A Drawing for Singularity Eve

Lily, my 7-year-old, asked me to share the above on my blog. She says it depicts the US Army luring Trump out of the White House with a hamburger, in order to lock the front door once he’s out—what she proposes should happen if Trump refuses to acknowledge a loss.

If you haven’t yet voted, especially if you live in a contested state, please do so tomorrow. Best wishes to us all!

Update (Nov. 3): Even if it comes 4-5 years late, this 8-minute podcast by Sam Harris gives perhaps the sharpest solution ever articulated to the mystery of how tens of millions of Americans could enthusiastically support an obvious fraud, liar, incompetent, and threat to civilization. Briefly, it’s not despite his immense failings but because of them—because by flaunting his failings he absolves his supporters for their own, even while the other side serves those same supporters relentless moral condemnation and scorn. I think I had known this—I even said something similar as the tagline of this blog (“The Far Right is destroying the world, and the Far Left thinks it’s my fault!”). But Sam Harris expresses it as only he can. If this analysis is right—and I feel virtually certain it is—then it bodes well that Biden, unlike Hillary Clinton, isn’t seen as especially sanctimonious or judgmental. Biden’s own gaffes and failings probably help him.

145 Responses to “A Drawing for Singularity Eve”

  1. Marika Says:

    It’s a good plan! Is Lily planning to run for office when she grows up?

  2. mjgeddes Says:

    Well, the US is now passing into the event horizon of the ‘Political Singularity’. From the rest of the world, good luck! 😉

    In all probability, you will pass through the Singularity, and ’emerge’ safely out the other side via a worm-hole on January 20th, 2021. But unfortunately there is however a small chance the US will never emerge, being ‘crushed’ by the gravity of the situation.

    Polls predict a Biden victory, with a margin of 8-12% of the popular vote. Nate Silver calculates a 90% chance of a Biden victory. The ‘wild-cards’ are the much higher than normal turn-out, the high volume of mail-in votes, and the pandemic. Taking these factors into account, I predict a Biden land-slide , with a resounding margin of victory greater than 12% when all votes are counted.

    Trump will moan and gripe. but I can’t see that there’s much he can actually do if the margin of the Biden win is clear-cut. The worry is how some of his more fanatical supporters will react. Their delusions will be shattered here, when reality finally crashes in for them.

  3. Matt Says:

    Lily has my vote to replace all other political cartoonists.

  4. Nick Says:

    This is hilarious and wonderful.

  5. Raoul Ohio Says:

    the orange clown might try trade leaving peacefully for a “no jail” deal, or maybe someone paying off his billions(?) of debts.

  6. Scott Says:

    Raoul Ohio #5: In such a case, it’s a shame that we couldn’t do to him what he’s done to everyone else his entire life. Namely, agree to all of his conditions, then turn around and break the agreement as soon as he’s out of office.

  7. Sept Says:

    This is gold. Nice choice for last election post.

    Be well, Scott; I’m feeling hopeful tonight that this nightmarish episode is drawing to a close.

  8. Shecky R Says:

    Hey, don’t let Tom Toles steal this!

  9. David Says:

    Well drawn and coloured. I particularly like the use of yellow crayon in the picture. Thank you, Lily for sharing this.

  10. Vincent Says:

    It says ‘please do so tomorrow’, but you might want to change that to ‘please do so today’, just to be on the safe side…

  11. Graham Says:

    This is great, thanks for this. I really needed it today.

  12. William Gasarch Says:

    It is incumbent on us to vote out the incumbent.

    Things I worry about:
    1) Voter suppression
    2) Voter intimidation
    3) Endless legal battles (President Pelosi?)
    4) Trump not leaving the WH, though Lilly’s picture is a realistic and hopeful scenario.
    5) Large polling errors. This I worry about less than the other four, and it would not be on my list if not for the 2016 polling error which wasn’t even that big but was just enough. As Nate (are any other pollsters known by just their first name?) points out it would require a much bigger polling error.

    Items 1-2-3-4 remind me of Timing attacks on RSA- things that are hard to deal with mathematically. Even if RSA is equiv to factoring, and factoring is proven hard, there are other ways to crack RSA that the math does not deal with. Even if the polls are right there are other ways to win (steal) an election that the math does not deal with.

  13. Tony Says:

    This was exactly what I needed to see today. Thank you for sharing it!

  14. J Says:

    Good luck US All

  15. Jelmer Renema Says:

    Fingers crossed that it’ll be that easy…

  16. fred Says:

    Scott,

    This is the very point about Trump I told you a while back, and you agreed it was a new insight for you. It finally dawned on Sam Harris as well.

    (this is only a few minutes long… pretty well put together)

    https://samharris.org/podcasts/224-key-trumps-appeal/

  17. fred Says:

    Com’on Scott, come clean and admit this is your drawing, an assignment you got from your analyst. 😛

  18. anonymous Says:

    William Gasarch #12: You’re missing the most obvious: high votes cancellation duo to human errors in filling in mail-in ballots. Even in democratic run cities, normal absentee ballots have always had a significant share of them being wrongly filled. Trump has made sure to maximize in-person voting, thus reducing voter errors, while Biden and Democrats have insisted on mail-in voting, which is known to errors and mis-filling (not fraud – just plain old human error. Don’t underestimate the ability of a normal person to fuck up filling a simple form).

    The democrats assume the increased voter turnup as a result of mail-in ballots would favor them, but I’m not sure they correctly took into account voting error-rates, and even if they did, error-rates are higher on first-time mail voters, which a significant proportion of their voters are. Minewhile, Trump can also benefit from the increased voter turnout from mail-in ballots, while he reduced error-rate for his voters by convincing them to vote in person.

    Biden needs to have significant statistical advantage over Trump in the actual votes to make up for the increased error rate. I’m absolutely convinced that at the end of this, if Trump wins, the Democrat’s decision to push for mail-in ballots will turn out to be a historical statistical blunder.

  19. fred Says:

    I suspect that a Trump loss will be an Obi-Wan moment “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

    At least in terms of what he’s really been caring about for the last 4 years: his social media following and prospects for a new TV reality show!
    In many ways his most dedicated fanbase can’t care less whether he’s actually in charge or not, they just need him to be the number one troll of the radical left.

  20. HASH Says:

    Hey Lilly Damn good idea.. Using “HamburGur” kick tramp out of office. I hope we can leave you a better world.. Note myself; use same method for your future relationship(s). Once she is out, lock the front door! Infinite love from overseas, Cheers!

    Btw. Voted for Bernie (via mail), refused to vote for “Lesser Evilism” system!

  21. Scott Says:

    HASH #20:

      Btw. Voted for Bernie (via mail), refused to vote for “Lesser Evilism” system!

    I hope you live in an uncontested state? Otherwise, what a goddamned waste. Bernie himself, and Chomsky, have been urging everyone to vote Biden—are they also “Lesser Evilist” moderate sellouts?

  22. Arboster Kipling Says:

    Sam’s analysis is terrible but it is exactly what one would expect from someone with such a facile mind. Most people support Trump not because of (indeed many vote for him in spite of) the man. I want constititutionalists on our courts, limits to our oversees commitments and an end to our military adventurism, lower taxes and regulations and stronger borders. from the perspective of the theory of rationality you can attack those positions of mine but not my not my vote for a candidate more likely to implement them.

    The ONLY character trait of concern to me is whether or not I believe he will try to enact my political will, and say what you will about him he did at least try to accomplish a lot of these things, not with nearly enough skill or focus (he’s probably not capable of that) but that is preferable to someone who wants to raise my taxes to pay for things I oppose, cares more about “our standing in the world” than anything that will tangibly benefit anyone, will open our borders, who campaigns on behalf of foreigners as both Clinton and Biden have done, and will put people who would rather wipe their ass with the constitution than abide by it on our courts.

    I agree with much of what Sam says of Trump’s character but Biden is clearly despicable too and lies constantly like when he despicably claimed his wife and child were killed by a drunk driver – smearing an innocent man, to the time he claimed he was arrested trying to see Mandela. He is a liar, a serial plagiarist, corrupt to the core and has 0 principles which is why he is running away from all of his minuscule legislative accomplishments or his 30 year old position that court packing is a naked power grab. He’s also at least as ignorant as Trump or maybe, like Trump he believes whatever pops up on his twitter feed like the “fact” a black man invented the light bulb. Is Biden as despicable as Trump, I don’t know, I really don’t care.

    The closest thing Sam has to a valid point is that in so far as Trump is thin-skinned, petty and vindictive, most of his targets are the unimpressive scumbags who would presume to be our betters, so yes he does have a certain appeal on that level too. The downscale hardcore MAGApedes really appreciate this but there are not 60 million MAGApedes. And only people without the slightest familiarity with our command and control structure would view him as a threat to “civilization” which explains why Trump’s support is far more likely to come from marines than smart but paranoid theoretical computer scientists or unaccomplished pseudo-intellectual hacks like Harris, you know the kind of brilliant, evidence-based rational people that fell for the Russia Hoax.

    The silver lining of a Biden win will be the end of these hysterically shitty political takes you have and maybe you’ll be able to get back to focusing more frequently on math, physics, and philosophy. When are we getting a sequel to QCSD?

  23. John Stricker Says:

    Scott, please. Can´t you see that your indoctrination (well meant, I am sure) of your daughter with falsehoods leads to completely wrong ideas?!

    Like, seriously, one lousy hamburger?! It would take at least three cheeseburgers!!!

    On a perhaps more somber note: in all probability, neither you nor Sam Harris were watching any of the five Trump rallies yesterday. Maybe you should have; because both of you could not be more wrong about his supporters…

    But I will heartily join you in “Best wishes to us all!” 🙂 !

  24. fred Says:

    I’m bracing myself for four years of Pelosi/Schumer fighting AOC and her cohort to the death to keep their job – something they never had to worry about under Trump.
    We’re replacing one shit show for another.

  25. Scott Says:

    fred #17:

      Com’on Scott, come clean and admit this is your drawing, an assignment you got from your analyst

    I don’t have an analyst (though maybe I should get one, or at least an algebraist or topologist)? In any case, the conception and execution were both Lily’s — my contribution was just to suggest that Trump would probably prefer a burger rather than a teddy bear. 🙂

  26. Deepa Says:

    The Sam Harris video appeared on my feed and I had a similar reaction to it. Completely agree with it! He is such an articulate, intelligent and more importantly, intellectually open and honest thinker. Fun to hear about kids’ take on all this! Best wishes to all, indeed!

