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I think much of this is quite unreasonable (and some very unreasonable- you "don't like that I spoke as spoke as an authority on her life" because I wondered if what she observed was truly attributable to a causal effect?!), but I don't see the value in going over it, especially as others have made the points I would make about your tone and framing elsewhere. I continue to find your contributions on this topic a  little more combative and "soldier mindset" than is ideal, but clearly you strongly disagree. (Although it's tempting to suggest that your admittedly "angry" and "unfair" reply, several times longer than your eventual response to the object level question, is evidence for the prosecution, not to mention that it somewhat calls into question your primary 'it's too much work' defence for ignoring substantive criticisms such as Chen's in the first place.) I don't see the point in continuing to argue about whose team is more rational, in any case; all I wanted was your response to Chen's objections to help inform my new dietary choices (something which, again, you concluded was worth dozens of hours and tens of thousands of dollars when multiplied by six, a matter of months ago).

With all that in mind, I have a few follow-up questions to your object-level response, but I will understand if you choose to ignore them, given that you don't seem to enjoy or value the interaction and I'm finding it lower value than I'd hoped, myself.

I do not believe that Cade Metz used specialized hacking equipment to reveal Scott's last name


I said "specialist journalist/hacker skills".

I don't think it's at all true that anyone could find out Scott's true identity as easily as putting a key in a lock, and I think that analogy clearly misleads vs the hacker one, because the journalist did use his demonstrably non-ubiquitous skills to find out the truth and then broadcast it to everyone else. To me the phone hacking analogy is much closer, but if we must use a lock-based one, it's more like a lockpick who picks a (perhaps not hugely difficult) lock and then jams it so anyone else can enter. Still very morally wrong, I think most would agree.

I didn't, thanks! I'm a fairly long-time visitor but sporadic-at-best commenter here, primarily because I feel I can learn much more than I can contribute (present case included).

I'd love to know why you think it's weak. As I mentioned before, it doesn't seem any more than suggestive to me (and to be fair Chen acknowledges as much), but it does seem quite suggestive, and it has introduced a hint of doubt in me.

I get the sense that I've gotten your back up slightly here, which is perhaps not without justification as I admit to having been a touch suspicious of your ignoring the comment and then coming across as a touch uncooperative when I pointed it out. Especially in the context of having noticed, long before converting to veganism myself, that your posts and engagement in subsequent comments struck me as being, in emphasis, framing and tone, somewhat adversarial to veganism. 

But I'm well aware that I am probably excessively sensitive to that, having been astonished at the irrationality and extremity of the opposition to veganism online since I converted and before. I'm not sure there's a single moral/political issue where the epistemic and discursive standards are so low (not confined to the omnivores by any means, although it doesn't seem symmetrical to me either). On reflection that has probably clouded my impression (and I notice that I was completely wrong to claim Chen's was the only upvoted comment you ignored, a claim I've struck above). So I want to explicitly withdraw any implied criticism, and simply reiterate my interest in your assessment, as someone with relevant knowledge of and engagement with these nutritional questions. You have previously (thanks again for the tip!) defended the value of expending significant resources on potentially preventing iron deficiency in some proportion of six vegans; for much less than a sixth of that same cost you could at least get one to be much more motivated to address potential iron deficiency. I'd be very grateful, although I'm sure you have other demands on your time.

it is hard to write a NYT article

Clearly. But if you can't do it without resorting to deliberately misleading rhetorical sleights to imply something you believe to be true, the correct response is not to.

Or, more realistically, if you can't substantiate a particular claim with any supporting facts, due to the limitations of the form, you shouldn't include it nor insinuate it indirectly, especially if it's hugely inflammatory. If you simply cannot fit in the "receipts" needed to substantiate a claim (which seems implausible anyway), as a journalist you should omit that claim. If there isn't space for the evidence, there isn't space for the accusation.

Scott thinks very highly of Murray and agrees with him on race/IQ. 

This is very much not what he's actually said on the topic, which I've quoted in another reply to you. Could you please support that claim with evidence from Scott's writings? And then could you consider that by doing so, you have already done more thorough journalism on this question than Cade Metz did before publishing an incredibly inflammatory claim on it in perhaps the world's most influential newspaper?

This is reaching Cade Metz levels of slippery justification.

He doesn't make the accusation super explicit, but (a) people here would be angrier if he did, not less angry

How is this relevant? As Elizabeth says, it would be more honest and epistemically helpful if he made an explicit accusation. People here might well be angry about that, but a) that's not relevant to what is right and b) that's because, as you admit, that accusation could not be substantiated. So how is it acceptable to indirectly insinuate that accusation instead? 

(Also c), I think you're mistaken in that prediction).

(b) that might actually pose legal issues for the NYT (I'm not a lawyer).

Relatedly, if you cannot outright make a claim because it is potentially libellous, you shouldn't use vague insinuation to imply it to your massive and largely-unfamiliar-with-the-topic audience.

However, Scott has no possible gripe here.

You have yourself outlined several possible gripes. I'd have a gripe with someone dishonestly implying an enormously inflammatory accusation to their massive audience without any evidence for it, even if it were secretly true (which I still think you need to do more work to establish).

