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You’re truly one of the most original and interesting thinkers I’ve encountered in my lifetime; even where I couldn’t disagree with you more, both your reasoning and your excellent prose are compelling. It’s delightful how introspectively honest you are, too, and I share your posts with many truly leftist friends who often have to concede that they’re very good. Thanks for writing, and thanks for some truly GOAT tweets, too!

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Dec 16, 2022·edited Dec 16, 2022

For this post at least, I don’t agree. There is really no argument given for most of what he wrote here. Eg consider his section on abortion above. There is nothing there other than “I don’t like this”. This guy’s job is to provide interesting insights and he’s not delivering here.

Other sections that annoyed: are we to judge the left by Thompson, but the right by anti-vaxxers?! And then further below he says he’lol always side with individual liberty! There’s subtlety to offer here that distinguishes the two but Hanania doesn’t offer it.

As for tech, why Richard do you think you’ll have anything useful to say?

Finally, richard talks about bundling of issues. I’m all for issue by issue opinions but then jerrymander abortion and euthanasia with trans stuff, and opt for that package. Why bundle at all!?

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>And of course public health is evil and deserves all the hate it gets and much more, but the issue of pandemics is too serious to answer their failures with mindless demagoguery.

This seems like a contradictory statement. If anything, your viewpoint should be that despite its failures, "public health" has proven its worth as an important safeguard against the danger of "anti-vaxxers." If you really think vaccines are a big enough single issue to "change sides" over. Personally, I disagree, but if you are going to put so much importance on the point you should try and engage with it substantively.

Write a post laying out in detail why "anti-vaxx" is stupid, and steelman the opposition, rather than dismissing it with snide derision. Or better yet, find a prominent skeptic of the COVID vaccines and interview or debate them. Not everyone who considers the COVID vaccine dangerous is a Q boomer. Some of them have medical degrees. Talk to one of them. Again, if you're going to obsess over this issue so much, you should make a good faith attempt to understand it before making your final decision to side with the people who have been comically wrong about basically everything else.

>First, there was the Dobbs decision. I always knew that conservatives wanted to overturn Roe and many of them hoped to ban abortion, and that this would be horrible, but it didn’t hit home until it happened.

Why is it horrible? Again, if you put such weight on something, you should actually engage with the topic. Don't just state your position as if it is self-evident and no alternative exists. This one will be harder for you, I understand, because it's not an issue that can be decided with charts and numbers and graphs. But you should at least try to explain to us why unborn children don't count as human beings in your mind. Right now, when I see you talk about this stuff, you sound like any other mindless liberal who just parrots these positions because they legitimately don't know that any other perspective exists.

I am more sympathetic to your perspective on euthanasia, as I think it actually is fairly self-evident why someone might be in favor of giving a terminal cancer patient suffering from severe chronic pain the choice to die.

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The point of this article is to describe what his beliefs are rather than to justify every single one of his beliefs in one article

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If all Hanania did was list off a set of policy positions with no analysis, none of us would be reading his work. He's perfectly free to turn his substack into liberal column #2341923847 dedicated to just calling the right stupid over and over again, and if he does, I imagine many of us won't stick around for that.

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I mean, a lot of people here I suspect think the a lot of the right *is* stupid and consider themselves on the right nonetheless because the left is worse. (I'm not really comfortable on either side for various reasons too numerous to get into here.) So it's nice to hear someone vent about the problems on your side who you don't really consider to be on the other side. (I suspect stuff like Chapo Trap House has a similar appeal to liberals and socialists sick of identity politics.) Soldiers in wars will complain about the leadership and yet not defect.

I agree with him on vaccines though. They've worked in the past and COVID deaths have gone down a lot since the introduction of the vaccines.

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"Most of Hanania's readers think the right is stupid" seems like an assertion without evidence. It certainly doesn't apply to me, and from my personal assessment of reading the comments, it seems like there are a lot of people sympathetic to right-wing views who don't show any particular sign that they share Hanania's contempt for them.

>I agree with him on vaccines though. They've worked in the past and COVID deaths have gone down a lot since the introduction of the vaccines.

If that's true, perhaps he should make that case. If we assume that the right has a lot of things right but has a blind spot on vaccines, then presumably it would be useful to try and correct that blind spot. Of course, even here you would have a causality problem. Did deaths go down because of the vaccine, or because COVID had already evolved into less deadly strains by this time?

In order to answer this question one would want to look at, y'know, the actual clinical trials. Unfortunately, those were rushed, ignoring all previous protocol for testing vaccines, and also unimaginably politicized, raising the legitimate question of whether they were conducted honestly. Hence one reason (among many) for widespread skepticism of these vaccines. Trying to sort out this particular issue is likely to be very messy. Perhaps that is why Hanania avoids it, but if so, then one would have to concede there is a basis for skepticism.

Putting aside the question of whether the shots actually work, the bigger issue in my mind is the utterly brazen attempts at coercion, the campaign to all but force people to take them. The idea of being forced by the state to take unproven biologic injections against our will was totally beyond the pale to me, and to many others. These are shots that 100% undeniably caused harm to many, if not most, who took them--people are rightly fixated on the question of whether vaccines were potentially deadly, but there is no question that they made many people ill for some period of time. Most people at my job had to call out sick for a day or two every time they took a COVID booster.

For Richard, who claims to give some weight to libertarian/choice principles, to casually toss this concern aside with a single line of "well, ackchyually, you say you're anti-mandate, but I know you're really just a nutty anti-vaxx conspiracy nut," seems quite ridiculous to me. I *am* skeptical of the vaccine in both terms of efficacy and safety, but if the situation was that you can either take it or not and that's your choice, I would find that relatively acceptable compared to the state-sponsored coercion that was attempted (and is still ongoing in some places, I'm sure).