  27. Sebastian Oberhoff Says:

    Regarding the update: another aspect of Trump that I’ve rarely seen highlighted that I think contributes greatly to his popularity is his confidence. People like to say that Trump doesn’t have a single redeeming quality. But regarding his confidence he completely unmatched. And our society has a glaring weak spot when it comes to properly punishing overconfidence.

  28. mjgeddes Says:

    Biden in trouble in early counting, analysts and polls have got it wrong once again it seems, and Trump is competitive.

    It would be amazing if Trump wins, but whatever happens, it seems that the lesson here is that you should trust the prediction markets, and disregard polls and analysts I guess.

    Actually coming up on an amazing 700 million+ traded on British prediction market Betfair, that market is now projecting that Trump will win.

    https://www.betfair.com.au/exchange/plus/politics/market/1.128151441

  29. asdf Says:

    Biden is a really terrible candidate and he would certainly have lost to Trump if Trump hadn’t screwed up the Covid response so badly. So Biden was saved by a virus. There is a prediction around that Biden will resign for health reasons in his first term, and Harris will appoint Pete Buttegieg as VP, i.e. total DNC insider capture. I’m in a non-swing state so I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Biden (voted 3rd party, it will be ok).

    I had to use a random number generator for one of the elections, a local school board with about a dozen candidates, and instructions to vote for up to 4 of them. I knew zilch about any of them but the teachers’ union endorsed 7 of the 12 and I figured that’s at least a meaningful signal. So I used the RNG to pick 4 of the union’s 7. Strange times.

    I will be ready with a hamburger if there is real trouble getting the losing candidate to give up, but I don’t expect it to come to that.

  30. Rahul Says:

    My analysis was that people were forced to choose between a part versus a candidate. When the party you like fields a candidate you don’t like what wins?

    I think this was the essence of what landed us with Trump.

  31. amy Says:

    Scott, you don’t get it. They don’t think he’s awful in any important way: they love the guy, and if they care about his awfulness at all they think it’s hilarious. They think he’s a hoot. It’s Saturday morning cartoons all day, every day, plus they get to be mean to people they weren’t allowed to be mean to before — for fun! And to get back at people like you, and me, and Sam Harris, and everyone on this blog for ever having made them feel stupid, and no, of course it doesn’t matter that we never met them or had it in for them: as far as they’re concerned, we do and we spend all day mocking them. The macho guys get to posture around, the genuinely bad actors know they’re off the leash, and finally, finally, the world can be simple and totally understandable again.

    I was listening to the Pod Save America guys being incredulous about how Trump was failing at a rally, about the asinine nothing he was saying, and I was like, these guys can’t get out of the way of their own ears. It’s perfectly clear what he’s saying in those rallies. He’s saying, “I’M AWESOME! YOU’RE AWESOME! WE’RE AWESOME! THOSE [litany of slurs] SHITHEADS OVER THERE SAYING YOU’RE NOT AWESOME — COME ON, LET’S GO DRIVE OVER THEM IN A MONSTER TRUCK!” And they loved it and him. No, they’re not thinking about him as an actual president, doing an actual executive job. They don’t know what that is or care. They don’t know what the hell constitutionalism is, either. They’re not one bit interested in the workings of government: they want a leader. And they want to be led. Nothing complicated, please, just lead us to the riches and happiness. And they see no reason why it shouldn’t be that simple.

    I know someone who adores the guy who used to host the Dirty Jobs show. Thought he was a wonderful hunk of a tough guy. It didn’t sound like my kind of thing at all, but I looked the guy up to see what she was all starry about, and I was like — dude, this guy has community theatre all over him. This is a cream puff who’s been posing for bad glossies since 1993. Turned out he was a QVC host who’d done light opera in college. And she was seriously offended that I didn’t see him as a manly tough guy who, I don’t know, laid cable or something. Spent all day mucking out stuff. She even knew what those jobs were like, grew up doing them. Didn’t matter. She found her glamor man and projected whatever she wanted onto him, and that’s what Trump’s for, too.

    If you’ve got terrible taste, and you want gold-plated everything, and you think that’s fancy as hell and you don’t look too close at anything, and your main view of how to realize your dreams is to hope real hard and do some occult ceremony because there never was a serious path available to you, he is 100% your cartoon man. It really helps, if you’re going to be a cartoon man, to be empty. That way there’s no interference with whatever people want to project. Unfortunately, a very real thing he is is a virulent racist and xenophobe, has been for as long as I’ve been aware of him, which goes back to the 80s, and I think some bad shit’s about to go down because the permission is there, a mandate is there. Stephen King had him right when he wrote recently in WaPo that he’s the rock in the GOP snowball.

    We will all, I imagine, have things to figure out soon. I’d recommend to all Philip Ball’s _Serving the Reich_, about how German physics acquitted itself during the war.

  32. wb Says:

    new math: 2020 = 2016 + 2000

  33. Scott Says:

    amy #31: I’m not sure whether anything you said conflicts with what Sam Harris said! Is the question one of whether his supporters, who love him for his breathtaking and gleefully-displayed failings that mirror their own, realize or don’t realize that those failings are indeed failings? If so, then the next question would be: at what level of conscious awareness are we asking whether they realize this?

  34. Jelmer Renema Says:

    @ Scott 32: I think Amy is making an even stronger claim than either of the two possibilities you mention, namely that Trump supporters consider those things which you consider to be failings to be virtues.

  35. Kellstrom Says:

    Looks like Trump is going to win this. He has this bizarre, weird Mr. Magoo-like luck. For the past 4 years, he has defied incredible odds, survived countless attacks and everything has bizarrely gone his way. He’s been able to get away with things no normal person would get away with. Who starts out his campaign by insulting Hispanics and then going on to win the election, as well as winning 28% of the Hispanic vote? Who fires the FBI director for not doing his bidding, and gets away with it? Why should this election be any different? On the basis of that, I’m calling it for Trump. I don’t care about polls or predictions, those would usually be accurate for a normal person, but we are talking about Trump here, with his uncanny luck that defies everything that would, under normal circumstances, work or be correct.

  36. fred Says:

    When the mail-in ballots in PA feel like an uncountable set…

  37. fred Says:

    Jeez, who would have thought that the optimal way to defeat the Orange Clown wasn’t to push a 78-year-old Washington insider with the message “Covid bad! Trump bad!”…

  38. fred Says:

    Andrew Yang 2024!

  39. fred Says:

    When it comes to understanding the Trump vote, another factor that’s totally lost on people like Sam Harris or Scott is that the vast majority of Americans are actually being ruled by despots in the workplace.
    Go back and watch “The Apprentice”, you will see that Trump is role-playing his current persona, i.e. the asshole CEO.
    I always point out that, in the private sector, a great job can turn into a shit job (or vice-versa) in the blink of an eye, based on some random shuffle in the organization. Your job is only as good as the people you work with, which you really don’t control.
    Being a manager isn’t just about organizing work, it’s also about being a ruthless asshole, i.e. abstracting the human element and start treating the people for what they are – resources. And this gets more and more real the higher you get in the hierarchy – this is why I’ve always avoided any managing role, I just don’t want to be given the order to squeeze/fire people in order to maximize share holder profit.
    When you work in the private sector, your daily life isn’t one of democracy, it’s life under a dictatorship, a stack of despots all looking to save their own job when things get rough, things are often not ruled by logic but by “politics” (in the negative sense of the word). It’s about the system teaching that, if you need your job, you keep your head down and shut the fuck up.
    I think this is why many Americans just don’t see what’s wrong with Trump as a leader, he’s just treating the whole country as they’re being treated 10+ hours a day, for the last 20 or 30 years.

  40. fred Says:

    Seems like it’s gonna be a win-win for the “status-quo” dems:
    Biden wins the presidential, and they don’t win the Senate, giving them the perfect excuse for not making any real deep change during the next 4 years…

  41. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Scott #32

    This is strange. A sanctimonious judgmental podcast labeling the Left as sanctimonious and judgmental. I don’t believe anyone is seeking absolution for their lowly status as human beings by voting for Trump. They are voting for Trump because the left hates him so deeply and they hate the Left. They rightfully do not accept that receiving a degree magically confers intelligence nor the wisdom to sit in judgment of others about whom they know little. Trump is a singular politician not cowed by the self presumed wisdom and intellectual superiority that is the watermark of the Left. The more the Left froths the stronger his bona fides as the enemy of my enemy.

    It is typical for totalitarian states to label opponents as a defective underclass. In this case I can’t grasp the logic of how the Left considers itself a virtuous champion of the poor while seeing poor folks as defective and unworthy of respect (smirk smirk).

  42. matt Says:

    Question: How can you, as a values voter, support someone who …. (insert incredibly long list here of things usually considered sins).
    Answer: That’s not a bug, that’s a feature.

    That’s it, that’s the whole explanation.

  43. Scott Says:

    Kellstrom #35:

      Looks like Trump is going to win this. He has this bizarre, weird Mr. Magoo-like luck…

    I’m one of the most pessimistic people I know, and my pessimism has again and again been justified. And I’m not even close to ready to give this up. NV, AZ, MI, WI are looking good for Biden right now, and they’d get him to 270 even without my dysfunctional birth state of PA.

    Of course, the fact that the election could even be close after Trump caused ~200K deaths, shattered the country’s norms and destroyed its standing in the world is astonishing. It’s something historians will debate hundreds of years from now, if there’s still a civilization left.

    And it looks now like the scenario in Lily’s drawing, or something close enough to it, might actually come to pass!

    But when you’re in an abyss, even small steps out are worth cherishing.

  44. anonymous Says:

    Scott #43: This looks pretty over to be honest, looks like unless some miracle / disaster (depends on your point of view), Biden won. Most of the remaining votes are all mail-in, and the trends all favor Biden, and with the current status Biden won (even tho by a thin margin).

  45. fred Says:

    Scott #43

    “after Trump caused ~200K deaths”

    Literally blaming it all on Trump could have been a good idea as a campaign mantra, but moving forward it’s probably best to recalibrate: we haven’t seen the end of the pandemic, and 2021 could very well be worse than 2020.
    There’s simply no guarantee that Biden/Kamala will do a better job (look at the rise everywhere in Europe, with curfews, and heavy fines for people not wearing mask or for being on the streets without a reason), because in the end it’s really in the hands of Americans.

