Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Notes 9 May 2016

A theory: French Revolution stopped after they instituted a draft that took young people out of Paris. Not sure if this is true. Didn’t read the link.

Voter turnout in the United States trails most other countries. Pew  Results.

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, predicted the Rise of Trump in August 2015. He’s posted extensively (here’s his list of posts) not because he likes him, but because he appreciates his skills as a “master persuader” and as a “Clown Genius.”  In the latter post Adams, as a trained hypnotist deconstructs some of Trump’s techniques and how they work.

For starters, the visceral reaction that makes so many people dislike Trump has a lot to do with his New York style. I grew up in upstate New York and his style registers with me in a completely different way than it does with my California friends who can’t stand him. What I see is bluntness, honesty, some risk-taking, and a competitive nature. I don’t hate any of that. In fact, I kind of like it.

I have blogged about making the transition from my New York personality to my California personality. New Yorkers tend to say whatever they think is true to whoever is standing nearby. Not much filter. Californians say what they think will make you feel good. The California way would feel like lying if it were not so well-meaning.

I certainly understand that Trump comes off as arrogant, obnoxious, and lots of other bad stuff. But over time, and compared to the liars on stage with him, you might get hooked on hearing his honest opinions. That’s how the New York style works. At first you hate it because it seems so harsh. In time you start to appreciate the honesty. And when you realize the harshness is not a signal of real evil – just a style – you tend to get over it. He won’t win over all of his haters, but I predict that his New York style will grow on people more than you would expect. You could say his style is his biggest problem, but it might be self-solving with time and exposure. He is getting both.

Study Hillary gets the most negative media.

Media will build Trump up and Hillary down in order to create the idea that  there is a an exciting election story worth spending your time on.

Propublica report on “requirements” for home schooling. Mostly “none.”

States passed laws to make schooling compulsory between 1852 (Massachusetts) and 1917 (Mississippi). (History of public schooling)

Slavery myths, debunked, article in Slate, with link to the Confederate Constitution.

Indentured servants.

About half of the white immigrants to the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries were indentured

Charleston, SC is a cultural outlier. Form the history of the Jews in Charleston, South Carolina:

By 1800 there were about 2,000 Jews in South Carolina (overwhelmingly Sephardic and settled in Charleston), which was more than in any other U.S. state at that time,[1] and more than any other town, city, or place in North America

I never knew that. And if you’d asked me for a guess, I would have said that it was almost certainly false.

Longer article on Jews in the American South.  Economist article: “Shalom, y’all

Reduction in contraception funding during the Bush years had this effect, but it looks like currently that is not true.

Simplifying the tax code: I think Scott said: “A randomly chosen person’s taxes would be unchanged” Sounded wrong when I heard it. I think it must be wrong, and only could be true if the deductions made by the “average person” whatever that might mean, were exactly offset by the reduction in tax rates for their bracket. Since deductions are very unevenly distributed across any given income bracket (some people have big houses and get big deductions, others making the same amount of money rent and get no deduction) this is unlikely to be true.


Daniel Gilbert, (et al) wrote this paper  called “You Can’t Not Believe Everything You Read.” It addresses the following proposition: supposing you are an open minded person and someone tells you something. If you understand the claim and don’t reject it right away as false, and you don’t accept it right away as true. Do you stick it in your brain as “understood pending verification” or do you stick it in your brain as true?

For a practical example: you’ve heard a bunch of negative things about, say, Hillary Clinton, some of which you might have rejected out of hand, and some you might have accept out of hand. But as an open-minded person you might judge, in some of those cases that you just don’t know, and you assume she is innocent until proven guilty.

Gilbert’s research argues that if you don’t outright reject a claim about Crooked Hillary, then it’s filed in your brain as true, and you have to do If you are told that it is false (by a source that you would rely on) and your mind is sufficiently occupied, then you will not do the cognitive work needed to reclassify it, and continue to believe that it is true.

For example, according to Gilbert’s research, merely hearing the term “Crooked Hillary” without entirely rejecting it (Saint Hillary, anyone) causes your belief to tilt against her.

Less Wrong Article “Do we believe everything we read” elaborates and points to some other resources.

Web site to help Americans who might want to move to Canada if Trump wins. He’s gotten millions of hits.

Great book on understanding American politics: Colin Woodard’s American Nations.

Albion’s seed covers several of the “American Nations” in greater depth. Excellent book review of Albion’s Seed at SlateStarCodex.



1 Comment

  • Mike, here is the “link” on the draft and the end of the French Revolution:
    “The French Revolution amazed contemporaries as time after time angry and excited crowds succeeded in overturning governments and other constituted authorities that had seemed sacrosanct and inexpugnable. …The fundamental disturber of Old Regime patterns … In the last years of the eighteenth century was probably [large] population growth… manifesting itself both in rural underemployment … and in growth of city populations especially Paris…. Crowd action of the kind so decisive for the early course of the French Revolution became possible under these circumstances.” (think Arab Spring)

    The famous ‘levee en masse’ [universal draft] of August 1873 decreed:
    “….all Frenchmen are permanently requisitioned for service into the armies. Young men will go forth to battle; married men will forge weapons and transport munitions; women will make tents and clothing and serve in hospitals; children will make lint from old linen; and old men will be brought to the public square to arouse the courage of soldiers, while preaching the unity of the Republic and hatred against Kings.” (propensity to legislate job creation?)

    “….the mass and energy went out of the city crowds, even in Paris, for most of the young and unemployed males were miles away in the ranks of the army. Hence, …when politicians attempted to summon the genie of crowd action in order to prevail against their foes, the former force and fervor were no more.” “Robespierre’s friends vainly summoned the sections of Paris to his rescue in July 1794; and about a year later on June 3 1795 in Faubourg St. Antoine…” ‘This is the date which should be taken as the end of the Revolution’ says Georges Lefebvre (Lefebvre, ‘The French Revolution’ London 1964); and not without reason.”
    William McNeil ‘The Pursuit of Power, Technology, Armed Force and Society’ University of Chicago press 1982, pages192-193.

    The rapid increase in population is not invariably associated with political revolution. According to McNeil in Britain primarily London and other cities the same population growth manifested itself in the industrial revolution which created its own problems but was ultimately more successful (for the British) than Napoleon’s empire.

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