Possibly some ruffled feathers

Me on Farming Today.Starts at 7.17.

50 thoughts on “Possibly some ruffled feathers”

  1. Sound idea but think of all the bureaucrats that will have nothing to do (except be paid) if there’s no paperwork to deal with.

  2. The great thing with farmers is that they can contrive to whinge about anything – the status quo, any proposed change, it’s all grist to their mills.

  3. Mind you, in that respect they’re really little different from, say, school teachers. Now they, and their unions, really could do with a culling.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Fair play to them, they gave you the time without shouting you down and where she did talk over you I think it was just the pro ems of delays in the link.

  5. Mr Ears commented recently that this is a friendly ecosystem if you’re Brexitish, (white) male, small governmentish and so on. But, he said, less so if you’re, say, trans, or Remainish etc. I quote loosely from memory. The complaint was that if for some it’s a hostile environment, then valuable input might be lost because people with something insightful to say would not come out to play.

    But actually, unless you’re an accountant (not Snippy, obviously) or a coder, everyone who shows up here sooner or later gets his head kicked in. Lawyers, farmers, arts graduates, everyone in the public sector, luvvies, Septics, other furriners, those in between furriners and humans such as the Scots or Newmania, and so on.

    Now, if only we could add accountants generally to the list …

  6. M’Lud – did NiV ever make any good points? I can only remember his tedious lying and LWOT transplaining. Even Newms occasionally says something interesting.

  7. Difficult to say, Steve. As you say, with him one word would never do if 36.3215678 could be used instead.

  8. Gentlemen, we might have reached Peak Murphy:
    “July 4 is not liberation day. I might risk a haircut if everyone is masked. But more than that? Why? The likelihood that a great deal might still go wrong seems extraordinarily high”

  9. @Diogenes: “we might have reached Peak Murphy”.

    A state to be fervently wished for, because afterwards he would dwindle away to nothing.

  10. On chlorinated chicken, you claim that all food is labelled. But that’s manifestly not true: if I’m in a restaurant, the menu won’t tell me whether the chicken is chlorinated. If I’m in a school, a hospital, an airplane, or a prison, then I’ll have even less information – and little choice in the matter.

    Even if there was labelling, assuming that chlorinated chicken is cheaper than unchlorinated, it’ll soon be everywhere. That means anyone who objects to it suffers a loss of amenity.

    (For the record I don’t have a problem with chlorintated chicken; just that your argument doesn’t hold water.)

  11. The Meissen Bison

    The National Beef Association website has these exciting stats:

    * The UK is 75% self-sufficient in Beef leaving us plenty room for producers to grow more beef for the home market
    * 81% of beef sold in the UK is under the British logo, however Aldi, Budgens, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrison’s and Waitrose all use 100% British Beef. Let’s hope the rest follow the trend!
    * The UK exported 84,789 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef in 2019. Exports are mainly to the EU.
    * The UK imported 160,289 tonnes of beef in 2019.

    Other than meat, of course, the UK has a healthy trade in live animals for breeding and livestock genetics for which demand is probably less elastic than for live animals destined for slaughter.

    The other side of the coin which the presenter could have made more of is animal welfare(the size of battery cages, de-beaking, tail-docking, veal crates, farrowing crates and so on) and tracability (horse lasagne). Chlorinated chicken is a side-show.

    Danish pigs will happily dispose of any surplus accountants you might wish to give them – particularly if they have plenty of cover. Furthermore there is 0% tariff on superannuated bean-counters though the beans themselves might attract a tariff unless cocoa beans.

  12. The whole chlorination issue is such a pile of crap. The fact it is the Guardianista argument of choice suggests that. How many of us object to chlorinated salad or peas? How many of us have allotments? It comes down to a battle of certification regimes. There is nothing that makes the EU one better than the US and there is a good chance that it is worse. Remember the horse burgers and listeria in beansprouts? Heston Blumenthal prefers the US way of classifying meat, for example, because it is based on consumer-driven criteria based on eating satisfaction. In the EU, carcasses are just graded on quantity. The taste doesn’t come into it

  13. “If I’m in a restaurant, the menu won’t tell me whether the chicken is chlorinated.”

    If it doesn’t say that it’s *not* chlorinated, don’t purchase it. Don’t wait for the state to force labels saying “made with chlorine”, people will voluntarily label their produce “no chlorine”.

    Won’t happen? What law forced restaurants to put “Vogon Friendly” on their menus? None.

  14. @Diogenes, we reached peak Murphy when he fell out with Corbyn/McDonnell. From that moment he lost all prospects of ever getting a peerage/meaningful job, as no one else will touch him with a barge pole. Brexit and the loss of his EU funded non-job seems to have given him some kind of breakdown. His blog is a series of rants about how everyone else but him is wrong while holding out the begging bowl.

