Feb 13 2017

Immigration and Crime

Prevalence-of-CrimeDoes legal or illegal immigration increase crime? That is an empirical question that should be answerable through rigorous research. Whatever the answer, it should inform our policy priorities and decisions. At the very least, if we are going to have a national conversation about immigration, the established facts should serve as common ground.

When you are done laughing (or crying) you might be interested to read about recent research into the correlation between patterns of immigration and various types of personal and property crime. Researchers have previously looked at this question by focusing on individuals – are immigrants more or less likely to commit crimes than native born Americans? Let’s consider that question first.

The research overwhelmingly shows that first generation immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are less likely to commit all types of crime at all ages than the native born. Interestingly, by second generation the statistics look more like native born crime rates, so it does not take long to assimilate in this regard. As an aside, this, of course, does not include crossing the boarder illegally itself, but it has been pointed out that being an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal offense, but a civil offence.

Make no mistake, this data can be complicated, and there are studies showing higher incarceration rates for  immigrants. Those studies, however, have significant flaws, such as relying on self report, or only looking at particular counties that are likely not representative.

The most complete data shows that immigrants are about one fifth less likely to be incarcerated than the native born. In fact the research delves deeper to determine why that is the case. The difference is not explained through deportation of criminals. Rather, it seems to be mostly due to the self-selective nature of immigration. Those who choose to immigrate, whether legally or illegally, appear to be less likely to commit crimes, or are more responsive to deterrents.

Even if immigrants themselves are less likely to commit crimes, it is still possible, some argue, that immigrants stress government resources and are disruptive in a way that leads to more crime, even if they are not the ones committing the crimes.

This brings us to the current study. The researchers looked at 40 years of FBI statistics on crime and correlated this data with statistics on immigration to various urban areas. They found:

We investigate the immigration-crime relationship among metropolitan areas over a 40 year period from 1970 to 2010. Our goal is to describe the ongoing and changing association between immigration and a broad range of violent and property crimes. Our results indicate that immigration is consistently linked to decreases in violent (e.g., murder) and property (e.g., burglary) crime throughout the time period.

So, not only are immigrants themselves less likely to commit crimes, the cities they move into do not have an increased crime rate, and if anything have a slight trend towards decreased crime rate.

This research replicates other studies that show the same negative correlation between immigration and crime. I could not find any significant scientific debate or disagreement on this basic fact. In fact, I did find an article from 1933 discussing the same question, and finding a negative correlation between immigration and crime. There seems to be a very strong consensus on this conclusion.

What is interesting is the fact that despite this long-standing consensus, there remains an enduring belief among some that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for crime, that they are inherently dangerous and criminal. That seems to be yet another example of the triumph of ideology over facts.

Obviously this issue is coming up again with policy proposals by the Trump administration that are justified by anecdotes of criminals pouring across the border and individual cases of crimes committed by immigrants. Anecdotes, however, do not trump (pun intended) careful research and statistics.

I am not advocating here any particular policy decision. There are also many factors to consider when determining optimal immigration policy.

The facts, however, are the facts, and whatever policy priorities and decisions we do make should at least be informed by the best currently available evidence.

142 responses so far

142 Responses to “Immigration and Crime”

  1. MWSlettenon 13 Feb 2017 at 9:46 am

    It is interesting (and very sad) to see the same arguments against immigration trotted out generation after generation. Jews, Asian, Irish and Italian immigrants were all viewed as crime-ridden, filthy sub-humans, often by people who had immigrated to America themselves from other regions. Today many of their off-spring look with the same eyes at Mexican and Central American immigrants.

    I realize that most (if not all) Jewish, Asian, Irish and Italian immigrants came here legally, and that many from Latin America do not, but entering this country illegally doesn’t strip a person of the basic dignity and respect we should extend to all of our fellow humans.

  2. bendon 13 Feb 2017 at 10:14 am

    This long-standing trend of low participation in violent crime among first generation immigrants breaks down if you go back to Cortez and Columbus.

  3. tmac57on 13 Feb 2017 at 10:19 am

    “At the very least, if we are going to have a national conversation about (name any issue), the established facts should serve as common ground.”

    If only 🙁

    This has become the most disturbing and demoralizing thing from my perspective. All of a sudden, massive amounts of our population have decided that facts are the thing that aligns with their beliefs, rather than their beliefs following the established facts.
    This will not end well.

  4. BillyJoe7on 13 Feb 2017 at 10:42 am

    “Anecdotes, however, do not trump careful research and statistics.”

    I swear I did not read this before posting my last response in “The Superbowl and Hindsight Bias”.
    Most of the responses in that thread were based on personal anecdotes, or personal experiences, or personal “feelings” about what must be true, instead of being based on the scientifically derived data.

    It demonstrates how difficult it is for everyone to rise above their personal biases.

  5. chikoppion 13 Feb 2017 at 11:35 am

    John Oliver’s substantial breakdown of false facts and real consequences from Feb. 12.

    https://youtu.be/xecEV4dSAXE

  6. Grinzaloton 13 Feb 2017 at 11:45 am

    This article fails to address the simple reality that immigrant crime (regardless of legal status) is disproportionately perpetrated on other immigrants; plus, immigrants are far less likely to report crime.

    In any event, this article fails to make any case against THE current emphasis of the Administration – capturing CONVICTED criminal aliens. Over 1/2 of the federal court caseload involves illegal aliens. So, trivializing criminal activity among illegal aliens is offensive to rational people. Further, why not support “Kate’s Law” to get repeat offenders off the U.S. streets?

  7. Steve Crosson 13 Feb 2017 at 12:49 pm

    It’s sad, but unfortunately true that John Oliver and his team have done more actual investigative journalism in the last few years than most of the main stream television media combined.

  8. Kabboron 13 Feb 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I wonder if there is any data on crime rates of people born within the United States moving to different cities as compared to remaining in the city you grew up in. There could be a correlation between criminal activity and the longevity of a persons local social network. I don’t know how useful that information would actually be, but I am nonetheless curious. Perhaps the USSR data would be the best source for that sort of information, having forced people to relocate. I’m not confident they kept good records pertaining to crime rates though.

  9. chikoppion 13 Feb 2017 at 3:16 pm

    In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, part three of our series on the backfire effect (part one, part two), we sit down with Redlawsk to learn what he discovered when he pushed people’s beliefs to the breaking point.

    Also in this episode, psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky takes us step-by-step through The Debunking Handbook, a guide he and John Cook wrote for avoiding the backfire effect when confronting vaccine and climate change deniers. Originally meant to be an instruction manual for science communicators, it can be applied to just about any situation where the facts are on your side, yet the people who need to hear them are dead set on keeping belief-threatening ideas out of their heads.

    https://youarenotsosmart.com/2017/02/11/yanss-095-how-to-fight-back-against-the-backfire-effect/

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf

  10. tmac57on 13 Feb 2017 at 3:57 pm

    chikoppi- That was a good episode on YANSS.
    David McRaney is really diving deep trying to pull all of the research together on how and why people either do or don’t change their minds, and putting it into a form that the average person can understand. I think it will be an important contribution to the skeptical and rationalist movement.

  11. hardnoseon 13 Feb 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Crime is correlated with poverty. So if crime and immigration are not correlated, does that suggest immigrants are not, in general, poor?

    Obviously, some immigrants are poor and others are not. Did this research even bother to separate different types of immigrants?

    Many illegal immigrants do not speak English, and therefore must take low-paying jobs. Of course, this research probably did not consider illegal immigrants, since they are not counted. So are illegal immigrants more likely to commit crimes? We probably don’t know.

    And could there be other explanations for the finding that (legal) immigration does not correlate with crime? Maybe immigrants who come here legally tend to be skilled and educated, and gravitate to areas with good job opportunities. And those areas are not likely to be crime-ridden ghettos.

    I suspect a lot of this pro-immigration research is politically motivated. Even if the researchers are not consciously hoping for certain results, their political beliefs might cause them to look at the data in certain ways.

    Obviously we are expected to conclude from this research that Trump and his supporters are ignorant, xenophobic, and unwilling to accept scientific “facts.”

    But what about the well-known immigration problems in some European countries, such as Denmark? Accepting unlimited numbers of poor immigrants, and providing for them, could financially overwhelm these countries. They have had to change their policies and become more restrictive.

    I don’t think anyone is against immigration that is legal and limited. It makes sense to accept immigrants who apply legally and who have valued skills. It does NOT make sense to have open borders, as Europe has been finding out. There are different kinds of immigration, and public opinion depends on the kind of immigration we are talking about.

    This research is correlational, and that is one reason its results should be examined and questioned. And it has the obvious confounds I mentioned, which SN completely missed. That is because he wants to see Trump and his supporters as idiots.

  12. hardnoseon 13 Feb 2017 at 7:46 pm

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/03/the_vicious_cycle_of_muslim_immigration_sympathy_then_disinterest_then_hostility.html

    Slate is liberal/progressive slanted, yet this article admits that immigration should be limited.

    American progressives have recently decided immigration is good, the more the better. I think that’s because they hate Trump and anything he does or says must be wrong.

    I remember when it was pro-business Republicans who loved immigration, legal or not, because it provides cheap labor.

    If you’re a wealthy liberal, it’s easy to say let’s be nice and let everybody in. You don’t have to live in the poor neighborhoods where non-English speakers wind up. You don’t have to worry about them taking your construction job or you landscaping job.

    There is nothing wrong with a country protecting itself and putting its own citizens first. You would provide for your own children before providing for someone else’s children. That is the nature of how things are. No amount of fantasizing and utopianism can change reality.

  13. David Twitchon 13 Feb 2017 at 8:11 pm

    “If you’re a wealthy liberal, it’s easy to say let’s be nice and let everybody in.”

    I must have missed the “let’s let everybody in” political movement promoted by wealthy liberals.

    “You don’t have to live in the poor neighborhoods where non-English speakers wind up.”

    Yes, it would be horrible to have to live where the “non-English speakers wind up”.

    “You don’t have to worry about them taking your construction job or you landscaping job.”

    Not true at all, I’m a neurosurgeon and I live in constant fear of one of those Indian doctors “taking my job”! And what if they only speak Hindi and operate on the wrong part of the brain?!

  14. hardnoseon 13 Feb 2017 at 8:17 pm

    [Yes, it would be horrible to have to live where the “non-English speakers wind up”.]

    I don’t know any well-off liberals who live in poor neighborhoods. Don’t you ever wonder why?

  15. hardnoseon 13 Feb 2017 at 8:17 pm

    [I must have missed the “let’s let everybody in” political movement promoted by wealthy liberals.]

    Maybe you don’t read the news.

  16. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 8:56 pm

    All illegal aliens are criminals, by definition. Sometimes they commit additional crimes, beside the very serious crime of entering our country illegally.

    These “studies” that claim that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than natives is obvious fake science. Border areas with Mexico are cesspits of drug-smuggling, rape, murder and robbery. Mexican and Central American gangs infest many American cities (Los Angeles and Phoenix to name just a few). Prisons are packed with immigrants and are in constant danger of gang warfare within the prisons themselves. Many of these gangs are immigrant gangs.

    Near my home on Long Island, Central American gangs are currently in the midst of a gang war in Brentwood, where a number of teenagers have been slaughtered over the past few months.

    I’m sick of politically motivated “studies”. These studies are lies, and everyone knows it. Immigration in general, and illegal immigration specifically, are a scourge on our country.

  17. David Twitchon 13 Feb 2017 at 9:13 pm

    “All illegal aliens are criminals, by definition”

    Finally some good old common sense! I am so tired of these darn touchy feely liberals who think they might just be good people trying to escape extreme poverty or take care of their families.

    “These studies are lies, and everyone knows it.”

    Why of course they are, it’s a damn conspiracy, just like those fancy schmancy scientists trying to convince people global warming is a problem.

    “Immigration in general, and illegal immigration specifically, are a scourge on our country.”

    Yep, first we need to stop illegal immigration, and then go after all the immigrants and children and grandchildren of immigrants. When will you be leaving? We need some of these darn folks to take “personal responsibility”. Please step up and show them the way.

  18. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 9:29 pm

    @Twitchy:

    Unlike you, I work with immigrants, mostly illegal, every day, for the past 30 years. (I’m the only faculty member in my department who speaks Spanish). I provide them with free high quality medical care. I ask no questions, and ask no payment. I take out their brain tumors and their brain hemorrhages and fix their hydrocephalus. I save their lives. I’m on call tonight, and if one comes into the ER and needs neurosurgical care, I’ll roll out of bed and do everything I can to help him.

