely read blog is not unlike publishing or editing a widely read newspaper, so would it be fair to compare Scott Alexander to James Bennett of the NYT?

                Or maybe a widely read columnist like Michelle Goldberg or Andrew Sullivan?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So, how many readers do you need before you are too widely read to expect anonymity?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Like I said, this question has been widely discussed and litigated with regard to how public is “public”.

                I don’t have a handy clever line to offer, but that’s kinda the point.

                It doesn’t seem like some obvious moral injustice that a reporter might publish the name of a person whose blog has the level of traffic that SSC does.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you don’t know what the dividing line is, how can you be so certain SSC has crossed that line?

                Or is this like porn?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Much less enjoyable than porn certainly.

                But I view Scott as on the same level as a newspaper columnist, for about the same reasons.

                By the way, the literary world has long had a tradition of “nom de plume” but it has always operated within a set of norms and expectations.

                Speaking from behind a hidden identity always had some air of transgressive danger, like a revolutionary or whistleblower.

                But it also has a tradition of shame, of secret smear campaigns and whispers in the shadows.

                I don’t see SSC as operating in either fashion, where a reasonable person would find a compelling case for anonymity. He isn’t a government source bringing acts to light, he isn’t in danger of injustice.

                He just wants to be famous and speak freely, but not have his clients read his words.

                I don’t see why journalists, whose job it is to report the facts, should be obliged to comply with his wishes.

                If I went to a demonstration and got interviewed, I could ask the reporter not to use my name, but they aren’t under any sort of obligation to comply.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Thing is, he isn’t hiding behind a name like, say, I am (Oscar Gordon is not even close to my real name, and one of the reasons I chose it is because a Google search will result in a whole lotta ‘not me’.

                Alexander actually uses his real name, just not all of it. He has a pretty reasonable argument to not have his name associated definitively with his blog.

                So aside from ‘The Truth’, what value is there in refusing his request to not use his full name?

                Sure, the paper has no obligation to honor the request, other than failing to do so damages their credibility and the trust people would have that they’ll respect the reasonable requests of other subjects.

                But I guess if the NYT figures it has credibility to burn…Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                They weren’t under any obligation to publicize it, or hide it.
                So I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other.

                And, gentlepersons of Ordinary Times-
                Do not.
                Under any circumstances.
                Google my name.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                They weren’t under any obligation to publicize it, or hide it.

                That’s not quite right. Journalistic standards establish criteria for what’s newsworthy as balanced against potential harms or other consequences. Seems to me they’re under a prima facie obligation to *not* publish unless those standards are met, ie., that disclosing his name serves a legitimate journalistic purpose (beyond merely receiving clicks) etc etc.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                What would a dividing line look like?

                I think, in a sense, it has to be like “porn.” How else could it be?

                Recall, the “public figure thing” is to determine who can sue for what. If I say, “Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist,” Trump cannot sue me. Do you want a world where he could?

                I’m pretty sure you don’t want that world.

                Although it would be funny to watch all the lawsuits that Hillary Clinton could churn out against something like 34902394823094 dipshit right wingers. That would hilarious.

                (Note, it would not actually be hilarious.)

                Did you know that David Nunes is literally a cow. No really! They sequenced his DNA and discovered it matched the cow genome by 99.65%. Remarkable.

                (Darnit I hope he doesn’t sue the mods of the forum to force them to dox me, so he can sue me — of course, that’s just what a cow would do.)

                I suppose Popehat would finally notice me! Yay!

                Anyway, I think Scott Alexander is at least a “limited public figure” in the context of discussion Silicon Valley and the broader “nerd-sphere.” He’s a big deal there.

                Moreover, according to this article: , an “ordinary citizen” can be considered a “public figure” if there has been “substantial public debate” about them.

                That’s curious. What that means is this: if someone gets thrust into the limelight, then once that happens, they magically become a public figure.

                It’s weird, but I see the logic. Take Jessica Yaniv. (Please, take her, put her somewhere where I never hear of her again.) Is she a public figure?

                Obviously. She is now.

                Am I allowed to point out that she is a wretched narcissist who seems to have an unsavory attraction to kids and dammit she’s living ammunition to people who want to make trans people look bad? Can I say that?

                Yes I can. And I do. Yeesh. The cringe is visceral.

                (No really, it is physically painful when I read about her. It actually hurts my brain.)

                Can she sue me?

                No, she cannot.

                Has there been “substantial public debate” about SSC and its author?