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I specifically said 'a lot' rather than 'most' in order to get away from the question of whether it's greater than 50%, which I have no way of knowing without a survey I doubt Hanania wants to make. I'm not so much contemptuous of right-wing views--Christianity, for instance, has been a pretty good matrix for human flourishing for 2000 years whether or not you think Jesus rose from the dead--as I am of the late tendency toward scams on the right. Someone's buying those $99 Trump trading cards. You can think Western culture is awesome, white people aren't inherently evil, there are 2 genders or Ibram Kendi is wrong and still see that as a problem, I think. (Indeed, I find it particularly annoying as I am otherwise sympathetic with the right on many issues.)

As for the vaccines--I mean, one thing is the larger libertarian question of whether the state should be able to do it, and I admit to being agnostic on that one. For something like smallpox it seems the alternative would be suicidal. COVID, of course, is much less lethal, but from what I can tell nobody's even reported close to a 1.5% death rate from vaccines, which was what I was seeing from COVID at the height of the pandemic.

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"I'm not so much contemptuous of right-wing views--Christianity, for instance, has been a pretty good matrix for human flourishing for 2000 years whether or not you think Jesus rose from the dead--as I am of the late tendency toward scams on the right. Someone's buying those $99 Trump trading cards."

This sounds like missing the forest for the trees. I'd consider most of the federal government (and its associated *trillions* in spending) a scam at this point. If you can't side with the people who are generally opposed to that because some of them fall for different kinds of scams, I'm not sure what to tell you. Nothing in politics is clean and perfect. At least no one is being forced to buy those Trump NFTs, people who do are just victims of their own choices. The government's waste and abuse is funded at gunpoint. Plus, you can find plenty of scams on the other side of the aisle if you go looking (FTX/Sam Bankman-Fried for starters; that one is a little bit bigger fraud than Trump selling NFTs).

"As for the vaccines--I mean, one thing is the larger libertarian question of whether the state should be able to do it, and I admit to being agnostic on that one. For something like smallpox it seems the alternative would be suicidal. COVID, of course, is much less lethal, but from what I can tell nobody's even reported close to a 1.5% death rate from vaccines, which was what I was seeing from COVID at the height of the pandemic."

The implication here is that we can toss our anti-government principles to the wind if a "pandemic" with a high enough death rate comes along. If that's the case, don't you think people should put a bit more effort into figuring out exactly where that line should be drawn? Seems like a pretty big issue, with enormous consequences if we get it wrong. Dismissing it entirely with "anti-vaxxers are bad" seems totally irresponsible, and is exactly the attitude used by the left to justify/get away with all the excesses of COVID policy WRT masks, lockdowns, etc.

It also raises the question of how concerned you should be that, once given this power, the state will invent reasons to use it and to broaden it, and how one might attempt to deal with that. It seems to me that our governments here in the "enlightened" rational liberal west would go down exactly the same path that China has if they could get away with it, and the only difference is that they can't, for now. Are you really more worried about "anti-vaxxers" than you are about that? Personally, it's not hard for me to say which one worries me more.

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I think that he realised that many right-wingers simply don't care about arguing and debating those with another political opinion, but rather want to see themselves confirmed in their opinion...if course, many left-wingers are like this too, so it's best to be politically neutral (i.e. "centrist")...🤔.

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Entirely anecdotal, but from what I've seen, right-wingers are far more willing to defend their beliefs with substance, or to at least attempt to do so. You might find their arguments lacking, but the attempt to engage on some level is made. Whereas leftists either block/censor or go immediately to -ists ("you're a racist, sexist, etc.").

To be fair, it may be more accurate to simply say that leftists are uniquely unlikely to even remotely try to debate anything, as opposed to right-wingers being uniquely likely to do so. Either way, when Richard "sides with the left," so to speak, he displays this trait in full--zero attempt to actually back up his position and explain why it is correct, instead he just posts insults and condescension, mocking the concept that anyone could possibly be so stupid as to disagree with him on these things, etc.

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I might be a bit uncharitable here, but it seems you are someone who considers themselves on "the right"? I mean, you are just arguing for your "tribe" and I assume it makes you feel confirmed...yes I agree that there are many leftists who try to "shut down debate", but on the same side there are many right-wingers who try to not even engage in debate and decry anyone who doesn't share their opinion as someone not worthy to debate for various reasons... 🤔.

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Yes, I am on the right. Unlike some people, I don't pretend to be a 400 IQ radical centrist who is totally completely objective and not playing for any team. And yes, of course you can find those on the right who are not interested in debate. This is why I speculated that it may not be that right wingers are debate-happy, but rather that hard leftists are debate-averse (making anyone who isn't a wokester look debate-friendly by comparison, right wing or otherwise).

This isn't something I can be bothered to try and prove with science and graphs in a Substack comment, but as evidence, I would submit the simple and undeniable fact that the "freeze peach" crowd is currently the right of center "side," and the most anti-"freeze peach" crowd is the wokesters. This may only be because the right has more to gain from additional speech and the left more to lose, and it very well may be the case that these roles can and do switch if a different "side" comes to control the levers of power. But at least for the time being, I think this supports my claim about who is relatively more interested in debate/discussion.

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i haven't read every article of his but i imagine if you search through his whole blog you'll find where he addresses his opinion on abortion etc. This specific article is more of an overview of how his views have changed over the past year rather than to articulate each of them individually

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Dec 30, 2022·edited Dec 30, 2022

I didn’t see a single mention of “trade-offs” in his entire piece, which always signals to me a lack of intellectual rigor.

Every medicine, vaccines included, has a cost/benefit trade-off. To claim that the trade-off is always beneficial is as insipid as claiming it never is. I’d love to see the people who mock “anti-vaxx” folks really engage with the opposing side and consider trade-offs here, not just spew talking points.

To the Roe question: there is a good-faith argument to be made that says, “all humans have an inherent right to continue living as long as they want” and it supports both a pro-euthanasia AND anti-abortion worldview. If you accept that a fetus is human (hard to argue) then those rights inhere to them as well, and ending their life without their consent is a violation. I’m not saying I agree with that view…but I think it’s a much more robust argument than the facile “men just want to control women’s bodies!” canard. Of course, there are trade-offs here regarding whose bodily autonomy might take precedence…but let’s have THAT discussion in an article. It would be better than the undercooked ideas here.