  15. “(For the record I don’t have a problem with chlorintated chicken; just that your argument doesn’t hold water“

    But the chicken does.

  16. The Meissen Bison

    Diogenes: I don’t know about peak Murphy but pique Murphy, as the eagle observed of the Promethean liver, is something you can enjoy anew every day.

    On the subject of carcass grading, conformation and fat-coverage have an impact on flavour. Sadly the average consumer has been conditioned to select for leanness above all and producers prefer quick growing and tractable livestock whereas rare breeds taste best.

  17. I remember the remarkable fuss about how we must never allow irradiated food in the UK. Then someone here recently told me that we do now allow irradiated food. What happened? Where did the fuss go?

  18. So it was you on the radio this morning. Sorry Tim, she made you look, well not quite a prat but a bit of an ASI enthusiast. Didn’t come over at all well, get some training.

  19. Edward Lud,

    “Mr Ears commented recently that this is a friendly ecosystem if you’re Brexitish, (white) male, small governmentish and so on. But, he said, less so if you’re, say, trans, or Remainish etc. I quote loosely from memory. The complaint was that if for some it’s a hostile environment, then valuable input might be lost because people with something insightful to say would not come out to play.”

    I’ve no idea how many people on here are white.

    I just don’t think it’s a forum that tolerates bullshit, unlike most places. You can post some bullshit you read in the Guardian on Twitter or Facebook and get likes because it fits with the current fashion. Most of these people haven’t done any other reading, or thought about it at all. And one reflexive action when people get pulled up and even when facts are put in their way, is to just attack with “racist” when they lose.

    Incidentally, I used to be pro-government, until I worked in it and saw just how much waste there is and how lazy most people are.

  20. Mr Ogenes, I am not sure if your question is intended ironically but, if I take it at face value then, no, I haven’t noticed accountants getting a good kicking. One particular accountant does, of course but as much as anything that’s because he seems not even to be a good accountant, so it’s among other things his disgracing of this profession that attracts ire.

  21. It was worth listening just to enjoy the BBC cadre distancing herself so furiously from you at the end and dog whistling the statists to pile in on the BBC website.

  22. @ Bloke on M4

    Most people are lazy – it’s not exclusive to government. What is exclusive to government is spunking taxpayer money on useless shysters. Okay for private sector to do this but not when it’s someone else’s money.

  23. Have to say the lack of tolerance for bull is an attraction. But this site most dramatically differs from most other online forums – in the loose sense – in terms of Timmy’s classical liberalism with what can be said in the comments. Lots of sites would ban someone for a sweary rant these days, and certainly suggestions occasionally cropping up on here like ethnic minorities being denied the right to vote for three generations or whatever would see you kicked off most. It’s not a “safe space” below the line, though I recall Tim blocking some particularly nasty antisemitism in the past. Not saying it “should” be a safe space, just that the concept of such relatively free exchange of ideas is becoming increasingly unusual online.

    I’d agree with Mr Lud that everyone (individually or in the sense of some aspect of their group membership) gets some stick here. Everyone who stays around a few years needs to have a thickish skin. But I think a wounded sense of professional pride stings less than reading that your ethnic group is genetically inferior or that your gender identity is a mental health problem. (I don’t see this as a particularly controversial statement – even someone who believes black people are intellectually inferior and trans people are crazy, can presumably see that a site in which some people comment freely on their beliefs about the intellectual inferiority of black people and madness of transsexuals isn’t going to be a particularly enticing site for black or trans people to participate. I think what riled Ecksy in particular was his sense this implied I favoured censorship. It would be better understood as a personal lament that the few remaining places online with a robustly liberal “free speech” policy may still end up filtering participation in a way that inadvertently encourages groupthink. There are few places of discussion online where people talk freely and which draw the full range of personal, geographical, professional and ideological backgrounds – Timmy’s place does exceptionally well on the second and third counts, mind.)

    I don’t know how many posters here are white though one long-term poster has openly discussed his Pakistani background and another I happen to know for off-site reasons has East Asian ancestry. Don’t think it’s controversial to say the site is very blokey but then the blogosphere has never really been very female-dominated, even on the blogs I read that are/were written by women. Josephine was a far more readable poster than NiV and she had made it clear she felt increasingly uncomfortable with how trans people were talked about before she disappeared into the ether. Given the sort of comments that crop up here it probably wouldn’t be wise for an MP or spad or whatever to post openly, no matter how up for robust debate they were or how much they personally preferred a liberal approach to censorship, for fear of being “caught” by screenshots of their posting next to politically unacceptable comments on what unfriendly press would then deem a “hate site”. (Think there was a spad who posted here circa 2010ish? Anyhow these days the blogosphere seems to play second fiddle – or even fifteenth, the pecking order has changed a lot in ten years – to social media.) Similarly not many academics would risk posting here under their real name. I do wish Ken would post more/again but don’t know why he’s gone quiet and it may be nothing to do with the current environment. At any rate input from people who know their stuff like he did is always worth reading but given the situation in modern academia I suspect engaging with the relative “Wild West” of the blogosphere is off-limits for many.