  46. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Scott #43

    Will you please explain how Trump caused 200k deaths? Yes the US standing in the world changed because no endless wars. By world do you mean EU specifically? US blood wasn’t shed at the behest of others-is that the change that alarms you?

    I agree that it looks as though Biden will win. What do you expect the tangible measurable better results will be at 1 yr, 2 yrs, and 4 years vis a vis a Trump victory? Please no measures of personal satisfaction but tangible benefits for the US? There will not be 200k deaths during his presidency? The people in the red states that voted for Trump will vote in 2024 for Biden because prosperity abounds? I would like to know how I can enjoy boundless optimism please.

  47. fred Says:

    OhMyGoodness

    “The people in the red states that voted for Trump will vote in 2024 for Biden”

    In less than a year it’s going to be President Harris.

  48. Scott Says:

    OhMyGoodness #46: My working assumption is that with a minimally competent and coordinated government response, the covid death rate per capita in the US could’ve been similar to Canada’s, or the numerous other countries with similar death rates. So as my rough rule of thumb, right now I blame Trump and his cronies for ~130K deaths, or the excess over ~100K. I also blame Trump for having crippled the CDC’s presence in China, which would’ve had some unknown probability of stopping the entire pandemic before it started.

  49. fred Says:

    For those of us who were still on the fence between Trump and Biden, it may still be worth to listen to this

    https://www.dancarlin.com/product/common-sense-320-steering-into-the-iceberg/

  50. Scott Says:

    anonymous #44: Exactly as we feared, it now largely comes down to whether Trump’s stacked judiciary can invent a creative reason, over the next few days, for disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters who mailed their ballots in the days before the deadline—as Trump threatened to demand and now is in fact demanding.

  51. JG Says:

    Time to drop 538-like approaches and switch to predictive markets?

  52. Randall K McRee Says:

    Thanks for the link to Sam Harris podcast. The same thing was confusing me for the past few (four!) years as well. But now I perhaps also realize suddenly why supposed Biden plagiarism in school is a BIG DEAL to the Trump supporters (I think): it’s because they see Biden and democrats in general as holding them to a higher standard and thus anything that shows some flaw or weakness is (for them justifiably) incredibly magnified. On the Trump side, as Harris says, there is no such judgement to begin with so his flaws are accepted and acceptable. Hmmm.

  53. Scott Says:

    Randall #52: Precisely.

  54. 1Zer0 Says:

    I was about to comment on the Forcing post, but my mind somewhat is more intrigued by the chaos propagating through american society. Very informally speaking, as I virtually have no clue about dynamic system, I wonder if – assuming we see a society as some sort of dynamical system – society can reach certain “bad” phase spaces (where we take some measurable properties of a society as coordinates) where there is no longer an option to transform back to a “good” phase space and is doomed to loop through bad phase spaces until that society disappears or starts behaving completely chaotic. I certainly see society as being subject to the butterfly effect where a relative small change regarding the members of a society and their interactions can lead to massive and chaotic changes in the overall system (like with the George Floyd protests where the cause was the murder). But it doesn’t have to be necessarily imply chaotic behavior as some similar cases barely even make the news, hence society overall reacts somewhat, informally, like a chaotic system.

  55. anonymous Says:

    Scott #50: Sounds way too conspiratorial. They are judges, not politicians. I can see a situation where a recount changes things, but not where the supreme court outright cancels legitimate votes. Judges are as law abiding and constitutional minded you can be, they aren’t some political republican from the streets.

  56. Scott Says:

    anonymous #55: I might have believed that before Bush v. Gore.

  57. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Scott #48

    The CDC staff was reduced from 8 Americans to 4 Americans in Beijing. The WHO arrived in Wuhan in January. The Chinese refused US CDC assistance in February. Sorry but it seems a stretch to me that an additional four Americans and 20 some local staff in Beijing would reasonably be expected to have saved the US from infection. One informed comment was as follows-

    “Beijing has been widely criticized for silencing its own public health officials who warned of a deadly new respiratory disease emanating from the Chinese city of Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

    “The problem was China, not that we didn’t have CDC people in China,” said Scott McNabb, a former CDC epidemiologist who is now a research professor with Emory University. He pointed to China’s censorship as the main culprit in the spread of the pandemic”

    This is a pretty weak straw but you are right-anyone can claim that four Americans maybe would have contained Covid in Wuhan and there is no way to prove the statement wrong.

    It would take considerable time to equalize the variables between Canada and the US including population density, climate, co-morbidities, etc. Canada had a very high percentage of their deaths in nursing homes and on the order of 25% of US deaths in nursing homes. Most of the world, and in the US particularly New York and Michigan, could have done much better protecting those facilities.

    Covid outbreaks are granular (see discussion of k factor in numerous papers on Covid transmission) and most deaths in Canada have been in Alberta and Quebec. The following points out that the population fatality rate in Quebec is much higher than in the US-

    “The vast majority of the Canadians killed by COVID-19 died in Ontario or Quebec. The provinces that account for about two-thirds of the country’s population have so far recorded 93 per cent of all deaths from the coronavirus.

    Quebec stands out as particularly abysmal. About 62 per cent of all Canadian COVID-19 deaths took place there. If Quebec were a country, its COVID-19 death rate (717 deaths for every million people) would be among the highest in the world – worse, even, than the United States (683 deaths per million.) By contrast, Ontario’s death rate sits at 210 per million. In the West, death rates per million were low through the first wave, but the tallies have begun to grow in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba.”

    Covid has not run its course in Canada and your claim about better policy there requires a strange exception for Quebec.

  58. OhMy Goodness Says:

    Sorry Ontario and Quebec-not Alberta.

  59. anonymous Says:

    Scott #56: Didn’t they vote against recount? Also, didn’t the recount keep the original result unchanged? Wouldn’t the same decision today lead to a Biden win? I fail to understand your point. It actually seems like in Bush case the recounts and supreme court decisions changed nothing.

  60. OhMyGoodness Says:

    fred #47

    The shortest serving president thus far was William Henry Harrison who became ill during his inaugural speech and succumbed to pneumonia 30 days later.

  61. Tamas V Says:

    fred #39:

    Being a manager isn’t just about organizing work, it’s also about being a ruthless asshole, i.e. abstracting the human element and start treating the people for what they are – resources.

    I believe this problem will be solved by universal basic income. Such a$$holes will then be left very quickly with no team, at least on the lower levels.

  62. James Gallagher Says:

    After recent UK elections, this was quite timid really, Biden has won pretty easily (in the end).

    Trump will cause trouble no doubt, but it won’t achieve much more than a lot of nuisance and maybe even some violence (but USA seems to have that behaviour after all kinds of big news events)

    Now that the World has been saved from certain doom I really hope the Scientists will sort out a TOE, Quantum Computers, Disease control, Fusion Energy, Space colonisation etc etc

  63. Bruce Smith Says:

    1Zer0 #54:

    I wonder if – assuming we see a society as some sort of dynamical system – society can reach certain “bad” phase spaces (where we take some measurable properties of a society as coordinates) where there is no longer an option to transform back to a “good” phase space and is doomed to loop through bad phase spaces until that society disappears or starts behaving completely chaotic.

    Certainly society is a dynamical system, but it’s something more — it’s a “superposition of world-and-self-aware agents”, at least approximately. The actual awareness occurs in individuals, but they often think in terms of the whole society, and attempt to act in ways that (in part) positively affect the whole society. Their individual effects are mostly small, but since their own decisions are subject to systematic effects (however much they believe they’re thinking as individuals), they effectively form coalitions whose members act in similar ways, greatly amplifying their effects. The common part of all those behaviors (and the expectations it leads to) is called “civilization”. The next-order parts (in which the elements of the superposition differ) are called “the behaviors of subcultures or factions”. The factions mostly oppose each other, so their effects mostly cancel out, but the common “civilization” still evolves slowly. So in the end, there is enough truth to “society acts like a self-aware agent” to make its evolution very different from a “plain old dynamical system”.

    In other words (in case my intent is not clear) — don’t lose hope, and don’t think your own actions don’t matter! (And don’t forget that your actions include propagation of ideas, and how you treat other people in ways that they notice.)

  64. fred Says:

    Scott #50

    “Exactly as we feared, it now largely comes down to whether Trump’s stacked judiciary can invent a creative reason”

    Right, but the flip side of Trump telegraphing this for weeks is that the Biden campaign has been expecting this as well.
    The Biden campaign has had not shortage of fund (e.g. Bloomberg money) to lawyer up.

    Also, the Bush vs Gore supreme court decision was about an endless recounting of problematic ballots (left to interpretation), which was dragging well into December. At some point any sort of recount has to stop.
    Here we’re talking about first time counting mail-in ballots within a few days (in PA).

  65. fred Says:

    Ironically the silver lining of Trump losing with a small margin is that it gives him a way to walk away without losing face. Pretending there was fraud is then a necessary masquerade.

    The lack of a blue wave is more problematic for Biden, esp when it comes to dealing with the internal politics of the party.

  66. fred Says:

    OhMyGoodness #58

    The great news is that, even without the aid of the CDC, China was able to determine the source of the pandemic: a group of visiting US military!

    https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/chinese-officials-blame-us-army-for-coronavirus-67267

  67. OhMyGoodness Says:

    fred #65

    Think about the implications of the adage, “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve” in the current context. Trump and then Biden suggests to me that the US people have accumulated some very seriously bad karma.