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I'd be interested to hear how you can possibly accept that a fetus is a human being and then still come to the conclusion that murdering that person is okay, outside of severe medical complications (i.e. life of mother is greatly at risk, child will be born without a skull and die almost immediately, etc.).

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

Completely agree, though I will say that I’ll acknowledge a fetus is *human* (which I’ve seen people argue against - essentially saying it isn’t alive, which is ridiculous) but that the discussion of whether or not it is a *person* is far more complex. Murder is when you kill something that is alive and wants to keep on living. The right to keep living as long as you choose to do so should never be abrogated. I think the question here gets complicated by saying that a fetus wants to remain alive, which we can’t know.

I don’t have a good answer on this by the way or a view that I’d argue is The Correct One (TM). I just think there are angles to explore here that are ignored in favor of talking points or getting hung up on edge cases.

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"Completely agree, though I will say that I’ll acknowledge a fetus is *human* (which I’ve seen people argue against - essentially saying it isn’t alive, which is ridiculous) but that the discussion of whether or not it is a *person* is far more complex."

How could you claim that a child is a human being yet not a person? This seems ridiculous on its face, akin to transgender activists' claim that you can somehow be a woman by sex but a man by gender. If "human being" doesn't qualify you as a person, what in the world does?

"I think the question here gets complicated by saying that a fetus wants to remain alive, which we can’t know."

An infant can't answer that question either, so any line of thinking that tries to justify abortion on this basis would also justify infanticide, and vice versa (if it's not okay to kill an infant because they can't yet decide whether they want to live, the same would obviously also apply to an unborn child).

This is why abortion advocates typically argue that "fetuses are not alive," because any defense of abortion falls apart immediately if you accept the premise that they are. It's also why you see pro-abortion strains of thought trending closer towards allowance of infanticide--it's hard to come up with distinctions that disqualify the unborn as people without also disqualifying infants, and any that you can dream up are pretty obviously motivated by political convenience at that point, as opposed to a genuine desire to arrive at moral truth.

"I don’t have a good answer on this by the way or a view that I’d argue is The Correct One (TM). I just think there are angles to explore here that are ignored in favor of talking points or getting hung up on edge cases."

I've seen lots and lots and lots of discussion on this topic and I've never seen a good defense of abortion. Certainly the attempt you made here is very, very flimsy. IME, defenders of abortion tend to quickly abandon the central question of who counts as a human being and deflect with irrelevant tangents (obsession with religion is the most common) or ad hominem (claiming that opponents of abortion just hate women and the like).

Richard is no different; I've never seen him engage seriously on the question of who counts as a person, and I imagine we won't ever see him try. He is insurmountably biased on this topic by the idea that opposition to abortion is primarily a question of religious doctrine (it is not), and he is therefore incapable of considering an anti-abortion stance, as the whiff of religion that such a position carries with it would seem fatal to his self-image as a rational 5 million IQ atheist.

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“Certainly the attempt you made here is very, very flimsy”

Again, these are not MY ideas per se; my views are forever complicated by the fact that any attempts to restrict abortion necessarily means an expanded reach of state power and a host of new laws that create a cohort of new criminals, all while reducing bodily autonomy to some degree. That’s not a great outcome in my mind, but the moral question looms large.

I’m content to grapple with the subtleties of a complex topic. Glad you’re comfortable having arrived at a solution.

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"I’m content to grapple with the subtleties of a complex topic. Glad you’re comfortable having arrived at a solution."

You don't seem all that interested in grappling with it, though. The defense of "restricting abortion means expanded state power and new laws that create more criminals" is even worse than the justifications you gave before it. Obviously, we all agree that expanded state power, jailing offenders, etc., is completely justified when it comes to, y'know, murdering children. The outlawing of slavery also expanded state power and came with new laws that created a new class of criminals, as did the criminalization of racism, and so forth and so on.

Once again, the central question--the only question that matters--is who counts as a person, and why or why not. Any attempts at making the topic any more "complex" than that are deflections. "Unborn children are people, but we must allow them to be killed anyways because outlawing their murder would require the expansion of state power" is not some kind of super nuanced subtle huge brain big IQ position. It is clearly absurd and not going to fly. To decide the issue, you must address the question of who is a person (or not, and why).

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Dec 16, 2022Liked by Richard Hanania
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Thanks, I’ll look at this.

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The co-author, Jobst Landgrebe, would likely debate you on vaccine efficacy. He’s an MD and biostatistician.

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I’ll try not to hold the MD against him!

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He’s got the PhD too (fwiw)

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I'm a great admirer of Mr. Hanania and especially his excellent critiques of what seems to be a pathologically 'femininized' society, i.e. one dominated by 'women's tears.'

That said, I reject Hanania's views on euthanasia and abortion, in what amounts to an unsentimental, highly 'masculine' judgment: i.e., let individuals die (or be killed), when the costs of their continued existence outweigh the benefits, and let's not be sentimental about it.

In contrast, social conservatives (e.g. Douthat) often appeal to 'feminine,' even 'feminist' values of nurture and care for the vulnerable, in opposing abortion and euthanasia.

My view is that society should try for a balance of masculine virtues (e.g. toughness, and agonistic, even bloody competition, when the situation demands it) and feminine ones (e.g. caring for the weak and those whose needs outweigh their contributions to society).

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Well put.

It also seems that all non-Christian expressions on the right eventually veer this way. Without the one very traditional way whereby our culture has elevated mercy and charity as values, men of a traditional-minded disposition never seem to stumble upon them on their own. The result is a politics that easily wades into casual cruelty.

Meanwhile, most of leftism could be characterized as charity/caritas taken as a sole terminal value, then deformed under the pressure it was never meant to bear alone.

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Would you say Roman paganism or fascism are examples of what men of traditional-minded disposition come up with in the absence of Christianity?

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I'd say this of Fascism and Nazism, though not necessarily Roman paganism. I don't think there's an important martial innovation in Roman Paganism -- its hardness (itself not especially hard by the standards of antiquity) seems to come from values passed down organically since the Indo-European expansion or earlier. I would guess that the innovations of Roman Paganism were largely produced by more liberal-minded men.