    Even pseudonyms aren’t all that useful these days when everyone’s being doxxed. (Slate Star Codex the latest venerable blog to be deleted.) Many of the long-term posters here would be readily identifiable from the information they’ve divulged about themselves over the years. I would be pleasantly surprised if in five or ten years people are still so forthcoming online about both their opinions and details of their personal or professional life – suspect a lot of people will feel it has to be one or the other. Another source of commentariat-filtering coming down the line or indeed, to some extent, already operating.

  24. I can only speak for myself personally. I came here originally after seeing some of Tims stuff that he had written on The Register.
    Another Rag that was all about straight talking and had an honest and forthright editorialship. The real value of course was to be had below the line from the commentariat, who were diverse ( in all respects ) and often industry insiders with behind the scenes knowledge.
    Sadly, since they were taken over and the old guard were purged, the site itself is but a shadow of its former self. Indicative is the complete lack of any of the anarchic humour which differentiated it from the lamestream press. Even worse are the below the line comments which have descended into leftwing groupthink personified. What a waste.
    I’ve also been viewing David Thomsons blog on and off for a few years now. I’m sure it’s familiar to some here.
    I was take aback a year or so ago when I discovered that he was gay. The reason? I had never even contemplated whether he was black, white, gay or whatever. It was never a consideration for me, and makes no difference now.
    The internet is the ultimate leveller. The interactions that you make online define who you are and how you come across. Your colour, creed or broader background may inform that, but its not directly apparent, nor relevant to those whom you interact with.
    Im appreciative of blogs like this one, where people are able to comment freely within bounds of decency. Sadly, places where you you can speak freely are becoming rarer and rarer.
    I worry for my children, about what may happen to them, when everything they do or say or watch is recorded. How is it possible to have free speech if you cant be sure that you wont be prosecuted for wrongthink in 20 years time?

  25. “and certainly suggestions occasionally cropping up on here like ethnic minorities being denied the right to vote for three generations or whatever would see you kicked off most.”

    Inaccurate again Earholes.

    Never said anything about ethnics save that ALL migrants REGARDLESS of ethnicity nor their offspring get NO vote for 100 years. Backdated to 1/1/1997–esp for Mr Bliar.

    Thus removing approx. 5? million votes ZaNu has imported for itself plus stuffing demographic takeover plans at same time. And booting Sad Dick Khan’s fat arse out of London Mare’s Office. Which should be abolished anyway.

    And I still think you are a Marx-leaning stooge arguing for censorship in case assorted marx-sucking minorities–who don’t give a shite about anybody else–might be upset at a bit of truth they don’t like. Imported mass votes don’t bother you but a trannie feeling “uncomfortable ” is a hot button. As I recall Joe was on here advocating the same sort of Marxist bullshit as is common on –as you say–most other blogs.

    I hope Tim will continue to ensure your POV remains a warped outlier.

  26. “the intellectual inferiority of black people”: there’s been lots of measurements made in the US. Elsewhere I don’t know. In a place as big and varied as Africa the sampling problem may be a big deal. I wonder whether the same may be true in China.

    Do you then rely on anecdotes? A person whose views I take seriously said that the quickest learners he’d ever had for a particular craft skill were Japanese. Among the early explorers the Dutch and the Portuguese seemed to agree that the cleverest mob they’d come across on their voyages were the Japanese. I suspect those tales back up measurements in Japan. On the other hand they seem to be lousy at sprinting and distance running.

  27. And a tale from a friend. His young daughter said she’d been invited out by a young man who was half Korean, half Irish. What did Dad think?

    You can finish the story yourselves.

  28. Bloke in North Dorset


    Good, thoughtful piece.

    “ Given the sort of comments that crop up here it probably wouldn’t be wise for an MP or spad or whatever to post openly, no matter how up for robust debate they were or how much they personally preferred a liberal approach to censorship, for fear of being “caught” by screenshots of their posting next to politically unacceptable comments on what unfriendly press would then deem a “hate site”.”

    In the mid 2000s one of my business partners went in to teaching and ended up teaching A Level economics and business. I used to send him links From here I thought he might find useful and he’d occasionally use the content I his lessons*. Eventually he had to stop because of the BTL comments, he couldn’t risk being associated with some of them.

    * A particular favourite was a video of fireman in a US town watching a house burn while the owner pleaded for them to save his house. He was offering money and promising to pay the insurance. Has he hadn’t been paying they only turned up in case there was a risk to life.