    I have a lot of respect for many of them personally. But that does not change the fact that illegal is illegal. Immigration generally and illegal immigration specifically is an enormous burden on our police and our schools and our hospitals and our workforce.

    We have immigration laws that were enacted by We the People though the democratic process, and the political scum that run this country have flushed our laws down the toilet. The Democrat gangsters are just importing voters, and the Republican gangsters are just importing cheap labor.

    It’s the ordinary working class Americans who are getting screwed. That’s how we got Trump. And if Trump doesn’t fix it, the guy who comes next is gonna make him look like Mother Theresa.

    We want our country back.

    So you, Twitchy, can take your supercilious libtard crap and shove it. I do more to help illegal immigrants in an afternoon than you do in a lifetime. And the fact that many of them are decent people doesn’t change the fact that many of them aren’t, and that they are here against the law, and that they should be deported.

  19. Willyon 13 Feb 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Dr. Egnor: I live within ten miles of the Mexican border. You don’t have a clue as to what is true and what is not true about immigration, or about Hispanics at large. I am tired of your claims that everyone who thinks differently than you is a liar, a criminal, or engaged in “fake” science”. Stick to neurology–something you are an expert at. Meanwhile, thanks for demonstrating for all of us that that well educated people aren’t necessarily very wise.

    “Immigration in general, and illegal immigration specifically, are a scourge on our country.” How friggin’ stupid can one man be!

  20. Willyon 13 Feb 2017 at 9:36 pm

    hardnose: I don’t know of any WELL-OFF conservatives who live in poor neighborhoods. Do you?

    You really don’t think before you post, do you?

  21. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 9:44 pm

    @Willy:

    [I am tired of your claims…]

    I’m so sorry to tire you. It’s not easy being a liberal, having to hear opinions that aren’t your own.

    I’m sure–living so close to the border as you do–that the evidence that illegal immigration is a wonderful boon to our nation is so obvious to you that you could just scream…

    But that would tire you too. What’s a liberal to do?

  22. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 10:05 pm

    @tired Willy:

    [You don’t have a clue as to what is true and what is not true about immigration, or about Hispanics at large.]

    Odd, because I did my residency training (6 years) in Miami during the 1980’s. I spent every night on call picking bullets out of the brains of drug dealers and poor schmucks and cops who got in their way, and most of the drug dealers were immigrants of one type or another (Colombian, Cuban, Mexican, Honduran, Guatemalan, etc). They weren’t, by the way, “Hispanics”, which is a trope liberals invented and which no actual immigrant calls himself (generally these diverse ethnic groups dislike or hate each other, and don’t think of themselves as a collective at all. The Columbians were shooting the Cubans who were shooting the Mexicans… who would’ve shot you if you called them “Hispanics”)

    Unlike my current practice, which I conduct about a third in Spanish, all of my practice in Miami was in Spanish, basically. So I do have “a clue”, moron, about “what is not true about immigration, or about Hispanics at large”. I’ve lived it in a very intimate way, and that’s why when I hear some f*cking lying study about immigrants having lower crime rates… etc… etc, I wanna puke. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen a city paralyzed by immigrant violence (Miami in the late 80’s was in crisis– we had to basically shut down elective surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital to accommodate the trauma crisis that was largely immigrant-caused). I’ve worked nights in the ER in which we had so many gunshot fatalities that we had to stack the bodies in the corner of the trauma room to make room for the next guys who got shot. One night in the late 80’s I treated/operated on/pronounced dead 23 people from gunshot wounds, mostly immigrants or immigrant-related drug crimes.

    Most of this was driven by immigrants, legal and illegal, and the drug trade they brought with them. This mayhem is still going on, in cities across our country, and clueless lying virtue-signaling liberals like you enable it.

  23. Willyon 13 Feb 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Dr. Egnor: I ain’t a “liberal”. Why on earth would you make such an empty, unsupported accusation?

    Embarrassed? I’m guessing not. You’ll just double down. Facts don’t matter in the world of Egnorance.

  24. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 10:21 pm

    @tired Willy:

    [I ain’t a “liberal”.]

    Of course you are.

    And Columbians and Guatemalans and Mexicans and Hondurans and Cubans aren’t “Hispanics”, and only someone ignorant of the dynamics of immigrant culture (i.e. a liberal) would call them that.

  25. David Twitchon 13 Feb 2017 at 10:38 pm

    “One night in the late 80’s I treated/operated on/pronounced dead 23 people from gunshot wounds, mostly immigrants or immigrant-related drug crimes.”

    So you treated and operated on 23 people and then pronounced them dead? That’s not something I’d brag about if I were you.

  26. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 10:43 pm

    @Dr. Twitch:

    Bullets through the brain have a peculiar way of frustrating even the most astute surgical care…

    Perhaps you could train as a neurosurgeon, and show us how to to it better.

  27. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 10:48 pm

    @Dr. Twitch:

    I just realized that you thought I meant that all 23 patients were treated+operated on+died.

    No.

    I did 23 consults. Some were just treated, some were operated on, and some died.

    Forget trying to get into med school so you can show neurosurgeons how to do it better. You’d never pass the reading comprehension part of the test.

  28. Steven Novellaon 13 Feb 2017 at 10:53 pm

    HN – you should try actually reading the studies rather than talking out your ass like you always do.

    The studies generally look at foreign born vs native born, so undocumented aliens are counted as foreign born. All the caveats you mention, and many more, are considered in the research.

    Here is the most thorough summary I could find: http://cis.org/ImmigrantCrime
    It’s from 2009, so a bit outdated. There have been additional recent studies.

    The bottom line when you separate out illegal aliens, is that all the data is problematic, but there is no reason to conclude that illegal aliens commit more crimes than native born.

    Michael – you are really outing yourself as a straight-up bigot now. You think that legal immigrants are a scourge? That’s like Gangs of New York era bigotry.

    I also like how you dismiss an entire area of research as fake because of your own anecdotal experience, and the whole “everybody knows” ploy. A new low for you.

  29. Steven Novellaon 13 Feb 2017 at 10:59 pm

    And, Miami is a well-known portal city for the illegal drug trade. It may not exactly be representative.

  30. Steven Novellaon 13 Feb 2017 at 11:06 pm

    HN – There are extremists on both ends. Most democrats do not advocate for open borders. I don’t know of any national politicians who do.

    2.5 million illegals were deported under Obama – more than any other president.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obamas-deportation-policy-numbers/story?id=41715661

    The border patrol increased under Clinton, Bush, and Obama. It’s now over 21,000.

    But as usual, don’t let the facts get in your way.

  31. tmac57on 13 Feb 2017 at 11:35 pm

    I keep trying to tell you guys Egnor is trolling you. No sincere person enters an argument spewing such vile divisive hatred if they are trying to be part of an ongoing constructive discussion with the aim of sorting out the facts.
    You are wasting your time interacting with him, it is his sick game, and he is thriving on it and getting an ego boost looking down on his playthings.
    Do as you wish, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

  32. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Steven,

    [Michael – you are really outing yourself as a straight-up bigot now.]

    One of the things most frustrating to liberal elites today is that normal people don’t care anymore if you call us names. Bigot, racist, whatever. Your silly slurs don’t sting anymore. We don’t really care what you call us.

    From the 1920’s to the 1960’s we basically shut down immigration into the US. We had a remarkable degree of social cohesion as a result and it worked well. There were problems–segregation was nasty stuff, and segregation was of course the public policy of progressive Democrats. Segregation was the ultimate social engineering project–your project, actually.

    By the mid-60’s, Democrat scum (I repeat myself) realized that without Jim Crow their political future was in doubt, so they decided to import nascent Democrats. So they passed the Hart-Cellar Act, with the passionate urging of Teddy Kennedy (who was so preoccupied with importing new Democrats that he forgot the girl in the car in the water…). As a result, we imported tens of millions of people who came from cultures quite different from the WASP culture that was the foundation of our nation.

    Since then, we’ve imported about 60 million people. Probably about 40 million of them are legal, about 20 million are illegal. Many are fine folks, of course, but some aren’t. And they come from cultures that don’t particularly value traditional American things like rule of law, freedom of speech, etc. These aren’t foundational principles of Central American or Mexican or African culture. They immigrants were invited in, of course, not because they were (or weren’t) fine folks and not because their home cultures would blend nicely with the Bill of Rights.

    These new immigrants were imported only–only–because they voted for the people who imported them (starts with a “D”).

    The result has been a progressive fracturing and Balkanization of our society, with burgeoning “identity” politics visible in each election cycle and on college campuses across the nation.

    This is a variant of the catastrophe of immigration/invasion that is currently blowing Europe to smithereens.

    Now we in America have gotten to the point that poor native whites have been so economically and socially decimated that their death rates have recently risen, which is almost unheard-of in civilized countries in the absence of war or plague or famine. There are epidemics of meth and heroin and suicide in rust-belt poor white communities in middle America.

    This idiotic and frankly treasonous immigration policy (and flouting of the law by the illegal immigration that our government has not only allowed but encouraged) is leading to an uprising now by lower and middle class whites who understand that they have been screwed and slandered for decades.

    That’s how you got Trump, and it’s just beginning. Massive immigration–legal or illegal–is an enormous strain on even the most stable society, and it never ends well.

    As the saying goes (and it’s very true): Diversity + Proximity= War.

    You are currently seeing a cold civil war. It will get worse, and you had better hope Trump shunts this immigration/invasion down, because whether or not you realize it, he’s the good guy here. If he can’t do it, a couple of hundred million Americans who see their culture and nation invaded without their permission will select a leader who will make you cry for the good days of Trump.

    This cold civil war will become a hot civil war if this invasion continues. And we Americans are very good at many things, but most of all, we’re good at violence. And don’t forget which side of this civil war clings to their (Bibles) and their guns.

    So keep hating normal Americans who don’t want their county invaded and their culture trashed and who are fed up with being called bigots and racists just because they just want sovereignty over their own country and just want to live under the rule of laws that they have enacted.

    Americans are “woke”, to use your idiot liberal meme.

    This is how you got Trump, and this is how you’ll get what comes after Trump.

  33. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Steven:

    [Most democrats do not advocate for open borders. I don’t know of any national politicians who do.]

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/oct/8/hillary-clinton-dreams-open-borders-leaked-speech-/

    Now you do know of national politicians who do.

  34. michaelegnoron 13 Feb 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Steven,

    [And, Miami is a well-known portal city for the illegal drug trade. It may not exactly be representative.]

    The violence is in cities all over the country.

    So for immigrants to be more peaceful/law-abiding than natives on the average, the immigrants outside of the violent cities must be nuns or Quakers or something.

    As I said, any study that “shows” that immigrants are a peaceful lot is fake science. Prisons are packed with immigrant gangs, and many inner cities are basically run by these gangs.

  35. chikoppion 14 Feb 2017 at 5:19 am

    [michaelegnor] So for immigrants to be more peaceful/law-abiding than natives on the average, the immigrants outside of the violent cities must be nuns or Quakers or something.

    As I said, any study that “shows” that immigrants are a peaceful lot is fake science. Prisons are packed with immigrant gangs, and many inner cities are basically run by these gangs.

    Any anecdotal opinion that “shows” anything about anything isn’t science of any kind. Simply declaring that your subjective opinion necessarily supersedes all evidence to the contrary is playing directly into the caricature of the political right.

    Separate national origin from other factors, such as poverty and education. Do immigrants living in economically distressed neighborhoods commit crimes at a higher or lower rate than their indigenous neighbors? How do you know?

  36. BillyJoe7on 14 Feb 2017 at 5:39 am

    ME.

    “So keep hating normal Americans who don’t want their county invaded and their culture trashed and who are fed up with being called bigots and racists just because they just want sovereignty over their own country and just want to live under the rule of laws that they have enacted”

    Can you spell nationalism?
    The “Us vs Them” mentality.
    Why on Earth did you save their lives when you want to deport them back to the misery and persecution from which they came?

    Your country hasn’t been invaded.
    Your country has attracted immigrants because they love your country and want to be part of it.

    Yout culture isn’t being trashed.
    Your culture is being invigorated and enriched.
    Culture is not static.
    Culture is a moving, changing, multifaceted thing, if it is to be a thing of beauty.

    You are called a bigot and a racist because that is what you are.
    You don’t recognise it because you are not an immigrant and don’t feel the weight of your racism and bigotry.

    You want sovereignty over a country in which you had no choice but to live, whilst denying it to your fellow countryman who actually made a choice to be there.
    And, if those fellow countrymen immigrants become lawmakers, you’ll damn well live under the laws that they create.