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Right. Roman Paganism is pretty typical of antiquity and has liberal features compared to, say, Mesopotamian or Assyrian versions.

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I respect your view... but not everyone who disagrees with modern leftism is a social conservative... libertarians etc are part of that too, though obviously very different in their values to social conservatives...🤔.

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Dec 18, 2022·edited Dec 18, 2022

> let individuals die (or be killed), when the costs of their continued existence outweigh the benefits

Why should abortion follow from this principle? The benefits of an unborn child are unknown, but can generally be assumed positive. Moreover, if abortion was really about social Darwinism, why are abortionists making it all about the mother's choice as opposed to any sort of utilitarian calculus? For all the crazy I've seen from the woke left, I have not once seen (in any remotely mainstream place) a call to abort more white fetuses for anti-racism reasons.

My Occams-razor read is that the moral argument for abortion is a combination of

(1) ethical status-quo privilege: valuing the rights of someone already in the world (the mother) over those of a potential not-yet being (the fetus),

(2) a postulation that life begins at birth and not at conception.

Rule (1) is well justified and one I don't see a viable alternative to it. Denying it leads to ridiculous "long-termism" that can be used to justify or vilify just about anything (just ask Greta Thunberg). Rule (2) is somewhat arbitrary, but so is the alternative that uses conception as a cut-off (why not the child's first spoken word? or, conversely, the parents' first kiss? I'm vividly imagining a "cockblocking is murder" rally).

Of course, in real life, these decisions are rarely ever made based entirely on philosophical principles, and that is for the better. People's opinions on the legitimacy and the legality of abortion justly depend on the ease of contraception, the likelihood of complications, the prevalence of rape and burst condoms, the ease of giving a child up for adoption... So utilitarian calculus enters the equation after all, but not in the simple social-Darwinist way you're suggesting. In particular, no one quantifies the worth of a child.

The question of euthanasia comes down to a factual question first or foremost: Are people being pressured into it, or is it really as patient-driven as its proponents describe it? I hate to say, but it would take a good journalist to answer this, not a room full of ethicists.

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"My Occams-razor read is that the moral argument for abortion is a combination of

(1) ethical status-quo privilege: valuing the rights of someone already in the world (the mother) over those of a potential not-yet being (the fetus),

(2) a postulation that life begins at birth and not at conception.

Rule (1) is well justified and one I don't see a viable alternative to it."

The central question of abortion is whether a child in the womb is a human being or a "potential not-yet being." If you assume that they are not a human being, then of course abortion can be justified.

"Rule (2) is somewhat arbitrary, but so is the alternative that uses conception as a cut-off (why not the child's first spoken word? or, conversely, the parents' first kiss? I'm vividly imagining a "cockblocking is murder" rally)."

Conception is the only cut-off that doesn't seem arbitrary to me. This is the clear point in time at which a distinct human being comes into existence from previous non-existence. Sperm and egg cells are not distinct human beings (or else each male of the species would be a mass-murder in the hundreds of millions), but once an egg is fertilized, a new human being has been, y'know, conceived.

Denying the personhood of an unborn child, on the other hand, seems much more susceptible to slippery-slope "why not this instead?" postulations. For example--on what basis are you declaring that a fetus is not a person, but an infant is, other than pure political convenience?

"Moreover, if abortion was really about social Darwinism, why are abortionists making it all about the mother's choice as opposed to any sort of utilitarian calculus?"

Left-wing support for abortion can be traced back to feminism and the desire to make women equal to men. Obviously, this requires that the limitations of pregnancy be overcome.

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I think the idea that abortion is good for eugenic or practical reasons is widespread on the secular right, to the point of being nearly universal except in some very weird places online. 100% of my real-life secular conservative friends are pro-choice and think that abortion benefits society at large, not just individuals. Though they would normally only make this sort of argument behind closed doors.

By contrast, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an argument for abortion’s society-wide benefits from a leftist, even online, aside from the Freakonomics guys and journos who are quoting them directly. But this argument is at best an afterthought for them.

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I agree the right’s anti vax stance is dumb, but I think you’re letting twitter cloud your judgement. What the left is continuing to do regarding education, medicine, crime, family structure, etc hasn’t changed at all.

But unlike the conservatives going at you on twitter, the left actually has significant institutional power.

Also you can make fun of it, but there’s not going to be a secular led push back against “wokeness”. It’s just not going to happen. Wokeness grew influence as Christianity’s influence declined.

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Many states now don’t have a single abortion clinic, and euthanasia is still illegal in most states. Conservatives seem to have a lot of power that they use to harm people.

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Having been around plenty of older family members in their 80s and even 90s, some of whom had severe chronic pain, I'm glad no one was encouraging them to think about suicide. Their lives have plenty of value both to themselves and others around them. Foregrounding your moral philosophy around the avoidance of pain is literally hedonism (Epicurean-style). Stay away.

And shutting down abortion clinics is better described as "a lot of power that they use to help people (i.e. those who don't get aborted)."

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So their lives are meaningful and enjoyable but you’re worried if they were given the option of assisted suicide they would take it? Do you see a contradiction here?

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Dec 16, 2022·edited Dec 16, 2022

I would be worried that if voices around them (whether a family member sick of caring for Granny or wanting her to stop spending the inheritance, or perhaps medical ones) are proposing suicide to them, they'd take it in a moment of weakness. You can't exactly change your mind afterward.

And this is one of those issues where cultural messages matter. A society that relentlessly prioritizes avoiding pain over everything else is a hedonistic and decadent one.

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This raises the typical problem with anti-life "avoid suffering by dying" viewpoints; one perspective is that life itself is suffering. Many, many people who are physically healthy nonetheless lead lives that are unfulfilling and emotionally/spiritually empty. They suffer from depression and are miserable most if not all of the time. If we believe that suicide is a legitimate means to "minimize suffering," and human life has no worth, why shouldn't all these people be offing themselves en masse?