  29. BiND–Yeah lets all shut our traps while fucking socialism hurries along to its final triumph so your ambitious mates don’t have any obstacles to their big careers. Which will be fucking over anyway once UK Venezuela starts out on its Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

  30. In 2016 during the Brexit debates a chap from the US Poultry Export association came on Radio 4. That wasn’t the exact name of the organisation. He stated that EU chicken factories operated at the same cost as in the US. Both use the best science, lighting and hygiene, and send the chickens off to be slaughtered and packaged using as much automation as possible and at the optimal age. The waste products get mechanically ground into feed for other things.
    So why could US chicken outcompete European chicken on price?
    He patiently explained that 2/3rds of the cost of a chicken was the feed. And the Union States of America has the cheapest bulk feed suppliers in the world.
    So the UK could assuage that 48% of public opinion that doesn’t want chlorinated chicken by agreeing to support free trade in feed.
    Nobody would import the finished product – no profit.

  31. TMB

    “…pique Murphy, as the eagle observed of the Promethean liver, is something you can enjoy anew every day.”

    Well played! Perfect.

  32. Dearieme

    There are five races, those that evolved in Africa, Eurasia, Oceania, East Asia and America.[1] The races evolved different average IQs: Africa 71, Eurasia 100, Oceania 62, East Asia 105, America 86.[2] IQ differences between races are heritable.[3]
    [1] https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-1809.2006.00287.x
    [2] https://www.washsummit.com/product/race-differences-in-intelligence/
    [3] https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8971.11.2.235

  33. Race and intelligence is an enormous can of worms and a lot of people discussing it have very clear agendas (on both sides).

    As Grikkers is usually quick to point out, there’s a reason geneticists and biologists talk about “populations” of humans and not “races”. People of European, East Asian / Polynesian, South Asian, indigenous Australian and indigenous American descent are all tightly related – as descendants of a particular wave of humanity that got out of Africa and managed to survive – compared to the massive genetic diversity in Africa from which they budded off. It also means we ended up with some genetic input from interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans, which those who stayed in Africa didn’t get. Things get more complicated when you consider that African Americans or Afro-Caribbeans, which in most of the blogosphere are the groups being referred to as “black people”, are drawn disproportionately from small regions of Africa.

    So the “race” bit’s fiddly enough before you start worrying about the political and cultural sensitivity of the matter, the long history of (what’s now known to be scientifically nonsense) viewing Africans as a separate subspecies or in a neo-Darwinian sense as “less evolved” than the “higher races”, and how that makes calm apolitical “purely scientific” discussion of the matter today pretty much impossible. The history of the “science” is always going to rear its head. And the “intelligence” bit isn’t much more straightforward either. What is the “g factor”, how does it relate to the concept of “IQ”, and how sure are we that a single factor, rather than separate facets, is really sufficient to describe “intelligence”? What aspects of “intelligent” performance should we be attempting to measure, how accurately are our instruments capturing them, are there biases – especially cross-cultural biases in the results?

    We’ve got an increasing body of evidence about genetic factors correlated with intelligence. But a whole bunch of questions about the extent to which all of these are causal and whether it’s also picking up correlation with social factors that are the actual influencers. We know that cultural and educational factors affect IQ and that it’s somewhat malleable, not static in a population – there’s the Flynn effect and so on. But also the “reverse Flynn effect” which sometimes gets picked up on by immigration opponents. There’s complicated interactions between genetics and environment via epigenetics. There’s the old canard that there’s massively more genetic variation within a population than between populations, but then many variations in individual genes are correlated and therefore the difference in phenotype between populations can be substantial. It just goes on and on. And all of it is contested.

    It is a tricky and perpetually controversial issue. A good discussion of the issue needs a whole bunch of expertise from many different fields, yet even that can result in blandly conformist agreement (in quite different directions) if all the voices in your debate started from the same ideological position in the first place.

    Chez Timmy is simply not the place for an interesting discussion on the matter. It lacks the critical mass of relevant expertise and the diversity of people prepared to put forward contrasting positions. The state of the art in this matter is not someone neither trained nor professionally experienced in genomics or psychometrics declaring incontrovertibly that the average black person is halfway between the average white person and their pet dog. But then very few forums have the magic combination of freedom to discuss controversial topics, a mode of communication suited to proper two-way discussion rather than point-scoring (i.e. not twitter, nor article comments section where comments float up and down based on up-votes), and a set of knowledgeable participants of diverse backgrounds who are up for a good debate. Or if they do have that combination – as Timmy’s often does for economics and business topics – they don’t have it for every issue, because their commentariat may mostly have expertise from a particular field or may be more susceptible to mass-agreement on one issue than another. (The most interesting debates chez Timmy are often where commentators are split, e.g. between the liberal-libertarian wing and the socially conservative, though it isn’t always that particular axis nor is it necessarily “factional” disagreement. Threads where everyone piles on samey viewpoints are comparatively dull unless someone throws in some good anecdotage.)