  68. 1Zer0 Says:

    Bruce Smith #63

    ” In other words (in case my intent is not clear) — don’t lose hope, and don’t think your own
    actions don’t matter! (And don’t forget that your actions include propagation of ideas, and
    how you treat other people in ways that they notice.) ”

    Don’t worry, I am merely observing the system, in this case the american society, somewhat emotionally “detached” and try to model it with “informal mathematics”.
    “. The common part of all those behaviors (and the expectations it leads to) is called “civilization”.”
    I agree and it reminds me, I recently watched a documentary about chimpanzee called “Rise Warriors Ape”. Basically a group of scientists observed wild chimpanzee for a long time in a african jungle. The chimpanzee were building some sort of society as well and were actively in war with other chimpanzee tribes. Over time, they expanded their territory and grew ever larger in numbers. Up to a point when they suddenly started “breaking apart” – treating their own suddenly as enemies effectively splitting subgroups from the main group. When the common part of a societies behavior forms a sort of “sense for being part of a group”, the differences within the subgroups of a society which might also just evolve over time eventually act as antagonists to the unity of the group. I suppose that was true for the chimpanzee in that jungle as well and might be valid for many historical examples of societies which eventually broke apart. Even worse, since homo sapiens has some sort of “free will” (in this case I merely make the weak statement that the internal mind state and thus the actions of a member of a society is practically unpredictable) a single individual’s actions may indeed matter for a society as a whole. In the worst case, a person in the right position might just decide to launch a few nukes. I do wonder if the fate of any sufficiently powerful group of life forms with some sorts of “free will” is to eventually evolve into a chaotic system and break apart (if not annihilated by natural disaster). This isn’t necessarily bad as it’s also a chance for other civilizations to rise, but when nuclear powers are involved, it does harbor some risk for humanity overall.

  69. asdf Says:

    1zero #54, you’re describing the thesis of Walter Scheidel’s book “The Great Leveller”. There’s also a viewpoint sometimes called “class reductionism” (echoing Karl Marx), that the controlling parameter is income inequality. Income and wealth in a society observably follow a power-law distribution (aka Pareto distribution) with a shape parameter, the exponent α. Pareto (an economist) obseved that α always seemed to fall within a certain range, like 2.2 to 3.6 or something like that (I’m having trouble finding the numbers). Does collapse occur when a critical limit is reached? I’ve been wondering that.

    There is an interesting interview with Walter Scheidel here, discussing the book:

    https://www.economist.com/open-future/2018/09/10/can-inequality-only-be-fixed-by-war-revolution-or-plague

    The book sounds good. No idea if I’ll ever get around to trying to read it.

  70. Michal Says:

    fred #64:
    The problem is that, while Biden seems to have won Wisconsin, Michigan, and probably Arizona, that puts him at only 264 electoral votes, so he needs to win at least one of the remaining undecided states (Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, NC), and if the margins in those states stay about the same as they are now, Biden will win only Nevada out of those, which would give him exactly 270 electoral votes; that means that Trump can call his victory into question by disputing the result in any one state. In Wisconsin, since Biden won by less than 1%, Trump is legally entitled to a recount, which he has indeed requested. That probably won’t change the outcome enough to give the state to Trump, but Trump might try to turn this into another Bush v. Gore situation where he can try to get the Supreme Court to decide on the election.
    On the other hand, if Biden ends up winning Pennsylvania or Georgia (which lean toward Trump so far, but many of the mail-in votes still being counted are from Democratic-leaning cities) in addition to Arizona, he can get to 270 electoral votes even without a definite outcome in Wisconsin.

  71. Scott Says:

    anonymous #59:

      Didn’t they vote against recount? Also, didn’t the recount keep the original result unchanged? Wouldn’t the same decision today lead to a Biden win? I fail to understand your point. It actually seems like in Bush case the recounts and supreme court decisions changed nothing.

    Are you joking?!? With the partial exception of Roberts, the right-wing justices have proven utterly malleable in their judicial “principles”: they’ll simply do whatever is necessary to help their side win, and invent the necessary justifications later. As an example, they were relentless in striking down changes to election law close to an election that would make it easier to vote. They’re now perfectly happy to impose changes close to an election that make it harder to vote—even, or especially, if those changes lead to throwing out votes already cast, according to the rules as they stood when the voters cast them. Likewise, they opposed a recount in Florida simply because it was helping Gore. How much would you like to bet me that they’ll soon turn on a dime and love recounts if, in their Constitutional wisdom, they think recounts would help Trump?

    Say what you like about the other side, they at least have a consistent philosophy here—“count every vote, though the heavens fall”—that can withstand scrutiny a hell of lot better than the Thomas/Gorsuch/Kavanaugh judicial philosophy of “na na na, try and stop us.”

    The five “justices” who wrote Bush v Gore, like the ones who’d eagerly throw the election to Trump now given any workable pretext, were and are hacks, bums, and intellectual frauds. They deserve a thinking person’s respect no more than Trump himself, or any other schoolyard bully.

    And now you know why I had to go into science and not law. 😀

  72. Mitchell Porter Says:

    In search of a historical analogy for having a restoration of Obama Democrats following a Trump presidency, I’ve stumbled upon the Bourbon restoration in France, following Napoleon.

    I was thinking about how all the institutions that opposed Trump will act after he’s gone, and the phrase “they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing” came to mind. It dates from the revolutionary epoch in France. The monarchy was restored, but the past didn’t come back, and in particular the nationalist idea eventually triumphed.

  73. asdf Says:

    Scott, don’t forget that three of the attorneys working for Bush in the Bush v. Gore litigation are on the Scotus *right now*.

    https://www.abc57.com/news/supreme-court-is-about-to-have-3-bush-v-gore-alumni-sitting-on-the-bench

  74. 1Zer0 Says:

    asdf #69
    Thanks for the link, that seems to capture the overall sentiment I have towards societies evolutions. I think it’s worth considering multiple possible parameters (of course including income inequality) to predict the evolution of a society. Is mathematical modeling often applied in social sciences or history to analyze the evolution of a society in retroperspective? Pareto distributions seems like something I should have known about, very interesting.

  75. fred Says:

    The race is indeed very close.

    It’s expected that any side will do whatever it can to win, as long as there’s a chance… they would be stupid not to.

    The Dems are also reaping what they’ve sewn – first, for arrogantly underestimating the Trump “revolution”, and then, even though Clinton did concede, they really never accepted the Trump win for the last 4 years:
    it started from day one with the push “NOT MY PRESIDENT!” at the base level, then the never-ending Russia conspiracy saga, then the impeachment over Ukraine, and constant claims that the Trump electorate was really a small minority of nazi morons who’ve hijacked the democracy and were standing in the way of an unstoppable blue wave…
    You may think that it was all valid tactics, and maybe it was, but there’s always a reaction to every action.

  76. Deepa Says:

    I found Amy’s comment and Sam Harris’ podcast both fascinating, for something they almost get, but not quite.
    1. There is a lot of anger in a massive group of people in America. They’re not a monolithic group, but within them is a group that voted Obama twice and Democrat for decades. They voted Trump (not so much Republican). What were they angry about?
    2. See Amy’s point about the style of furniture they like. Is there a certain class-related disdain expressed for them in it? Maybe they were angry about that disdain.

    Since I grew up in another country, I understand America far less than you all, but perhaps, have this objectivity that that gives me.

    I think this is about class, entirely.

    3. Trump was born in a rich family and has an ivy league education. So why then do “lower” class people see him as being one of them? Because, class has nothing to do with education or wealth. It has to do with restraint in speech, dressing, even furniture! He adopts their norms in this lack of restraint…in insulting people in nasty ways… Of course, this is not EVERY Trump supporter. But I think I might be on to something here.

    Forgive me if I have completely misunderstood things here. I find it fascinating and am just throwing this idea out there. (Amy : I too cringed at the sight of the bizarrely opulent furniture in Trump’s family photos.)

  77. Eitan bachmat Says:

    Dear Lili
    As a follow up to your beautiful drawing, i would like to suggest a drawing of the largest and most time extended Schroedinger cat to describe the current state of outcome

  78. haifa Says:

    I’m sorry, but that podcast is nonsense. I am astonished that 4 years of Trump have passed and yet you still have such a deep misunderstanding of the mindset and motivations of around 40% of the population of the country you live in. This either indicates a failure of the American media and its commentators in explaining what is happening to the lives of a huge portion of the population, or a lack of interest on your part in finding out.

    The reason Trump won in 2016 is, quite simply, the desperation and hopelessness of rural America and its neglect by the federal government for decades. The opioid epidemic, the unprecedented suicide rates, the offshoring and outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the poor living conditions, the unavailability of quality healthcare, “deaths of despair”, the poverty and inequality…

    Your 8 minutes would be better spent by reading David Wong’s article “How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind” (google it) than by listening to that podcast. It elaborates on the points I just made. Michael Moore made the same points just before the 2016 elections.

    I assume that the Democrats going to win this election, but unless they start paying attention to this huge segment of the population, you are going to get another Trump (or Mike Pence. Or who knows who) in four, or eight, or twelve years from now. The next Trump might even be a Democrat, as hard as it may be to imagine.

    A simple statistic that shows how bad things are, one that most people have already heard about (and have responded by sighing and then going on with their day), is the fact that the US is the only developed country in the world where the average life expectancy is in decline (for several years now). This is a lagging indicator, so you cannot blame it on Trump or really anything that happened in the last four years.

  79. David Says:

    The discussion here about Trump voters is far from reality. I am a university professor who voted for Obama twice, and I can tell you why I voted for Trump. For many people like me there is one issue where Trumps gets it right that overrides everything else. It typically means “freedom of something”. In my case, “freedom of movement” and opposition to covid lockdowns made Trump as the only reasonable choice. For other people it can be “freedom from policing the world” or “freedom of religion” or “freedom from too many regulations” or “freedom of owning guns”, etc. Democrats do not have so many issues where one issues overrides everything else. Most of their issues are about control, not freedom, so they don’t have the same pulling power. That’s why Trump has so much support despite being such a flawed human being.

  80. Ethan Says:

    David #79 you are not the only one. Here is a math Princeton professor giving his own reasons for voting for Trump https://www.newsweek.com/why-i-will-vote-trump-opinion-1543803 .

    I will say it: I voted for Trump too. And not only this time, but also in 2016 when it was a way riskier proposition because the thought police could seek to ruin your lfe.

    Right now we are talking about a candidate that has more popular votes than Hillary Clinton did in 2016 AFTER people have had the opportunity to see what he can deliver as president. If the votes of California -which is its own beast- are removed from the total count, Trump leads Biden by around 1 million votes. It cannot get more mainstream American than that.

  81. Michael MacDonald Says:

    David #79 — Is Biden really a threat to *anyone’s* freedom of movement? Lockdowns are done at the state level. Most of the limitations on the freedom of movement that I’ve experienced aren’t legally enforced; they are voluntary actions by individuals and organizations looking to minimize risk. The quickest way to restore my “freedom of movement” would be to bring the epidemic under control with a sensible nationwide plan that seeks to minimize total infections until a vaccine is available.

    Is your university one that is holding in-person classes? How did they come to that decision?