Again, I do actually think there's a case for euthanasia when you have a terminal cancer patient suffering from severe chronic pain, but if you're going to make that case, you should take very seriously the question of where exactly you're going to draw the line.

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And do you feel like that influence is anywhere close what the left has done since the 60s?

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I think that the lack of end of life options is a huge issue that adds to the cost of medicine and leads to decades of suffering, so yes, it's comparable.

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When, exactly, do you think old people should begin taking the option to off themselves? Out of curiosity. Have you thought about what the criteria should be?

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It’s a bizarre framing of the question, implying that I am the one to make that decision. People should consider their own circumstances, and how much they’re suffering and how much of a burden they are on others.

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To me, this reads as "there is no criteria, except that they want to die." So, you would presumably approve of a healthy 20 year old undergoing euthanasia because they are depressed. Points for consistency, I suppose, but I think you're sorta proving the "hysterical propaganda and misinformation" correct if that's really where you stand. I would have thought you'd have more interest in actually analyzing/discussing an issue you describe as so important that it makes transgenderism minor in comparison.

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deletedDec 16, 2022·edited Dec 16, 2022
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I was primarily asking Richard, since he's the one who is aggressively pro-euthanasia. I won't pretend to have a definitive answer either, but I think a decent starting point is that the person must be in some kind of severe chronic pain. If you are literally living in physical agony, I think a case can be made for euthanasia. I may or may not end up agreeing, but I can certainly understand that viewpoint.

As far as simply refusing medical care--my understanding is that's perfectly allowable and has been all along. I had a family member who refused any further care and passed away after fighting a losing battle with cancer for two years. This is quite different from euthanasia, in which, as you say, a person is "affirmatively" killed, presumably via a lethal injection or some such after being sedated.

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We can address the costs issue through markets, i.e., by cutting back subsidies for aggressive end of life care. That way individuals will decide if the treatment costs are worth the hit to the estate they'll leave behind.

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Richard is an atheist and an "effective altruist," so at the end of the day, he follows the religion of the left. Not surprising he ends up on their "side" due to things like euthanasia and the supposed evils of "traditional morality"; he's stated point blank in the past that he doesn't believe human life has any inherent worth. So whatever qualms he might have with his fellow "effective altruists," they're ultimately less bad than the crazy superstitious people who believe in the magical Sky Daddy.

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To add to that, he fails to see the contradiction between his views on trans issues and euthanasia.

Apparently euthanasia is good because it reduces suffering (only of the individual actually being euthanised in many cases, it should be noted). Okay, but isn’t that an argument that should lead you to being in favour of anyone being able to transition if they feel that they are ‘suffering’ by having to live as a gender they feel they aren’t?

For a supposedly rationalist thinker it’s a massive oversight, and I suspect Richard would try to justify it on utilitarian grounds but the number of factors involved in calculating the good/harm of each decision is large, and many of those factors have an unknown, or at least hard to quantify, impact.

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Not a contradiction at all. Changing your gender is never a rational decision while suicide is often the right thing to do. I’ll allow adults to make the mistake of doing trans procedures based on libertarian principles since stopping them from changing their genders might be used to restrict other choices, which is a greater evil. But culture at least should be against it.

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"Changing your gender is never a rational decision while suicide is often the right thing to do."

really? based on what? revealed preferences suggest otherwise and so do numerous testimonies. if forced to choose, a vast majority of people would change their gender (or change their children's gender) vs. kill themselves (their children). in fact, fear of suicide is one of the main motivators among parents of trans children.

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"suicide is often the right thing to do"

I don't disagree if you change 'often' to 'sometimes', but what's the logical basis of your argument here? You've stated that transgenderism is irrational whereas suicide is (often) rational without explaining why. On a utilitarian level, can you prove that it is *never* a rational decision for someone to change their gender? (I appreciate you may be generalising for brevity).

Some of the conservative reaction to MAID is overblown, and I agree that there should not be a blanket ban on euthanasia. But the proposed expansion of MAID that allows physically healthy but depressed people to kill themselves is wrong.

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This is why utilitarianism is a meme "ideology" that basically means nothing and provides no worthy substitute at all for religion. Quantifying and calculating "happiness" or "utility" is a completely absurd concept and this immediately becomes apparent if you try. Furthermore, everyone inherently prefers beliefs that they feel will ultimately lead to a better world and make people happier--Christians, for example, believe that you achieve happiness by accepting Christ as your savior and all that stuff. Communists, by overthrowing the bourgeoisie and doing the whole revolution thing. Et cetera.

These belief systems at least attempt to give you a blueprint for *how* you make the world better/increase "total happiness." Utilitarianism/"effective altruism" on the other hand pretends that trying to make people happier is somehow a special unique feature that other ideologies don't have, when in fact it's a natural feature of having an ideology in the first place. So it ends up just being a cop-out that people can easily bend into justifying whatever they already wanted to do anyways.

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Dec 18, 2022·edited Dec 18, 2022

I always saw it as sort of a default ideology where you don't accept some outside principle such as God's will or socialist revolution being objectively 'good' and just figure most people want to avoid pain (even masochists are getting turned on). I won't deny the EA people can get a little silly with calculating utilons, but as I accept neither the existence of God nor the desirability of socialist revolution or woke whatever-it-is-they're-calling-it-now it seems like the least bad option.

(I will give Christianity the credit of at least having lasted 2000 years and adapted itself to humanity in that time. So, it's worked in reality for a while. Whether it can adapt to the modern era is another question, but I think it's likely to persist. After all, its parent, Judaism, survived much more challenging situations.)

Lots of ideologies are used to justify what people wanted to do anyways--do you think Russian peasants revolting against the Tsar wanted a totalitarian communist state?

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My point is that it's not even an ideology at all, rather it's a refusal to have an ideology. Which I suppose you could argue is a Good Thing, but it's silly for people to pretend this is some kind of high-minded complex intellectual philosophy. In reality, it is no more complex than a five year old's view of morality--"do whatever makes everyone happy." The selling point of ideologies is that they typically attempt to define "happy," while I have yet to see a "utilitarian" do so, instead they typically assume (again) that "happy" is just whatever they already wanted to do anyways.