    Reading “race and intelligence” get discussed at Slate Star Codex really is interesting. Or was, though I suspect if will be resurrected in some form (possibly with the controversial topics expunged). To be honest it’s mostly interesting the first time you see it. The tenth time you see it, you realise it’s the same old viewpoints going back and forth and not a lot of meeting in the middle. But that place had a lot of bright people, and especially lots with interests in the concept of intelligence itself. Psychiatrists (the site itself being written and moderated by one), neuroscientists, geneticists, psychologists, biologists, people with PhDs or who actively work in this stuff, the site was full of them. And they just loved to thrash things out. Every nuance of the argument tossed back and forth, dissected critically, the weight of evidence examined. Libertarians, liberal, conservatives, even alt-right “race realists” (much more sophisticated scientifically but philosophically coming from a similar angle to Theo) sticking their oar in. Very little ad hom too. But unlike Timmy’s free-for-all philosophy, that site only worked the way it did because the comments sections were closely curated and moderation must have been a total nightmare. And for all the “diversity” of viewpoints I mentioned, it was also a very weird place full of upper-middle class Westerners, but especially full of hyper-rationalist Bayesian “Less Wrong” types with niche interests in things like neuro-enhancement and artificial intelligence (which is why anything about the brain and intelligence got a very knowledgeable response – discussion of monetary policy or pricing of oil derivatives would, I suspect, have fallen pretty flat). I also don’t think it would be unfair to point out many participants there are “on the spectrum”. Allegedly Dom Cummings was an avid reader so you can probably take that as an endorsement.

  34. @BIND

    Yes you mentioned this before and I thought it was a good point. We are both long-time readers and the site has changed a lot below-the-line since the mid-2000s. In some ways better, in some ways for the worse, though I think the general decline of the blogosphere and increasing switch of “The Debate” (on everything) to Twitter has led to people falling into silos a lot more. It also means a lot of unwritten rules have changed. When we started posting here (and I lurked for years before I started posting) Timmy’s liberal perspective that “just because I allow something to be posted in the comments section doesn’t mean I agree with it in any way, so have at it” was – even then – unusually free, but would at least be widely understood. In these days that “silence is violence”, just being seen to post on the same site that other people express controversial opinions is seen as a kind of implicit endorsement. (Though weirdly, you’re still allowed to post on Twitter despite Trump posting there too, because that’s seen more as the “medium” than the “site”. Blogs and old BB-style forums get held to a different standard. And it isn’t just lefties doxxing righties, the Labour now-ex MP Jared O’Mara got the conservative internet history sleuths after him too.)

    For most people this isn’t a website you would want to be caught reading at work during your lunch break (particularly as the political-cultural climate becomes less forgiving). It isn’t a website most people would be happy to share links to their friends or family and definitely not one for sharing with colleagues or students. Back in 2010ish I used to quite regularly give out links to this site on other forums I posted if there was a particularly interesting thread but I’ve largely stopped doing that too. This is a shame in several ways – there are some interesting ideas, particularly Tim’s basic economic literacy and ability to convey the illiteracy of much of our media and governing classes, that deserve to get out to wider exposure. Also some cracking anecdotes in the comment section, though as I said, I’d be wary of oversharing these days and I wouldn’t be surprised if other people start revealing less too. On the flip side, the site’s unshareability means less fresh blood and fresh perspectives appearing below the line.


    A lot of that resonated with me (including no longer viewing the comments on El Reg and the surprise when my penny dropped re David T!). To be honest, I think the only sensible advice for young people with anything to lose is not to post and not to skirt controversy. Unlike “tomorrow’s chip paper”, stuff online has a nasty habit of sticking about. Plenty of people’s first-page google results include things they wished weren’t there.

    Incidentally, I find it weird that parents have been tending to give kids more unusual and unique names lately to help them stand out. Also becoming more prevalent to give double-barrelled surnames (in both married couples and unmarried) which means young’uns are more identifiable than ever. Knowing what we do now about the direction society and technology is going, that is total madness. There has never been a better time to call your son John Smith. Give the poor sod a shot at anonymity should they so desire. If they decide to make a big effort to “build their professional brand” at some later point, they can always nick their mum’s maiden name and be John Smith-Wilmington. Or just make up a brand-name and push that instead. If they’re born with a distinctive name, it only takes one stupid decision as a teenager and it’ll haunt them for life.


    You’re laying into BIND but he’s making a very important point. If you think socialism needs to lose in the battle of ideas, then you need contrary ideas to be widely shared not unshareable!

    Look, you understand this stuff deep down. I know you do. You post as “Ecks”. How much more deliberately enigmatic can you get? You don’t post under your real name. I can’t click on your pseudonym here and link straight through to your facebook page. You know. You understand.

    You share your opinions here because here’s a place you’re free to do so, and with the right steps you can do so – perhaps more correctly, the persona of “Ecks” is free to do so – without blowback into your personal and professional life. That’s sensible, it just means you’re largely preaching to the converted or the unconvertible.

