My Faults My Own

One's ponens is another's tollens.

IN WHICH Ross Rheingans-Yoo, a sometimes-poet and erstwhile student of Computer Science and Math, oc­cas­ion­al­ly writes on things of int­erest.

Reading Feed (last update: June 25)

A collection of things that I was happy I read. Views expressed by linked authors are chosen because I think they're interesting, not because I think they're correct, unless indicated otherwise.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | What is the proper penalty for scientific fraud the culture that is China what would Gary Becker say? — "In April courts approved a new policy calling for stiff prison sentences for researchers who fabricate data in studies that lead to drug approvals. If the misconduct ends up harming people, then the punishment on the table even includes the death penalty."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Regulation of Charlatans in High-Skill Professions — "Although both standards and disclosure drive charlatans out of the market, consumers are worse off because of the resulting reduction in competition amongst producers. Producers, on the other hand, strictly benefit from the regulation,


What did you learn in school today?

This post is 4 of \(\infty\) in an ongoing loose sequence of posts meandering through the ethos that Scott Alexander dubs "charity over absurdity".

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Yesterday, Kent Greenfield argued in The Atlantic that a First Amendment that protects the racists of ΣAE is a First Amendment unbefitting a modern America:

We are told the First Amendment protects the odious because we cannot trust the government to make choices about content on our behalf. That protections of speech will inevitably be overinclusive. But that this is a cost we must bear. If we start punishing speech, advocates argue, then we will slide down the slippery slope to tyranny.

If that is what the First Amendment means, then we have a problem greater than bigoted frat boys. The problem would be the First Amendment.

No one with a frontal lobe would mistake this drunken anthem for part of an uninhibited and robust


Not Quite a Dissent: On Solidarity [Guest Post, Response]

A friend and classmate offers the following anonymous guest post in response to yesterday's post on (empty) declarations of solidarity. Their post follows with no edits by me.

The internet is a great and terrible thing. I say this often. We are inundated with a dramatically larger \(N\) of events to process and, thanks to social media, a larger audience to say it to.

I don't claim that the UC does a good thing by spouting largely empty declarations of support. I agree that it's trivializing, condescending, and mostly devoid of meaning, particularly when we seem to stand in solidarity with every cause that comes our way to demonstrate that we are caring, compassionate, and informed citizens of this world. I remember back in April when the #bringbackourgirls hashtag in support of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls exploded on Twitter--for two days. We offer our solidarity when it is easy, convenient,


Empty Declarations


Context: The Crimson | UC Passes Act of Solidarity in Light of UNC Shooting. But first, Scott Alexander writing in Slate Star Codex | I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup (himself quoting Chesterton):

There are a lot of people who say "I forgive you" when they mean "No harm done", and a lot of people who say "That was unforgiveable" when they mean "That was genuinely really bad". Whether or not forgiveness is right is a complicated topic I do not want to get in here. But since forgiveness is generally considered a virtue, and one that many want credit for having, I think it's fair to say you only earn the right to call yourself 'forgiving' if you forgive things that genuinely


A Place and a Role for Allies

This is part 3 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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I've got some things to say in upcoming posts about how to fight the good fight re: identity politics, but first, I think it'd be useful for all of us to get a huge disclaimer out of the way. (This post had a bit of scope creep, too, and I ended up saying lots of standalone-important things.)

I'll get to it obliquely, by way of background first:


Connor Harris posts on Facebook:

Connor Harris: It is easy for progressive students at politically homogeneous colleges to forget that there exist self-consistent arguments against same-sex marriage, transgender rights, and any other progressive policy you should care to name.

Thomism, for example, is nothing if not self-consistent. One can reject the premises of these arguments (I do), or think that



This is part 2 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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If you personally believe that it is the correct moral choice to elect[1] not to have the people you are responsible for vaccinated, this post will not make you very happy. I'm being a lot more charitable to you than most are, but I still end up being condescending and rude. I'm sorry -- I'd like to have a civil conversation sometime to try and change your mind without resorting to condescension -- but this article wasn't written for you; it was written about you, for people who already agree with me.

If you personally believe that electing to have the people you are responsible for (including yourself) vaccinated is the right thing to do, welcome! We agree on this point! If you think I'm writing an


Changing the Stakes Sideways

I was having an interesting discussion over dinner the other day with my aunt and cousins, which began as a relatively minor complaint about the propensity of Agents of SHIELD screenwriters (yes, I only just discovered this show) to use real science words in absurd ways, rather than making things up. At some point, the conversation had morphed into something about the general habit of filmmakers to publish misleading science as if it were plausible. (I found myself attempting -- but failing -- to communicate a point better made by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his post Science as Attire.) Some of us were of the opinion that this was a pretty bad thing that should probably stop; others didn't see much harm in it, so long as it was in works that were clearly fiction (false-science documentaries another matter entirely.)

My aunt, in the latter group,

"It's fiction, and it's art.

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