  37. Steven Novellaon 14 Feb 2017 at 7:13 am

    Michael – That’s a pretty scary narrative you got there. Somehow I am to blame for what you perceive as the errors of Democrats in the 1920s-1960s (before I was born)? It may surprise you to know (because you view reality through very thick filters) that I have never been a Democrat and would not be classified as a liberal.

    My Italian ancestors were the immigrants who wrecked WASP culture, in your view. They were hard-working skilled middle-class workers with stable families and traditional values who came here legally. But they were a little bit too “Eastern European” for the natives.

    Now the natives have to face immigrants who aren’t European at all – gasp!

    And – the Hillary quote was about trade, not immigration. Yes, she is free trade (as am I, and most Republicans who are not white nationalists). But don’t let that get in the way of your scary white nationalist narrative. I guess you want us to live in fear of an uprising of armed religious fanatics who just want to make America white again.

    Seriously, you have just parodied your own position.

  38. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 7:20 am

    @Billy:

    [You want sovereignty over a country in which you had no choice but to live, whilst denying it to your fellow countryman who actually made a choice to be there.]

    Nations are analogous to families. In fact, nations are organic extensions of families.

    I like my own family. And the people in my family like being in it, for the most part. That does not mean that I believe my family is better than other families–I am not an “Egnor family supremacist”. There are other families who are nicer, and less nice, smarter, and less smart, harder working and less hard working. All families are on a continuum for each quality you can name.

    But each family is an organic thing, and social policy that disrupts families, without the consent of members, is catastrophic to society.

    We are born into families without any choice whatsoever. Yet we do not have the right, nor is it wise, for us to invade other families against their will. I don’t go to my neighbor’s house, break through his door, and sit at his dinner table announcing that I have aspirations to join his family, and that he is a racist and bigot if he takes exception to this new family member who just joined dinner.

    You will note here that I am not specifically making an argument that family or national sovereignty is a good thing. I am specifically arguing that family and national sovereignty is a true thing, and that there are inevitable real world consequences for defying that truth. Denial of family sovereignty results in a massive breakdown of social order (look at inner cities in which most children don’t know or live with their fathers). Denial of national sovereignty results in massive breakdown of social order as well. That breakdown inexorably leads to balkanization (note that the term balkanization, which implies incessant inter-group conflict and violence, describes the real historical consequence of unfettered immigration/invasion and mixing of nations).

    Nationalism is reality-based. It is not supremacy–there are many ‘nations’ that are superior to American WASP culture in specific ways (Jewish culture prizes education more than WASP culture does, Chinese culture prizes hard work and self-sufficiency, Japanese culture prizes comity and law-abiding behavior, Mexican culture is intensely family-oriented, Italian and French culture highly value arts, etc, etc).

    American culture is essentially WASP culture, and native Americans are cultural WASPS, even if they’re Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or Asian or whatever.

    Mixing cultures can be done successfully, but it must be consensual, and it must be slow and carefully thought out. In the US, over the past 50 years, we have had an invasion of over 60 million non-Americans, which is an invasion without parallel in human history. It will (and is already) cause societal disruption, and it will, if it continues, cause civil war.

    Again, I do not argue that this is good. I argue that this is true.

    [And, if those fellow countrymen immigrants become lawmakers, you’ll damn well live under the laws that they create.]

    Why should native Americans live according to laws enacted by immigrants, any more than illegal immigrants respect native American laws?

    And while I will obey that law, and will not participate in violence, there are tens of millions of people on all sides of this issue who are not pacifists. We are a very well-armed nation, with a remarkable historical propensity for violence.

    This will not end well.

  39. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 7:32 am

    @Billy

    [Your country hasn’t been invaded. Your country has attracted immigrants because they love your country and want to be part of it. Yout culture isn’t being trashed. Your culture is being invigorated and enriched.
    Culture is not static. Culture is a moving, changing, multifaceted thing, if it is to be a thing of beauty.]

    Apply your trope to Europe and Muslim immigration. Is there an invasion going on? Do Muslims “love” France and Germany and Belgium? Does the importation of terrorism and rape (Sweden is now the rape capitol of Europe) and general criminality mean that European culture isn’t being trashed? Do burkas and honor killings and Sharia Law “enrich” French and Swedish and Dutch and German culture?

    Would American cultural “poverty” be made richer by more Sharia Law?

    Is Islamization a “thing of beauty”?

  40. Bill Openthalton 14 Feb 2017 at 7:39 am

    Like it (and him) or not, michaelegnor is correct when he states that illegal immigrants start by breaking the law. It might be understandable but it is illegal. When I take my neighbour’s third, unused TV set because I don’t have one and I would like my kids to watch TV like the other kids, I am a thief.

    How the morality of an unequal distribution of resources is perceived depends on one’s political leanings.

    I suppose that clever illegal immigrants would be very careful not to break other laws, to avoid being caught and deported. Thus, statistics of crimes other than illegal immigration could easily show immigrants to be more law-abiding.

  41. hardnoseon 14 Feb 2017 at 8:09 am

    @willy:

    “hardnose: I don’t know of any WELL-OFF conservatives who live in poor neighborhoods. Do you?”

    No, I don’t. But they aren’t hypocrites about it.

  42. Steven Novellaon 14 Feb 2017 at 8:10 am

    Bill – no one is saying otherwise. It is irrelevant to the claim that illegal immigrants, once here, cause disproportionate crime. There is no evidence to support this. We should at least get this fact correct to properly inform policy and priorities.

    No one here is defending illegal immigration. We have a right to have sovereign borders, to control our borders, and to decide who gets to enter our country. I am highly in favor of legal immigration because the evidence overwhelmingly shows it is good for every aspect of our country (not the focus of this post, perhaps a post for another day).

    Despite xenophobia, immigrants are the life blood of our pluralistic open society (which probably hints at why it makes some people uncomfortable).

    There is, of course, an optimal rate of immigration. Too much too quickly and it can overwhelm resources and slow assimilation. The wave of refugees into Europe is not optimal immigration, and using it as an example of why controlled legal immigration is bad is absurd.

    There is a reasonable balance to be had here, a balance which should be evidence-based, not fear-based.

  43. RickKon 14 Feb 2017 at 8:49 am

    It’s not “normal” American culture, Michael – it’s YOUR culture of privilege.

    America was built in “massive immigration” and that immigration constantly redefines what “normal” in America is.

    You hear “immigrant” and you picture a tattooed Mexican gang member. You don’t picture the Chinese girl sitting in the front row of violins in the school orchestra, the migrant farmworker family facilitating your cheap vegetables, the Swiss Wharton grad or the Patel family member running your local Motel 6.

    It’s interesting that you can look at the 1920s and 1930s and see a fantasy of social cohesion. Coming from a family of Labor movement activists, I can promise you there are alternate narratives that you would see if you removed your WASP-tinted glasses.

    The 1920s to the 1960s? Really? You just LOVE hierarchy, don’t you Michael, so long as it is the hierarchy that places white Christian males at the top. It took a devastating war to put many social differences on hold and to generate massive global economic demand for human labor (by killing off so many of them and destroying so much infrastructure). The survivors thrived and Americans got to enjoy an unsustainable, artificially high rate of economic growth. But all the while the problems of our hierarchical society were building up. Once those at the lower levels of the hierarchy got some economic and political power, it all came apart. Your glorious period of American cultural cohesion is exactly what CREATED the social conflagration of the 1960s.

    You’re all about that, aren’t you – preserving unsustainable systems that keep you at the top: promoting a walled, white-on-top America; promoting aggressive birth rates (because Hong Kong and Monaco prove the Earth can support near infinite human density)….

    If you don’t like the labels people apply, then don’t try so hard to fit them.

    It is so ironic to watch you, the self-proclaimed warrior against totalitarianism, applaud as the most elite administration in 100 years runs a textbook campaign of fear to co-opt the mob. But because it is the right people from the right part of the hierarchy, you’re all in favor. In fact, you’re helping so your part by telling the rural, meth-addicted white guy that it’s the illegal Mexicans that took away his job and not the GPS-guided, mechanized combine harvester. Well, go for it. Keep flogging that message that any facts that disagree with your desires are fake, and tell your grandchildren you were a proud supporter of Breitbart, Alex Jones and their loud, orange puppet.

  44. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 9:45 am

    @Ricky:

    [“Michael – it’s YOUR culture of privilege…America was built in “massive immigration”]

    True. Ask Native Americans (Indians) how massive immigration worked out for them.

    [You hear “immigrant” and you picture a tattooed Mexican gang member. You don’t picture the Chinese girl sitting in the front row of violins in the school orchestra, the migrant farmworker family facilitating your cheap vegetables, the Swiss Wharton grad or the Patel family member running your local Motel 6.]

    Immigrants are different (in part) because cultures are different. I am in favor of Chinese and Indian immigration, because they bring cultural influence that I think is healthy to America. Mexican immigration, not as much. Islamic immigration, even less.

    Cultures differ. Immigrants bring their culture with them. Assimilation varies, and the reality is more like solvent and solute. Things mix. Not all mixtures are good. We need to be very careful. Like some solvents and solutes, the consequence of getting it wrong is an explosion.

    [Coming from a family of Labor movement activists…]

    A Red-Diaper Baby. Explains the cluelessness, Intersectionality, lefty bloviating, virtue signaling, etc.

    [You just LOVE hierarchy, don’t you Michael, so long as it is the hierarchy that places white Christian males at the top.]

    White Christian males are a pretty successful group. Nearly all Western science, Western art, Western music, Western literature, Western government, etc etc are the product of white Christian males. Nothing to sneeze at. White Christian guys are overachievers.

    [But all the while the problems of our hierarchical society were building up. Once those at the lower levels of the hierarchy got some economic and political power, it all came apart.]

    Yep, and it will keep coming apart. That’s my point. I repeat: Diversity + Proximity = War.

    Unlike you, I would like to avoid the “war” part.

    [You’re all about that, aren’t you – preserving unsustainable systems that keep you at the top: promoting a walled, white-on-top America]

    My metric is culture rather than race. “White Christian Male” is a precis of WASP culture, and cultural WASPS can be black, white, Asian, Jewish, female, male, Mexican, Irish, Muslim, etc.

    I happen to like WASP culture, although I’m a Catholic. As historians have noted, the Bill of Rights has a very specific pedigree: it’s basically the rights of working-class Englishmen. It came from somewhere.

    It seems that a lot of folks like (or are least envious of) WASP culture, given how many are breaking the law to come here. I ask this: why are they fleeing, if their original culture is equal or superior to WASP culture? And if their culture is not superior, why do we want their culture brought into our culture.

    Again, (I ask, and you haven’t answered): is Europe made a better place by Muslim immigration?

    [It is so ironic to watch you, the self-proclaimed warrior against totalitarianism, applaud as the most elite administration in 100 years runs a textbook campaign of fear to co-opt the mob….Well, go for it. Keep flogging that message that any facts that disagree with your desires are fake, and tell your grandchildren you were a proud supporter of Breitbart, Alex Jones and their loud, orange puppet.]

    That’s the main thing you got right: Trump is a puppet. He is the result, not the cause, of the rise of WASP nationalism in America. It will keep rising. If Trump does not defend us–if he does not curtail illegal immigration and curtail undesirable legal immigration and the factionalization of our culture, WASPS (who founded America and who are the majority and are becoming more aware and militant by the day) will find someone who does.

    You had better hope Trump succeeds.

  45. chikoppion 14 Feb 2017 at 10:21 am

    OK…let me get this straight.

    To be worthy of “WASP culture” one need not be Caucasian, of Anglo-Saxon descent, or Protestant.

    Chinese Taoists and Buddhists are worthy, as are Indian Hindus. Mexican Catholics, not so much, and the ethnic Arabs are right out.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone who accepts democratic principles and respects individual rights and civil liberties, irrespective of their cultural traditions or personal religious beliefs, passes the test. But clearly there is some other assumed factor at play.

    So what is the implied common denominator?

  46. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 10:23 am

    Steven:

    [Michael – That’s a pretty scary narrative you got there.]

    Sure is.

    [Somehow I am to blame for what you perceive as the errors of Democrats in the 1920s-1960s (before I was born)? It may surprise you to know (because you view reality through very thick filters) that I have never been a Democrat and would not be classified as a liberal.]

    No one wants to be classified as a liberal. The truth is that segregation and Jim Crow and the KKK were all Progressive social engineering schemes, enacted by the Democrat party.

    [My Italian ancestors were the immigrants who wrecked WASP culture, in your view.]

    Italians didn’t wreck WASP culture. They joined it. They changed it a little bit–all new arrivals bring their culture with them and change (to lesser or greater degree) the native culture. But Italian Americans are today cultural WASPS, as anyone who knows native Italians will attest.