    But if the battle for Britain’s soul is both so urgent and so tightly balanced, why waste your time here? Get out there and preach. Out there where it really matters, where the battle is joined, where souls are won and lost. Persuade the wobbling-but-persuadable by saying the unsayable and not being afraid to face the consequences.

    Now I don’t think you’ll do that. But that’s because I don’t think you are, in fact, mad. You get it, you really do, in fact given the pains you took over anonymity at a time when the need for it seemed far less urgent than now, I think you got it well before most of the rest of us.

    What did you do in the Culture Wars, parent-who-does-not-menstruate? “Posted on blogs comments.” “Well what good was that?”

  35. You just love hot air don’t you Ears.

    Esp the bit about how we aren’t bright enough for a race debate. Which can only be between aaproved candidates–like a fucking horse race with us donkeys just staring out of the paddock while thoroughbreds cleave the air with their swift strides.

  36. Bloke in North Dorset


    Back in 2010ish I used to quite regularly give out links to this site on other forums I posted if there was a particularly interesting thread but I’ve largely stopped doing that too. This is a shame in several ways – there are some interesting ideas, particularly Tim’s basic economic literacy and ability to convey the illiteracy of much of our media and governing classes, that deserve to get out to wider exposure.

    I found something similar. If I was trying to make an argument, or even just thought a post was interesting and linked to it the argument would be dismissed out of hand, usually with an ad hominem attack as Tim being being right wing, and they didn’t mean the dry economic sense either. However if I paraphrased the argument it would often get some traction, or at least some discussion.

    This isn’t new and confined to social media. Pre Internet arguments were often been dismissed because they were in the Sun/Mirror/Guardian etc. Mostly then it was just snobbery, or inverted snobbery, the difference now is that it usually comes with a vitriolic attack on not only the source but the person using that source and at the extreme efforts to get people fired from their jobs.

    Point out that someone from an opposing ideology might make an interesting point or even have a good argument is seen as traitorous by by an increasing number of people and that in itself can bring a “pile on”. Try pointing out that Chris Dillow has made some good points on here as a case in point. (One of the advantage of age is learning to just ignore it)

    I used to think this could be dismissed as noise and those who were interested in discussion could ignore it, but now I’m not so sure. Trump Derangement Syndrome and to a lesser degree Boris Derangement Syndrome is starting to affect the way we are being governed. Its getting harder for politicians to be bi-partisan and the MSM ignores when good policies have been made, as an example Trump’s First Step Act and Trump restoring funding for black colleges in favour of constant criticism.

    How can the average person make a fair and nuanced judgement when it comes to voting time when all they see is attack after attack or blind faith defence in the MSM and social media, if they even bother with it nowadays?

  37. “Now I don’t think you’ll do that. But that’s because I don’t think you are, in fact, mad. You get it, you really do, in fact given the pains you took over anonymity at a time when the need for it seemed far less urgent than now, I think you got it well before most of the rest of us.

    Why would anybody be dumb enough to expose themselves to attack attempts from the scum of the left? Ever not just now.

    However I am not too vulnerable to such attacks–but no need to court them.

    And what value would operating under my real name get me? Using real names increases persuasion power 1 million% does it?

    Plus what fucking venues are there save blogs or Twitter and analogs? Writing to Marx controlled newspapers, putting fliers through doors or other back to the 50s tactics?

    What are you doing–apart from advocating we mute our opinions so our enemies can feel “comfortable” about invading our space–to stave off the evil of socialism? If you have some big tactic please let us in on it.

    We aren’t persuading anyway. No amount of verbals is ever going to persuade offal like Owen Jones to give up Marxist evil any more than you could persuade him that arseholes should be only for expelling shite.

    The majority are already more on the good guys side than the scummy left. And hard times will push more young snot back in our direction than it will push in the enemies.

    I am on here for me not to attempt impossible feats of conversion.

  38. BinD, MBE, thanks. Similar thoughts. I can’t link to this blog anymore, or recommend articles in it. Contins is better, but it’s still a shame, because there’s insight and humour and new information all the time, above and below the line, and I still love it. Below the line here used to be more open to debating, or maybe the debating was across a wider range of possibilities. I don’t know about anybody else, but I miss Enrique – when did he drop off, maybe 2015 or early 2016? Ecksy’s stuff is just deadening, partly for the blinkered aggression, and partly because it’s entirely predictable: you know what he’ll say before he says it; the only variation is how much length, how much anger.

  39. Whereas you are a fount of genius level insights Nap. Struggling to remember any –perhaps you can supply that info?

    And yes –we are SO much worse off being shot of so many left-leaning wallflowers who have not even the guts for rough and tumble exchange on a private forum. So many delicate nuances have we missed. We could prob have seen the entire left off by now if only the delicate genius’s hadn’t been chased away by rude mechanicals like Ecks . Sigh.