    I’m always a little skeptical of Obama/Trump voters. What set of policy preferences could motivate you to vote for Obama over Romney and also Trump over anyone else?

  82. LA Says:

    Scott,

    Like any other person who can’t understand all those deplorable Trump’s supporters, what is your theory for fairly large-scale boarding up in NYC, SF, Boston and other cities on the eve of the election?

  83. Job Says:

    There’s also freedom of choice, kind of an important one.

    And what about freedom from responsibility, consequences or accountability?

    I personally want freedom from unfavorable coin flips, but that’s never on the ballot.

  84. Scott Says:

    Ethan #80: I just watched the rambling, ranting asylum patient who you voted for address the country from the White House. Shame on you and on everyone else who supported him for inflicting this on us.

    From this point forward, every statement of the form “if you eliminated such-and-such set of voters (e.g. Californians) from the count then Trump would win,” will be treated as an attempt to actually disenfranchise those voters and thus assist an ongoing coup against the United States by its president, and will earn a ban from this blog.

  85. fred Says:

    Well, Trump is right – if you only counted republican votes, he’d be winning at 100%.

  86. exsneerclubber Says:

    I have a hard time comprehending people who voted twice for Trump, especially after what he’s wrought on the US. I can understand (not approve, but *understand*) that if you don’t like brown people very much, or suffer from “economic anxiety”, or feel that we are not talking enough about the IQ of black people (because of the thought police), you might fall once for his lies, but twice…? It’s beyond moral condemnation or scorn really, it’s just a blank “how?” Reading those people’s arguments makes me feel as removed from them as I am from GPT-3 to be frank

  87. fred Says:

    When you step back a bit and think about it, America and its two party system is doomed to be more and more divided.
    A binary “Us VS Them” choice is bound to become more and more polarizing in the age of social media.

    I contrast this with the other extreme, e.g. in Belgium you often get to vote for one of 13 different parties – covering anything between far right to communists, with any middle ground in between and offshoots like environmentalist options.
    Compromises always have to be made, which is bad in a way because things can hardly ever change significantly (but then, when do things change significantly in the US either?)… also there’s just no way that one party can just demonize the 12 others and create deep rifts in society.
    Belgium also proved it could function for two years without a federal government (regional and community gov were enough to keep things afloat).

  88. NotTrumpist Says:

    I don’t think there’s substantial fraud or anything.

    I just wonder, in the alternative universe, where Trump would’ve won but it got stolen by obvious fraud, would you accept a Trump win if he presented sufficient evidence?

    It’s totally hypothetical because it’s almost guarantied that he has no evidence because there is no fraud. But I just think so many people would have turned a blind eye to election fraud because in their view, Trump’s moral flaws and absolute insanity almost justify looking away if you could just get rid of him. I’m not even sure if I wouldn’t prefer to look away. Just a random thought.

  89. Scott Says:

    NotTrumpist #88: I read some Trump supporters today raising that same hypothetical. To me, it would be like if you caught someone in the middle of committing a murder, and they answered you, completely unfazed: “oh yeah, well I bet I can think of scenarios in which you’d at least be tempted to commit murder too! So doesn’t that make you the real villain here?” 😀

  90. Scott Says:

    exsneerclubber #86: I’m very glad you’re an ex-SneerClubber! Did something make you realize that if one wants to take up the progressive mantle and fight the darkness enveloping the world, there are some higher-priority activities right now than dogpiling Robin Hanson? 🙂

  91. David Says:

    Michael MacDonald #81 My school is fully online this year. Again, it is not a set of policies, it could be just one issue that overrides everything else. I was always more or less liberal, anti-gun, pro-abortion, climate-change, etc. But I believe that government should not have a say whether a business can stay open or not during a pandemic. Freedom of movement, Sweden or Japan style. They can recommend and ask, and I am happy to cooperate as much as possible, but I would still like to get my haircut, go to the gym, travel abroad, etc. Especially after doctors understood covid better and the death rates got to a manageable level. Biden is completely on the wrong side in my opinion (0.14 ifr respiratory infection with risk completely concentrated in the 70+ age group does not require bringing it under control). By the way, another such issue for many people is “cancel culture” and big tech censorship.

  92. anonymous Says:

    Scott #89: But you probably wouldn’t do it would you? If Trump actually gives smoking gun evidence for fraud will you support him?

  93. David Says:

    Ethan #80 Thank you for that link to Sergiu Klainerman’s article. I agree with it completely.

  94. amy Says:

    Deepa #76: I actually wasn’t thinking about furniture at all, and was confused until you mentioned that photo! But yeah, that photo, wow. The “gold-plated” thing I had in mind is the giant gold building he put up, the first Trump Tower. I had lunch in there sometime in the 80s, probably ’86? The waterfall was admittedly cool, a new thing at the time, but the restaurant was weird, empty, and exactly as Fran Leibowitz described, a poor man’s idea of a rich man. He wanted to be classy mob so bad, but I think you need an Italian mother to carry off a restaurant like that. It just wasn’t any good. I didn’t eat capers for about a decade after that. Somebody there had the idea that capers = big time.

    As for what people with broken lives and dying towns and no way out see in him: America is aspirational. If you’re not eating dreams, you don’t know how to eat. It goes poorly for most, but everyone’s convinced they’re lucky. The best piece of American lit along those lines is probably still Death of a Salesman. A huge bestseller, if you want the inside modern view and a lot less poetry and compassion, is still Rich Dad, Poor Dad. If you’re not a huge winner it’s your own damn fault.

  95. Deepa Says:

    NotTrumpist #88 : Anyone who loses any contest could hire lawyers and poke SOME hole in the contest rules or implementation, and create trouble. He has got thousands of people fishing for such trouble. They are creating rumors and unnecessarily instigating resentment. Imagine an alternate universe (although for me it is this one) where HE is doing exactly what I said – being a sore loser, refusing to concede.

  96. Ethan Says:

    Scott #80

    Come on, now political analysis is going to be banned from the blog? The United States is a federation, it is not a unitary country. States organize elections not the federal government. Changing this aspect of the United States will require a constitutional amendment.
    We have talked about this before.

    States are the laboratories of democracy in this country and people vote with their feet when things in a particular state don’t work for them. The flux of migration between states is carefully studied by government demographers and corporations with nationwide offices to understand what kind of place each state is and what kind of workers they are likely to attract. California was a reliably Republican state in presidential politics until 1988. Texas was a Democratic leaning purple state until 1976. Starting in 1980, it became reliably Republican and this year, despite the hype leading to election day, was no exception.

    According to estimates California is set to lose representatives next year as a result of the new census data which means that its weight in federal politics will be lower than it was 10 years ago. Moreover, California didn’t win new seats in the US house in 2010 either. The last time California won seats was 2000, so we are talking about a 20 year process by which California’s internal political dynamics have resulted in what they have today. Contrast this situation with Texas, which won seats in 2010 and is poised to win more seats this year: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/2020-census-10-states-could-lose-congressional-district-after-census-analysis-finds/ . The vote of Californians matters at the state level (each vote counts equally). The state has become ignored by presidential candidates of both parties because California voters willingly vote for the Democratic candidate in huge margins. That’s they choice. The pro-Democratic candidate margin in California can be as big as you want and it won’t have any impact on who becomes president if the state stays reliably Democratic. It’s a great source of campaign money for politicians across the nation, but their being a blue state is California voters’ own choice. If California wants to become relevant in presidential politics, it needs to do what Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania have done over the last 20 years. While Trump won them in 2016, their transformation into purple states was many years in the making if you look at statewide offices.

    So I am happy not to use any “if” but failing to understand this aspect of the American electoral system -while simultaneously thinking that our country is like France when it comes to the mechanism to elect the president- is a source of a lot of pain for a lot of people. I am not saying you are one of them. The system can be changed, of course, but a change of that magnitude would require significant buy in by most states (beyond the strict 3/4 required by the US constitution) or risk disenfranchising individual states which, in my opinion, would be justified in attempting to leave the union if the terms of the original contract are voided by other states unilaterally.

  97. tinfoilhat Says:

    I have a really crazy idea. If Trump knew we’d get here so far, that we would have the appearance of a flip from mail in ballots, and that he would declare victory early, and that he’d later fight the decision in the supreme court. Do you really think he planned all that, and in the end his plan would just end because there is no evidence for fraud? He’s not an idiot, everyone knows you can’t just appeal without evidence.

    Which brings me to the terrifying idea that there will be evidence, because Trump would’ve directed people to commit small scale fraud in order to throw the bigger scale election into chaos. If you’re paranoid enough to think this is all his plan, you’d probably deduce he’s going to create false evidence for fraud, or even worse, true evidence for true fraud (only committed at a smaller scale than the election gap).

    Or maybe I watched too much house of cards, and this conspiracy is just too insane to happen. I just wouldn’t be surprised if he would do it – commit fraud in the benefit of his opponent to erode trust in the whole process. In which case, we’re in for a horror movie script for the rest of the year.

  98. Scott Says:

    Ethan #96: So unless California starts voting Republican more, it’s right and justified for the federal government to ignore its voters? Given an ultimatum like that, why shouldn’t California be the one to secede from the Union? God knows it could make it as an independent country better than the subsidy-dependent deep red states.

  99. Ethan Says:

    Scott #80

    And something else. I am very proud of having voted for Trump and that according to the latest count available via Google as I write this a total of 69,534,876 fellow Americans have voted for Trump -including large numbers of racial, religious and sexual minorities- after having seen him deliver results. That number, which will likely grow larger to surpass 70 million, is larger than the number of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 (according to wikipedia 69,498,516).

    So you dismiss Trump appeal at your own risk of failing to understand roughly half of the country. Whether Trump wins or loses, with the benefit of hindsight, I think it is fair to say that 2016 was a realignment election. The Democratic Party consolidated its position as the secular party of the professional class whereas the Trump Republican Party is now a multi-ethnic party of the working class and religious people. The future of the United States as a whole, it seems to me, looks more like Texas than California. That’s how presidential politics will be decided during the next 10 years. I doubt Joe Biden, who has broader appeal than Hillary Clinton had, can change this dynamic. Trump got the highest share of non white vote since 1960 https://www.nationalreview.com/news/trump-won-highest-share-of-non-white-vote-of-any-republican-since-1960-exit-polls-show/ .

    This means that non white voters find him more appealing than Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes despite what the legacy media and the intellectual elite tell themselves.