    [They were hard-working skilled middle-class workers with stable families and traditional values who came here legally. But they were a little bit too “Eastern European” for the natives.]

    The acculturation was not particularly easy, for Italians or WASPs. The Italians brought industry and family and love of food and art, and the Mafia. Mixed bag. Overall, it’s worked out well. The definition of “it worked out well” is this: Italians became WASPs.

    But it was not seamless for anyone involved. There are graveyards full of people with cement overcoats who paid the price for Italian assimilation.

    [Now the natives have to face immigrants who aren’t European at all – gasp!]

    Right. Mexicans who bring the mix of strong family and strong gang hate and violence. Somalis who bring work ethic and Jihad. How’s it all gonna work out? Maybe we should ask the Germans and French and Belgians how things are going now, before we go all in.

    When will Islamlists become Frenchmen? When will Sunnis become German? When will Somalis and Syrians become WASPs?

    What will happen during the process? Will Muslim assimilation ever really happen?

    Ask the folks in the Balkans, who are still working on the project.

    [But don’t let that get in the way of your scary white nationalist narrative. I guess you want us to live in fear of an uprising of armed religious fanatics who just want to make America white again.]

    I’m just the oncologist telling you about the cancer. I didn’t cause the cancer, and just because I tell you the truth about the cancer doesn’t make me a bigot.

    Nationalism is how human beings work. Whether its good or bad or a bit of both is a separate debate.

  47. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 10:33 am

    @chi:

    [So what is the implied common denominator?]

    WASP culture is the common denominator. A very specific culture, rooted in the late 18th century, grown in England (mostly) and transplanted to the American colonies.

    American assimilation is basically adoption of WASP culture. And anyone who assimilates well becomes a cultural WASP. You don’t need to be white or male or anglo-saxon or protestant to be a cultural WASP. You do have to believe and live in accordance with certain things: a strong work ethic, respect for law, belief in freedom of religion and speech, acceptance of Christian ethics (whether or not you are a confessing Christian), loyalty to family and country, among other things.

    American culture is a very specific thing. When immigrants come to America, they bring their culture with them. WASP culture changes them, and they change it.

    The question cultural WASPs need to ask (and increasingly are asking) is this: what kind of change is good, and what kind of change is bad? How much change do we want?

    Here’s my view: importation of Chinese and Indian culture is a net good, because Chinese and Indian culture dovetails nicely with WASP culture. Importation of Mexican culture is less good, but not entirely bad. We need to be careful with Mexican immigration, but there are some aspects of it that should be encouraged. Importation of Islamic culture is very problematic, because Islamic ideology is violent and highly intolerant. Sharia Law and WASP culture don’t mix well, because Sharia Law doesn’t mix with anything. Ask Europe.

  48. Willyon 14 Feb 2017 at 10:37 am

    Dr. Egnor: The term “Hispanic” is a useful one, as are “Asian” or “African” or “European”. It’s much easier than saying “Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Cuban,…” every time one means someone from south of the border. “a term invented by liberals” Scoff. How friggin’ stupid.

    Your drug dealing examples are ludicrous. Drug smuggling would still be a yuuuuge problem even if there was zero illegal immigration. How many of the kids being seen for drug overdoses in New England emergency rooms are “Mexican”? If you’d have served your residency in say, Chicago , Philadelphia, or Seattle, you’d have still seen drug shootings, but there would likely not have been a HISPANIC in sight back in the 1980s.

    You are dead wrong about Mexicans not fitting into American culture. The Mexican culture is a warm one, very family oriented, hard-working, and generous. I’ve lived my entire adult life along the border in “fly-over” country, surrounded by many folks of Mexican descent (yes, most are of Mexican descent and are not from other Hispanic countries). I actually share SOME of your concern about massive Muslim immigration. The few Muslims I have known are very warm but their culture and religion do seem hard to meld with the American way of life.

    No, I am not a “liberal” and no matter how many times you say that I am I still won’t be one. Does it make it easier for you if you lump people with whom you disagree into the “liberal” category? Can you say “ad hominem argument”? I’m actually more of what you might derisively call a “RINO” or a Blue Dog Dem. A centrist. Comically, the non-ideologic Trump could have been useful in forming a more centrist party, but, alas, he’s too involved with self-aggrandizement and poking every hornet’s nest he passes. He’s kind of like you.

  49. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 11:04 am

    @Willy:

    Your drug dealing examples are ludicrous. Drug smuggling would still be a yuuuuge problem even if there was zero illegal immigration. How many of the kids being seen for drug overdoses in New England emergency rooms are “Mexican”?

    Immigration and importation of drugs are closely linked, obviously. The drugs don’t walk across the border by themselves. Open borders opens borders to more than immigrants. It opens borders to things immigrants carry in.

    The open borders and the drug trade they enable have been a catastrophe for the US and for Mexico.

    [You are dead wrong about Mexicans not fitting into American culture. The Mexican culture is a warm one, very family oriented, hard-working, and generous.]

    I agree. I have a very high opinion of Mexicans, generally. They are very warm and hardworking people, and very family-oriented. But there are “bad hombres” (as the beloved Donald likes to say), and the bad hombres are very very bad. Mexican immigration is something that should be approached carefully with eyes wide open. All immigration should be in accordance with law, and vetting is essential.

    [I actually share SOME of your concern about massive Muslim immigration. The few Muslims I have known are very warm but their culture and religion do seem hard to meld with the American way of life.]

    I have had the same experience with Muslims. Some of my nicest patients and colleagues are Muslims–there is a real sense of gratitude among many of my Muslim patients. For example, one guy whose daughter had a brain tumor that I successfully removed brings me a gift each year on the anniversary of her surgery. Very nice people.

    Yet Muslim immigration is problematic, because Islam is problematic. Islam does not integrate well in the West. Unfettered Muslim immigration is suicide for a Western nation.

    [Comically, the non-ideologic Trump could have been useful in forming a more centrist party, but, alas, he’s too involved with self-aggrandizement and poking every hornet’s nest he passes. He’s kind of like you.]

    I ascribe to the “Flight 93” theory of Trump. In case you haven’t heard it, it is the theory that the US is analogous to Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11. The cockpit of our country has been hijacked by malicious crazies (elites, Democrats, liberals, leftie thugs, SJW’s etc) and they’ve locked the door and we’re stuck on the plane, which is goin’ down.

    We normal Americans–cultural WASPs– are reduced to ramming the door to try to regain control of our country.

    Trump is the beverage cart. Ad hoc, much less than ideal, but he’s all we got.

  50. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 11:06 am

    @Willy:

    Oops. Correct parentheses added for clarity:

    [Your drug dealing examples are ludicrous. Drug smuggling would still be a yuuuuge problem even if there was zero illegal immigration. How many of the kids being seen for drug overdoses in New England emergency rooms are “Mexican”?]

    Immigration and importation of drugs are closely linked, obviously. The drugs don’t walk across the border by themselves. Open borders opens borders to more than immigrants. It opens borders to things immigrants carry in.

    The open borders and the drug trade they enable have been a catastrophe for the US and for Mexico.
    [You are dead wrong about Mexicans not fitting into American culture. The Mexican culture is a warm one, very family oriented, hard-working, and generous.]

    I agree. I have a very high opinion of Mexicans, generally. They are very warm and hardworking people, and very family-oriented. But there are “bad hombres” (as the beloved Donald likes to say), and the bad hombres are very very bad. Mexican immigration is something that should be approached carefully with eyes wide open. All immigration should be in accordance with law, and vetting is essential.

    [I actually share SOME of your concern about massive Muslim immigration. The few Muslims I have known are very warm but their culture and religion do seem hard to meld with the American way of life.]

    I have had the same experience with Muslims. Some of my nicest patients and colleagues are Muslims–there is a real sense of gratitude among many of my Muslim patients. For example, one guy whose daughter had a brain tumor that I successfully removed brings me a gift each year on the anniversary of her surgery. Very nice people.

    Yet Muslim immigration is problematic, because Islam is problematic. Islam does not integrate well in the West. Unfettered Muslim immigration is suicide for a Western nation.

    [Comically, the non-ideologic Trump could have been useful in forming a more centrist party, but, alas, he’s too involved with self-aggrandizement and poking every hornet’s nest he passes. He’s kind of like you.]

    I ascribe to the “Flight 93” theory of Trump. In case you haven’t heard it, it is the theory that the US is analogous to Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11. The cockpit of our country has been hijacked by malicious crazies (elites, Democrats, liberals, leftie thugs, SJW’s etc) and they’ve locked the door and we’re stuck on the plane, which is goin’ down.

    We normal Americans–cultural WASPs– are reduced to ramming the door to try to regain control of our country.

    Trump is the beverage cart. Ad hoc, much less than ideal, but he’s all we got.

  51. Steven Novellaon 14 Feb 2017 at 11:23 am

    So, WASP culture is: “a strong work ethic, respect for law, belief in freedom of religion and speech, acceptance of Christian ethics (whether or not you are a confessing Christian), loyalty to family and country, among other things”

    You say Italians did not have WASP culture, but they adopted it once they assimilated into America. Back in Italy they had none of those things. What do you imagine Italian culture was/is like? I am not saying there are no differences, of course there are, but I don’t think you hit upon any of them. (Loyalty to family – seriously?)

    All cultures have their criminal element. Saying that the Italian mafia made Italian immigration problematic is absurd.

    What you are articulating is classic xenophobia. Immigrants are different, they are more criminal, they lack our values.

    And Islam is not a problem. Yes, Sharia law is, but not all Muslims subscribe to Sharia law or want to impose it. Sharia law is a problem in the same way that wanting to teach Christian Fundamentalism in public schools is a problem. By second generation they all assimilate anyway. In 50 years they will be complaining about some other immigrants.

  52. tmac57on 14 Feb 2017 at 11:25 am

    Michael Egnor, do you use this exact same kind of nasty, attacking, ideological. hateful language and ideas when discussing these issues in person with your friends, family, or coworkers and students at Stony Brook University?

  53. Steven Novellaon 14 Feb 2017 at 11:26 am

    The problem with Trump is his basic level of incompetence. Even if you agree with everything he wants to do, I think a reasonable person would be concerned about such a narcissistic ignoramus with ADD running the country. So far the TA has been an unmitigated shit show.

    As some point, basic competence has to be the most important factor. While I fundamentally disagree with your flight 93 analogy, you are not ramming a drinking cart against the cockpit door, you are ramming explosives against the door. And then everyone will be shocked when the plane blows up.

  54. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 11:39 am

    @tmac:

    [Michael Egnor, do you use this exact same kind of nasty, attacking, ideological. hateful language and ideas when discussing these issues in person with your friends, family, or coworkers and students at Stony Brook University?]

    It varies. Family, friends, yea, generally.

    Co-workers– it depends on the professional and personal situation. I respect people’s feelings, and my beliefs about public policy and not the same as my beliefs about interpersonal behavior.

    A combox is not the same as an operating room.

    But I, and many Americans, are increasingly less willing to bend to political correctness, and we have a growing fondness for just telling the truth.

  55. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 11:49 am

    Steven:

    [You say Italians did not have WASP culture, but they adopted it once they assimilated into America. Back in Italy they had none of those things.]

    That’s not what I said. WASP behavior, like all cultural behavior, is a package, manifested in its entirety. Of course many Italians have a great work ethic (I’ve seen the Sistine Chapel). But Italian culture and WASP culture, taken as a whole, are not the same. Italians who came here largely adopted WASP behavior. That’s what assimilation is.

    [All cultures have their criminal element. Saying that the Italian mafia made Italian immigration problematic is absurd.]

    Of course the Mafia made Italian immigration problematic. Damn problematic.

    [What you are articulating is classic xenophobia. Immigrants are different, they are more criminal, they lack our values.]

    Xenorealism. There’s no phobia involved. I don’t take valium when I think of immigration. There are cultural differences, and they are very real. You’d be a fool to deny it.

    [And Islam is not a problem.]

    What?

    [Yes, Sharia law is, but not all Muslims subscribe to Sharia law or want to impose it.]

    The extent to which Muslims are good immigrants is the extent to which Muslims are bad Muslims. That alone should inspire us to curtail Muslim immigration.

    [In 50 years they will be complaining about some other immigrants.]

    Yea, like Jews and Christians and gays and all other dhimmis and heathens and apostates Islam tells Muslims to dominate and oppress and kill.

    You have a serious misunderstanding of Islam.

    If you want some clarity, go to Alabama, stand on a street corner, and insult Jesus.

    Then go to Saudi Arabia, stand on a street corner, and insult Mohammed.

    Go to Alabama first, or you won’t get to complete the challenge.

