This is Google


No, quite likely not a parody, and not particularly surprising overall. Highlights:

  • Scott fucking Adams
  • A smattering of New Atheists
  • Several vocal critics of Islam and/or Islamism
  • A gaggle of evolutionary psychologists and Jordan B Peterson
  • @mjaeckel ‏who who appears to be an actual friend of his.

Mostly from what I can see it speaks to his own point about echo chambers, i.e. this bunch of people make up his own echo chamber. It’s also pretty good anecdotal support of the idea that knowing about echo chambers doesn’t save you from falling prey to echo chambers; c.f. this article.

Broadly speaking, I think there’s an effect where many of the kinds of people who vocally espouse rationality make the jump from that to believing that their support and respect for rationality actually makes them more rational, and then they take that as license to believe their own bullshit. That’s not to say that there aren’t pathways that can lead a person to actually become more rational, but those paths are fraught with danger and many people who take steps along them (or claim to) tend to fall off the path and crash spectacularly.


Honestly, I’m having a hard time with actually having a nuanced and complete opinion about the whole debacle.

I know how I feel about the whole thing. Guy has abhorrent views and deserved to be fired. Full stop.

But I guess I’m not sure my own position on horribleness in people. I guess what I want is horrible views explicitly allowed de jure but totally shut down de facto. That’s how I thought the world was when I was young and stupid.

Is that possible? Do we have to make horrible views/statements wrong de jure too? I do view that as problematic.


Isn’t that what happened? Problem solved.


In this case, yes. That largely seems to be what happened. Can we make this case the default in the world or at least the country without making anything new disallowed de jure?


Did we discuss that it already is? This hand wringing only comes up when the people who might have to moderate are in privilege.


I certainly won’t depute that I’m in privilege (and white) and hell, maybe it’s possible that subconsciously this is really coming from a bad place of me not wanting to self moderate.

If that’s all it is, kick my ass in this discourse and hopefully I change my tune.

I just have this nagging voice in my head saying if we start disallowing things de-jure, it all comes down to who’s doing the disallowing. I may trust them / agree with them today but I may not tomorrow or they may change what they want.

In this case it’d be kinda this large collective us, doing the disallowing. The people angry that we have to deal with nazis for basically the second time in human history. That’s all good but if all a group has to be is big and angry to disallow things de-jure then I worry about all the times I may disagree with a big and angry mob.

Maybe it’s one of those, fine maybe just this once we’ll disallow this one thing de-jure and that’ll be the only time we disallow something and that’s fine. It’s just in my experience, do something once and it becomes much easier to do it again… sigh.

I’m starting to sound like the people I hate… I don’t wanna do that. Sigh. I hate slippery-slope arguments but here I am, basically making one. I’m just having trouble squaring this circle.

EDIT: didn’t read your post thoroughly enough. Is it though? At what point is does it become illegal to join ISIS, Al-Quaida? I know people here who are semi-sympathetic towards those groups. Do they have like a roster that it’s illegal to sign your name on? What constitutes being a member of those groups and what constitutes being a part of the KKK/ being a Nazi?


I said this in another thread with you, but I don’t think free speech has ever been as free as it’s made out to be. I’m not saying to throw the concept out, but to recognize that the correct execution of ideals is usually defined by those in power. I’m fine with privileged speech being fair game, finally. It means these ideas will have to be defended and fought for, understood through the lens of someone else’s perspective, instead of being taken for granted as scientific objective reality facts ™.

It absolutely presents an existential threat, one that most non-white men have to come to terms with early on:

  • Depending on my race, ethnicity, gender, sex, orientation, belief, and other attributes, I cannot expect my opinions on a topic, or even existence as a person to be broadly accepted, tolerated, or interpreted without negative, possibly fatal, consequence.
  • Depending on my race and ethnicity, I cannot discuss certain topics, even jokingly or hypothetically, without potential of being identified as a serious national threat.
  • Depending on the above, I cannot expect an equivalent application of the law or other standards, nor can I expect to receive an equivalent narrative from media, word of mouth, or other sources.

Anyway, here’s a search result I found.

I also want to say I don’t know shit about shit. I’ve read some scattered literature, but I’m not a scholar. But I’m not a white guy, so I figure I’d put in my 2c.

What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.
–Toni Morrison


Section 2339B, title 18 of the United States Code is part of the USA Patriot Act of 2001. The section prohibits providing material support to terrorists, including:

…any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.

Ok maybe this is my answer. This is legit. If we define the nazis and kkk as terrorist groups then providing material support, in the form of yourself (in a march for instance) could be called treason and actually punishable by law, de jure.