  100. Ethan Says:

    Scott #98

    I am happy you ask the question and in full disclosure for those who don’t know, I live in California and I have seen this sea of change myself. I have seriously considered moving to Texas, but the weather is just too good around here :-).

    There have been attempts to either secede the state or split the state to move us past this dynamic. The most serious one I recall was this one https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Californias but it was never voted on because the California Supreme Court decided otherwise. I would have voted for the split had it been allowed to go to the 2018 general election.

    I love California but this state’s government is highly dysfunctional. Those of us in the higher end of the income scale treat paying state taxes as the price we need to pay to continue living here but we don’t expect much from the state government other than that it leaves us alone. It has its own so called “political machine” at the state level which is hard to break. Even the Governator was unable to break it!

    At the same time, it would be a mistake to think of California only as a liberal state in the traditional American sense. It’s its own beast, as I said. In 2012 and 2016, voters rejected easily attempts to ban the death penalty for state crimes, despite well funded efforts that supported the bad. This year voters rejected restoring affirmative action for state government jobs and public universities (such as the UCs) admissions. In all three years, the Democratic candidate won by a huge margin.

    So I think that making California interesting at the federal level is probably a lost cause in the short term, which is not to say things couldn’t change in 10 years, but I see it unlikely.

  101. Scott Says:

    anonymous #92: No one really knows until they’re tested, but I hope that I’d go high even as the other side went low.

  102. Ethan Says:

    David #93

    You are welcome. Sergiu Klainerman is speaking for many people. I thank him that he used his position of prominence as a prestigious academic at Princeton to speak publicly for so many of us.

    In 2020, voting for Trump is a mainstream position in America. It’s only the legacy media and probably a majority of the intellectual elite in academia, Hollywood and Silicon Valley that find such proposition unthinkable. They seem to be stuck in their bubbles unable to understand the damage that unfettered globalization has brought to the average American as much as they themselves have become wealthy (in many cases very wealthy). Covid19 was the last straw. Average people in 2016 gave a warning and in 2020 they doubled down.

  103. fred Says:

    My problem with Trump isn’t even with most of his policies – which are all pretty much reversible anyway.
    No, my real problem is that he is trusted with total control over the US nuclear arsenal.

  104. OhMyGoodness Says:

    Ethan #102

    In line with your comments about academia and the intellectual elite one of the most disturbing features for me is that now we have politicians in lab coats. My notion of how public science should work, in terms of a simple box model, is that data goes in and out comes well reasoned conclusions and recommendations. What we have now is that data goes in and something like the following happens-

    1) Consider data and process to optimize future funding
    2) Output from above tested against Progressive axioms
    3) Preliminary narrative prepared and final report requirements determined
    4) Numerical model prepared with sufficiently large catastrophes on appropriate time line
    5) Model results iterated through academic echo chamber
    6) Final report issued with sufficient drama and intellectual condescension to receive media coverage and to be knowingly referenced by politicians
    7) Use report to obtain more funding and media adoration

    The garbage in garbage out model is no longer appropriate. It is now research data in, that was collected at great public expense, and Progressive aligned policy recommendations out.

    I am not impugning the honesty of all scientists. The honest ones face horrible funding problems and need garlic above their office door to limit vampires and witch hunts seeking to silence their work.

  105. Raoul Ohio Says:

    haifa,

    so your theory is that 40% of Americans think things are so bad that they will vote for someone who will make things much worse?

  106. Jason Li Says:

    I voted for Biden for one reason and one reason alone: climate change. His proposals are far from ideal, but he will still do more to combat it than Donald Trump. It makes me sad that despite all the back-and-forth discussions, none of you seem to address what I consider the elephant in the room. Even if American social unrest leads to a civil war or economic depression, America has survived them in the past. But climate change will be a first, and its effects will be permanent. I hope I don’t have to justify, given the past few years’ data, why I believe the effects could be devastating.

    With Trump’s anti-science mindset, I don’t trust him to tackle climate change in the slightest, even if things get much worse in the next four years. I’d much prefer president Sanders, but I’d still rather have Biden than Trump.

  107. Maurice Says:

    I am no statistician, but what do people in this blog think about voter fraud allegations in favour of Biden, that seem to be corroborated by tests like the Benford test? For example, see here: https://twitter.com/statsguyphd/status/1324356583304974339.

  108. anon Says:

    David #79
    Do you expect freedom of movement during a nuclear attack?! It’s a pandemic for Christ’s sake, and your country should do better. Look at Australia – zero new cases.

    Despite wearing a mask and distancing, I got COVID-19 from a relative of mine who went to a gym daily (there was a limit on people and distancing rules but it’s not enough). It’s been a month and I have absolutely no sense of smell. If there’s any fire, fluid leak, or spoiled food I won’t be able to tell at all. You “freedomers” would say it’s just a flu and the mortality is low. But the flu is bad enough (take a look at the complications list), and if this spreads to billions of people that’s very, very bad. Also, no one cares about the long term effects of COVID, the quality of life changes and the novel ways of causing clots and heart/lung damage.

  109. fred Says:

    It’s pretty ironic that Fox and the AP gave Arizona to Biden from very early on, while CNN and the NYT didn’t.

    And I do think it was way too early to call it – Biden’s lead is shrinking little by little.
    And this actually could complicate things for Trump because it’s inconsistent to say “stop counting in PA, but keep counting in AZ!”… but inconsistency has never stopped him.

  110. Scott Says:

    Maurice #107: I liked this tweet from Matthew Yglesias:

      Memo to Dems: Next time you rig the election, pick up a few senate seats.
  111. fred Says:

    PA switched to Biden…

    I don’t think we’ll see a Trump 2024 (although it’s possible), he’ll probably focus on Pompeo 2024 or Ivanka 2024.

  112. anonymous Says:

    Scott #110: Funny you should say that, because part of the allegations is that there’s a big difference between the number of democratic senator votes and biden votes, while there’s a very small difference between Trump and gop senator votes.

    It’s not possible that they split voted because then the Trump-senator difference would grow, so the only explanation is that an awful lot of people actually voted only for biden and not for a senator.

    Makes you wonder who they are.

  113. Ethan Says:

    OhMyGoodness #104

    I do not disagree with what you say. In fact what you describe is particularly true in those areas of knowledge affected by so called https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physics_envy which includes all of social science and a lot of the work that is done in the life sciences. Remember when decoding the human genome was going to open a new era of personalized medicine? We are still waiting. Don’t take me wrong, I think that the decoding of the human genome was a phenomenal achievement but obviously it was pushed to the public under dubious premises. To poke fun at the EU, the same happened with this other project https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Brain_Project which was in addition sold under the dubious premise that it would get the EU to scientific prominence.

    Since bureaucrats making funding decisions -and specially politicians- for the most part, don’t have a basic understanding of science and technology, they tend to fall for shinny objects along the lines you describe.

    I enjoyed my time as graduate student immensely. Intellectually speaking, those years were the most rewarding and fulfilling of my life but one of the reasons I decided not to pursue a career in academia is that in American academia, as in any other area of the US in fact, money talks. Unlike the private industry where you can obtain money in a number of ways (primarily building products that are successful in the marketplace), in academia the sources of money that typically advance academics careers come from either government funding agencies or private foundations like the Ford or Rockefeller foundations. While the actual processes of getting money from either one are different, they both follow the blueprint you layout. I couldn’t see myself playing that game decoupled from reality so after I graduated I left academia for the private industry. As I said, that was not the only reason, but one of the most important reasons. Looking back at my classmates among those who decided to pursue careers in academia and who were successful getting tenure vs those who were not successful getting it, the main difference I can see is that those who were successful know how to “play the game”. By the time someone graduates with a scientific PhD degree from a school like the one I graduated from, the scientific talent of the person is beyond dispute. I remember we had this discussion where you brought an article that sought to justify the value of IQ test scores as predictors of “creativity” by correlating scores and getting tenured jobs in academia. I said then and I said it now. If IQ tests predict anything in this regard is “ability to play the game”, which is very different from creativity. And I mean this with no disrespect to anyone who has been successful in getting a tenured academic job. It’s just the reality of what becoming a tenured professor is these days.

  114. fred Says:

    Congratulation to the Biden voters!

    But beating Trump was the easy part.
    The real challenge will soon start with handling covid, fixing the economy, and managing racial tensions… while keeping the country united.
    I’m rooting for you!

  115. me Says:

    #107, #112

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/political-analysis/article/benfords-law-and-the-detection-of-election-fraud/3B1D64E822371C461AF3C61CE91AAF6D

    It is not simply that the Law occasionally judges a fraudulent election fair or a fair election fraudulent. Its “success rate” either way is essentially equivalent to a toss of a coin, thereby rendering it problematical at best as a forensic tool and wholly misleading at worst.

  116. Ethan Says:

    General comment on the idea that the election might have been rigged. At first I was hesitant to buy into the idea that sounds very much like a crazy conspiracy theory but what got me thinking is this tweet https://twitter.com/KimStrassel/status/1324093624611532800 by Kim Strassel. She is member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, as mainstream as it comes. I do not see impossible that Wisconsin registered a 89% turnout, but in the Western world we only see that kind of turnout in countries like Belgium that have compulsory voting laws (not compulsory registering, but voting).

    This article, https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/10/27/2-investigators-chicago-voters-cast-ballots-from-beyond-the-grave/ , written before the 2016 election vote took place documents verifiable cases of voter fraud. And the possibility of voter fraud affecting elections has been discussed since at least 1960 when John Kennedy won the election narrowly over Richard Nixon.

    The only question I have is whether there was fraud on a massive scale as part of a coordinated effort to push Biden to the presidency or if it was just a collection of small isolated incidents of the kind documented by the aforementioned article. I find it highly suspicious that the states where fraud is more suspect to have occurred (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and perhaps Nevada) are all states that Biden needed to win and, save for Michigan, none of them had a US senator race this year, making the possibility of fraud more likely.

    For me to conclude that the presidential election was rigged in Biden’s favor I will need more evidence but I am more open to the possibility that the election has been rigged today than I was Wednesday morning when I thought Biden would have probably won the presidential election fair and square.

  117. Disgusted Says:

    Anyone who voted for Trump should be ashamed.

    This isn’t about any policies or Republicans versus Democrats. But this is about a man who has tried to destroy Democracy in this country with threats, intimidation, and lies.