  56. chikoppion 14 Feb 2017 at 12:16 pm

    [michaelegnor] But Italian culture and WASP culture, taken as a whole, are not the same. Italians who came here largely adopted WASP behavior. That’s what assimilation is.

    So which elements of the “WASP cultural package” do Italians lack prior to assimilation?

    1) a strong work ethic
    2) respect for law
    3) belief in freedom of religion and speech
    4) acceptance of “Christian ethics”
    5) loyalty to family
    6) loyalty to country

  57. Steven Novellaon 14 Feb 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Chikoppi – thanks, that was exactly my question. Michael – please instruct me about my cultural heritage. This is entertaining.

    Regarding Islam, there are moderate Muslims. I have many colleagues and friends who are moderate Muslims. They are not bad Muslims, any more than moderate Christians are bad Christians. They do not have any of the negative traits you ascribe to Muslims.

  58. Willyon 14 Feb 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Dr. Egnor: At present the illegal immigration problem and drug running are closely intertwined; however, do you really think that eliminating illegal immigration (easier said than done) would in any way make more than a negligible dent in the drug problem? Drug running will continue until WASPs (and, yes, others) stop paying for them.

    As I said, I live about ten miles from the border. I cannot drive anywhere for more than a few miles without seeing a Border Patrol vehicle. I cannot go north on any road without coming to, and being stopped at, a BP check point. Any trip off-road will result in seeing BP. My home is a mile and a half from the tether point of an aerostat (blimp) that “flies” more than a mile above ground and monitors border conditions.

    As for Trump getting us into the cockpit–lol. Trump is the exterminator who burns down your home to rid you of vermin. It seems that even SOME of his supporters are beginning to see that he is a clueless, ignorant buffoon lacking all understanding of political leadership or domestic and international affairs. He is an egomaniac who has learned what appeals to those who follow him. He would favor ANY policy that brought him adulation. As he said, he could shoot someone and his supporters wouldn’t care.

    DJT–our first Kardashian president.

  59. Teaseron 14 Feb 2017 at 1:43 pm


    House Of Names > Egnor

    Egnor Surname, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

    An excerpt from http://www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 ­ 2017

    The German state of Bavaria is the ancestral home of the Egnor family. Egnor is a local name. Egnor is a name for someone who lived by the river Eger, located near Bopfingen or in the city of Egerer in Bavaria.

    Michael Egnor are you a Nazi? The Egnor family name hails from Bavaria. The place was a hotbed of Nazism.

    Are you a good Bavarian or a bad Bavarian?

  60. bendon 14 Feb 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Dr. Egnor,
    You recommend:
    “If you want some clarity, go to Alabama, stand on a street corner, and insult Jesus. Then go to Saudi Arabia, stand on a street corner, and insult Mohammed.”
    While I don’t doubt the foolishness of the latter, ascribing the unjust laws to the very people who are trying to escape that oppression is hardly fair.
    Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point. As a Mormon missionary in a country with a large Muslim population, in a city with 25% Muslims, I would often hand out flyers on the street corners of Muslim neighborhoods. Flyers that essentially said that Mohammed was wrong. Some might call that an insult to the prophet. Also, I’d go door to door inviting people to listen to a message about Jesus. Here’s a typical exchange:
    “Hello. My name is Elder Bend from the Church of Jesus Chris–”
    “Let me stop you right there. I’m a Muslim. I don’t really want to hear about Jesus. But I’ve got a plate of baklava. Why don’t you come in and have some. I’ll fix you a coffee.”
    “Sounds great, but Mormons don’t drink coffee.”
    “Do you drink coke?”
    “Yes, we do! Thanks.”
    In my two years I was threatened and spat on. Twice I was physically attacked. But never by a Muslim. The only people to ever do me harm were Christians.
    Now, my experiences aside, I don’t blame Christians as a whole for those who were discourteous. The acts of a small minority don’t make the entire Christian religion guilty. I wish more of us were willing to apply the same logic to others. I’m thinking of a quote, “judge not that ye be not judged” or something like that. Help me out. Anyone remember who said that?

  61. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 4:33 pm

    @bend:

    [In my two years I was threatened and spat on. Twice I was physically attacked. But never by a Muslim. The only people to ever do me harm were Christians.]

    I don’t doubt that Muslims are nice people, generally speaking. That is true of them, and is true generally of people of all (or no) faith.

    The issue here isn’t ‘who’s nice and who’s not?’. The issue here is: what are the cultural implications of substantial immigration of Muslims into a Western society?

    The answer to that question is easy: Europe–which, as we speak, is being destroyed by Muslim immigration.

    As a side note, I’ve noticed a peculiar affinity between Mormons and various immigrant groups, particularly Muslims. I don’t know why. Perhaps because the LDS has had it’s own issues with the federal government and integration. Perhaps because Mormons have had their own issues with Christianity. Perhaps because Muslims consider the LDS an ally in their jihad against Christianity. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’. They can take care of you later, after the Christians are crushed. The Left and secularists have the same bizarre Muslim affinity.

    Odd bedfellows, given that Muslims would (and do) slaughter Leftists, secularists, (and presumably Mormons, if the opportunity arose) gleefully when they get the Jihadi juices flowing.

    Whatever. No one in full possession of their mental faculties thinks Muslim immigration is good for a Western country.

    I ask the question I’ve asked others (and not gotten an answer): Has Muslim immigration been good for Europe?

  62. michaelegnoron 14 Feb 2017 at 4:37 pm

    bend:

    [I’m thinking of a quote, “judge not that ye be not judged” or something like that. Help me out. Anyone remember who said that?]

    The Lord’s injunction to not judge was obviously directed at judgement of souls, not judgement of right and wrong and not judgement of religious doctrine.

    You need to bone up on Christianity.

  63. Pete Aon 14 Feb 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Dr. Novella wrote: “Regarding Islam, there are moderate Muslims. I have many colleagues and friends who are moderate Muslims. They are not bad Muslims, any more than moderate Christians are bad Christians.”

    Living in a rural area of the UK, I find that impossible to accept. Several of the Christian denominations in my area abjectly detest every religion other than their own. Each claims that it is the only true religion, and that the followers of other religions are doomed to encounter the most dire of consequences. Members of these various Christian denominations do not inflict direct physical harm (because it would be a criminal offence under British law), but they exploit psychological threats to the max — which is also a criminal offence except when it is done in the name of religion!

    Furthermore, once one of these religions has convinced a mark [aka: target; new recruit], they deploy the bait-and-switch marketing technique to force the mark to either tithe circa 10% of their gross income, or be forever despised and shunned by the religious community that the mark has recently joined.

    Neither Christianity nor Islam is a religion: these two terms are simply category placeholders for sub-categories of fundamentally incompatible religions. E.g. the incompatibility between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam frequently results in hostility and gruesome punishments, including death.

    NB: There is a difference between Islam and Islamism.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamism

  64. Steven Novellaon 14 Feb 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Pete – I don’t understand your point at all. Perhaps you did not understand mine. Help me out.

  65. BBBlueon 14 Feb 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Steven-

    And Islam is not a problem.

    What is your take on Sam Harris’ notion that Islam is the motherload of bad ideas? Of course, not all Muslims are Jihadists or Islamists, but doesn’t Sharia Law following directly from the tenets of Islam?

  66. chikoppion 14 Feb 2017 at 5:29 pm

    [michaelegnor] The issue here isn’t ‘who’s nice and who’s not?’. The issue here is: what are the cultural implications of substantial immigration of Muslims into a Western society?

    Oh gosh, I don’t know. Probably all the same calamitous prognostications that accompanied the arrival of the Dutch, Germans, Scotts, and Irish, followed by the Italians, Greeks, Hungarians, and Jews.

    About 1% of the US population is Muslim. Muslims have been elected to city council, Mayor’s office, state legislature, and congress by upstanding American WASPs. Chicago has one of the higher Muslim populations in the US (3-4%). It’s fine. The guy who cuts my hair is from Iran. He’s a business owner, a single father, and a biker. We talk about restaurants and what’s worth watching on Netflix.

    Maybe what causes friction with immigrants is not due to their culture, but to the marginalization and bigotry they face while trying to find their place as a minority in a new society.

  67. Johnnyon 14 Feb 2017 at 5:33 pm

    A few years ago during this debate in Sweden, a Swedish popular historian joined the debate, and wrote that in the light of history, there is no reason to fear immigration. There is not a single historical example of peace immigration that in the longer run has been harmful to the receiving country. The only harmful sort of immigration are invasion and military conquests.

    I couldn’t find any contrary example of this. If you know of any, then please share.

    The historian used plenty of examples from Swedish history from the Middle Ages onward, but pointed to the USA as the ultimate example of how immigration benefits a country.

    It’s rather ironic to see certain Americans afraid of immigrants. I think pretty much every national group that initially was looked upon with suspicion (Italians, Swedes, Irish) eventually became accepted as part of the country.

    Of course a general open borders policy is not feasible at this point, but hardly any mainstream politician actually proposes that. And of course integration doesn’t always work smoothly. But immigration as such is not a threat to a country.

    And here is some skeptical debunking of misuse of rape statistics: https://debunkingdenialism.com/2015/12/12/how-anti-immigration-activists-misuse-rape-statistics/

  68. bendon 14 Feb 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Dr. Egnor,
    Yes, Jesus didn’t mean what he said. It was taken out of context. I suppose he was misquoted and didn’t really say that “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Or maybe he meant to exclude refugees. Or maybe he forgot to add the caveat, “unless they look different from you and eat strange food and talk funny.” As far as Europe’s Muslim immigration is concerned, as of June 2016, a majority in Germany, France and the UK had favorable views of Muslim immigrants. So unless a couple hundred million Europeans from those countries have lost full possession of their mental faculties, your presumption is unfounded. But maybe they have. Popularity doesn’t define truth. I would add, though, that many economists will point out that for an area of the world with little or negative population growth, Europe is in need of immigration lest they fall into long lasting economic depression. It is immigrants, Muslim immigrants among them, that will save Europe.

  69. Pete Aon 14 Feb 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Dr. Novella,

    Neither a moderate sort-of Christian nor a moderate sort-of Muslim adheres to the doctrines of any specific religion. Each would be regarded as an apostate/infidel. Islamism mandates the death penalty for apostates and infidels.

    No disrespect intended to you, to Michael Egnor, nor to hardnose: It seems to me that the three of you have failed to understand the important differences between the terms: Muslims; Islam; and Islamism.

  70. bendon 14 Feb 2017 at 5:54 pm

    PeteA,
    It seems to me that you’re inventing distinctions out of whole cloth. A Muslim isn’t a Muslim and a Christian isn’t a Christian unless they adhere to the interpretation of the tenets of their faith that you think are requisite for such a label?
    It shouldn’t be news, but apparently it is to you. There are moderate Muslims. A lot of them. And there are moderate Christians. A lot of them. The Bible (and the Koran) includes significant contradictions. Choosing to emphasize the more inclusive and forgiveness-oriented sections of scripture over fire and brimstone makes one no less an adherent than one who comes down on the other side of the contradiction. But his interactions with the rest of humanity will necessarily be moderated.

  71. Pete Aon 14 Feb 2017 at 6:05 pm

    BBBlue,

    Sharia Law in the UK:
    https://fullfact.org/law/uks-sharia-courts/
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/sharia-courts-in-uk-face-government-probe-over-treatment-of-women-a7049826.html

  72. Pete Aon 14 Feb 2017 at 6:12 pm

    bend,

    Which of the following are acceptable, and which are unacceptable, to the United States Constitution, to the UK, and to most countries in Europe:

    1. Muslims.
    2. Islam.
    3. Islamism.

  73. jester700on 14 Feb 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Egnor:
    “You need to bone up on Christianity.”

    As if there were such a homogeneous entity…

    The couple places I quickly checked comported with my memory that this was a chastisement against hypocrisy rather than an admonishment to never judge anyone. Still, it concerned judgement of behaviors, not souls.

    How could humans think to judge a soul in the first place? I mean conceptually, of course. I don’t buy into that particular fairy tale myself.

  74. tmac57on 14 Feb 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I think that part of the problem here is that for some issues, some people will not accept any level of risk, no matter how small it is when put into perspective.
    If a handful of terrorist attacks are caused by radical muslims over a very long period (decades), then some will become hyper focused on that identifiable category (muslims) and will go to extreme lengths to avoid even that tiniest overall risk while ignoring much bigger everyday risks.
    The 911 attacks helped to raise people’s fear of that religion, while the Oklahoma bombing barely registered fear about domestic threats. Both needed to raise our awareness of those dangers appropriately, but one met with an over reaction that still lingers, while the other was quickly forgotten, much like seeing a deadly car crash makes you cautious for a brief time, and then you go back to your normal driving.
    How quickly Sandy Hook was forgotten. What if that had been an Islamist attack, wouldn’t we be hearing about that non-stop since it happened?