                Yep, sure has. We’re doing it now. Funny how that works.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Passive aggressive much?

                Which disagreements are we discussing?

                For example, I’m a finitist, but a number of my coworkers are full on classicists who believe ZFC set theory. Fucking weirdos!

                However, I have a great deal of love and sympathy for them, despite the fact we disagree about the ontology of mathematics.

                Like, people can overcome differences. True peace and harmony is possible. Yay diversity.

                I don’t like sports, but I understand that people who cheer for competing sports teams can still be great friends. Uncanny, right?

                Are you aware there are people who like video games that I don’t like? No really. It’s true. Wild.

                So which disagreements do you mean?

                I can suggest a few:

                Black people are naturally stupid and there is not much that can be done.

                The government should forcibly sterilize undesirables.

                Trans people are sick, deviant freaks, and they are a threat to the social order.

                In fact, all LGBTQ people are thus.

                (((They))) secretly control the world and have tricked us into believing in the holocaust.

                Feminism has ruined the romantic lives of men, thus we should enforce patriarchy and monogamy.

                I could go on.

                Are those the disagreements we’re talking about? Be specific.

                I can disagree with a friend over Star Wars versus Star Trek. It’s rather different if they believe that black people are subhuman filth. I don’t get along with those people.

                “Oh Veronica, hur dur, you just want to feel morally superior. Gotcha! I am very smart.”

                Geezus fucknuggests, do you hear yourself?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I do hear myself.

                Which is why I wonder at what you seem to be hearing.

                Because they appear to be two very, very different things.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s because you constantly dodge the issue. We’re not merely “disagreeing” with people over random things. The content of the disagreement is critical to understand the nature of the disagreement. Moreover, we don’t feel a shallow moral superiority, as a Trekkie might feel an arrogant superiority over a Star Wars fan. It’s not like that.

                We know what you’re doing. You’re not that clever. You ain’t Socrates. Your “aww shucks” act is tiresome.

                Instead, you’re a traumatized nerd who deliberately occludes the difference between debates over race and gender with debates over your favorite action figures.

                It’s fucking childish, dude.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I think it’s that we’re disagreeing what the issue is.

                And you want to talk about issue Y and I want to talk about issue X and the fact that I keep talking about issue X when you want to talk about issue Y is interpreted by you as me dodging the issue.

                When I am not dodging the issue. I’m merely not changing the subject.

                (Thanks for the free psychoanalysis, though.)Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “I can disagree with a friend over Star Wars versus Star Trek. It’s rather different if they believe that black people are subhuman filth. I don’t get along with those people.”


                …this is the part where you show us where Scott Alexander believes that black people are subhuman filth.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

                You’re not very good at shifting context, are you?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                veronica d: “You’re not very good at shifting context, are you?”

                also veronica d: “You constantly dodge the issue.”Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

          Carlson was engaging in a preemptive attack on NYT to blunt the giant ass story of all the various allegations against Fox personalities. Classic “I’m really the victim” here move.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            Yeah, what a jerk!

            Anyway, it’d be funny if the NYT doxxed Scott Alexander.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

              LOL. Well caring about rape allegations is past it’s sell by date i guess. I wish them all well.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Oh, is that what we’re arguing about?

                I thought we were arguing about whether the NYT would have doxxed him in the course of publicly adding him to the “Shitty Media Men” list.

                And pointing out how the NYT said that they wouldn’t do something like that and taking them at their word.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                As long as we arent’ talking about the allegations against the Foxer’s i guess that’s the point.

                Do they have a history of printing the home address of people with allegations against them. Urrmm No.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                How suspicious do you find our silence to be?

                Would you say you question the timing?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Odd. Peculiar almost. But mostly evidence of deep bias. Sort of like T wishing Maxwell well. Just a meaningless blip of shit in the shit torrent so just ignore it. It’s doesn’t suit preferred partisan attacks, so nothing to see here.

                Timing. No. You can only ignore the allegations as they come up.

                Again. NYT was bad for doxing Scott’s name even though he was being overly coy and trying to have his cake and eat it. But the NYT was wrong. Did i mention the NYT was wrong.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Greg, please write me with either a short essay talking about the Tucker thing or with an article discussing the Tucker thing that you would like to see on the sidebar and I will personally post it.