  40. @BIND

    Interesting points. Particularly about media silence on politicians doing the bi-partisan stuff affecting their incentives. That could go pear-shaped really quickly.


    Cheers. Yes, miss Enrique, have a feeling he left the site earlier than that actually. Chris Dillow used to be a pretty regular contrarian commentator on here too, though less likely to get into an actual debate. Unity (“Ministry of Truth” was his blogging handle I think) was an educated leftie as well as a practical on-the-streets Labour political operative who understood why the BNP were so nasty and how to deal with them (not so dissimilar to Timmy’s experience working with Nige when he was trying to keep the BNP nuts out of UKIP). Might not agree with him often but John Band had some interesting stuff to say particularly about economics/business topics he had consulting experience on. Actually on the earlier days of this blog I wouldn’t even have had him down as “contrarian” as such, he fell squarely within the range of Tim’s tradition of economic analysis of questions (especially questions the media/politicians weren’t treating as “allocation of scarce resources” or “choice under constraints/uncertainty” and therefore in the scope of economics) even if he differed from Tim on some topics and agreed on others. And Band had liberal, atheist, geeky, maths-and-stats-modelling, Douglas Adams-loving leanings that didn’t put him out of line with the less socially conservative tech-heads on here. Now things have all gone a bit Culture Wars he wouldn’t fit on here at all.

    Still love the blog and there are plenty of folk below the line I’d very happily go for a drink with, even ones I regularly disagree with. I learned a lot about economic analysis and some of the advice I’ve gathered from Timmy himself and the collective wisdom below the line has changed my life (genuinely led to me taking life-altering decisions). I’ve more than got my money’s worth from it. But I do miss the greater “width” and signal-to-noise ratio the comments used to have, and also miss the “BritBlog” scene of the early 2000s pre-twitter era more generally. Timmy’s blogroll is like internet archaeology these days.

    There’s a couple of people on here who might like http://www.politicalbetting.com which is one of the few survivors from that era that has actually grown. Matt Wardman and theProle who used to comment on here quite a lot seem to have largely moved over there now. It has very broad discussions, with a variety of people from left to right, Leave to Remain, most areas of the UK and some representation from the USA and Europe, and a very wide professional range (one of the few sites that’s on a par or even better than Timmy’s). Downside is discussions aren’t threaded by topic and it can get very “now-centric” over the latest events, and the best way to use it is probably to follow your favourite high-value commenters (it’s possible to just keep tabs on their output in the VanillaForums software used for comments in a way you can’t with Timmy’s WordPress solution) rather than try to keep up with entire discussion threads. But MattW and theProle seem to like it there and I think a few others here would enjoy it too – it’s much broader below-the-line than the above-the-line headers about UK and UK politics suggest.

  41. None of the above hero-squad is prevented from posting here save that they don’t like opinions other than their own. I don’t either but only if those opinions are conducive to evil will I be happy to take them on. Don’t care otherwise.

    Polibet above is a POS. Labour Party politics/anti-Trump/Guardian cockrot–one piece about anti-jury crap from Lord Chancelor alone might have had tiny merits.

    Looked about 40 or 50 comments–most of them could have been ladled up from the Twitter FBPE brigade. Dross.

    Ears is –like NiV and a few others–no asset to the forces of good. This is no longer an idle debate–this is a fucking war with the scum of the left and their allies. If we lose the battle there will be no future worth having.

    Far as I’m concerned anyone who wants can appear on this blog. But if they are here in service of socialism–no matter how slyly or by indirection–I’ll be there.

    The blog is hardly the ultimate battlefield but you don’t let your foes sling their shite anywhere.

  42. @Ecksy

    Think what you wrote merits a reply, on reflection. Yes in principle people are free to post where they like, but in practice – if you combine the suffocating effects of the Great Awokening with the changes in tone below-the-line here over the years – it’s getting harder for people, personally and professionally, to show their necks in such free-wheeling joints. Even anonymously.

    I’ve just praised your intelligence and foresight. Not backhanded compliment at all. You picked up on the way things were going and took steps to protect yourself in good time so bravo to you. Not saying you’re too thick to debate things, there’s plenty you can discuss intelligently if you choose to do so. Some subjects require a range of scientific, technical or professional knowledge to have a worthwhile discussion and sites that lack a critical mass of expertise (or range of viewpoints) on a topic tend not to generate interesting debate. In my experience, eighty percent of cod-legal argument by legally unqualified people on blogs and forums is a waste of time to read and if anything fuzzes up my understanding of the situation rather than clarifying it. I know sod all about hard drive architecture and if I contributed to a discussion on it by venturing my opinion I could only possibly make the signal-to-noise ratio worse.