  75. hardnoseon 14 Feb 2017 at 7:02 pm

    @bend:

    “Sounds great, but Mormons don’t drink coffee.”

    “Do you drink coke?”

    “Yes, we do! Thanks.”

    I don’t understand why you can drink coke if you can’t drink coffee. Both have caffeine, and coffee is probably a lot healthier than coke.

  76. edamameon 14 Feb 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Dr. Novella wrote: “Regarding Islam, there are moderate Muslims. I have many colleagues and friends who are moderate Muslims. They are not bad Muslims, any more than moderate Christians are bad Christians.”

    Pete A responded:
    “Living in a rural area of the UK, I find that impossible to accept.”

    I would suggest that you need to get out of your bubble.

    tmac wrote: “I think that part of the problem here is that for some issues, some people will not accept any level of risk, no matter how small it is when put into perspective.”

    This is key. Suddenly these big NRA lions become pusillanimous cowards when it becomes Muslims who might hurt us. Liberty must be sacrificed for safety, set all thresholds to zero in terms of acceptable threat! Did you forget 9/11 or something, you Commie?

    If it is Gus the White Racist American Psycho with his AR-15 shooting up a Kindergarten, killing six year old children crying in the corner for their mothers? We need to be brave and accept a great deal of deaths in the name of freedom and liberty! Set threat thresholds to infinity: how dare you ask for an ID at a gun show?! This is America, be brave!

  77. hardnoseon 14 Feb 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Trump was elected because of nationalism and anti-globalism, which are two sides of the same thing.

    Liberal/progressives consider nationalism obsolete and primitive, and a major cause of war and intolerance.

    Liberal/progressives (tend to) like the idea of a global government. You know the lines in John Lennon’s song Imagine — “… and the wo-o-orld will live as one.”

    Conservatives are more likely to be anti-globalists, because for one thing they are opposed to Marxist ideas.

    But a major reason for being an anti-globalist, which I agree with, is that a global government would be all-powerful. Therefore, it would tend to become corrupt and tyrannical. It is sometimes possible to escape a tyrannical nation, but it would not be possible to escape a global government. Unless you found a way to colonize other planets.

    We seem to be evolving towards globalism, and it might be inevitable. Trump and his supporters are a response to that. Maybe they are naive in thinking they can prevent something that is inevitable. But at least they are trying, and I sympathize.

  78. Pete Aon 14 Feb 2017 at 7:48 pm

    edamame proffered to me: “I would suggest that you need to get out of your bubble.”

    Your asinine, evidence-lacking, comments always make me laugh 🙂

  79. RickKon 14 Feb 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Bend said to Egnor: “unless they look different from you and eat strange food and talk funny.”

    Let’s all smile at the fact that Jesus looked exactly like the people Egnor chooses to exclude from his borders.

  80. tmac57on 14 Feb 2017 at 10:06 pm

    I propose the idea that if we were to survey the commenters on this blog, that we would come up with quite a diverse range of opinions and preferences that would not fit easily into the labels that some would expect them to.
    So using those labels just satisfies the prejudices of the user, rather than helping them to understand where each individual is coming from.
    This creates too much misunderstanding and talking past each other, and really is not helpful or illuminating.
    So if it is the goal of those who consider themselves to be rational, and care about an accurate (or as close to that) understanding of others and a truthful accounting of who they are and what they believe or think, then maybe we should try to find out (by asking) rather than assuming based upon the artifice of the convenient label, which carries along with it whatever baggage that the user brings to the situation, and for which the recipient has no say or control over.

  81. chikoppion 14 Feb 2017 at 10:40 pm

    [hardnose] Liberal/progressives (tend to) like the idea of a global government. You know the lines in John Lennon’s song Imagine — “… and the wo-o-orld will live as one.”

    Conservatives are more likely to be anti-globalists, because for one thing they are opposed to Marxist ideas.

    Liberal/progressives (tend to) like the idea of supporting the common welfare within our borders and working toward solutions that prioritize common prosperity with people of other nations. You know the lines in John Lennon’s song Imagine — “… and the wo-o-orld will live as one.”

    Conservatives are more likely to be anti-globalists, because for one thing they don’t understand the difference between Marxism and taxes.

    (Your strawman was looking a little ragged.)

  82. CKavaon 15 Feb 2017 at 1:00 am

    It does seem a tad predictable that Egnor would turn out to be a Trump supporter and hardnose a Trump sympathiser. Bastions of logic and critical thinking, indeed.

    Oh and hardnose, I sympathise with your concerns about the horrors of some hypothetical tyrannical world government, on that basis it certainly seems reasonable that people would be willing to support the very real Trump administration- currently displaying absolutely no authoritarian or repressive tendencies- as a viable solution.

  83. Hosson 15 Feb 2017 at 2:39 am

    Egnor,

    I’m curious. You seem to have quite a disdain for immigration; do you think the US shouldn’t have immigration at all?

    Based upon what you have written here, I understand – though I certainly don’t agree – that the immigration policy you favor is a type of weighted system based upon the cultural ideology you personally adhere to. Wouldn’t it be better to approach immigration policy with an objective, analytical method rather than a biased and error prone subjective method?

    You’re cherry picking damn near anything that you can rationalize – facts be damned – and denying actual facts to build your anti-immigration ideology. You’ve obviously become very good at insulating your ideology from reason. In a way, it’s tragic how your intelligence ardently entrapped your mind and has become your worst enemy.

    By the way, you never stated what was wrong with the research; you just said the conclusion was wrong because bullshit, subjective bullshit, and more subjective bullshit. Did you disagree with the methodology or the data, or did you not read the research at all? I’m guessing you just ran your mouth without reading the research.

  84. Bill Openthalton 15 Feb 2017 at 6:36 am

    chikoppi —

    So which elements of the “WASP cultural package” do Italians lack prior to assimilation?

    That depends on whether your Italian is from Northern Italy, Southern Italy, Sicily or Rome. Those from the North are hardworking (in their own eyes), while those from the South are lazy (in the eyes of the Northerners, but not in their own eyes, of course). Those from the South value family over the state, which makes them responsible for the Mafia in the eyes of those from the North. The latter are, of course, morally depraved entitled bastards in the eyes of the Sicilians (which really means they have more money).
    Everyone hates the Romans, who have no qualities but are nonetheless privileged. And not to forget, Berlusconi might be an asshole, but he has good taste as far as women are concerned. And they all like pizza (not an American invention!), apart from those who prefer risotto, who actually like pasta. Or something like that. Maybe.

  85. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 9:00 am

    A tyrannical world government is much worse than a tyrannical national government, because the latter can at least sometimes be escaped. And people can gravitate towards the less tyrannical national governments, and away from the more tyrannical national governments. If you really hate the Trump administration you can move to Canada or Sweden, for example.

    Once any government becomes entrenched and established, it becomes increasingly corrupt and self-serving. Why not? No amount of “education” will ever stop people from caring about themselves more than they care about others. That was (is) a Marxist fantasy.

  86. chikoppion 15 Feb 2017 at 9:32 am

    @hardnose

    The “globalism” you hear about in the news has nothing to do with a world government, just as use of the term “open borders” is generally not a reference to immigration policy.

    Both of these terms refer to universally unrestricted trade between nations, an end-goal chiefly promoted by corporations and international business, the champions of capitalism. It has absolutely nothing to do with Marxism, except perhaps as an antithesis.

  87. tmac57on 15 Feb 2017 at 9:41 am

    ” If you really hate the Trump administration you can move to Canada or Sweden, for example.”

    Sounds like the old ‘America, love it or leave it!’ bullshit.

    Looks like the Trump gang are doing themselves in as we speak. Otherwise, voting them out at the first opportunity before they can do more damage would be the real American way.

  88. RCon 15 Feb 2017 at 11:07 am

    @Egnor
    “If you want some clarity, go to Alabama, stand on a street corner, and insult Jesus.

    Then go to Saudi Arabia, stand on a street corner, and insult Mohammed.

    Go to Alabama first, or you won’t get to complete the challenge.

    Change Alabama to the Congo, and you’ll see a very different result – most likely the Christians cut your head off and then eat you.

    Would you have a problem with Christian Refugees from the Congo?

    The problem in your hypothetical is Saudi Arabia, not Muslims, just like the problem in my hypothetical is the Congo, not Christians.

  89. Bill Openthalton 15 Feb 2017 at 12:01 pm

    RC —

    Change Alabama to the Congo, and you’ll see a very different result – most likely the Christians cut your head off and then eat you.

    Actually, Christians from the RDC (where I grew up) are tolerant, hospitable lovely people. You’re suffering from similar prejudices as Michael.

  90. RCon 15 Feb 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I’m not suffering from prejudices, I’m suffering from being unclear in my wording, and misremembering my central African geography. (thanks for calling me on it)

    There are horrifying people everywhere, and religion tends to embolden those people. This is true of every religion. The majority of people are pretty ok. This is also true of every religion.

    It’s actually the Central African Republic that is having the issues with Christians killing Muslims (and eating them). Refugees are fleeing to DRC (among other places). As in most other things, there are other driving factors, but it tends to be radical faith that empowers the footsoldiers to do the actual killing.

  91. Kabboron 15 Feb 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Just remember, whatever you do: Do NOT go to North Korea and insult Donald Trump. Not in English anyway, they won’t understand you.

  92. Johnnyon 15 Feb 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I thought the kind of “globalism” Trump and his co-ideologists fear are primarily cultural globalization, not economics globalization (though they dislike that too).

    As for free trade without restrictions, it is indeed a worthy goal. And while this may be an extremist position among certain political factions, it almost universally agreed upon by economists. See: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/02/news-flash-economists-agree.html

    Paul Krugman has compared the persistence of protectionism to the persistence of creationism: http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/ricardo.htm

  93. Bill Openthalton 15 Feb 2017 at 6:02 pm

    RC —
    Nasty people will be nasty people, and when groups are pitted against each other, members of either group are indeed capable of seeing the others as no longer human. This can be moderated or exacerbated by religion.

    The problem with Islam is that it is a religion that has stringent social regulations in its holy texts (Qu’ran and Hadith), with makes it an awkward fit in secular societies that consider religion to be merely personal spirituality. Catholicism has similar problems when it holds to concepts such as reserving the priesthood for men, objections against contraceptives and abortion, etc that clash with the morals of the secular society. To function well in a secular, multi-religion societies, religions have to be able to abandon all outward signs of religiosity such as clothing prescriptions (e.g. the problems with Sikh turbans and daggers) that make their followers stand out. Religions have also to abandon all pretense at defining social and moral rules (i.e. forswearing practices that are perceived as discriminatory, from male-only priests to FGM, condoning slavery, forbidding abortion, or death for apostasy). They have to accept the preeminence of human law over their divine law. Finally, religions must at least pay lip-service to the equal value of other religions — they can no longer claim to be the only true religion. For many faiths, this is a tall order if not utterly impossible.

  94. Bill Openthalton 15 Feb 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Johnny —
    Economics is not a science — it barely manages to explain the past, and is unable to make predictions. The consensus of economists is worth no more than the consensus of theologians.

  95. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 6:40 pm

    ”If you really hate the Trump administration you can move to Canada or Sweden, for example.”
    “Sounds like the old ‘America, love it or leave it!’ bullshit.”

    I was talking about not being able to escape a world government. Instead of reading, you knee-jerk react to phrases.

  96. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 6:47 pm

    @chikoppi:

    [The “globalism” you hear about in the news has nothing to do with a world government, just as use of the term “open borders” is generally not a reference to immigration policy.

    Both of these terms refer to universally unrestricted trade between nations, an end-goal chiefly promoted by corporations and international business, the champions of capitalism. It has absolutely nothing to do with Marxism, except perhaps as an antithesis.]

    It is not that simple. I did not say globalists ARE Marxists, but there is a Marxist influence in some of their thinking. The Clintons are an example of progressives who want to unify the world within a secular humanistic, industrial, framework. Their motives are portrayed as altruistic, but there is also an obvious desire for control and power.

    And there are complicated alliances between mega-corporations and national governments. This is not really capitalism, and it does not involve free competition.

  97. TheGorillaon 15 Feb 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Hardnose,

    Capitalism is the production of commodities for exchange (and private ownership of the means of production; ie the private ownership of a social activity), and the capitalist State exists specifically to enable the private accumulation of wealth by maintaining class inequality through formal, legal equality. They literally go hand in hand together — the intermingling of governments, imperialism, and corporations is the natural consequence, *working as intended.*

    Also, you may not be aware of this, but “gobalist” is a Nazi euphemism for the Jewish world-controlling elite. Probably want to choose a different word.