  14. Avatar CJColucci says:

    I don’t see any worthwhile journalistic purpose in revealing Scott Alexander’s name, and I wouldn’t do it. That said, since the Times hasn’t done it yet and may never, I don’t have the benefit of knowing whatever reasons the Times may have to do it, if it decides to do it. I would like to know its reasons — or at least its stated reasons — so I can judge them for myself. Both for veracity and sufficiency.

    All that aside, just how difficult is it for anyone who cares to find out who someone is? (I’m not talking about myself, because I lack certain tech skills, but other people.) I assume that for someone with the right, and not rare, skills, it would be easy to find out who I am. My own screen name is my real last name and first and middle initials, which is how I sign most things, from checks to court papers. I have said enough things about what I do and where I do it that I should be easy to trace. On another blog, someone asked if I was who I in fact am just on the basis of the few breadcrumbs, without following the trail in any systematic way. (Saul, as a fellow lawyer, I’ll bet you could find out who I am in less than ten minutes. If you decide to give that a try, just post a comment saying that you did.) I see no reason to spread my real personal information all over the place, but I have no illusions that I could keep my identity under wraps if someone actually cared.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci says:

      I think it’s a variant of the Blue Eyes Logic Puzzle. If someone tells you that you have blue eyes, it’s all over and you have to leave the island.

      But before you get told that, you can live there.

      There is a freedom that comes from pseudonymity, though. There are thoughts that feel safer to express when you feel anonymous. Having a pseudonym ripped from you will make a person feel less safe. (Whether or not “being less safe” and “feeling less safe” have any relationship to each other is not something I’m prepared to discuss at the moment.)

      And having someone say “please don’t reveal my real name, doing so would harm me” now creates a situation.

      Do you reveal his name or not? It’s not like you can pretend that he’d be okay with it. You pretty much have to switch to how he ought to be okay with it and since he ought to be okay with it then there’s nothing wrong with it.

      Which can get dicey.Report

    • Avatar KenB in reply to CJColucci says:

      just how difficult is it for anyone who cares to find out who someone is?

      Scott’s not worried about internet denizens who read his blog figuring out who he is IRL — he’s worried about people he works with in real life googling his real name and finding his blog, which is a real issue if his full name is associated with his blog in the NYT.

      Obviously on a much smaller scale but I’ve had the same concern in the past with my blog commenting — anyone with the keys to the blog can figure out my full name, but no one googling my full name will find my comments here (except for the one time I accidentally used my full name in a comment).Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to KenB says:

        Note, I just did a search using his real name, with no middle name, on a fresh “anonymous” browser window. The second page included a link to a Tweet doxing him. However, a random patient would only see that after scanning over numerous links to his public, professional identity — a lot of “lists of doctors” kind of thing.

        I can easy imagine a patient searching his name, clicking through to the second page, seeing that link, but not clicking on it, because obviously that must be some other Scott {Lastname}. On the other hand, if they do click on it, down the rabbit hole they go.

        (Note, I wonder if Scott’s supporters have been gaming the Google algorithms. Certainly a number of them know how. He certainly has a fair number of supporters within Google.)

        Note, if you google his full name, meaning first-middle-last, then SSC is linked on the first page, plus numerous Twitter accounts actively doxing him.

        Anyway, I have no idea how much that would change if he were mentioned by name in the NYT article. Would it be much worse? Maybe.Report

        • Avatar KenB in reply to veronica d says:

          Interesting — so at this point the veil is a little tattered but still there. He did some interview recently where he admitted he hadn’t been as careful as he should’ve with his anonymity overall.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to KenB says:

            There is an academic text with excepts from his blog published under his real name. He’s just one author among many, but it exists. I expect a sufficiently diligent person could find it, although finding nasty tweets about him is far easier.

            Look at it this way, if you were a super famous blogger, widely respected in certain subcultures, and you met some people from that subculture, wouldn’t you want them to know you’re that guy. I mean, talk about a status rush. So he has a constant push-pull: on the one hand, stay anonymous, on the other, That’s me!!!.

            I get it. He wants some people to know who he is, but not others.

            Should the NYT respect that?

            They’ve respected it for other notable people, so maybe. We could debate the particulars forever.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to KenB says:

            and there doesn’t seem to me to be much daylight between “well I could totally find your name if I wanted to, so I’ll ignore your request that I not publish it” and “if you weren’t looking to be hit on, what are you doing in a nightclub?”Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to KenB says:

        Like I said ‘way back in the comments, there’s a difference between your full name being published in a comment thread somewhere on Reddit and your full name being published on the front page of the New York Times.Report

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