A horrible racist still gets off free but only because he didn’t go to the nazi march. I think this satisfies, at least partially my unease with the antifa movement group. They don’t wanna make speech any less free, they just wanna make being an actual nazi punishable the way it once was. And expand that to include the kkk.

I will take it. It’s a bit loophole-y but that seems to be enough for me. Just have to repeat the above to myself until it sinks in.

I do thank you, and if you had to explain this more than once I apologize for making you do that. I’m a bit slow, I’m the first to admit it.


Wasn’t really my point, more of a side note. But… I suppose the pragmatic lines in sand are more yours, so why not. Also, I’m sure there’s more out there on the topic… I was kind of tenuous about searching “is joining ISIS illegal?” =.= and picked something from top results without vetting, so I’ll let you pursue that.

Woops, I actually meant to put “I think” before that, and not as a criticism, just as an apology if I was repeating a point I may have already covered. Sorry about that, I’m not good at coding language for audiences that don’t know me in person.


I think there’s a bit of excess white-maleness on the FRCF, but it’s good that we get a decent degree of diversity of perspective around here.

From another thread:

I can see that I’m in danger of being guilty of some degree of this here and now. It’s likely that many of you have heard all this before, but my goal isn’t to explain things to people.

Free speech, like so many other topics in society, especially political ones, is a complex issue. Perhaps there are others who are capable of doing it, but if I simply attempted to figure everything out of my own accord by reading and without getting interactive feedback from other people I doubt I would succeed in reaching the right conclusions.

So thus I’d much rather take Naoza’s approach, i.e. to put my thinking out here in the open; that way someone can, in Naoza’s words,

Hopefully that’s a good enough approach, because I really don’t see an alternative. There’s an important discussion to be had here, and I’d rather have it than not.

Before I go any further, I’d like to say that like no_fun_girl I also don’t know shit about shit, and unlike her I do happen to be a white male so I probably know even less shit. This kind of stuff is pretty far outside the areas of my expertise.

This is a really important point, especially that last one.

The U.S. has a long history of the suppression of minorities and suppression of their free speech, and all of this is despite the fact that the First Amendment has been around since 1791. That history continues even today; you need only look at the current President of the United States to see that it’s still happening today. Perhaps it’s simply the case the use of the power of the state to silence minorities is simply inevitable, and the social norms, institutions and legal frameworks we construct around it are completely powerless to do anything about it… But I don’t think so.

The U.S. has come a long way as far as de jure freedom of speech is concerned, and a lot of that rests on the cultural norms y’all have over there. The U.S. takes the notion of free speech very seriously; seriously enough that it really can be applied to minorities and not just those in power. Other countries around the world do this as well, and while they (and the U.S.) have their issues, I think it represents a huge amount of progress in the last few centuries.

I think that nagging voice is worth taking seriously, and I really don’t think it’s a good idea to try to rehearse this concept in your head until that nagging voice goes away.

The Patriot Act was a seriously problematic law when Bush signed it in 2001, and that’s still the case today. Now, the law is the law and since it’s in there one could definitely make a case for using it against the likes of the KKK, but… even if you can somehow make the case that it would be legal for the U.S. government to step in and arrest everyone at the Nazi march, that doesn’t make it a good idea. Wearing away at the norms around free speech is a dangerous thing.

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions have led a concerted effort to push back the civil rights of minorities, but without the norms of free speech and the likes of the ACLU to defend those norms things could be much worse. If we lived in a world where those norms were eroded, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the likes of Donald Trump were to declare anyone who supports the Black Lives Matter movement to be giving material support to terrorists, and subsequently put those people in jail. That kind of society is really only a few steps away from our current one, and the biggest things that stand in the way of that society are the social constructs we’ve built around the idea of free speech, and the institutions (like the ACLU) that stand for those things.

So yeah, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to use the law to restrict free speech in cases like this one. Even when we’re talking about literal Nazis like in Charlottesville, I think the ACLU gets it right when they choose to defend their free speech rights.

All in all, a completely absolutist position on de jure free speech might be a little simplistic, but the kinds of situations where that position really does go wrong are so few and far between that it pretty much doesn’t matter.


Well damnit you make good points. I thought for a second there I could put this issue to bed, secure I had the right idea and go about my business. No such luck.


I think the absolutist position existing in law deludes privileged people into believing it exists in effect. The executions of freedoms, rights, and opportunities do not occur in a vacuum, and should not be judged as though they do. These kinds of conversations typically arise when the contested subject has privilege, because the chilling effect on the rest of the population has been so widespread as to be invisible. When more recent cases have gained attention, the subjects are framed in language that codifies a discriminatory hierarchy & acceptability, and justifies suppression (riots v protests, etc.). It is a problem so deeply entrenched that I am not opposed to a consideration of top-down rebalancing affirmative action style – not that this will ever actually happen here. The philosophical handwringing and italicized Latin that erupts over whether the law should protect white men saying shitty things just comes across as wanking off to a fantasy, and a highbrow version of “the guvmint’s gonna take our gurns”. (sorry lawyers)

(I also think real modern science driven education would be less controversial and more helpful)

I do agree with cheese, though, that it is best to maintain this question in a place of discomfort.

Bleh, being a diversity token is frustrating and boring. Anyway, thanks for the chat, I’m going to step out so I don’t get too sassy (;


You’re right. I think the summary at the end of my post was way off base, although it’s not exactly what I meant to say.

To clarify: I do feel a relatively absolutist position on free speech is warranted, although the issue can often be pretty tricky. For example, in Australia freedom of speech is not written into our constitution, and I think that there are some major downsides to that. Of course, some people on this forum seem to think that this means Australia simply “doesn’t have free speech”, which is false; we do have common law protections for it, although those protections can sometimes fall short.

So yeah, I don’t mean to say that having an absolutist position on free speech in the law solves all of these problems; it just doesn’t. There’s only so much that you can do with it; actually making it work in society relies on a number of cultural norms, and on various institutions. For example, without organizations like the ACLU free speech in the U.S. would be in far worse shape. What I meant to say is that while having an absolutist position on free speech isn’t any kind of panacea for the underlying issues, many departures from those absolutist positions are in danger of resulting in outcomes that are even worse in the long run.

It would be better to think of free speech in law as an extremely powerful heuristic; it’s not necessarily always correct to go along with it, but in order to deviate from it you’d better have a good reason, and you’d better have thought through the long-term consequences.


I am definitely given to philosophical handwringing, and maybe you have a point re. italicized Latin; “in effect” and “in law” often do the job just as well, and there’s good reason to suggest that when I do use a term like “de facto” I shouldn’t be using italics anyway.

That said, I’d like to point out that throughout this thread I haven’t been trying to push for any kind of extra protection of white men saying shitty things. They already have the legal right to say those shitty things, and that’s fine as it is. It’s also good that we live in a society where you can no longer say these kinds of things without getting pushback from the rest of society. Earlier in this thread Scott said “you don’t solve consequences”, but I’m not here to solve social consequences. My point is that it is we, as members of society, who set those consequences in the first place.

All of that being said, as far as the consequences to James Damore are concerned I think my argument was overwrought. As far as I can see, he really hasn’t suffered considerably for his decisions, so I don’t think there really is a particularly big free speech concern around his case in particular, neither in regards to de facto nor de jure freedom of speech.

That said, while I don’t think there’s much of a problem with the magnitude of the social consequences he has suffered, I do think that much of the response to Damore has been seriously counter-productive. Here’s a quote from Conor Friedersdorf, who I think makes a key point I wanted to make much more eloquently than I’ve done in this thread:

Thanks right back at you. As for the sass, I reckon sometimes that’s exactly what is needed for forum conversations not to be plain boring.

Also, sorry for any tokenization; I was mostly responding to your own point about “But I’m not a white guy, so I figure I’d put in my 2c.”


My main take-away is that the dude just seems like a “that guy” for sending a political essay to his coworkers in an internal memo.


EDIT: Here’s the site.


It was only a matter of time…

"Is the term “google” too generic and therefore unworthy of its trademark protection? That’s the question before the US Supreme Court.

Words like teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape were once trademarked. They lost the status after their names became too generic and fell victim to what is known as “genericide.”

What’s before the Supreme Court is a trademark lawsuit that Google already defeated in a lower court. The lawsuit claims that Google should no longer be trademarked because the word “google” is synonymous to the public with the term “search the Internet.”


  1. Google has consistently enforced the trademark
  2. Only idiots say “I’ll google it” and proceed to use Bing or some other garbage.

The definition of “google” is literally “use Google to search the Internet.”


Using Bing and saying “Google” is some out of touch parent bullshit akin to everything being a Nintendo.


But if the majority of people on the planet are using Google to search the internet, isn’t saying you’re going to “google” it the same as I’m going to search on the internet?


The answer to that question is literally the focus of the legal challenge. Since Google is a trademarked term, it has to mean using Google specifically.