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yeah, he will soon be moving away from opposing gender conforming surgeries. you can tell that the only thing that actually bothers him regarding trans issues are pronouns.

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"Also you can make fun of it, but there’s not going to be a secular led push back against “wokeness”. It’s just not going to happen. Wokeness grew influence as Christianity’s influence declined."

Yeah, look at the IDW for a model of how well a secular opposition movement to wokeness has gone, lol.

Hanania and the others working on civil rights law have been outstanding at discussing the institutional dimension behind wokeness, but there's also good theological analyses from folks like Prof. Josh Mitchell (the first half of his book American Awakening is great on this) at Georgetown about how American wokeness is a deformed Calvinism that has won such intense adherence because of the decline of American mainline religion.

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Atheism cannot provide a serious alternative to Woke because it does not provide a higher purpose and in fact refuses to even try to do so. Just as Woke competed with Christianity in the religious space, ousting Woke will require some other spiritual movement to out-compete it, whether that is a resurgent Christianity or something else. It cannot be displaced by simply refusing that any higher purpose exists in the first place, and I would argue that this refusal is a big part of what carved out space for it to begin with. Convincing people that traditional religion is illegitimate did not prevent them from seeking higher purpose, it just made them look elsewhere for it.

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Very well said. It's been interesting to watch the NatCon movement wrestle with this. Not that I'm fully on-board with NatCon, but this year the conference centered around intelligent Protestants and not just a grab-bag of anti-cancel-culture warriors. Hazony, despite being an observant Jew, has said he thinks the chance of a traditionalist/conservative resurgence in America is contingent on Protestantism (the base religion here) making a comeback. Obviously this will need a resourcement of intelligent rooted Protestantism, and not the dumbed down, anti-intellectual stuff that currently dominates evangelicalism.

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I'm pretty pessimistic about this. The "conservative" movement, so-called, is simply too fractured and diverse (in the true sense of the term) to put forward some kind of unified religious/spiritual movement. On the right side of the aisle you have everything from Unz Review over to "Gays Against Groomers." It's not really a unified movement, at best it's a loose coalition of people who all oppose the left.

The left likewise is a broad coalition of people who all oppose traditional values, but they can project a unified moral vision through their exercise of state power and associated control of institutions, indoctrinating large swathes of the population through legacy media, education, academia, etc. Conservatives don't have anything like this and it doesn't seem likely that they will in the foreseeable future. I don't think we will have any opportunity for real cultural change until the current regime starts to well and truly collapse under its own weight (if this is happening at all, I think we're still only at the very beginning of it).

Of course, I don't know the future. Maybe the Christ is King people will somehow turn everything around and we'll live in a based theocracy by 2030. But personally I just don't see it happening. If the current regime fails to hold together, I think it's more likely that the country will just splinter. Maybe some of the splinter territories might have regimes that are genuinely right wing, but I mean, who knows. Uncharted territory at that point.

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You seem to allude to Bryan Caplan's claim that the right is driven by opposition to the left...of course, the major problem with the right in the modern era, even if conservatives like yourself don't recognise this, is that it keep hoping for a "collapse of the system"... but most people seem to be satisfied with the modern world and system that it underpins...🤔.

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Good comment. I broadly agree with your thoughts through the first couple of paragraphs. The only area where I feel optimistic about the short-term prospects of the American right is on the legal/judicial front; Fed Soc + the Trump presidency has built up a good firewall in the judiciary to turn back leftist overreach. We don't see anything similar on the legislative or administrative fronts (gov't) or the academic, media, and civil society fronts (non-gov't). Best case is that a DeSantis type figure pushes through some broad changes that hamstring leftist power in those spheres, but the right has to be ready to step into the gaps. I think we're decades away from having institutional savvy in those spheres to put up credible alternatives.

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If we're decades away, that comes across to me as "we're kind of screwed," or at least we need to start assuming that the future won't look much like the past. Where are we going to be after another 30+ years of Woke cultural dominance with the full might of government and all its cronies pushing sexual deviancy, anti-white hatred, endless trillions in debt spending, etc.? Again, I think that really gets into uncharted territory, and I have severe doubts that the society which eventually emerges from it will mirror our own except with conservatives somehow having taken over all the legacy institutions. Could be wrong, who knows.

As for the judiciary--this is a speed bump, at best. Judges aren't going to change hearts and minds from the bench. They might hold back a few things in the short term, but long term, the courts will catch up to public sentiment/broader cultural attitudes.

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Dec 16, 2022Liked by Richard Hanania

Very excited to see the new direction you take the Substack in next year, especially in regards to AI. I’ve known about potential dangers of AI for quite a while, but much of the rationalist writing on the topic is now very stale and misguided.

Really interested to get your take on things, especially concerning political involvement and government abuse of AI. I worry we may end up in a scenario where most countries acknowledge the dangers of AGI but develop it anyways lest their rivals obtain it first.

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1. The movement has an anti-vax disposition, but personally I don't care right now. The number of innocent (not anti-vax) lives lost to Covid because of their attitude is low, and the chances of another 1 in a century pandemic coming up are low. If that happens, there is time for me to reevaluate.

2. "I stand with women" - Views on abortion do not significantly differ by gender. That is widely known. It is a moral (chiefly religious) divide. And most conservatives don't even really support banning abortion (as evidenced by polling and referendums) so the long-term threat here is also low.

3. MAID - This is about the criteria shifting, not legitimate uses of euthanasia. There have been multiple high-profile cases of people killed for stupid reasons like not being able to find adequate housing, having it suggested to them by doctors, etc. I live here, and a friend's young depressed brother is already looking into it. Another friend knows multiple people with ME/CFS who chose death over bad living conditions. This is not about the raw number of people killed, but about a fundamental, nihilistic shift in this country that is almost palpable. ChatGPT is impressive, but AI destroying humanity is further off than what we're dealing with right now.

