Reality: What Science and Libertarianism Have In Common

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Calm Down! I'm a Libertarian!

Over at USA Today, Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience has a nice column in which he argues that libertarian philosophy tackles government policy the same way a researcher tackles an experiment. From the op/ed:

The scientific enterprise rests on simple premises: Scientists should have the freedom to investigate whatever they choose. The universe is ultimately knowable and logical. The business of science should be to promote reality, not ideology. This formula has proved successful.

Similarly, the seductive allure of libertarianism relies on its simple assumptions: People should be as free as possible. Our laws should reflect reality. Government policies should be analyzed using logic, not ideology. There are no grand appeals to shaping the world in America's image, no quixotic promotion of economic equality and no obsession over the moral character of the nation.

In a nutshell, scientists and libertarians deal with the world the way it is, rather than the way they want it to be. …

It is striking that the qualities that make for a good scientist are identical to those that make for a good libertarian.

I, of course, find Berezow's argument somewhat persuasive. Indeed, research by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues find that libertarians score higher on a need for cognition scale (i.e., they engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities) than either liberals or conservatives do.

In addition, libertarians score much higher on systemizing (the drive to analyze the variables in a system, and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behavior of the system) than either liberals or conservatives do. On the other hand, libs and cons score higher on empathizing (the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion) than do libertarians. 

Mutual Admiration Society Disclosure: I note that Berezow very generously quotes me in the USA Today op/ed and and I am very grateful that he occasionally reprints some of my articles at RealClearScience. 

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  1. I’m sure Tony will be along presently to tell us how this article is wrong, that we are actually just republicans, and that his way of thinking is clearly right and what’s best for everyone.

    1. I had the same thought when I saw this post.

      1. I’m living in your heads rent free, bitches!

  2. You know who else engaged in and enjoyed effortful cognitive activities?

    What? Oh sorry, thought I was still in Tim’s comments.

    1. Archimedes?

  3. On the other hand, libs and cons score higher on empathizing (the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion) than do libertarians.

    ^^^why there is a dearth of female libertarians^^^

    1. Because women are just empathizing non-cognitive folks, right?

      Sheesh, maybe this is why there is a dearth of female libertarians….

      1. Way to set up and knock down a straw man!

        Way to go!

        Bravo!

        I expect a slew of ad hominems to follow!

        Don’t disappoint your fans!

        1. Just saying, maybe women are’nt attracted to groups that tell them they are better at feeling than thinking.

          If someone said that about you would you be drawn to their movement?

          1. Just because you are so emotional that most women are stoic by comparison doesn’t mean that, as a general rule, women are more emotional than men.

            1. *aren’t*

              1. This is why nobody takes libertarians seriously.

                1. Because Sarcasmic fails to proofread his responses?

          2. Actually MNG, there are lots of scientific studies to back this stereotype up. Not every single woman is identical obviously but it is based on estrogen levels.

            From a few weeks of age, female infants are much more likely to key in on people’s faces and react, etc., etc.

            Study after study had shown that women are more empathetic and tend to bond and back each other up. Other studies on the effects of oxytocin (the bonding hormone) are very interesting. The problem is that there is a lot of truth in it, but that women don’t want to hear it. Esp. when they’re on the … Oh, never mind.

          3. They don’t need me to tell them that when Oprah preached that message to them constantly.

      2. According to MNG’s extensive studies, women are more likely to approach a problem logically rather than emotionally.

        1. What women has he studied other than mommy?

          1. Your mommy?

            A little hairy for my tastes actually. And she doesn’t stop calling for weeks.

            1. Someone’s mad.

              1. Ah, and here comes sarcy’s lil’ right wing butt buddy for the defense.

                1. Liberals tend to rely more on anti-gay personal attacks than other groups I’ve read.

    2. sarcasmic: The authors of the study I reference go on to suggest that systemizing is “characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating autism.” They then add, “We might say that liberals have the most ‘feminine’ cognitive style, and libertarians the most ‘masculine.'” They speculate that the “feminizing” of the Democratic Party in the 1970s may thus explain why libertarians moved into the Republican Party in the 1980s.

      1. And the socons/moral majority drove the libertarians out of the Republican party, so we now wander the wasteland, cold and alone, vainly hoping for some electoral succor from the populace whilst bickering endlessly among ourselves.

        1. As Ron Paul’s numbers have shown, we werent all driven out. The GOP realizes they need those voters…lets see if they ever do anything about it.

          1. Those really small numbers?

            I mean, I hope Paul gets big numbers, but if you exclude the places where it was just him and Romney (VA ?) is his overall average even in double digits?

            1. When an election hinges on 2-3%, really small numbers just might make the difference.

            2. In terms of votes, yes, he’s just over 10% nationally so far with just under a million votes cast for him.

              If you figure we’re just about halfway through the primaries, that means he could get about two million total, which is nothing to sneeze at.

              1. I think its certainly more than a libertarian could have justly hoped for, say, ten years ago.

                Still, another way to read that is that even though Paul has adopted some conservative hot button stances (like on immigration) his libertarianism still only appealed to 10% of the GOP voters (and that’s assuming some significant chunk of those would never really affiliate with the GOP other than to vote for Paul)…That would seem to indicate “they just are not into you” to me.

                1. Two things: 1) he doesn’t stroke war boners and 2) the GOP establishment and the press have hammered the “unelectable” meme unceasingly.

                2. Well, when he’s portrayed as a racist lunatic by the press (on the rare occasions he’s presented at all), I’d say 10% is pretty fucking good.

                  And that 10% # is a bit off anyway. I’m sure there are quite a few Team Red folks that support him, they just support someone else more.

                  That and I know quite a few people who like Paul but voted for Romney because they were voting against the nut-job Santorum.

                  1. I know quite a few people

                    Wow. We’re listening now.

            3. Yes. I would say that he averages about 10%. Alot of states he was in the 20% range, even more in the 10%, and about 5% in the southern.

              Until recently it might have been 15%.

              He has been able to compete (in theory) with Obama in a number of polls as well.

              1. I’d bet the 10% is mostly made up of voting libertarians united under Paul (which the LP could never do) and then a few single-issue Republicans.

          2. The GOP realizes they need those voters

            Nah, we’re good. We’ll have another beer instead.

