Who Gets Exposed For Sex Stuff? (Comment from elsewhere)

David Brooks wrote about sexual misconduct, forcing Yas to do the same, here. But he doesn't really want to get into it.

But he sort of does want to get into it:

I might be interested in asking why it is that the current crop of stories of men abusing women fall so neatly into two categories, those involving men wielding immense political or financial power from Dominique Strauss-Kahn (a socialist, but that didn't stop me from denouncing him) through Harvey Weinstein (a noted supporter of liberal causes, but I'm not impressed) to Roger Ailes and President Trump, and those involving men who tell jokes for a living. With the peculiar overlap case of the man who used to tell jokes for a living and later became a Senator from Minnesota. What's up with that?

My reply:

The reason for the categories of men who get exposed?

Media ethics.

Reporters are not inclined to have views about what is proper behavior. Even if they were so inclined, to express it is against the rules. Political reporters claim to be experts in politics and proudly announce that they don't vote. If that makes sense to you, then it's obvious that sex itself is not news.

What is news?


So the categories that get exposed are those that men that we expect to be:
A. Not rapists, and
B. Honest about sex.

Category A excludes a lot of Republicans, including Trump. Category B is basically the definition of comedy.

ETA: Roger Ailes and Blake Farenthold in Texas show that if you are an elected official or in media, you are expected to not be rapey, even if you’re a Republican. 

Late Enlightenment Thinking

This headline demonstrates a shocking ignorance of English: 


Instincts are behaviors that happen without cognition.  

Ideology is the science of ideas or a coherent system of ideas.  

This headline isn’t just stupid. It’s self-refuting.  

The associated article is stupid.  

Before Marx, After Marx; Veblen, DeLong

I’d like to start putting down on paper an idea I’ve been chewing on for a while. It’s a big claim, which may or may not be true. But to figure out if it’s true, it needs to be developed. So here we go...

Big claim:

Marx caused a century-long wrong turn in the in the social sciences, and this caused a corresponding wrong turn in how the entire Western World understands both human political behavior as well as the underlying substance of politics, i.e., making policy choices that encourage human flourishing.

  • Marxian thought is fundamentally Newtonian, with billiard ball chains of causation.
  • But in any field that involves living things, Newton must be rejected in favor of Darwin.
  • The methods of biology are inconsistent with the methods of physics. (See, here.)
  • Billiard ball causation must be replaced with webs of causation.
  • The metaphor of the causal chain must be replaced with the metaphor of the ecosystem of causation. 
  • Words like “force” and “power” applied to human behavior are metaphors from physics and are in-apt.
  • Once you adopt wrong metaphors into the language it is impossible to express reality in those terms. The claim “Rape is about power” is neither true nor false. Rather, it is nonsense.


My hypothesis is that the crucial injection of Marx into the course of intellectual history is caused by the success of the October Revolution in Russia. So Thorstein Veblen writing in 1896 can be pre-Marxian detour even though the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848. Note that the Revolutions Of 1848 in Europe were already under way in Europe as the Manifesto was published. Socialism and communism were ideas that would have existed with or without Marx and they are part of the milieu that formed Veblen’s world. I’m not arguing that Veblen’s paper “Why economics is not an evolutionary science” precedes socialism. 


The October Revolution is part of the definition of the English term “Karl Marx.” Bolshevism would not exist but for Marxism, and Marx would not have mattered at all for my purposes but for Bolshevism. You cannot seperate the influence of Marx from the historical violence committed in his name. Ironically, the belief of academics and activists that you can seperate Marx from violence is one of the most important things about Marx. Imagine how powerful the KKK would be if there were Harvard professors in 2018 AD who believed in a fundamentally peaceful, if racist, theory promoted by Nathan Bedford Forrest that was unfairly brought down by the historical accident of violence committed in Forrest’s name!

But that’s exactly what happened with Marx, starting in 1919.  


  1. The normalization of ideology politics. 
  2. The political spectrum metaphor and the Newtonian understanding of political behavior, generally.
  3. The idea that the New Deal had an intellectual foundation. 
  4. The response by the National Review fashioning an intellectual foundation for “conservatism.” 
  5. The success of the takeover of the GOP by robber barons in coalition with racists under the cover of “conservatism.” 
  6. The background frame for Post War journalism of “balance equals truth.”
  7. Persistence of rationality as the foundation of economics.
  8. The endless confusion of “intersectionality” as a way to understand human behavior.
  9. The prominence of literary approaches to matters of behavioral science such as human sexuality, identity, and in-group/out-group distinctions.
  10. The idiotic idea that “cultural appropriation” is a useful category of bad behavior. 
  11. Fascism in Italy, Germany, and Spain.
  12. More to come... 

An example... 

Thorstein Veblen describes the non-science of classical economics, in “Why economics is not an evolutionary science.” This is an 1898 description of what not to do: 

This is the deductive method. The formula is then tested by comparison with observed permutations, by the polariscopic use of the “normal case”; and the results arrived at are thus authenticated by induction. Features of the process that do not lend themselves to interpretation in the terms of the formula are abnormal cases and are due to disturbing causes. In all this the agencies or forces causally at work in the economic life process are neatly avoided. The outcome of the method, at its best, is a body of logically consistent propositions con- cerning the normal relations of things — a system of economic taxonomy. At its worst, it is a body of maxims for the conduct of business and a polemical discussion of disputed points of policy.

What Veblen is saying is that an actual science of understanding “the forces causally at work” would not generate a list of exceptions. Here is Brad DeLong in 2014 merrily trotting out a list of exceptions, saying it’s just fine as long as we remember what’s on the list!!!

I think that modern neoclassical economics is in fine shape as long as it is understood as the ideological and substantive legitimating doctrine of the political theory of possessive individualism. As long as we have relatively-self-interested liberal individuals who have relatively-strong beliefs that things are theirs, the competitive market in equilibrium is an absolutely wonderful mechanism for achieving truly extraordinary degree of societal coordination and productivity. We need to understand that. We need to value that. And that is what neoclassical economics does, and does well.

Of course, there are all the caveats to Arrow-Debreu-Mackenzie:

  1. The market must be in equilibrium.

  2. The market must be competitive.

  3. The goods traded must be excludable.

  4. The goods traded must be rival.

  5. The quality of goods traded and of effort delivered must be known, or at least bonded, for adverse selection and moral hazard are poison.

  6. Externalities must be corrected by successful Pigovian taxes or successful Coaseian carving of property rights at the joints.

  7. People must be able to accurately calculate their own interests.

  8. People must not be sadistic–the market does not work well if participating agents are either the envious or the spiteful.

  9. The distribution of wealth must correspond to the societal consensus of need and desert.

  10. The structure of debt and credit must be sound, or if it is not sound we need a central bank or a social-credit agency to make it sound and so make Say’s Law true in practice even though we have no reason to believe Say’s Law is true in theory.

An adequate undergraduate economics major will spend due time not just on the excellences of the competitive market equilibrium but on these 10 modes of market failure, and in so doing become, effectively, a history and moral philosophy major as well.

A first-rate undergraduate economic major will also spend due time on government failure and bureaucratic failure, and thus reach the very economic conclusion that there are substantial trade-offs, and we must pick our poison among inadequate and imperfect alternatives, even in institution design.

This is insane. How on earth can somebody think it’s ok for the organizing idea behind an empirical science to be a “ideological and substantive legitimating doctrine”? ?? Karl Marx... that’s how.

Hat Tip to Lars Syll:  Neoclassical Economics Is Great—Except For All The Caveats.

People Were On The Right Track In The American Academy, Then Marx Became Popular

For some reason, academic fields refuse to publish essays that explain to the lay person what methods are currently considered state of the art. They seem to flatly refuse to do intellectual history in real time. 

Trying to reconstruct it is hard. 

So here are two people that I think got it right before the Russian Revolution intervened and made everyone crazy. First, one of the founders of something called the "Chicago School Of Sociology," Robert E. Park from his Wikipedia entry:

While at the University of Chicago, Park continued to strengthen his theory of human ecology and along with Ernest W. Burgess developed a program of urban research in the sociology department.[3] They also developed a theory of urban ecology, which first appeared in their book Introduction to the Science of Sociology (1922). Using the city of Chicago as an example, they proposed that cities were environments like those found in nature. Park and Burgess suggested that cities were governed by many of the same forces of Darwinian evolution that happens in ecosystems. They felt the most significant force was competition. Competition was created by groups fighting for urban resources, like land, which led to a division of urban space into ecological niches. Within these niches people shared similar social characteristics because they were subject to the same ecological pressure.[6]

Second, the Pragmatism of John Dewey from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry Dewey’s Political Philosophy:

In texts such as ‘The Ethics of Democracy’ (EW1) and ‘Christianity and Democracy’ (EW4), Dewey elaborates a version of the Idealist criticisms of classical liberal individualism. For this line of criticism, classical liberalism envisages the individual as an independent entity in competition with other individuals, and takes social and political life as a sphere in which this competitive pursuit of self-interest is coordinated. By contrast, the Idealists and New Liberals rejected this view of social and political life as the aggregation of inherently conflicting private interests. Instead, they sought to view individuals relationally: individuality could be sustained only where social life was understood as an organism in which the well-being of each part was tied to the well-being of the whole. Freedom in a ‘positive’ sense consisted not merely in the absence of external constraints but the positive fact of participation in such an ethically desirable social order. As Dewey puts it, ‘men are not isolated non-social atoms, but are men only when in intrinsic relations’ to one another, and the state in turn only represents them ‘so far as they have become organically related to one another, or are possessed of unity of purpose and interest’ (‘The Ethics of Democracy’, EW1, 231-2).

Dewey's Epistemology arose out of his theory of inquiry:

Dewey aimed to displace [the ‘spectator’] conception of knowledge with a notion of inquiry, understood as the struggle of human intelligence to solve problems. The goal of such inquiry was not to arrive at a certain picture of the nature of things, but at an inevitably provisional solution to the practical and intellectual problem that sparked inquiry.

Three features of this conception can be usefully underlined here: inquiry as problem-solving, as historical and progressive, and as communal. We engage in inquiry, Dewey thought, as part of a struggle with an objectively precarious but improvable environment. Inquiry is demanded by what he calls an ‘incomplete’ or ‘problematic’ situation, that is, one in which something must be done. The goal of inquiry is not simply a change in the beliefs of the inquirers but the resolution of the problematic situation, in what he calls a ‘consummatory’ course of action or state of affairs. The modern natural sciences, he argues, have been progressive and cumulative, giving us greater and greater control of the natural world. This has above all been the result of their experimental character, in which no intellectual element is taken to be beyond rational scrutiny. Theories and hypotheses are invented, used, tested, revised, and so on. At the same time, new methods for the invention, use, testing and revision of theories and hypotheses are developed and refined, and so are new standards for evaluating theories and hypotheses. What counts as success in inquiry is some practice's meeting these standards, but these standards themselves may be judged in the light of how they square with ongoing practices of inquiry. In this way, the methods used by science are not fixed but themselves have a history and develop progressively and sometimes in unexpected ways. What counts as knowledge is defined as ‘the product of competent inquiries’; beyond this, the meaning of the term ‘is so empty that any content or filling may be arbitrarily poured in’ (Logic, LW12, 16). Third, inquiry is social or communal, in the sense that its findings must be subject to scrutiny and testing by other inquirers: ‘an inquirer in a given special field appeals to the experiences of the community of his fellow workers for confirmation and correction of results’ (Logic, LW12, 484).

Jonathan Chait or Mark Lilla argue from a position where the values of liberalism do not need to be justified. They were discovered, not invented, by the Enlightenment. Dewey sees that values evolve to solve problems and then become the problems which new values must solve:

Dewey's conception of inquiry is intended as a general model of reflective intelligence, and he argues against drawing an a priori distinction between, for example, inquiry in ethics and politics and in the natural sciences. Indeed, he argues that values are constructed in order to resolve problematic situations, and valuation is conceived as reflective thought that responds to such situations, with the aim of providing means for what Dewey calls the ‘directed resolution’ of the situation. Strikingly, for example, in Art as Experience, he analyses the work of the French painters Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse in terms of problem-solving, with the goal of ‘consummatory’ experience.

What happened? Lenin read a book on Marx, then took over Russia. This is only the beginning of an idea, but I think it's something.

Deserving Of The Name Political Science

I don’t have tons of evidence for this, but I think that it’s not an accident that work like this is done by a female academic. We need to study human behavior the same way Jane Goodall studies chimp behavior, and—for various reasons—that’s not what men in so-called “political science” tend to do.

Here’s political scientist Cheryl Laird in Vox explaining a scientific approach to the question of why black people didn’t turn out to vote in 2016 at the rate they did in 2012: 

In our recent publication in the American Political Science Review, we argue that the continued social isolation of blacks in American society has created spaces and incentives for the emergence of black political norms. Democratic partisanship has become significantly tied to black identity in the United States. The historical and continued racial segregation of black communities has produced spaces in which in-group members can leverage social sanctions against other group members to ensure compliance with group partisan norms.

As a result, social sanctions are the main explanation for why black people behave in this collective manner. In other words, if a politician wants greater support from blacks, her best bet is getting the social processes within the community working in her favor.

They started with observing communities and moved on to a controlled experiment: 

To see the power of these norms and social sanctions, we conducted a number of experiments that randomly assigned black participants to incentives to defect from a well-known norm of black politics: supporting Barack Obama. In one of the studies, we provided small amounts of cash that participants were told they...

But such experiments on humans are highly artificial, so an actual scientist looks to other data to either confirm or question the experimental results: 

In a subsequent working paper, we expand on candidate support based on group norm and examine the reported partisanship by blacks in the face of social pressure from co-racial group members. Leveraging the race of the interviewers in the American National Election Study, we find that in face-to-face interviews, black respondents express significantly greater identification with the Democratic Party when interviewed by a black individual compared to being interviewed by a white individual or taken online (absent an interviewer).

Scientists are not perfect, including female ones. The word “leveraged” in this context is an abomination that should be left outside in a polar vortex to die. What Laird is trying to say is that they took advantage of the fact that the American National Election Study used both white and black interviewers to ask black people how they voted. This fact allowed them to check whether black people give different answers depending on the race of the interview. They do.  

Good luck understanding this behavior using anything written by either Karl Marx or John Stuart Mill.