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What about the number of innocent (forced to take the jab) lives lost due to vaccine brain blood clots and heart failure?

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Blink twice if you're writing this under duress.

Seriously, though, this reads as if you've been mainlining Vox and Jacobin for the past few months. I guess the abortion thing is a matter of opinion, but no one who's been paying any attention for the past few months still believes that the vaccines are generally safe. Every single cost-benefit analysis study coming out is significantly negative for the vaccine for anyone under ~65. Somewhere on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands more young people are dead from the vax than from Covid. I guess you might think "It's ok to kill 100k young people to save 500k old people," but even then they could have just targeted old people with mandates rather than trying to force every last 20-year-old to get the shot, killing hundreds of thousands from blood clots, heart inflammation, sudden cardiac arrest, neurological disease, etc.

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What do you consider the chance is that your beliefs in this matter are wrong? 1:100, 1:1000. Etc.

What burden of proof would you require to change your beliefs?

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> no one who's been paying any attention for the past few months still believes that the vaccines are generally safe

False. Greg Cochran knows more about the safety of vaccines than you, and has the track record of winning bets to prove it.

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Dec 16, 2022Liked by Richard Hanania

Looking forward to the AI stuff. Since I believe in comparative advantage, I hope you dig into things connecting with your past work. For example, how much of the "safetyism" of AI firms (not about alignment) is about being afraid of being sued? How much does it matter? For the bigger alignment issues, what does your work about foreign policy say about it? Etc.

I remember the reader's poll had a lot of stuff about transhumanism more generally than just AI. That'd be good to see some writing about; there is more happening in "tech" than AI. Good culture war angles too. (Looking forward to conservatives being furiously anti-life extension as well as anti-euthanasia. More life, but only to those who are suffering and don't want it.)

I too am really discouraged by social conservatism, but we'll see where we all fall when the next culture war breaks. My guess is it will be over reparations, which seem likely to be part of the Democratic party platform in 2024, at the latest by 2028. How much in taxes are you willing to pay until test scores equalize?

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This is a very refreshing take. I agree in spirit and I feel like I’ve gone through similar reflections this year, but I’d still consider myself solidly conservative/Republican. For the most part, I tend to agree with all your takes, except I’m definitely much more skeptical of immigration than you (despite being an immigrant myself!). I am 100 % with Amy Wax on this one. Other than that, I still can’t believe what happened during Covid and I’m not sure what it would take to change that. I’d never seen manipulation and pure evil like that before in real life. It really shook me to the core…

Here is where I have to clarify that I believe in vaccines, bla, bla, bla, just to prove that I’m not one of them conspiracy theorists, but the benefits of the vaccine pale (orders of magnitude in my opinion) compared to the damage brought upon us by the overreaction to the virus. In a way, I can’t really care about anti-vaxxers because I think Covid was WAY overhyped. To clarify once again, I disagree with them and I don’t like their optics either, but how many quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) years did we lose from the virus compared to what we regularly lose due to opioids? And no one bats an eye. Who cares about druggies QALYs, anyways? That’s actually a legitimate question in my opinion, but I still don’t get the dichotomy.

At the same time, while I am disappointed that Republicans are doubling down in issues that hurt them electorally, I just don’t feel very strongly about said topics. Sure, I am philosophically more inclined towards abortion, but to me ultimately it feels like counting angels on pinheads (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin%3F). I can’t imagine anyone in my surroundings to be affected in any way by abortion laws (man, who still has unplanned pregnancies these days?), and I’m very low on empathy, so there’s that…

I also think that you tend to view the Russia/Ukraine issue too much through a “culture war” lens. Have you been reading too many “powerful takes” from Anatoly Karlin? Yes, the “active player” element of Putin is undoubtedly a very masculine trait, but I don’t really see much of a connection otherwise. As an example, Poland’s government is considered quite traditionalist right now and they are fervently anti-Russia.

Lastly on this topic, I am not an expert by any means, but after extensive travels throughout the world and gaining insights into different “cultures” (I’m not a fan of this word, by the way), I think there’s a lot more baggage between those two countries than it meets the eye. It’s my intuition at least. Yes, I’m equally surprised by Putin’s failure so far, but I’m also not sure it’s over yet. In summary: I think you are being too eager trying to overcorrect your priors (but I appreciate your honesty while doing so).

Perhaps the one thing that gives me some hope for “my side” is that I’m still praying DeSantis becomes the standard-bearer of the Republican party and Trump is relegated to oblivion as the true loser he’s become (however grateful I was for him at the time). I know you might not be as starry-eyed as me based on your perspective on incumbents and Trump’s charisma with what I used to consider “useful idiots”, but one can dream I suppose. (I’m seriously starting to develop a bias of confirmation due to prediction market’s current prospects on DeSantis haha.)

At the end of the day, this is how I feel: surrounded by idiots in conservative circles; but then part of a massive, non-genuine circle-jerk in liberal ones… Of course, I’ll admit I’m another variation of the single-issue voter archetype, and ultimately that still makes me lean heavily Republican. Anyways, I appreciate your work, and if you’re ever over true fly-over country (Idaho), hit me up!

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I agree with a lot of this--I'm a first-generation American, and am all in favor of keeping the country as-is or even turning things back a bit.

I think Russia-Ukraine is much more of an imperialist/nationalist struggle over territory and all this culture war crap gets used to rally the masses.

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Honestly, I don't think that DeSantis would be such a great candidate for the GOP... somehow I think he lacks the "folksy" ability of either Trump or Biden...🤔.

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> I always knew that conservatives wanted to overturn Roe and many of them hoped to ban abortion, and that this would be horrible, but it didn’t hit home until it happened. All the things that feminists have been saying about men wanting to take away women’s freedoms and controlling them are starting to sound more reasonable, and I’m glad there’s been a lot of electoral pushback against the anti-choice position. I now stand with women (Oh, and I also had a daughter this year, BTW, and apparently science says this is what it does to your brain).