  98. Johnnyon 15 Feb 2017 at 6:59 pm

    @hardnose: Pointing to the Clintons as examples of Marxist influence is absurd. You do know that the Democrats are to the right of the mainstream center-right parties in other Western democracies, do you?

  99. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 7:53 pm

    [Also, you may not be aware of this, but “gobalist” is a Nazi euphemism for the Jewish world-controlling elite. Probably want to choose a different word.]

    That is not relevant. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories about globalism. And some of them might contain some truth.

    Since I am Jewish, I can’t be accused of being a Nazi. And I am using the word globalism more generally.

  100. TheGorillaon 15 Feb 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Hoooooooooly shit

  101. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 8:00 pm

    “Pointing to the Clintons as examples of Marxist influence is absurd. You do know that the Democrats are to the right of the mainstream center-right parties in other Western democracies, do you?”

    I was not talking about left vs right. I think left vs right is ridiculous and meaningless.

    Contemporary progressives — who are not usually socialists, or maybe sometimes are but often are not — have some Marxist ideas.

    And secular humanism is an important factor, which is often expressed at blogs like this one. If people can be educated away from religion and superstition, the whole world would be enlightened and compassionate and everyone would get along.

    Conservatives do not, in general, think this way. They seem to think, usually, as I do, that what we call “evil” is a necessary and inevitable part of reality. Sometimes they think this because of their religion, other times just because they look at the human and natural world and see how things are.

  102. tmac57on 15 Feb 2017 at 8:09 pm

    “I was talking about not being able to escape a world government. Instead of reading, you knee-jerk react to phrases.”

    No, in that specific sentence, you were talking about how one would be able to escape a tyrannical national government. And my point was that the real American way to escape it was to vote them out, not turn tail and run. It’s a sore point with me, because so many people either think we should STFU and accept the current shit show that came to power, or leave the country. But if you don’t hold to either of those two positions, then no problem. Carry on.

  103. chikoppion 15 Feb 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Trade for the sake of personal or shareholder profit, unfettered and unhindered by borders, tariffs, or government, is literally the opposite of Marxism. In a globalist setting corporations are free to locate production wherever labor is cheapest, thereby placing maximal profits at the farthest possible remove from the workers who produce the goods.

    Using the power of the state to threaten companies who plan to offshore jobs is more in line with Marxism.

  104. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 8:24 pm

    “It’s a sore point with me, because so many people either think we should STFU and accept the current shit show that came to power, or leave the country. But if you don’t hold to either of those two positions, then no problem.”

    You read something into my statement that were not there. I was NOT saying you should leave the US if you hate Trump. I was saying that you COULD leave, because there are other governments.

    Read what is written, not what is in you own mind.

  105. hardnoseon 15 Feb 2017 at 8:28 pm

    “Trade for the sake of personal or shareholder profit, unfettered and unhindered by borders, tariffs, or government, is literally the opposite of Marxism.”

    That is not what I meant by globalism. I meant the alliances between powerful factions, whether mega-corporations or charitable foundations, or government leaders. That is not necessarily related to capitalism.

    Capitalism is a system that supposedly makes it possible for ordinary citizens to own companies and to compete fairly.

    Marxists, of course, don’t like capitalism. Partly because capitalist systems are never perfect, also because they result in some doing better than others. But mostly because Marxists, following Marx, believe that human societies can be planned and controlled by enlightened compassionate leaders. Or that leaders are not needed and human society can get along just fine without them.

    Marxists are utopianists, and so are some globalists.

  106. chikoppion 15 Feb 2017 at 8:42 pm

    [hardnose] That is not what I meant by globalism. I meant the alliances between powerful factions, whether mega-corporations or charitable foundations, or government leaders. That is not necessarily related to capitalism.

    Then you should probably use another term, because “globalism,” as it is discussed in Davos, among economists, and in politics, has a specific meaning related to inter-state economic and political policy.

  107. TheGorillaon 15 Feb 2017 at 8:50 pm

    hardnose,

    “Marxists, of course, don’t like capitalism. Partly because capitalist systems are never perfect, also because they result in some doing better than others. But mostly because Marxists, following Marx, believe that human societies can be planned and controlled by enlightened compassionate leaders. Or that leaders are not needed and human society can get along just fine without them.”

    I’m going to ignore the first two sentences. But the last parts… the first, that Marx somehow believed “human societies can be planned and controlled by enlightened compassionate leaders” is so 100% absolutely false. It’s just… not true. I’d love to see where you think Marx wrote that. Communism is not about philosopher kings, and it is *not* any kind of ideology; anyone who tries to sell you a “communist society” is a) utopian but also b) fails to understand communism — which is nothing more than the real movement to abolish the present state of things (ie the negation of capitalism). This is what Marx actually said, and you can read it in The German Ideology.

    The second is probably just as false, but there is some ambiguity as to your meaning — if your only conception of “leaders” is the sort of politician thing we have today, then you are correct. That’s certainly not needed. But if your idea is that communists think that human society could function as some sort of free-for-all that’s, yet again, patently false and completely ignorant of what human societies look like.

    Just. Stop. Please.

    chikoppi,

    “Using the power of the state to threaten companies who plan to offshore jobs is more in line with Marxism.”

    Depends what you mean. It is absolutely not in line with what Marx wrote or socialism/communism (which are identical; the distinction was revisionism in order to justify the maintenance and expansion of the authoritarian USSR State – absolutely baseless in the actual writings of Marx), but you could say it’s in line with certain types of people who self-identify as Marxists/socialists/communists — just keep in mind that this would be the equivalent of a creationist self-identifying as a Skeptic. Literally no relation between the two.

    Marxism is properly treated not as an ideology but more of a theoretical tool for sociological analysis; Marx’s project in Capital was critique of political economy — there was no normative or moral aspect to it. Neither is communism any kind of ideology. See The German Ideology like I told hardnose.

    Nobody can be faulted for not knowing this shit. There is so much misinformation and propaganda, and even so-called “communists/socialists” don’t want to read a fucking book.

  108. bachfiendon 16 Feb 2017 at 2:42 am

    Hardnose,

    ‘Since I’m Jewish, I can’t be accused of being a Nazi’.

    Of course Jews can be Nazis. ‘Nazi’ is an abbreviation of ‘National Socialism’. The German writer Sebastian Haffner in ‘Anmerkungen zu Hitler’ noted that socialism is the opposite of individualism and has nothing to do with Marxism. Socialism involves the social control of individuals, which Hitler did in spades, with the Nazis taking control of all social groups including cycling clubs. Hitler’s nationalism involved cancelling national rights of German citizens such as German Jews.

    It’s possible that if Jews ever came to control a state they could have a form of national socialism – if they remove the rights of minorities, bulldoze their houses and set up Jewish settlements in areas where the minorities currently have a majority, in addition to having the required social control – and be considered Nazis.

  109. BillyJoe7on 16 Feb 2017 at 5:28 am

    He can’t be Jewish, he’s an idiot. 🙂

  110. Bill Openthalton 16 Feb 2017 at 7:07 am

    BillyJoe7 —
    Don’t let Bibi hear this, he might get ideas :).

  111. Bill Openthalton 16 Feb 2017 at 9:07 am

    BillyJoe7 —

    You want sovereignty over a country in which you had no choice but to live, whilst denying it to your fellow countryman who actually made a choice to be there.

    As a (multiple) [im]migrant who grew up as an expat, I do respect the rights of the native born citizens of my adoptive country. The fact that I made a choice to live in a country doesn’t make me a better citizen, and the fact that I prefer the mores, culture and economics of my adoptive country doesn’t give me the right to live there if its native inhabitants don’t want me. As long as I don’t acquire citizenship, I accept that I don’t have all the rights of a citizen. Obviously, the country of my choice doesn’t discriminate against its non-native born citizens. The crux of the matter is not immigrant versus native-born, but illegal immigrant versus legal immigrant.

    We can argue whether there should be distinctions between citizens and non-citizens, and in some countries these discussions are taking place. The European Union extended a number of citizen’s rights to all citizens of the EU Member States, and while this has been very successful on the whole, it also caused a backlash in many countries — Brexit being just the most visible. Citizenship and property rights have been with us for a long time, and a world where people simply live where they want and take what they need is not for tomorrow (if at all possible). There is some merit in Egnor’s comparing citizenship with family membership — you join a family because you’re invited, not because they are better off and you like the idea.

  112. Johnnyon 16 Feb 2017 at 1:59 pm

    @Bill Openthalt: “Johnny —
    Economics is not a science — it barely manages to explain the past, and is unable to make predictions. The consensus of economists is worth no more than the consensus of theologians.”

    Economics is a social science. What do you mean with that it does not “explain the past”?

    Predictions are not necessary for being a science. Even so, economists do make predictions, with varying degrees of success.

    To compare economics to theology is not correct, because theology studies something that doesn’t exist (God). Economics studies something that do exist.

    Economics is often messy, and has its problems. But the knowledge it has acquired should have a role in societal conversations. The only other option I can see is being guided by ideology, and that is a very bad idea.

  113. TheGorillaon 16 Feb 2017 at 2:51 pm

    (Mainstream) economics purports to study something that exists, but their abstractions (ie an individual participating in the market) are completely detached from anything actualized in the world; you get semi-decent predictive models with no actual explanatory power.

  114. Johnnyon 16 Feb 2017 at 3:11 pm

    If we look at (part of) the Wikipedia description: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics

    “Economics focuses on the behaviour and interactions of economic agents and how economies work. Consistent with this focus, primary textbooks often distinguish between microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics examines the behaviour of basic elements in the economy, including individual agents and markets, their interactions, and the outcomes of interactions. Individual agents may include, for example, households, firms, buyers, and sellers. Macroeconomics analyzes the entire economy (meaning aggregated production, consumption, savings, and investment) and issues affecting it, including unemployment of resources (labour, capital, and land), inflation, economic growth, and the public policies that address these issues (monetary, fiscal, and other policies).”

    Doesn’t seem bad to me at all, and knowledge of this is crucial in advicing policy making.

  115. BillyJoe7on 16 Feb 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Give it to ’em, Johnny

    Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not science.
    May as well say neuroscience is not science.

    And mainstream economics?
    There must be an Alternative economics then.
    How does that work? A pair of dice and a set of tarot cards?

  116. TheGorillaon 16 Feb 2017 at 4:14 pm

    But those categories and divisions and relationships are the result of assumptions and normative claims; it presupposes its own laws as eternal and natural, not contingent and social. It should stand out as very peculiar that the historical subject of economics is the modern man. This attitude is also present in the “fake Nobel” they created and the extremely quantitative focus of the field (it might make sense to predict social activity this way, but it’s insane to consider a mathematical model of society as explanation). It takes categories and concepts like the market, money, and value as they appear *today* for granted and as *eternal*, with no care about their origin.

    That intro textbooks have island bartering origin stories in them is such an indictment.

  117. TheGorillaon 16 Feb 2017 at 4:15 pm

    This may come as a shock to you, Billy, but there are multiple schools of economics

  118. hardnoseon 16 Feb 2017 at 4:17 pm

    @bachfiend:

    “It’s possible that if Jews ever came to control a state they could have a form of national socialism – if they remove the rights of minorities, bulldoze their houses and set up Jewish settlements in areas where the minorities currently have a majority, in addition to having the required social control – and be considered Nazis.”

    Just shut up.

  119. hardnoseon 16 Feb 2017 at 4:20 pm

    @BillyJoe7

    “He can’t be Jewish, he’s an idiot.”

    Then obviously you can’t be either.

  120. Johnnyon 16 Feb 2017 at 4:39 pm

    @hardnose: “And secular humanism is an important factor, which is often expressed at blogs like this one.”

    Is it? I thought this was (primarily) a scientific skeptical blog. I don’t know if Steve self-identifies as a secular humanist or not, or what he takes that term to mean. But secular humanism is something that is rarely discussed on this blog, and to my knowledge Steve has no formal affiliation with, nor is active within, the humanist movement.

  121. Bill Openthalton 16 Feb 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Johnny —

    What do you mean with that it does not “explain the past”?

    Economic theories fail to explain what happened in the past, and economic models barely match historical data.

    Predictions are not necessary for being a science. Even so, economists do make predictions, with varying degrees of success.

    To quote J K Galbraith:

    The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.

  122. bachfiendon 16 Feb 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Hardnose,

    ‘Just shut up’.