      2. I would suspect that systemizing is not innate, but rather conditioned from an early age. Males are encouraged to systemize, females are encouraged to be more “emotional” and “illogical.” Were gender roles reversed, then systemizing would be a female attribute.

        1. I believe there is as much a nature component as a nurture one.

        2. That’s a very grown up way to look at it.

          My only point is that if libertarians are going to tell women that they are not good at thinking but are emotional then you don’t need any theory to explain why those women might not be excited about libertarianism…

          1. Bravo again! You have slain a mighty straw man!

            What will you do an an encore?

            1. So when you quoted the article saying libertarians are cognitive and not empathatic and then below the quote note “this is why there are not many women libertarians” you were not implying that women are empathetic more than cognitive?

              I’d love to hear more about that.

              1. So when you quoted the article saying libertarians are cognitive and not empathatic

                Degrees, moron. Degrees.

                I quoted an article saying libertarians are comparatively more cognitive and comparatively less empathetic.

                You are the one who lacks cognitive ability and reacts like an emotional animal.

                That’s why you will always be a liberal, and why you will never understand libertarians.

                1. Yea, you stepped in it and now are back peddling.

                  We get it.

                  1. You slay a straw man of absolutes, then back peddle when I show it for what it is.

                    Loser.

                    1. I hate to point this out to you Mr. cognitive guy, but my point stands whether you were talking absolutes or degrees.

                      That sound over your head is my point.

                    2. if libertarians are going to tell women that they are not good at thinking but are emotional

                      Except that nobody did that, MNG.

                      Though it does make for a nice straw man.

                      Here, have some windmills.

                      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..-rush.html

                    3. “So when you quoted the article saying libertarians are cognitive and not empathatic and then below the quote note “this is why there are not many women libertarians” you were not implying that women are empathetic more than cognitive?

                      I’d love to hear more about that.”

                    4. more cognitive than empathetic != cognitive and not empathetic

                      implying != telling

                    5. implying that women are more empathetic than cognitive != telling women they are “not good at thinking but are emotional”

                  2. I think Ron Bailey pointed out that he quoted the authors as making distinctions about male vs. female. So, this once you need to give sarcasmic a break. And a lot of people don’t want to hear the truth, not just women. If you want to live with a woman, you often need to learn to not tell the whole truth, too often. You are right MNG, no one wants to hear that they are illogical or things like that too often.
                    So to get along and attract more female libertarians, it might be best to avoid it.
                    But then again, the article kind of pointed out it worked the other way. Women just are less likely to be libertarians.

                  3. Are you suggesting that the cognitive style is superior to the emotive style?

                    Sexist.

                    How about this:
                    The female tends to be emotively superior to the male.

                    Many studies have shown an innate difference between male and female cognitive styles.

                    Do you assume that one is superior to the other?

                    Typical male arrogance.

                    1. I’m in love! (sorry Epi)

                    2. (the above was referring to Sam Grove’s post)

              2. Everyone knows that. Why are you are you acting like it’s a controversial or embarrassing belief to have?

          2. You might be making a mistake in assuming that women wish they were not thought of as being more emotional than men.

            1. I urge you to try that line on women in general to test it. Let me know if telling women “your kind are more emotional than thinking” garners the acclaim you suggest.

              1. But wait. Being more emotional doesn’t necessarily exclude being able to use logic and reason.

                1. Sure, throw that in as your second line. Let me know how that works.

                  1. MNG

                    Did you even read the article?

                    We accept the world how it is instead of how we’d like it. You are proving the point.

                    If women are more emotional and men cognitive…so be it. Deal with it.

                    You are asking us to lie about it so we can attract women to our cause. CASE IN POINT!

                    Sorry…we don’t do that.

                2. Being more emotional doesn’t necessarily exclude being able to use logic and reason.

                  More often than not being emotional means using logic and reason to reverse engineer an excuse for the emotion.

                  It becomes a reaction rather than a response.

              2. I’m not going to use that line. They would only go and get all emotional on me.

              3. I don’t have to “try that line”, I have a wife that proves it every day.

          3. Libertarians aren’t telling women that, science is.

            Now I leave it completely open as to whether it’s a nature or nurture thing (or, most likely, a combination of both). I’m honestly on the fence about that, and don’t wish to hold an ill-informed opinion.

            When you turn down the “girl” aisle in a toy store and are bombarded with an ocean of pink, I can’t believe that that doesn’t have some sort of effect on a young person’s development.

            1. It has to be nature. Women are the ones that get pregnant and have babies, and before modern formula technology, had to stay with them pretty much continuously for the first couple years of their lives to feed and care for them. Being able to empathize with their children would be a pretty clearly favored evolutionary trait to propagate the species.

              1. Empathizing with one’s children and thinking logically are hardly contradictory states. Nor is empathizing with one’s children an exclusively female trait.

                1. Of course. It could be a matter of degree though.

              2. I’d say 50/50.

      3. “Why Mommy is a Democrat”

  4. I really think the question that divides people is how they view human nature. Do you view human nature as something that is unchangeable and thus laws should be made in light of human nature. Or do you view human nature as something that can be perfected and thus view laws as something made to improve human nature.

    If you believe the former, then you are generally going to err on the side of liberty. If you believe in the latter, you will always fall to the temptation of coercion and authoritarianism.

    Libertarians and classical liberals are the former. Social conservatives and modern liberals are the latter. The suppression of freedom is nearly always the result of someone refusing to accept that sometimes people will, because they are people, make the wrong choices and nothing is going to change that.

    1. Conservatives have an incredibly strong tradition of emphasizing human nature and that it cannot be perfected, but they don’t think it can’t be changed, or perhaps better put that it shouldn’t be checked in many areas.

      1. Depends on who you mean by “conservatives”. I think social conservatives make the same mistake that you can perfect human beings through good government. Other conservatives with to check human nature. But they differ from SOCONS in that they will admit when something doesn’t work. The purpose of government is to check the excesses of human nature. If it is not working, try something else. SOCONs, since they view perfecting human nature as the goal, are generally as hard headed as leftists in believing in the power of government.

        It should be noted that Libertarians will occasionally fall into the same trap, albeit in a more benign way. Libertarians have a bad habit of believing man can be perfected by being left alone. Sadly he can’t. And thus there is no libertopia. Just a society where the cures are not worse than the diseases.