I was surprised to see this was your position. Excluding rape, it's generally a voluntary choice to get pregnant, and abortion is just an attempt to get out of some very foreseeable consequences. I would have expected you to see this as a matter of personal responsibility; "if you don't want a baby, just don't have sex without birth control".

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Congratulations on becoming a parent. Given that this is the first you're mentioning of this, I imagine you won't be discussing your domestic life too much on here, particularly given the other intellectual interests you've outlined for the coming year. But I would be interested to hear your take on the challenges of parenting in this culture as they arise. Theres's definitely space in the parenting blog world for a voice like Richard's, if geopolitics and AI get boring.

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Thanks. I already was a parent though. And I think there’s a lot that could be interesting there but I see talking about your family publicly as sort of effeminate or gay and haven’t wanted to do it for that reason. But maybe I’ll change my mind.

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Not doing something solely because you think it's effeminate or gay is the least masucline thing possible.

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So you’re… saying he shouldn’t not do it, because *that* is effeminate? I think you accidentally postulated a new paradox.

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Dec 18, 2022·edited Dec 18, 2022

I mean, I'd argue against it because of the privacy dangers to your kids, especially as you engage in a lot of disputatious political commentary and often criticize people on your side. Also, their talents may lead them in liberal-dominated industries (what if your daughter wants to be a scientist or artist?) and being able to google your name and find all your right-wing writing may not be good for them. Personally I'd love to have been a businessman or military officer, but I don't have the schmooze or physical strength (and it's too late anyway).

Nothing effeminate or gay about having a family, though. You believe in the gender binary, and the point of having men and women is to have children. The classical patriarch, in the original meaning of patriarchy, tried to build an inheritance he could pass on to a large brood of children, and was proud of their accomplishments as regarding his influence. So, nothing gay or effeminate about it at all. Whether you want to put it on your blog is another question.

I see a man having and raising his own biological children as one of the biggest middle fingers you can give to the left these days.

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I think there is a masculine way to talk about your kids. For example Paul Graham talks about his kinds fairly frequently, and I don't think less of him as a man.

If were to try to draw a distinction, women talk about their children like pets while men talk about their children like projects. The main emotion that women communicate is affection while that main emotion that men communicate is pride.

But it's hard to be "proud" of toddlers. I notice men mostly talk about their teenage sons, usually in the context of sports. So perhaps, you're right that you can't talk about your kids while still retaining your man card.

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Oh come on. He's walking, I taught him to catch, he just made little league/a working robot...

Again, not on the blog, but if Mr. Hanania wants to embody the masculine archetype bragging about his kids is totally fine.

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> The first is just opportunity cost. ChatGPT, as I’ve said before, brings home the possibility that artificial intelligence might be the end of humanity. I’m in the process of doing some reading and developing my thoughts on the topic, so I don’t have much to say now, but soon will. Moreover, even outside of AI, a lot of exciting things are happening in tech, and it’s becoming more likely that the future of the world will be shaped more by scientific innovation than it will be by our politics, except for the part of our politics that touches on tech. Writing about politics takes me away from areas that are potentially more important.

This really surprises me, considering I've gradually made the opposite migration in the past three years. AI is basically a scalar multiplication of underlying human capabilities, so imo it's more important than ever that humans get their politics *directionally right*, which I don't think we're doing on most salient issues.

Part of this is because I've believed for a long time that the time between 2016 and AI which replaces large parts of the population is at least an order of magnitude shorter than the time between AI replacing most humans and AGI. This is closer to the mainstream ML researcher position than the public or the EA position, I think, although there's a lot of variance in the former. If you take this as a likely scenario, the biggest question wrt AI is what we happens once we automate large parts of the "Brahmin left". Will they exert further power in the social sphere? Will they be devalued and disempowered? Will we finally abandon egalitarianism? All these seem like questions that will be explicitly decided by government policy.

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I doubt that AI replaces them just because it can do their jobs. Already these people are useless and largely contribute no or negative economic value, but because of gov regulations, custom, etc. they have jobs. I tend to think either AI kills us or it's just a boon to the economy and makes life better. AI disrupts things and leads to all kinds of social problems seems least likely scenario.

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If Alex Epstein is correct, the lefty Net Zero folks could kill millions. That seems on par with the anti-vax right.

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Correct. Plus the fact of DEI invading every professional institution from Physics to Medicine means we are creating a generation of professionals with horrible ethical principles and probably less competence. This was _already_ seen in the vaccine distribution fiasco in early to mid 2021 which has unfortunately been memory-holed since right wingers are now anti-vax.

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Plus the anti-vaxxers are only killing themselves. I doubt we'll ever see a politician want to ban vaccines - unless that politician is a Democrat who respects the FDA.

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What I get from this piece Is you will celebrate Putin and denunce the vax in few months.

In fact, you changed your mind on democracy in the middle of a war that is not going to end soon and on the mRNA vaccine when we discovered how many energies have been spent in suppressing who do not belive in it.

I am not discussing the merit, but only (and definitely) the method: aren't you a little bit...in a hurry?

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If he has a kid, he is ultimately going to worry first and foremost about that kid's welfare, like any human being (or, indeed, primate). That is a sign of a normal human being.

I'll be curious to see if he swings against feminism again if he has a son.

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meh, conservatism scarier than the mind fvckery and weirdo-embracing of the left?

Abortion shuld be left up to the states, i dont see anything scary there

If liberals are sooo passionate about it, they might consider moving to a state that allows that

"and against those who have their views shaped by religious fanaticism and conspiracy theories"

At this point, liberalism is a RELIGION and liberals behave like zealots, their values being sacred and non-questionable and approaching everything in life as a non-negotiable human right.

As for conspiracy theories, Russiagate and their deranged fantasies of nazeees in their breakfast cereal are clear signs that even the uber-IQ and Most educated people ever(tm) enjoy dwelling in simplistic, childish worldviews of their own

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What’s your view on leaving vaccine mandates up to the states?

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No problemo, as well as masking and lockdowns

If californians want to live forever masked even when they walk in parks, thats their problem.

However, this applies more to social issues like abortion, LGBT and woke stuff

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