I think there are multiple further points to be made about why it's unacceptable, outside of the dark side epistemology angle above. Here's Scott's direct response to exactly your accuastion, that despite Metz having been dishonest in his accusation, he does truly believe what Metz implied:

This is far enough from my field that I would usually defer to expert consensus, but all the studies I can find which try to assess expert consensus seem crazy. A while ago, I freaked out upon finding a study that seemed to show most expert scientists in the field agreed with Murray's thesis in 1987 - about three times as many said the gap was due to a combination of genetics and environment as said it was just environment. Then I freaked out again when I found another study (here is the most recent version, from 2020) showing basically the same thing (about four times as many say it’s a combination of genetics and environment compared to just environment). I can't find any expert surveys giving the expected result that they all agree this is dumb and definitely 100% environment and we can move on (I'd be very relieved if anybody could find those, or if they could explain why the ones I found were fake studies or fake experts or a biased sample, or explain how I'm misreading them or that they otherwise shouldn't be trusted. If you have thoughts on this, please send me an email). I've vacillated back and forth on how to think about this question so many times, and right now my personal probability estimate is "I am still freaking out about this, go away go away go away". And I understand I have at least two potentially irresolveable biases on this question: one, I'm a white person in a country with a long history of promoting white supremacy; and two, if I lean in favor then everyone will hate me, and use it as a bludgeon against anyone I have ever associated with, and I will die alone in a ditch and maybe deserve it. So the best I can do is try to route around this issue when considering important questions. This is sometimes hard, but the basic principle is that I'm far less sure of any of it than I am sure that all human beings are morally equal and deserve to have a good life and get treated with respect regardless of academic achievement.

I sort of agree that it's quite plausible to infer from this that he does believe there are some between-group average differences that are genetic in origin. But I think it allows Scott several gripes with the Metz' dishonest characterisation:

  • First of all, this is already significantly different, more careful and qualified than what Metz implied, and that's after we read into it more than what Scott actually said. Does that count as "aligning yourself"?
  • Relatedly, even if Scott did truly believe exactly what Charles Murray does on this topic, which again I don't think we can fairly assume, he hasn't said that, and that's important. Secretly believing something is different from openly espousing it, and morally it can be much different if one believes that openly espousing it could lead to it being used in harmful ways (which from the above, Scott clearly does, even in the qualified form which he may or may not believe). Scott is going to some lengths and being very careful not to espouse it openly and without qualification, and clearly believes it would be harmful to do so, so it's clearly dishonest and misleading to suggest that he has "aligns himself" with Charles Murray on this topic. Again, this is even after granting the very shaky proposition that he secretly does align with Charles Murray, which I think we have established is a claim that cannot be substantiated.
  • Further, Scott, unlike Charles Murray, is very emphatic about the fact that, whatever the answer to this question, this should not affect our thinking on important issues or our treatment of anyone. Is this important addendum not elided by the idea that he 'aligned himself' with Charles Murray? Would not that not be a legitimate "gripe"?

And in case you or Metz would argue that those sentiments post-date the article in question, here's an earlier Scott quote from 'In Favor of Civilisation':

Having joined liberal society, they can be sure that no matter what those researchers find, I and all of their new liberal-society buddies will fight tooth and nail against anyone who uses any tiny differences those researchers find to challenge the central liberal belief that everyone of every gender has basic human dignity. Any victory for me is going to be a victory for feminists as well; maybe not a perfect victory, but a heck of a lot better than what they have right now.

He's talking about feminism and banning research into between-gender differences, there, but it and many other of Scott's writings make it very clear that he supports equal treatment and moral consideration for all. Is this not an important detail for a journalist to include when making such an inflammatory insinuation, that could so easily be interpreted as implying the opposite?

Your position seems to amount to epistemic equivalent of 'yes, the trial was procedurally improper, and yes the prosecutor deceived the jury with misleading evidence, and no the charge can't actually be proven beyond a reasonable doubt- but he's probably guilty anyway, so what's the issue'. I think the issue is journalistic malpractice. Metz has deliberately misled his audience in order to malign Scott on a charge which you agree cannot be substantiated, because of his own ideological opposition (which he admits). To paraphrase the same SSC post quoted above, he has locked himself outside of the walled garden. And you are "Andrew Cord", arguing that we should all stop moaning because it's probably true anyway so the tactics are justified.

So despite it being "hard to substantiate", or to "find Scott saying" it, you think it's so certainly true that a journalist is justified in essentially lying in order to convey it to his audience?

Your argument rests on a false dichotomy. There are definitely other options than 'wanting to know truth for no reason at all' and 'wanting to know truth to support racist policies'. It is at least plausibly the case that beneficial, non-discriminatory policies could result from knowledge currently considered taboo. It could at least be relevant to other things and therefore useful to know!

What plausible benefit is there to knowing Scott's real name? What could it be relevant to?

It's almost the only comment you haven't replied to, aside from the downvoted ones at the bottom. Third one down if your comments are sorted by top scoring, which I assume is default? It's by Alex K. Chen.

It honestly seems kind of hard to miss, and cites some interesting suggestive evidence that low iron levels could actually be healthy, which is why I asked.

Not hugely important, but I want to point out because I think the concept is in the process of having its usefulness significantly diluted by overuse: that's not a straw man. That's just a false reason.

A straw man is when you refute an argument that your opponent didn't make, in order to make it look like you've refuted their actual argument.

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