        1. I don’t think socons have any illusions about the perfectability of human nature. They have long emphasized that human nature has inherently rotten parts (original sin), and that utopian ideas to perfect that are doomed to failure.

          But they think that exactly because human nature has these rotten aspects you have to have strong institutions in place, like the family, the community, the church, and in many cases the government, to check it.

          Liberals seem on the other hand to simply ignore human nature, they think everything is the cause of socio-economic historical forces.

          1. I see your point. But I think a lot of SOCONs really believe that bad societal influences makes bad people. Take porn for example. The idea is that if people have access to porn they will become debased. To me that is no different than a liberal thinking that if we just solve poverty, no one will commit a crime.

            1. I think they think bad societal influences appeal to inherent human wickedness rather than “making bad people.”

        2. Libertarians have a bad habit of believing man can be perfected by being left alone.

          I have never met a single libertarian that thinks this, ever. Man will, if left alone, either figure things out or not. If he does, good for him. If he does not, oh well. Better luck next time.

          1. I think it would be better put this way: libertarians think that not leaving man alone can only make things worse…

            1. Libertarians understand that an individual knows their circumstances better than a ruler, and that they will likely have a better outcome if they make their own decisions rather than having decisions imposed upon them by their rulers.

              1. and that rulers are at least as self interested as other individuals.

          2. I agree that few if any libertarians actually believe that. But a lot do tend to gloss over that stuff when trying to make their case.

        3. Who then is super empathetic and super systematic?

          1. OBAMA!

            Sorry, couldn’t resist.

        4. Libertarians have a bad habit of believing man can be perfected by being left alone.

          Citation?

          I think society can be IMPROVED by limiting the social struggle over control of political power by limiting the scope of political power.

          IAC, perfection is a matter of opinion and is therefore unattainable in a world with different opinions about perfection.

        5. “And thus there is no libertopia. Just a society where the cures are not worse than the diseases.” What a great improvement that non-utopia would be over the anti-utopia we now have.

    2. They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that.

      Firefly: perhaps the most libertarian sci-fi produced since Heinlein. This is one of my favorite quotes because it pretty much summarizes exactly what’s woring with ~99% of government policies. They’re trying to make people better, and they can’t.

      1. Shiny!

      2. What fascinated me about that show was that Joss Whedon, a big lefty, has admitted that he pretty much despised his own character, Malcolm Reynolds.

        1. Citation please: I also am fascinated by the thought that the admirable rogue, Mal Reynolds is someone whom Joss Whedon can and does despise. How can this be so?

  5. Nerds?

    1. This libertarian is a nerd. Thanks for noticing.

      1. What the fuck’s a frush?

  6. This is perhaps the goofiest analogy I’ve seen in a while.

    “Libertarians and scientists like to be free to do what they want, and they both like reality!”

    To be honest I thought the article was going to say “scientists are more skeptical than deferential about claims, and libertarians are the same about government.” That would have been better.

    1. Re: MNG,

      To be honest I thought the article was going to say “scientists are more skeptical than deferential about claims, and libertarians are the same about government.” That would have been better.

      What’s the difference between what you say and “Libertarians and scientists like to be free”?

      Being skeptical sounds to me like something a free person would be.

      1. I think you’re making the same mistake of those who think “critical thinking” means to criticize things…

        BTW-nice to see you back, haven’t seen you around for a while

        1. Re: MNG,

          I think you’re making the same mistake of those who think “critical thinking” means to criticize things

          Your conclusion would be wrong. Or am I know sinning of being “critical” of things, MNG?

          nice to see you back, haven’t seen you around for a while
          Same here, nioe to see your posts. I’ve been very busy with new responsibilities at work – another way of saying I’ve been assigned work done by others who are no longer with the company!

          1. Crap. It’s “am I now sinning…”

            1. What I mean is I don’t think it’s anymore objective or scientific to be obstinately skeptical and critical than it is to be fawningly deferential…

              And hey, if they work you too much for you to do H&R then maybe you should consider organizing a union )

              1. Re: MNG,

                What I mean is I don’t think it’s anymore objective or scientific to be obstinately skeptical and critical than it is to be fawningly deferential[.]

                Yeah, so? I still don’t see where being rationally skeptical of either claims or government is somehow different than being in favor of academic or personal freedom – what I am pointing out to you is that both go hand-in-hand. Your proposed definition is thus no different than Berezow’s.

                1. I don’t see the necessary connection between being skeptical of things and being free. A free person could readily accept something that was self-evident as easily as the servile one.

    2. Yeah, it is a silly way to say it. Everyone likes to be free to do what they want. The difference with libertarians is that they also think other people should be free to do what they want.

    3. Can we just let libertarians enjoy this one without any critical thinking? I suppose I just forfeited my libertarian card with that, but usually these generalities are reserved for “100% of fox news viewers are clinically retarded” or “100% of obama voters stole money from charity.” Allow Team… Rue? Bled? (Epi, can you coin another term? Have you already?) their time to shine on facebook statuses.

      1. I think the agreed upon term was either TEAM BE RULED or MEAT BE RULED.

        1. Okay, I understand “MEAT BE RULED”, that’s just a take on “vagenda”, but “TEAM BE RULED”?

          1. “BE RULED” is an anagram of “BLUE” and “RED.”

    4. I’m forced to agree. “Reality” is a pretty loaded term in regards to both science and politics.

      Partisans of both parties claim to have monopolies on both factual and moral truth in shaping policy. But they, like libertarians, approach policy analysis with a particular worldview in mind.

      1. Reality is above, and unconcerned with, politics.

          1. Indeed.

          2. Except that politics ain’t above shit.

        1. Reality is above… politics

          False. Politics is a part of reality in any situation involving more than two people.

          Physical reality is presumed by modern science to be governed by discoverable rules which are independent of people. What that notion of objectivity has to do with politics is not clear.

  7. On the other hand, libs and cons score higher on empathizing (the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion) than do libertarians.

    In other words, libs and cons are easier to bamboozle than libertarians.

    1. People believe what they want to believe. For instance, many libertarians want to believe that Ron Paul isn’t the writer of racist newsletters.

  8. …Our laws should reflect reality…

    That’s where we lose just about everyone.

    1. But this one bad thing happened one time! Or maybe someone told me an urban myth about it happening! It doesn’t matter, we must legislate.

      1. Like when a few guys (responding to the incentives created by the government with their war on drugs) used sudaphed to make meth. Obviously, the right response is to treat everybody like a criminal if they want a decongestant that works.

  9. So, if you put science and libertarianism together, you get…something pretty dratted close to Ayn Rand.

    Who knew?

    1. Except for all the crazy shit that actually went on in Objectivism in practice.

      1. Well, I’m basing this off the basics in John Galt’s Speech, rather than all the derivative ideas that Rand and I disagree on.

        1. You like Beethoven, don’t you, comrade?

          1. Beethoven reeks of naturalism, his whole work tramples on values, his every note displays the malevolent universe premise.

    2. Communism is the perfect expression of scientifically-based governance.

    3. So, if you put science and libertarianism together, you get…something pretty dratted close to Ayn Rand.

      lol wut?

  10. The business of science should be to promote reality, not ideology. This formula has proved successful.

    Except for those that prefer it otherwise.

  11. Our laws should reflect reality.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa!

    Laws are magical incantations, designed not to reflect the world as it is, but to shape it to what we wish it to be.

    1. Laws are magical incantations, designed not to reflect the world as it is, but to shape it to what we wish it to be.

      Exactly!!

      1. The irony of someone mocking Holmes, a legal positivist, for thinking laws are magical, is not even open to caricature…

        1. Except, you know, that Holmes wasn’t a legal positivist; he was a legal realist.

    2. “You do not realize what we have here. In our very hands, we have the cosmic force of creation itself. In our very hands, we can shape life, take it apart, put it together again, mould it like putty.”

    3. I find it funny that those who are most apt to scorn religion will genuflect at the Federal Registrar.

  12. In a nutshell, scientists and libertarians deal with the world the way it is, rather than the way they want it to be. …

    But in an IDEAL WORLD, water would run uphill, so you wouldn’t have to carry it.

    1. In my ideal world, the laws of physics would be unchanged, but human beings would be rational.

    2. Assume a can opener…

  13. I’m going to have to disagree with this. Libertarianism is ultimately an ideology. Libertarianism is interested in the ought at least as much as the is. Science is solely concerned with the is.

    What Berezow is talking about is more aptly described as pragmatism (without any ideological premise what is good/bad). Now I would agree that many libertarians have a pragmatic mindset, especially Reaonites, but others are purely concerned with moral absolutism.

    And there is no libertarian monopoly on pragmatism in service of ideology.

    1. Science is not only concerned with the is but also with the could be.

      You could argue that everything humans do, including building computers and the Internet and heating our homes and driving cars, are natural and part of the is since we are part of nature.

      But we intentionally act on what we learn through science and its method to change the world, to build the ought.

      1. Are you saying that what could be and what ought to be are the same thing? Because they’re not.

        1. No, I am saying that scientists do actively create the “ought to be” when they use their knowledge from the scientific method to change the world. They’re not just trying to find out what could be, but what segments of “could be” are best and most likely to be built.

          1. You know not of what you speak.

          2. They don’t determine scientifically what ought to be. There is no science of determining what research to undertake. This is purely up to the whims and beliefs of the scientist.

            So no, science is not concerned with the ought, although individual scientists may be.

          3. Science is not applied science or engineering.

    2. Maybe I’m just paranoid (another libertarian trait, I am told), but I am uncomfortably reminded of the Soviet Union’s insistence, especially early in the 20th Century, that their system and government were inherently scientific and based on facts and reason. Moreover, the Soviets boldly proclaimed their confidence that their society would produce, after several generations, “Soviet Man”: a superior specimen, ideally suited for the communist life that was, they said, the inevitable destiny of humanity.

      (continued in reply message below)

      1. (continued from above)

        At best, these people and their assertions were naive and even delusional. At worst, they were brazenly, even malevolently fraudulent. In the end, the Soviet power structure pursued the same old, ancient political shenanigans against the people, often under misappropriated color of scientific authority. As a result, I (and, I would hope, others) became very leery of anyone dropping hints that government needs to be more scientific, and that projects of social and political intervention should be justified on a “scientific” basis. It strikes me that the first phase of such a “public education program” might be to butter up useful idiots by telling them how well suited to scientific thoughts their minds and personalities seem to be.

  14. What Science and Libertarianism Have In Common

    They’re both awesome.

  15. What’s missing from the blockquote is what’s missing from Libertarianism: recognition that government isn’t the only -and often not the largest- entity stifling our freedoms.

    And many of the things Libertarians (or GOPers they back) oppose from the government are efforts to get corporations, local governments, etc. off the back of human beings to expand the freedom of people & not artificial constructs.

    I am a civil libertarian, not a Libertarian, for this reason. I believe in individual freedom, but I believe that the Libertarian focus on government instead of other entities suppressing freedom is misguided and does nor reflect reality.

    (Oh, and scientists may study the world as it is, but they also use what they develop through the scientific method to change the world around them. The thing I’m typing on, and the way you’re accessing my words, are a pretty good example of that.)

    1. What’s missing from the blockquote is what’s missing from Libertarianism: recognition that government isn’t the only -and often not the largest- entity stifling our freedoms.

      Right, that’s why libertarians are pro-slavery, robbery, rape, fraud, etc.

      1. Not even remotely what I said, and an argument made completely of straw.

        I very specifically said that government action Libertarians OPPOSE, not anything about the ones they support.

        1. If libertarians don’t recognize “that government isn’t the only entity stifling our freedoms,” then we would not be against other entities violating our freedoms, such as criminals.

          The fact is that libertarians are against any entity, public or private, who abridges freedoms. But the only entity who does so continually, egregiously, and without fear of reprisal is the government.

          In short, you are ignorant of basic libertarianism.

          1. All those other potentially freedom killing entities face reprisal only because a government exists to provide it.

            Government faces reprisal in regular intervals in elections and also from law.

            Libertarianism consistently confuses being pro-freedom with being anti-government. It’s simplistic and incorrect.

            1. Government faces reprisal in regular intervals in elections and also from law.

              I don’t count things that more often than not perpetuate and legitimize government coercion as “reprisals.”

              Libertarianism consistently confuses being pro-freedom with being anti-government. It’s simplistic and incorrect.

              Only some libertarians are anti-government. All libertarians are anti-government coercion. Those who are anti-government argue that all government is inherently coercive. Nice try.

              1. Tony you’re failing especially hard today. Maybe if you went back to ad hominems and non sequiturs I wouldn’t be able to embarrass you so badly.

          2. Also, government is a crucial enabler for private entities to stifle the freedoms of others. For instance, government grants monopolies or passes legislation that serves to insulate established players in an industry from competition. It proclaims and enforces prohibitions that lead otherwise peaceful, productive, law-abiding people into living in the shadows or working “off the books,” where they become easy prey for bad-guys in the private sector.

            Libertarians focus on government because, when dealing with the private sector in a free market, one usually has options, often several attractive options at once. But when dealing with government, it is usually a case of take it or leave it, one size fits all.

        2. And to follow your semantic argument, does that mean you are saying libertarians don’t oppose slavery, robbery, rape, fraud, etc.?

    2. John H. Galt dude. You have been posting variations on the same clueless stereotypical bullshit here for weeks now, and the only thing you have persuaded anyone of is that you don’t know shit about libertarianism.

      Lurk moar and learn a thing or two before you embarrass yourself further.

      1. The fact that he uses a capital L tells me all I need to know about how much he knows about libertarianism.

        1. The capital L was to separate the political positioning from the ideology.

          But go ahead and assume facts that don’t exist. It helps with discussions.

          1. The libertarian ideology IS a political ideology, a political position.

            Herp derp?

    3. (Oh, and scientists may study the world as it is, but they also use what they develop through the scientific method to change the world around them. The thing I’m typing on, and the way you’re accessing my words, are a pretty good example of that.)

      Science and technology are different things.

      1. Yes, but the technology was built based on things learned from the scientific method. Without the scientific method determining what is the technology would not have been created. And it thoroughly and intentionally changed the world into something different from what it was.

        The blockquote above suggested that scientists are only concerned with the is and my point is that scientists used what they learned in discovering what is to create the technology that changed the is.

        1. scientists used what they learned in discovering what is to create the technology that changed the is

          I am offended.

    4. The State give legitimacy to those that would take our freedoms (it creates corporations, and takes the fruits of one’s labor to pay for bureaucrats and congressional salaries). Granting the State less power to give to said entities will reduce the power of said entities.

      Engineers create technology, through the application of scientific principles. Scientists discover, engineers create, technologists apply.

      1. “Engineers create technology, through the application of scientific principles. Scientists discover, engineers create, technologists apply.”

        Hugh Akston said it more succinctely.

        1. “Engineers create technology, through the application of scientific principles. Scientists discover, engineers create, technologists apply.”

          Scientists create systems of explanation.

      2. My father was a physicist and an engineer. He spent a good 80 percent of his time at the Bell Labs doing research and discovering cool stuff. Then he spend 15 percent of his time applying what he learned to to create stuff. (The other five percent was in stupid meetings.)

        Scientist are not uni-dimensional people solely interested in applying the scientific method for discovery, and your separation (and DK’s quote of Hugh below) denies that.

        1. Then your father spent time doing science and being a scientist and spent time doing engineering and being an engineer. They are, despite what you obviously think, not the same.

          Get over your scientist fetish and/or daddy issue and learn something about both processes. They aren’t the same.

      3. BTW, I am dead on with you on the corporations thing. I have been arguing with some conservatives that corporations are governmental creations and have special authority and powers granted by the government, and they won’t admit it.

    5. instead of other entities suppressing freedom

      For example?

      1. heller already gave the answer to this above.

        Even if, say, you were a libertarian (rather than a right wing poser), you’d have to say that there are plenty of non-governmental infringements on liberty. Every time some commits fraud, or robbery, or assault…

        And to blow your mind even further, we often expect and want government to step in and act to preserve our freedom in these instances!

        1. You have taken the straw man argument and made it into a thing of perfection.

        2. I think sarcasmic was asking for examples so that he could show that libertarians do in fact recognize them, or to explain why an example might not be recognized as a violation of freedom.

          I don’t think he was implying that such examples do not exist.

          1. I do not consider criminal activity to be an example of “entities suppressing freedom” unless it is government perpetrating said criminal activity, especially when the whole purpose of government is to react to and punish criminal activity.

            1. So if I stole something from you, it would not be a violation of your property rights? Only if the government steals?

              1. Why focus on laws regarding theft?
                They already exist, and the government is duty bound (in theory) to enforce such laws.

                Besides, if I catch you stealing I can get recourse, but not if you are a government agent.

                So the focus should be on government.

                1. We’re not talking about focus though. You said “I do not consider criminal activity to be an example of “entities suppressing freedom.” That has nothing to do with focus, it’s about basic definitions. So do you consider crimes by private individuals to be violations of freedom or not?

                  1. Well, technically, no, your freedom hasn’t been suppressed. Your property rights have surely been violated, but someone stealing your tv or car doesn’t prevent you from exercising your freedom.

                    1. Property rights are a part of your freedom. When your property is being stolen, your freedoms are certainly being violated.

    6. recognition that government isn’t the only -and often not the largest- entity stifling our freedoms.

      I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

      1. It’s neat to see that RC and sacry are incapable of even imagining a non-governmental entity stifling one’s freedom. Who’da thought they thunk alike?

        1. I certainly can imagine such a thing. However, the fact that our friend refers to “entities”, and seems to suffer under the delusion that other entities that are bigger than the government (hint: there is no such thing) are stifling our freedoms more than the government (my reading of “often not the largest”), tells me we are dealing with OWSer here:

          Someone operating under the delusion that business corporations are the biggest threat to their freedom.

      2. Points for quoting Princess Bride!

        But, yeah, I do know what it means.

    7. “civil libertarians” aren’t. They try to differentiate between economic liberty and personal liberty. They are one and the same. If you try to take away economic liberty, you are essentially supporting slavery.

    8. …oppose from the government are efforts to get corporations, local governments

      Since when are local governments not govenments?

      No corporation, without aid from government, has the ability to take away my freedoms. Well, no more so that any individual who can commit a crime against me. But in both cases, I would expect the government to prosecute (look at that, Im not an anarchist!). If they dont, they are aiding (or, at least, abeting)

    9. I wouldn’t classify every person that invents something a “scientist”.

      And corporations don’t have the guns so they don’t hold down the people.

    10. @ Nathan
      You’ve fallen for the (stated) intentions and missed the reality: Things sold as “efforts to get corporations, local governments, etc. off the back of human beings to expand the freedom of people” usually (if not always) have the result of empowering the politically connected at the expense of the rest of us.

  16. Rice Flour is so much better than wheat flour at everything.

    1. Subjective assertion.

      1. It’s better at growing mushrooms; What else matters?

    2. Not for growing humans to their full potential.

  17. efforts to get corporations, local governments, etc. off the back of human beings to expand the freedom of people & not artificial constructs.

    WTF?

    1. My android was bitching about his serfdom yesterday. Too bad he’s an artificial construct, so no liberty for him!

    1. The Socons will wail and gnash their teeth, giving Obama exactly the kulture kampf he wants to detract from his miserable economic record. And the world keeps on a spinnin’.

      1. The Socons will wail and gnash their teeth, giving Obama exactly the kulture kampf he wants to detract from his miserable economic record.

        False. This only reminds people of the problems inherent when government runs healthcare. The “war on women” meme isn’t working. Obama is flailing desperately and it isn’t working

      2. The Socons will wail and gnash their teeth, giving Obama exactly the kulture kampf he wants to detract from his miserable economic record.

        If the Socons would just shut the fuck up, the Republicans might actually win the election. They can’t quite accept the fact that they are the ones standing in the way.

        1. I’m sure the SoCons say the same thing about everyone else…

    2. Mother of god…

      1. That wouldn’t have had to happen if she had free birth control.

        1. Yes, I was thinking of that but TLTG

    3. So, I wonder if reimbursing students for the cost of rubbers would suffice.

      1. That’s more defensible than the argument for the pill, from a public health standpoint. One could make the argument that providing the pill will increase the rate of transmission pf STI’sand therefore only condoms should be subsidized.

    4. Whew!!!!! Let’s give all the bitches the pill so that we can go bareback brah! Whew!!!!!! OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!

    5. Do they really want to be making this “clarification” before the USSC hears the case against Obamacare. It seems like the Feds have a opened a whole new 1A suit against themselves before settling the other constitutional questions.

      1. They don’t care, it’s a win-win. If SCOTUS rules against them, it’s another bloody shirt to wave.

        And besides, once Santorum is the nominee, their work here is done.

        1. And besides, once Santorum is the nominee, their work here is done.

          Exactamundo

        2. Fuck me. I’m leaving work now to drink myself stupid.

        3. Considering Paul came in last to some fuck that no one has heard of in Puerto Rico, I’m fully inclined to agree with you that Santorum will be the nominee.

    6. They’re angling for a Ricky Santorum candidacy with this.

  18. Mostly good essay, but does anyone else find it tautological to support the assertion that liberal institutions create wealth in part with calculations that place (intangible!) value on access to liberal institutions?

  19. On the other hand, the vast majority of scientists are embedded in the government-academic complex, and can write grant proposals in their sleep.

    The political party breakdown of scientists seems to be 76% Democrat, 23% Decline to State, and that weird libertarian guy who always shows up at SkeptiCon.

    1. On the other hand, the vast majority of scientists are embedded in the government-academic complex

      No, most scientists work in the private sector, but private sector scientists don’t get interviewed.

  20. Government policies should be analyzed using logic, not ideology.

    Berezow pulls out his rhetoric six-shooter … and plugs himself in the foot. Libertarianism is an ideology and not the only one to claim to use logic to make decisions.

    Our laws should reflect reality.

    Libertarianism is hardly the only ideology that claims that the laws it supports reflect reality.

    libs and cons score higher on empathizing

    Emotions are a powerful part of human existence. Ignoring emotions when formulating policies and laws in order to govern real people is not logical. Perhaps that is why libertarians have little political influence and, instead of recognizing that they don’t really understand the problem of governance, libertarians take to calling voters stupid.

    1. Celebrating Berezow’s op-ed for alleged insightfulness is nothing more than self-congratulation. Berezow says that science and libertarianism are both great. Yay!

    2. Ignoring emotions when formulating policies and laws in order to govern real people is not logical.

      It is not logical to ignore that which is illogical.

      Sure. Whatever.

      1. It is not logical to ignore that which is illogical.

        I guess that’s too difficult for your obviously tiny mind to grasp.

        1. Thanks for offering, but I don’t do fallacies.

          1. You are walking down a crowded city sidewalk. Ahead of you, you see a man holding a pistol. You don’t know the man. You and he have no connection whatsoever. He is not looking at you. He has not fired a shot.

            Would it be logical for him to shot you? No. Would it be logical for you to duck into a store or start walking away from the man? Yes.

            It’s sad that I had to construct an example for you, but I understand that some people just aren’t capable of connecting the dots on their own.

            1. I think you are confusing being ignorant of others acting on emotions with having disdain for others acting on emotions.

            2. Open carry is allowed in my state. I would say Hi as I walked past.

            3. Your example has too many flaws to be worth pointing out.

              I would say “nice try” if it was indeed a nice try, but it wasn’t.

              Thank you for playing! Please come again!

            4. Actually, the sad part is that you don’t realize your example makes no sense as it is illogical to assume the man means harm to anyone.

              As robc said, I’d walk by and say hi.

              But, of course, not being libertarian, emotion rules your life.

    3. Libertarians DO recognize that voters act on their emotions instead logic. That is why we call them stupid.

  21. This might be as good a place as any to put this:

    Yesterday, I decided to peruse the reading list at Arts & Letters Daily, since I hadn’t looked at it for a while. There seems to be a growing field of “academic” speculation on the horrifying phenomenon of “Markets in Everything”. Meaning academics are appalled that their sense of the relative value to Society of various things is not universal. I mean, what the fuck is going on in America when people actually try to quantify the benefits of an EDUCATION?

  22. Libertarians believe in reality only until reality conflicts with their ideology, at which point they believe whatever is most consistent with that ideology.

    What Science and Libertarianism have in common does not include views on climate change.

    1. Shear PWNAGE!

  23. Libertarianism is hardly the only ideology that claims that the laws it supports reflect reality.

    Right; there is also the “Other people and the things they do scare me!” version of reality.

    1. “Other people and the things they do scare me!”

      Isn’t the fear of what (non-libertarian, i.e. “people who don’t think like I do”) politicians will do a central tenet of libertarians’ political cynicism?

      The “reality” is that the things that other people do can be truly harmful. Being afraid of what is harmful is not illogical. Paying attention to what might be harmful is not illogical. Ignoring people’s fears is not logical. Throwing away thousands of years of human experience just to satisfy a blind allegiance to an ideological tenet that society doesn’t need rules is not logical.

      1. I know you don’t agree with me ideologically, but at least give up the claim that libertarianism is the only ideology concerned about reality or logic. Conceding that much will reduce by a tiny increment one of the primary obstacles that people have to adopting or even listening to libertarian philosophy – that libertarians are a bunch of arrogant pricks, blind to their own intellectual weakpoints.

        1. First you need to understand libertarianism:

          society doesn’t need rules is not libertarianism.

          Anarch != libertarianism

          1. society doesn’t need rules

            That is not a tenet of anarcho-capitalism either. Society != government.

            1. True dat. Muntz was so far off I didnt even catch that.

      2. Throwing away thousands of years of human experience just to satisfy a blind allegiance to an ideological tenet that society doesn’t need rules is not logical.

        Equal and maximal freedom is a rule. If you think freedom means you can do whatever you want without regard for the freedom of others then you don’t understand libertarianism.

        1. Throwing away thousands of years of human experience the practice of slavery just to satisfy a blind allegiance to an ideological tenet that society doesn’t need rules slaves to sustain its economy is not logical.

      3. This:

        …a blind allegiance to an ideological tenet that society doesn’t need rules…

        destroys any hope of credibility you may have had. What an incredibly stupid and uninformed statement.

  24. Bill Nye is not a libertarian, sorry. But he is a good swing dancer.

  25. he argues that libertarian philosophy tackles government policy the same way a researcher tackles an experiment.

    Really? Doe he mean we:
    1. get other libertarians to present our ideas to government together.
    2. beg for funding
    3. use that funding to design computer models (whose methodology or raw data we won’t share with outsiders) that come up with results suiting our narrative
    4. call all of those that disagree with us “deniers” and mock them
    5. stonewall all FOIA requests when people ask to see our government-funded correspondence and documentation supporting our findings
    6. run fear-based smear campaigns on those that disagree with us
    and
    7. live lavish lifestyles while proposing laws that will transfer wealth from prosperous parties to unproductive parties, all the while skimming a large chunk off the top
    ?

    Oh, he said researcher, not climate scientist. My bad.

  26. he argues that libertarian philosophy tackles government policy the same way a researcher tackles an experiment.

    Really? Doe he mean we:
    1. get other libertarians to present our ideas to government together.
    2. beg for funding
    3. use that funding to design computer models (whose methodology or raw data we won’t share with outsiders) that come up with results suiting our narrative
    4. call all of those that disagree with us “deniers” and mock them
    5. stonewall all FOIA requests when people ask to see our government-funded correspondence and documentation supporting our findings
    6. run fear-based smear campaigns on those that disagree with us
    and
    7. live lavish lifestyles while proposing laws that will transfer wealth from prosperous parties to unproductive parties, all the while skimming a large chunk off the top
    ?

    Oh, he said researcher, not climate scientist. My bad.

  27. Also, unlike Ron Bailey, as an actual scientist and an actual libertarian, I find this argument to be completely unpersuasive.

    “Government policies should be analyzed using logic, not ideology.”

    What? No. You cannot accurately measure human outcomes in a judgement-free system, so it makes sense to ideologically choose a “minimal” set of policies, given the moral framework of government as a actor backed by force. While this argument is substantially more logical than team red and team blue, it is most certainly not ideology-free.

    That Team Red and Team Blue have made ideology such a bad word is merely a reflection of their lack of ideological backing, which stems from their abandonment of all forms of logic to derive their policies from anything besides an inconsistent set of talking points that push certain emotional buttons.

    1. Why does the inability to measure human outcomes imply that a “minimal” set of policies is preferable to “moderate” or “maximal” sets?

      1. PWNED!!!!!!!111!11!11!122!1@212ELEVELTYELEVEN

        1. actually what is getting PWNED is my NCAA bracket. But then again, I did disclaim that I’m really bad at these things.

      2. Why is having fewer bad policies better than having many bad policies?

        I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

      3. Why is having fewer bad policies better than having many bad policies?

        I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

        1. If you can’t measure human outcomes, you can’t determine which policies are “bad” and which ones aren’t. There’s no reason to prefer less to more.

          1. Derider – read more carefully:

            You cannot accurately measure human outcomes in a judgement-free system

            While I do ascribe to the Hayekian knowledge problem, what I am saying is deeper than a technical or statistical difficulty.

      4. Why does the inability to measure human outcomes imply that a “minimal” set of policies is preferable to “moderate” or “maximal” sets?

        Given the inability to measure the effect that your interventions will have,

        and given that government interventions necessarily involve overt or implied coercion,

        I think its pretty safe to say that you should be very caution, modest even, in your intervening.

        1. He’s saying you can’t prove that coercion is bad, since you can’t measure human outcomes. I think both you and I agree that we can measure, in some degree, human outcomes.

          1. Derider – read more carefully:

            You cannot accurately measure human outcomes in a judgement-free system

            While I do ascribe to the Hayekian knowledge problem, what I am saying is deeper than a technical or statistical difficulty.

            1. To wit, I think many libertarians understand this in a way that (other libertarians, especially objectivists; liberals; and conservatives) don’t.

              It’s awareness that social metrics are fundamentally *loaded* and so using them should be circumscribed with policy restraint.

              1. I think you’re being far too broad in your language, then. The mortality rate is a social metric. If policy A reduces the mortality rate, and policy B does not, you can conclude that policy A is superior to policy B in terms of keeping people alive. How is this metric *loaded*? Or is Alive>Dead a judgement call?

                1. is Alive>Dead a judgement call?

                  To a psychopath. Psychopathy, it has been said, is the mental condition of the corporate “person.” Any discussion of social policy without generally agreed upon ethical norms is by definition a psychopathic approach.

                2. Absolutely, alive > dead is a judgement call. I can think of many situations where being alive would be far, far worse, than being dead. Let’s start with the boats.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaphism

                  1. We can easily exclude the cases of people with terminal illness from our study of the mortality rate. Or exclude suicides. This is not difficult stuff.