    He is now trying to undermine the most fundamental aspect of our Democracy, the right of citizenship to choose our leaders by voting, without evidence.

    I’m disgusted that any American would support this.

  118. Suomynona Says:

    Ethan #116:

    If you scroll down in that Kim Strassel Twitter thread, you’ll see that the 89% figure isn’t correct. The actual number for Wisconsin is around 71%, which is high, but in line with past turnout numbers. See more here:

    USA Today

    PolitiFact

    Wisconsin Public Radio (NPR)

  119. fred Says:

    Ethan #116

    but just look at the popular vote.

    From that point of view, the 2016 Trump win was really a gift from the American voters.
    Of course that didn’t stop Trump from already claiming at the time that those 2 million vote deficit on his side was evidence of a fraud… but no-one ever found any evidence for that, which isn’t surprising since he never explained how that could have happened (there was no mail-in ballot spike to blame back then).
    If the situation had been reversed, i.e. Clinton lost the popular votes but won the electoral, do you think that Trump would have conceded?!

    Now it’s the same damn thing again – he’s behind by 2 millions votes and is claiming again it’s a fraud, just that this time somehow the cheaters were able to switch the popular votes too… but now for a different reason, i.e. mail-in ballots.

    It never ends…

  120. Ethan Says:

    Suomynona #118

    That’s the kind of number crunching that produced the punch line “there are lies damn lies and statistics” :-).

    A 91% over registered voters is huge -and very implausible- even within the context that the 2020 election is registering a historical turnout.

    One of the reasons why, if I were Biden and thought there hadn’t been any fraud, would push for a full investigation into allegations of potential fraud is because if Biden is accepted as winner given all that is currently going on, the cloud of his being an illegitimate presidency will following him after January 21st. We know from the G W Bush and Trump -even Clinton in his case because he never got beyond 50% of the popular vote- experiences that when a president is perceived as illegitimate by significant portions of the population, that particular president’s tenure is a rocky one. This will be particularly the case for Biden if the republicans keep the US Senate which will enable them to create commissions to investigate “alleged fraud”.

    So I hope that for the well being of the Republic, we find explanations acceptable for the overwhelming majority of Americans that explain these strange scenarios.

  121. Ethan Says:

    Fred #119

    I think that the 2016 and 2020 are two different scenarios:

    – In 2016 voting for Trump was for most people a protest vote (kind of what voting for Biden has been this year according to exit polls).

    – In 2020 voting for Trump was an affirmation of what he has done during the past 4 years. Trump expanded his coalition significantly. It’s not only prestigious Princeton academics that openly supported him. Pittsburgh’s most influential newspaper endorsed him after having endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012 (their first endorsement for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972) https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2020/10/31/editorial-donald-trump-joe-biden-mike-pence-kamala-harris-presidential-candidate-endorsement/stories/202010310021 .And as I said, Trump got a higher share of the non white vote than Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, all three Republican presidents that current day American left elites look at as role models for what a Republican president should be in their view (at least they thought this before Tuesday!).

    As I said previously, as of this writing, Trump has gotten more popular votes than both Hillary Clinton got in 2016 and that Barack Obama got in 2008 and 2012.

    Given that the overwhelming majority of Biden vote come from mail in vote and the overwhelming majority of Trump vote comes from same day voting, I think that it’s the Biden vote that is more suspect, don’t you think? As I said in the other comment preceding this one, if Joe Biden wants to have a successful presidency within the limits of the expected division of government, he is the one who should be more interested than anyone in pushing for an investigation into these alleged irregularities.

  122. Ethan Says:

    Disgusted #117

    Not only I am not ashamed but I am proud and I think I am in good company: a Princeton Math Professor, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Cheriton , scores of nameless, anonymous racial and sexual minorities who appreciate the results of the Trump economy. I could go on.

    Left leaning elites disappointed with the result of 2020 have only themselves to blame. They confused their own marketing (that simplistic labels such as sex, race or sexual orientation fully define something as complex as human beings with complex personal histories and motivations) with reality. This is known as the reification fallacy that shows up in IQ tests, DSM labels and in fact in the field of artificial intelligence which is why it is not surprising that big tech elites fell for it as well.

  123. fred Says:

    In the last 4 years, or even during his entire “career”, when did Trump ever recognize an obvious loss, an actual defeat, or take responsibility for any bad decision?
    NEVER!
    That’s what you’d expect from a sleazy Queens salesman, not an actual state man… not surprising considering his pre-POTUS record is one of a mediocre NY real state “businessman”, which he re-packaged as a make-belief TV reality show “businessman”.

    Democracy lies under the concept of sovereignty – i.e. an entity that’s ruled by laws and has to protect itself from interference from within and from the outside. This is realized by a government that has a monopoly on violence. This monopoly on violence insures that individual citizens can live their lives without having to constantly fight each other for survival. That monopoly on violence is used to jail criminals, force tax extraction on all citizens, do arbitrary take downs of foreign hostile entities (e.g. the killings of Bin Laden or Soleimani), maintain an army of soldiers to keep other sovereign states in check.
    This is why governments don’t allow for organized crime to flourish within, because those recreate their own monopoly on violence (hit jobs, racketeering, turf wars,..).
    Given all this it’s not surprising that someone who has the attributes of a mob boss also has some of the qualities required to be POTUS… but that’s a really low bar. Mob bosses typically don’t have access to nuclear codes and aren’t trusted with preserving the constitution.

    Anyway, if you’re a Trump voter, recognize that he has served his “purpose”.
    The debates and awareness around his policies will outlive him.
    And there are way smarter people on his side who would actually be way more effective than him at realizing them.

  124. fred Says:

    As usual, Andrew Yang telling it like it is:

  125. David Says:

    Anon #108 The number of covid deaths in the US per day right now is comparable to accidents plus suicides. Nobody cares about individual stories, yours or mine. The cure cannot be worse than the disease. Australia and New Zealand are not good examples; look at Europe. But in the end, it’s not a matter of logic, but personal priorities. I prefer an approach based on cooperation, where it is between business and customers to decide how they adjust their behavior during a pandemic. And you cannot change someone’s personal priorities by calling them names.

  126. Scott Says:

    Ethan: Sorry, but from now on, you’re limited to one comment here per day.

    Note added:

    Dear Ethan,

    I’m grateful for your many thought-provoking contributions here.

    The record will show that over the years, I’ve consistently been willing to have people come onto my comment section to make points that enraged and horrified me, that made my blood boil, that pushed the boundaries even of my own unusually wide Overton Window. But I’ve also consistently drawn a line when a single individual, dissatisfied to make their point once or twice or twenty times, effectively *commandeered the entire comment section* for a personal hobbyhorse. Another such case, earlier in this blog’s history — one with no left- vs. right-wing overtone —- was John Sidles. Like you, Sidles was a likeable, original, sometimes charming character, who bore no apparent ill will toward me or anyone else. Again like with you, at some point I had to make a decision about whether to let my blog become the “Scott Answers John Sidles Blog,” and answering John Sidles become central to the texture of my life, and my answer was no.

    Just like I didn’t doubt your sincerity when you wished me the best, so I hope you won’t doubt my sincerity when I wish the best for you, even though — and it fills my entire body with joy to write this — your candidate did not win the election.

    Sincerely,
    Scott

  127. John Baez Says:

    The dark cloud is lifting! I’m beginning to think January 20th will be a very fine day.

  128. Suomynona Says:

    Ethan #120:

    Do you believe there was widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin during the 2004 election where Wisconsin saw similar voter turnout to 2020? Was 2004 also implausible and suspicious?

  129. Still Disgusted Says:

    No, Ethan, you are not in good company.

    If you are willing to subvert democracy and the voices of those you disagree with for your own gain then you are morally bankrupt.

    Again, this isn’t about policy, or whether you support the left or the right. I am also against mandatory closures, same as David, and pro-gun ownership rights. But, I will not support a candidate who intentionally uses propaganda, force, and lies to maintain power.

    The ends do not justify the means.

  130. David Says:

    Congratulations to you on Biden’s winning the election. I like how NYT started publishing these types of must-read articles about covid since yesterday:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/06/nyregion/nyc-remote-learning.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

  131. Sniffnoy Says:

    Scott #110:

    Hey, don’t count the Senate out of reach for the Democrats yet! Remember, with Kamala Harris they only need 50, and Georgia just might deliver there… maybe even North Carolina too.

  132. Sniffnoy Says:

    LA #82:

    Not Scott, but I’m basically going to repeat what I said here (indeed I’m going to copy and paste a fair bit 😛 ). In short: Your point, if I’ve understood it correctly, is of little relevance. (Also, if you have a point to make, you should make it directly, not require other people to infer it.)

    Like — sure, crime and riots are a legitimate thing for people to be worried about. But compared to the question of liberal democracy vs strongman rule, they’re of little importance. They’re just one more object-level issue, when right now the whole meta-level is what’s at issue!

    I’ve seen this a bunch in defenses of Trump and it always confuses me — “Oh, but look, Trump is correct on this point and this point!” And, sure, Trump has gotten one or two things right, basically by coincidence, but that just like… doesn’t matter. Getting particular things right by coincidence in the present is another way of saying, reliably getting most things wrong in the future. What we need is not getting a few things right now, but getting things reliably right in the long term. And to do that, you need a good process.

    And yeah, even the best process will occasionally turn up wrong results. But to trash a good process that gets one particular thing wrong, in favor of a bad process that gets that thing right, would be a terrible mistake. You get right the one thing you wanted, but you will get most things wrong in the future.

    So, when evaluating Donald Trump right now, the appropriate question is not, what does he plan to do about crime. The appropriate question is, what does he think of the process of liberal democracy that exists in the United States? What does he think of the republic? Does he believe in rule of law, or does he believe in rule of man? And it’s pretty clear that the answer is the latter.

    Compared to that, no object-level standardly-debated issue — not crime, not gun control, not abortion, not healthcare — makes a bit of difference.

    (Although, since you raise the particular object-level issue of crime, I think it’s worth pointing out that, y’know, this is America, and I think a fundamental part of the American experiment are such things as the 4th through 6th amendments, giving us greater rights at the cost of less ability for the government to convict accused criminals. If they’re more worried about crime than about their rights as citizens of a democracy, then I think they’ve forgotten some core American ideals, you know?)