    I actually happen to know a fair amount about psychometrics, multivariate analysis and how mathematically the concept of a “g-factor” for intelligence came to be constructed… but less about cognitive psychology nor IQ measurement instruments, so there’s very little useful I could say on the matter and I certainly wouldn’t anyone to take my perspective as if it held any weight whatsoever. When it comes to epigenetic factors there must be what, fewer than five people on this site who have any serious level of understanding about the science behind that? Watching the semi-informed argue with the uninformed is sometimes amusing, more often rather tedious, and practically never generates useful insight.


    Actually your point about anecdotal evidence probably merits a reply. I have had friends of African (including Afro-Caribbean), continental European, Middle Eastern, South Asian and East Asian descent, taught plenty of students from all those backgrounds, and worked closely with colleagues from all of those except Afro-Caribbean and Middle Eastern. I certainly noticed group cultural differences (though far more aligned with national units and to some extent cross-national background factors like ethnicity/language/family religion than with skin colour) but to be honest no systematic patterns in underlying intelligence or competence, at least nothing that would attain anything like statistical significance given the power of my (highly non-random) sample.

    I did have the experience of working with an African colleague (came over here after completing his university study and professional training there) who came uncomfortably close to hitting all the stereotypes about “incompetent African graduates who are not remotely capable of what their paper qualifications suggest”. Other people I know who have worked in different industries with skill shortages where lots of workers have come in from abroad have had similar experiences with African colleagues so I suspect this is one of those stereotypes founded in collective experience. Yet at the same employer I had a Nigerian-born and educated colleague who was absolutely the bee’s knees, one of the best guys I ever worked with. Similarly I have several Nigerian friends who are smart, well-qualified and some of the older ones are coming to the ends of really distinguished professional careers over here.

    I suspect this disparity might be related to something a graduate degree admissions officer at a top-ranked London university told me – they had all kinds of problems with graduates from certain countries wanting to do Masters degrees in the UK, but especially from Nigeria and Bangladesh. The certificate and in some cases even the supposed university could turn out to be a sham. More sophisticated, the degree certificate could be genuine but fraudulently obtained – bribe your professors to give you a good pass, or just bribe the registry that issues the certificate (the admissions officer was from Bangladesh himself and despised the corruption in the country). More troubling were the genuine degrees from genuine universities but the uni simply wasn’t very good. Even in some dirt-poor countries there are often a few higher-status unis that are capable of putting together a very decent undergraduate education even if they lack research facilities of international standing – there are thousands of small undergraduate-only US colleges that do the same thing, albeit on bigger budgets, and in many subjects the undergrad curriculum is quite internationally standardised, teaching material is widely available and so on. But not everyone is available to afford the qualified staff to deliver that, which results in people with degree certificates and professional qualifications who are more realistically at high school level. If you ever come across one of them, it doesn’t do wonders for your confidence in workers/graduates from that country…

    We also see things filtered through our immigration systems. One of the groups most likely to have a PhD in the USA is Algerian-Americans. Now if the French kept records on these things, I’ve no doubt that one of the groups least likely to graduate high school there is Algerians… because they’ve been filtered through different systems. Similarly in the UK there’s historically been a big discrepancy between education performance of West African and Afro-Caribbean kids (one that made it pretty much meaningless to talk about the performance of “black” kids overall), partly because the West Africans in the UK have more likely come to take skilled or professional jobs (like the successful Nigerian families I’ve been friends with – nurses, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, teachers, in one case a train driver but that’s not bad money either) whereas Afro-Caribbeans (themselves of West African descent if you trace it back far enough) tend to be stuck in lower socio-economic status jobs. Similarly, migration patterns from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been very different, so “South Asian” educational performance really needs to be split between the groups. I’ve even had Pakistani friends point out that “British Pakistani” really refers to multiple communities who often don’t get on well with each other at all. Brits whose families came to London as Ahmadiyya refugees or from the Lahori mercantile and professional classes have tended to do very well, those whose forefathers fled poverty and warfare in rural Kashmir and took doomed industrial jobs (mostly textiles) in northern English towns have jumped from a frying pan into a … well, slightly more pleasant frying pan, but they’re not one of history’s big winners.

    So that’s my scepticism about reading much into my anecdotal experience really. I can’t see any way to unfilter what’s been filtered, which like you say is a sampling problem, and beyond that it’s a tough ask to untangle anything I can see from the myriad of overlapping causes.

  43. Going back to the IQ debate. If you have no concept of ideal forms (triangles, circles etc) or an alphabet your performance in an IQ test is likely to score low.
    So this test (in a village where the nearest writing was a road sign ten miles away, is intriguing.


    Oddly, I remember when this was first reported most of the kids played with the box, only a couple played with the gadget. The rest only got interested once they’d cracked how it worked.

    Perhaps the moral is that you don’t need a high average IQ you only need a few people with very high IQ. That could be too raw for even right wingers to stomach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *