How selfish are voters?


Last month, I wrote a post where I talked a bit about Bryan Caplan’s book The Myth of the Rational Voter. Specifically, I talked about the idea that because any one voter is unlikely to swing the outcome of an election, voting provides a way for people to feel altruistic on the cheap. Therefore, in some situations, [Read More...]

Notes on Robert Fogel’s Without Consent or Contract


In response to my previous post on animal rights and slavery, Wayne of Direct Action Everywhere suggested that the argument made in that post was at odds with the findings of economist Robert Fogel as to how slavery was abolished. So I picked up Fogel’s book Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery. Having [Read More...]

Slavery abolition and animal rights: the biggest problem

When I talk to people involved in animal rights, I frequently hear people make analogies to the abolition of slavery, made with an optimistic spin: “if we managed to abolish slavery, we can abolish animal agriculture,” “if these tactics worked for abolishing slavery, they should work for abolishing animal agriculture,” and so on. I think [Read More...]

Harry Potter and the problem with genre deconstructions

So, Eliezer Yudkowsky’s long-running Harry Potter fanfic, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, is now complete. I’ve been holding off until now to post some thoughts on it I’ve had since the climax was posted ~2 weeks ago. Readers of TVTropes will be familiar with the concept of deconstruction–not in the pretentious post-modern sense, but [Read More...]

Avoiding divorce doesn’t make you a traditionalist

I recently stumbled across an old post by Bryan Caplan on Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. The lesson Caplan draws from it is that the stereotypically liberal upper-middle class is a bunch of closet traditionalists: I learned a lot from Murray’s book.  But it’s a classic case of glass-half-empty thinking.  His results on the white working class didn’t [Read More...]

Why I’ve decided to start deleting jerky comments more often

My main approach to comment moderation has long been what I hoped was benign neglect. Officially, I have a comment policy here, but mostly if you aren’t an obvious troll or spammer, I’ve been letting you say whatever you want in my blog comments. But I’ve decided to start tightening that policy up. Here’s why. My reasons for [Read More...]

When passing a law is the easy route

Passing major legislation is really hard. Take, oh, say, healthcare reform in the United States. Efforts to establish universal health care in the US can be traced back to Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 presidential campaign. Roosevelt was defeated, but a couple decades later, his distant relative FDR drew up a plan to include universal health care [Read More...]

Abolitionism vs. reformism

An post on NYT’s Opinionator asks: “Was Abolitionism a Failure?” It argues that secession was a blunder for southern slaveholders, without which slavery would have taken much longer to abolish. I had known about how Lincoln cared more about keeping the Union together than ending slavery, but there’s much I didn’t know: Even among Northerners who [Read More...]

Analogies for animal rights: civil rights vs. the antiwar movement

Last weekend, I praised an investigation by Direct Action Everywhere of a “certified humane” Whole Foods supplier.  If you haven’t watched the video yet, there’s a shorter version here that I recommend watching (though be warned that the video is disturbing). However, while I think DxE has done some very good things, there are major parts of their tactics [Read More...]