    Or, to put it differently…

    Still Disgusted #129:

    Bingo, absolutely.

    Of course, as a consequentialist, I must disagree with your statement that the ends do not justify the means. 🙂 But the key thing is — as I said above — that you have to look at the long term. Short-term ends do not justify means that are long-term destructive. Hence what I said above — look at the meta-level, not at the object level…

  133. fred Says:

    Am I the only one to worry that, if he no longer has a winning path ahead, Trump is going to spend the next 70 days “burning down the ship” (covid, the economy, stoking more division) to make sure things are as bad as possible for Biden when he takes charge in January?

  134. fred Says:

    Ethan 3

    “In 2020 voting for Trump was an affirmation […] It’s not only prestigious Princeton academics that openly supported him.”

    Being “book smart” sure doesn’t correlate with better political insights, you can find plenty examples of scientific geniuses who were on the wrong side of history: e.g. Wernher von Braun, Klauss Fuchs.

  135. Jelmer Renema Says:

    I am wondering: what should the Biden game plan look like long term? Even in the optimistic scenario where the Democrats win the senate, and the handover doesn’t become too messy, it won’t be easy getting anything done. How do we prevent that there’s four years of deadlock followed by even stronger calls for authoritarian rule? I genuinely wonder how to avoid this scenario.

  136. Tamas V Says:

    me #115: would be good to see all cases where a “Benford-anomaly” occurred, and see how much percentage of those anomalies belong to Biden, and how much to Trump (or both). If the election was clean, I expect that the result should really be like a toss of a coin in each of those cases (because I see no reason why one of them would have more chance for anomaly than the other). So if it’s found that Biden had 90% and Trump 10% of all anomalies, that would look fishy. But I don’t know the figures, maybe statsguyphd just cherry-picked certain places where only Biden’s graph had anomaly.

  137. haifa Says:

    I would also like to remind everyone that, yet again, a massive portion of the voting-eligible US population did not bother with voting: approximately 33% (~80 million) of it according to various sources. This is a group that is so jaded and pessimistic about the American political process that even in such a critical election, they see no point in voting. According to most research, this group is composed mainly of people with only high-school level education (or not even that), so Scott and his blog readers probably don’t come across them very often.

    It is tempting to think that, because this group is irrelevant to the democratic process, it is irrelevant in general, for any and all intents and purposes. This is not the case. These are the people who wait your restaurants, drive your ambulances and taxis, prepare and deliver your food, clean your office space, answer your 911 calls, build your apartment buildings, deliver your mail, repair your car and so on. Many of them belong to the group of essential workers that had and have to work through the Covid epidemic.

    Raoul Ohio #105

    Yes. Is this really something that is so hard to accept? The vote for Trump in 2016 was a vote of desperation. A desperate choice is not necessarily (and often isn’t) the most rational one…

  138. fred Says:

    haifa #137

    I was wondering about that.
    I follow a few podcasters who are very educated and often talk about politics, but don’t bother voting. They are indeed especially jaded about the two parties – either young Bernie enthusiasts, or cynical Boomer/Gen-X. The fact that they live in NYC or LA doesn’t help either.

    Are the non-voting rates particularly higher in coastal states that are democratic strongholds (NY, CA,…)?

  139. Anon2 Says:

    Seeing the election outcome, I have the following semi-conspiracy theory of what happened.

    The elephant in the room of this election is legal immigrants.

    Trump was restricting H1B and all kinds of visa, while Biden obviously doesn’t want to do that.

    The left don’t want to talk about it because immigrants waiting for green cards don’t have votes. The right don’t want to talk about it because what Trump did is basically ending the American dream.

    The bigger background is that, the US is under a demographic/economic change into the information era. The tech companies are generating wealth, attracting immigrants, and thus building a population around them, while the rural population are forgotten and pushed out.

    This created lots of angry rural people and got Trump elected. Trump, being loyal to his base, tried to stop this by restricting all immigrants.

    That really pissed off the tech companies, so they teamed up with the progressive and kicked Trump out.

    based-off this theory, some predictions:

    – the left is going to win more and more in the following elections, simply because the tech based population is growing while rural population is dying out.

    – however, the social tension would remain high for quite some time because the rural population is still unemployed and unhappy.

    – the left will respond with iron-fisted control over media and social media and progressive propaganda.

    – tech population and the progressive don’t really share the same ideals and interests, so they would probably break up at some point.

  140. Nick Says:

    fred #133

    The fact that we have to consider that possibility at all is one of many obvious reasons why “The ONLY character trait of concern to me is whether or not I believe he will try to enact my political will” (#22) is a terrible idea.

  141. fred Says:

    No matter the side, we can all celebrate the end of TDS.

  142. Doubtful Says:

    @anon2 #139

    I work in tech and disagree with some of what you wrote.

    > The elephant in the room of this election is legal immigrants.
    > Trump was restricting H1B and all kinds of visa, while Biden obviously doesn’t want to do that.

    >The left don’t want to talk about it because immigrants waiting for green cards don’t have votes. The right don’t want to talk about it because what Trump did is basically ending the American dream.

    The left didn’t want to talk about it because this is one of Trumps policies that most Americans agree with. They want to reduce immigration as they see immigrants as threats for jobs and reduce globalization and bring back sectors like manufacturing to the U.S.

    > The bigger background is that, the US is under a demographic/economic change into the information era. The tech companies are generating wealth, attracting immigrants, and thus building a population around them, while the rural population are forgotten and pushed out.

    The number of legal immigrants who come to work in Tech is small and the same for those who come to the U.S. to study in graduate school. These immigrants, also, are also some of the most productive citizens in our economy and generate jobs and wealth for many.

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “the rural population”. The working class has been suffering for a long time in this country and goes back to before the rise of tech with the loss of manufacturing jobs and globalization.

    I don’t buy the thesis that the tech companies have had a substantial effect on this outside of Amazon has led to a reduction in retail jobs.

    Right now things are particularly bad because of Covid, which is something totally outside of anyone’s control.

    > This created lots of angry rural people and got Trump elected. Trump, being loyal to his base, tried to stop this by restricting all immigrants.

    > That really pissed off the tech companies, so they teamed up with the progressive and kicked Trump out.
    The top tech companies don’t care that much about legal immigration as they can hire the cream of the crop. The restriction of h1 visas effects smaller tech companies more as they can’t afford the best talent and would often rather hire a more qualified immigrant for less money.

    > – the left is going to win more and more in the following elections, simply because the tech based population is growing while rural population is dying out.

    The left will probably win more because the demographics of this country are changing. But most areas where tech is concentrated already heavily skew Democratic. The changing demographics in other areas are driven by different factors.

    > – however, the social tension would remain high for quite some time because the rural population is still unemployed and unhappy.

    Agree, that social tension will remain high until there are solutions found for those that are not doing well economically. I am not sure Trump offered much of a solution here. Lower taxes doesn’t really help unless it magically creates jobs for these people.

    I do support Trump’s anti-globalization stance and the desire to bring back work that is currently being offshored, but that is something that could take 20 years.

    Yang proposed UBI but no one seems to like that.

    > – the left will respond with iron-fisted control over media and social media and progressive propaganda.

    Fox news is the most watched news program in America. The most liked content on Twitter and Facebook is typically very conservative. I think this will continue. I think you will continue to see platforms like twitter continue removing things that are not supported by fact. If you call that progressive propaganda then I would agree with you.

  143. exsneerclubber Says:

    Scott: I don’t post on SC anymore because I am trying to get back time and attention for myself (also known as ‘logging off’. Obviously right now I’m indulging a bit to enjoy all the MAGA tears), but I still have a low opinion of Robin Hanson as an edgy tryhard, as well as the whole rationalist clique for their suspicious obsession with the IQ of black people. Never had anything against you fwiw, I’m glad the election is relieving pressure off your mind. Enjoy the results, I’m sure the following weeks are going to be entertaining.

  144. Douglas Knight Says:

    Scott 21,

    I hope you live in an uncontested state? Otherwise, what a goddamned waste. Bernie himself, and Chomsky, have been urging everyone to vote Biden—are they also “Lesser Evilist” moderate sellouts?

    Chomsky always says to vote for the lesser evil, such as “Bush-lite” Kerry and “moderate Republican” Obama. It provides no information that he endorses Biden, so it is misleading to emphasize him. I’m not sure, maybe he supported Biden more than Obama, but consider:

    This is not support for Biden. It is support for the activists who have been at work constantly, creating the background within the party in which the shifts took place, and who have followed Sanders in actually entering the campaign and influencing it. Support for them. Support for real politics.

    The left position is you rarely support anyone. You vote against the worst. You keep the pressure and activism going.

  145. Raghu M Says:

    I came to this thread late and I disagree with the podcast.

    I think the predominant reason people support Trump and *continue* to do and believe that he won the election is because of disinformation.

    I know it is very hard, but imagine you (Scott or me) forgot everything about the constitution etc., and started following Fox news around 2014. And from then on, Fox news and Facebook feeds are your only source of information. What would any sane/logical person believe?

    So my thesis is that even though there seem like a million contradictions that Trump’s supporters are conveniently ignoring, it is really just one – what’s your main source for news. (Note that if you once in a while take a peek at Nytimes or WaPo, that is not going to change your viewpoint at all).

    I think even if you stick to just Fox News and no mainstream media outlets for a month or so telling yourself that wysiwyg any logical person will become a fervent Trump supporter.

    [I can’t put myself through the above experiment, even if I did put myself through an experiment where I had a complete news blackout for two years from February 2018 – February 2020 …]

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Comment Policy: All comments are placed in moderation and reviewed prior to appearing. Comments can be left in moderation for any reason, but in particular, for ad-hominem attacks, hatred of groups of people, or snide and patronizing tone. Also: comments that link to a paper or article and, in effect, challenge me to respond to it are at severe risk of being left in moderation, as such comments place demands on my time that I can no longer meet. You'll have a much better chance of a response from me if you formulate your own argument here, rather than outsourcing the job to someone else. I sometimes accidentally miss perfectly reasonable comments in the moderation queue, or they get caught in the spam filter. If you feel this may have been the case with your comment, shoot me an email.

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Note added November 11, 2020 / revised November 16, 2020: No longer having time for this, I'll no longer be publishing comments supportive of the ongoing coup d'état against the President-Elect of the United States, except in the unlikely case that they contain an argument I hadn't seen before.