    Is this the abusive form of argument you accuse your critics of engaging in?

    You have major problems with the meaning of words. Obviously, Jews can have a nationalist viewpoint and also be socialist.

  123. Kabboron 17 Feb 2017 at 9:51 am

    Bill Openthalt,

    Just to let you know economists like to make fun of economics. I have a degree of economics and it is common to poke fun at it while also understanding that it is an important field of study. Economics is a subject where there are some areas that are very rigorous and the models are important for policy makers to make decisions.

    TheGorilla, I’m not sure what point you are making.

  124. BillyJoe7on 17 Feb 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Kabbor,

    “TheGorilla, I’m not sure what point you are making”

    That is not an uncommon complaint amongst the other commenters here.
    My impression is that he is deliberately obscurantist, but I may be wrong, he could just be up himself, or trying to get a rise. And, then, just as you think illumination may be coming, he leaves the building. I find interaction with him totally unsatisfying.

  125. TheGorillaon 17 Feb 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Billy, my interactions with you tend to revolve around your gleefully disparaging things you’ve not read and have literally no willingness to learn about. You’re the New Atheist hardnose. And I guess I sometimes get sucked into responding to your drive by Snipes (Which, of course, also demonstrate no actual intention of discussion — IE the mainstream economics one in this very comments section or the numerous other times you’ve clearly not bothered to do more than skim my comment).

    Somehow nobody has difficulty understanding me until I criticize something they’re sensitive about. Then I am conveniently misREAD; what’s a person supposed to do when they’re accused of saying things he explicitly didn’t say or, worse, said the opposite of? I’ve never shied away from elaboration, but neither am I going to be diligent about spilling ink on someone who literally has no desire to understand.

    My comment was addressing issues with economics, and if you find it obscurantist feel free to say what you’re not understanding… Otherwise there’s nothing for me to work with. It’s not like my comments are performative.

  126. Bill Openthalton 17 Feb 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Kabbor —
    It is an interesting field of study, but its track record as advisor to the body politic isn’t stellar. One of the reasons would be that there are ideological differences between economists, and the discipline itself cannot tell who is right.

  127. Pete Aon 18 Feb 2017 at 6:57 am

    TheGorilla,

    I very rarely reply to your comments simply because I cannot properly understand them. I’m far from being the sharpest tack in the box when it comes to comprehending written English, however, I have managed to learn that some commentators make an effort to write easy-to-understand comments because they are acutely aware that they are writing to a global audience; rather than to a small audience that is expected to have an extensive command of the English language.

    I respectfully suggest that whenever you are frustrated with being misunderstood — e.g. “… Then I am conveniently misREAD …” [sic] — it would be much more productive for you to improve your communication style; instead of blaming those who misunderstand your frequently obtuse and/or obscurantist communication style.

    In other words, whenever you think that those who misunderstand you are stupid/inept, please pause to consider that some of the readers might be thinking that it is you who is being an inept, arrogant, wilful obscurantist.

  128. Kabboron 18 Feb 2017 at 8:11 am

    There are definitely different ideological approaches and those can and do lead to very different outcomes. The interesting thing is that economics is a topic that is more complicated than right and wrong outcomes. There is a concept in economics known as ‘Pareto Optimal’, and this is the concept where you are in a state in which you can’t give someone something without taking something away from someone else. Pareto Optimal is the baseline level of efficiency you want in a system, and after that you are making a lot of value judgements. There is a lot of room left for disagreement, but there are baseline concepts in economics that work to improve outcomes.

  129. BillyJoe7on 18 Feb 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Pete,

    Thanks for your very clear exposition of the problem many posters have with TheGorilla. Perhaps, coming from someone other than myself, he will take this to heart and change his style – unless, of course, he has actually nothing of value to say and is covering his lack with obscurantism. But, then, you have to wonder why he bothers to say anything at all. I have learnt many things from many commenters here, but never anything from TheGorilla. If he really does have some insight into an issue, he really does need to learn how to communicate this. But right now I’m calling BS. I think he enjoys being obtuse. I think it makes him feel superior to say something no one understands, so he goes out of his way to make sure they don’t understand.

  130. TheGorillaon 20 Feb 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Why does nobody ever give an example of obscurantism when they complain about it? Or give an example of something they do not understand/want clarified — when I explicitly communicated my willingness to do so?

    This is just more lack of engagement. What could I possibly take from either of your comments? What could possibly change without **examples?**

    My friends – normal people with undergraduate degrees – have no difficulty understanding our numerous Facebook discussions or my blog posts. The overwhelming majority of Reddit has no difficulty understanding my comments. Or the writings I submit. Professors regularly compliment/ed the clarity of my writing (which, admittedly, a paper will be more polished than a comment or blog post). Classmates never had difficulty understanding my comments in online discussions. Therapists never had difficulty understanding stuff I would write and bring in. There is a trend here.

    Curiously, it is in the skeptic/atheist communities that I am most accused of semantic word games, or obscurantism, or arrogance, or whatever the hell — and then it is usually on the topics that community is emotionally sensitive about (ie the nature of science, or God, or the spooky spectre of “”””””postmodernism””””””).

    You can hopefully see how, when nobody is actually willing to provide **examples** or accept my invitation to **explain further**, it would be difficult to know what to change.

    Or you could just talk about me to each other and ignore what I write. You seem pretty comfortable doing that. Grats.

  131. grabulaon 22 Feb 2017 at 2:37 am

    Let’s not forget some WASP’s fear science, and feel they can create laws the rest of us should abide by. Dying a long horrible disease and want to end it with dignity and on your own terms? Not if a WASP has anything to do with it!

    Curious Egnor is ok with what happened to the American Indians – and uses them as an example of what “immigration” can do but isn’t interested in going back to where ever his great grandparents came from, or however far back you might need to go before they also were considered immigrants.

    I also find it revealing the Egnor constantly refers to and uses political ad hominem to attempt to make his poor points.

  132. grabulaon 22 Feb 2017 at 2:40 am

    “You’re the New Atheist hardnose”

    There’s only one hardnose, unless there’s a team rotating through pretending to be him. It would explain his inconsistencies.

  133. arnieon 22 Feb 2017 at 7:24 am

    Gorilla: “My friends – normal people with undergraduate degrees – have no difficulty understanding our numerous Facebook discussions or my blog posts. The overwhelming majority of Reddit has no difficulty understanding my comments. Or the writings I submit. Professors regularly compliment/ed the clarity of my writing (which, admittedly, a paper will be more polished than a comment or blog post). Classmates never had difficulty understanding my comments in online discussions. Therapists never had difficulty understanding stuff I would write and bring in. There is a trend here.”

    I can see how you are confused about the skeptic community’s experience of your writings given how you experience your community’s experience of your writings. Given your ideologically bound positions, could it be that your choose, or surround yourself with ‘friends’, ‘majority of Reddit’, ‘professors’, ‘classmates’, and ‘therapists’ who largely share your ideological beliefs and assumptions and therefore are less able to critically examine the content and style of your writings. In other words, perhaps it is precisely the critical thinking skeptic community you meet here where you have the opportunity to be confronted in a new way with your obsucre, non-evidence based assumptions and beliefs and thus obscure manner of writing. That said, I do agree that more examples from your critics might be helpful to you. However, you haven’t seemed to understand the examples that some have offered you.

    I don’t mean this as criticism, just a thought about your confusion about the difference in your usual feedback community and this skeptic blog and feedback community.

  134. TheGorillaon 24 Feb 2017 at 3:34 am

    Obscure, non-evidence based assumptions and beliefs such as…..? Ideologically bound positions such as…?

    Clarity of communication is clarity of communication, and the point of the variety of contexts is that people with differing education levels and degrees of expertise have no difficulty getting it. I mean, do you really think it’s possible to go through college surrounding yourself with professors who not only agree with you but agree with you so strongly that they can’t evaluate a paper properly?

  135. BillyJoe7on 24 Feb 2017 at 6:25 am

    Put it this way, TheGorilla, I have never had any trouble understanding any of Steven Novella’s posts. There is clearly a problem when I can understand everything SN writes but can make no sense whatsoever about practically everything you write. SN writes clearly so as to inform his audience, you write to sound good – except it’s not working, because we see right through you. I live by the adage that, if you can’t explain it clearly, you don’t understand it sufficiently.

  136. TheGorillaon 24 Feb 2017 at 11:16 am

    Billy, congratulations on saying the exact same thing while still refusing to come down from vague accusations into concrete examples.

    Whereas, for you, your lack of effort is evident in this very thread. And remember so recently when you responded to my explanation of cosmological arguments not with questions but a stated refusal to care about experts or read about them?

    Look up where I explained misunderstanding of Marx, in these comments. Is that trying to sound good or trying to inform? Did you not understand that? If so, why not ask questions? Etc.

  137. Kabboron 24 Feb 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I hadn’t planned to elaborate on reason I said that “I’m not sure what point you are making” but it seems to have become a sticking point. This was in response to his criticism of the field of economics as a while I since elaborated on why economics is interesting and worth studying.

    The posts I was responding to were his prior posts on the topic of economics. The dictionary definition of economics is “a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services”. As such, the argument that it does not offer explanatory power (by which I assume you mean historical or logistical explanations as to these phenomena) does not seem like a particularly relevant criticism. It is like saying accounting is useless because it doesn’t try to explain where money is made.

    The part where you talk about “It takes categories and concepts like the market, money, and value as they appear *today* for granted and as *eternal*, with no care about their origin.” and the blurb prior to that discounts any study of economic history. The study of economics you generally encounter doesn’t include economic history for the same reason that a study of modern history doesn’t include the study of classical history. They are studied in the relevant field.

    The whole point of the field is to approximate reality through modeling. The intro textbooks you don’t seem to like are to provide an example of the most stripped down barebones economy for teaching purposes. They are not a history lesson and should not be taken as such. This is why I said I don’t see what point you are making. You don’t like what the mainstream field of economics happens to study. Then don’t study it.

  138. Pete Aon 24 Feb 2017 at 1:57 pm

    TheGorilla,

    It is impossible for me to describe why it is your comments that I do not understand. In order to tell you why I do not understand them, I would have to thoroughly understand why I do not understand them, which would require me to firstly understand your comments, then secondly, to fully understand why I didn’t understand them in the first place.

    It seems to me that those who understand you are those who participate in your echo chamber(s).

    It has become obvious — to people other than yourself — that Dr. Novella’s blog is not one of your echo chambers.

    NB: I have exercised great restraint, thus far, in order to avoid telling you exactly what I think of your modus operandi!

  139. TheGorillaon 28 Feb 2017 at 1:38 am

    Kabbor

    not understanding or caring about the origin of their concepts is why economics has limited explanatory power outside of modeling. So sure?

    Pete,

    I’m sure the real issue here is that I have somehow managed to surround myself in echo chambers in all areas of my life throughout all my years in all sorts of contexts. While simultaneously changing my opinion constantly. lol.

  140. BillyJoe7on 28 Feb 2017 at 5:14 am

    TheGorilla,

    We have only your word for it that the people around you actually do understand you. Therefore it is not an argument we find persuasive as it relies on your honesty which is exactly what we are questioning. As I said, Steven Novella is a neurologist who presumably converses with fellow neurologists in lingo the general audience here would probably not undertand, yet he is able to communicate very effectively with us in a way that you cannot. My default remains that you don’t understand what you are talking about and are deliberately obfuscating for that very reason. And that will remain my default unless and until you decide to communicate in the manner of Steven Novella, which of course you will not be able to do if you in fact don’t understand what you are talking about.

    “And remember so recently when you responded to my explanation of cosmological arguments not with questions but a stated refusal to care about experts or read about them?”

    There are no experts on cosmological arguments for the existence of gods. Just like there are no experts on arguments for the exsitence of faeries. I refuse to read a book by someone who thinks the cosmological argument is worth addressing. Life is short. And see The Courtier’s Reply:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier's_Reply

  141. BillyJoe7on 28 Feb 2017 at 6:43 am

    …and I gave my assessment of the cosmological argument but can’t remember receiving a response from you. The argument is false on it’s face and doesn’t require reading an entire book.

  142. SteveAon 28 Feb 2017 at 7:10 am

    Kabbor (quoting TheGorilla): “It takes categories and concepts like the market, money, and value as they appear *today* for granted and as *eternal*, with no care about their origin.”

    Add me to the list of people confused by that sentence. If there is a point being made here, it eludes me.

    And TheGorilla’s response: “not understanding or caring about the origin of their concepts is why economics has limited explanatory power outside of modeling. So sure?”

    Er, what now? (always acknowledging that I might just be incredibly dense).

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