    2. That Team Red and Team Blue have made ideology such a bad word

      The media has tried to make “ideology” a bad word. It’s part of the call for “civility” and “bipartisanship”. The fact that that call always involves compromise limited to Team Red caving to Team Blue ideology is naturally an unimportant detail.

      There is nothing wrong with ideology, which is a morally neutral term. The important factors are whether an ideology is consistent with your own morality and whether it is consistently implemented by those politicians who claim to support the ideology.

      1. The problem is, Team red and Team Blue have no ideology. The article states, libertarianism relies on its simple assumptions. You can do whatever you want, PROVIDED in doing so you do not infringe on the rights of others. From this premise (ideology, if you will), we base our opinions and decisions.

        What is the Team Blue/Red equivalent. They are all over the place. Team Red believes in fiscal freedom but not social? Inconsistent. They are VOID of ideology and logic. All they have are positions on issues.

        1. I think it’s impossible to declare libertarians to be perfectly ideological, or TR/TB to be void of ideology. It’s just – we just try harder.

          1. Not perfect. I tend to be somewhere in the middle between Objectivist and libertarian. Nothing is perfect (except my view, of course).

            But seriously, can you sum up what TB/TR stand for?

            The closest I can come is they stand for getting re-elected.

      2. I disagree with your analysis.

        The problem is not whether ideology is consistent or implemented.

        The problem with branding ideological as a bad word is that it completely fails to recognize that the “civility” and “spirit of compromise” itself are (potentially flawed) ideologies.

    3. yonemoto: “The only unfailing and permanent source of improvement is liberty.” – John Stuart Mill, On Liberty. Just saying.

      1. Quoting a famous person is not a substitute for empirical evidence and logical argument, Ron.

        In fact, it’s pretty unscientific ;D

      2. The only unfailing and permanent source of improvement change is liberty.

      3. Yeah, but that’s not exactly empirical measurement, and it risks really begging the question.

        1. heller & yonemoto: In the blogpost, I did link to my argument about how liberty and free markets are discovery mechanisms for social innovations and improvements.

          1. yes but “social innovations and improvements” are not empirical measurements.

            1. You can make empirical measurements about social innovations and improvements, which is all that matters here.

              1. How shall we measure the emancipation proclamation? Can we use imperial instead of metric? Because, you know, metric is so hipster.

                1. at the risk of godwinning a surprisingly ungodwinned thread, this comes to mind:

                  http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit…..ne_hitler/

                  Hitler intensity of Hiroshima blast: 11.11 trillion HI

                2. Do a time series analysis of the number of slaves before and after the emancipation proclamation.

  28. Libertarianism has absolutely nothing to do with reason. Reason, in and of itself, is a justification for utilitarianism, not for libertarianism.

    Correlation != Causation. Of all people Ron, you should know that.

      1. Half a shot?

    1. MP: Who said, “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions”?

      1. Lanny Friedlander?

      2. I’m not sure I follow the Hume reference.

        The foundational principles of libertarianism do not derive from a utilitarianist sense that freedom leads to optimal outcomes for society. Freedom, in and of itself, is considered a disireable state, regardless of the projected results of such freedom. The net positive by-products of freedom/libertarianism, arguably (but not provably) superior to other political philosophical foundations, are not in and of themselves justifications for the philosophy, except in a post-hoc sense.

        1. Why is freedom considered a desirable state for all people? Many people, when given the choice between freedom and security, for example, will choose security. Are their preferences just wrong?

  29. Being afraid of what is harmful is not illogical.

    Being afraid of things which are REAL and HIGHLY LIKELY to be harmful is not illogical. But that doesn’t properly explain the TSA or the WAR on Drugs Freedom. If we were truly concerned with reducing actual risk, the government would bulldoze all two-story houses, and ban bathrooms. Cars would, of course all be confiscated and crushed for the greater good.

  30. yonemoto: May I suggest Tim Ferris’ The Science Of Liberty and Friedrich Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty?

  31. i agree with the general premise. i think libertarians are MORE science/evidence based than liberals or conservatives (on average) but certainly still prone to throw out evidence that conflicts with their worldview. the more ideological a person, the more prone to do that, regardless OF ideology imnsho

    libertarianism also offers a nice “out” in that the society we propose has not really been tried, so while we can criticize what doesn’t work, we have a vacuum of true libertarian societies to fall back on

    granted, stuff like portugal’s decrim of drugs etc. HAS worked and proves (imo) that the libertarian tenet of “let people put stuff in their veins free of govt intervention” is a sound one

    granted, a lot of liberals point to the (supposed) happiness and quality of living in social democracies such as Sweden, as proof that THEIR theories work

    so ymmv

  32. “You cannot accurately measure human outcomes in a judgement-free system, so it makes sense to ideologically choose a “minimal” set of policies, given the moral framework of government as a actor backed by force. While this argument is substantially more logical than team red and team blue, it is most certainly not ideology-free.”

    this is correct. the previous poster’s point also munged utilitarianism with libertarianism

    iow, libertarians believe that our policies aren’t just the correct policies because (in most cases) we think they would do more good than harm vs. the current policies, but that our policies are the right ones because they PROPERLY RESPECT INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY

    1. (cont.)

      iow, even if certain libertarian policies are/would be MORE harmful than current policies, that’s a fair tradeoff in order to get more liberty

      it’s a complete farce to claim that libertarianism is good because 1) it respect individual autonomy etc. AND 2) it would lead to the best results

      THAT is ideology in a nutshell. and of course many libertarians (and certainly many objectivists) will use their ideological blinders to ignore stuff if it suggests that a more libertarian policy would ALSO be more harmful

      politics is about tradeoffs. the BESt policy from a libertarian perspective is not, and should not, necessarily be the policy that leads to the best results for the greatest # of people

      we are libertarians on principle, not utilitarians who simply believe that libertarianism offers the most utility always

  33. we are libertarians on principle

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    RATATAT RATATAT RATATATAT

    The wind-up monkey beats its tin drum.

    1. typical contentless post. from a troll who is looking to name call and argue for the sake of argument even when we may happen to agree (as we would on most policy issues)

      seriously. get a life

      1. Yes, but much better than s/he who must not be named. Quite refreshing to be a few hundred comments into a thread on the psychological and moral basis of libertarianism and have mostly normal kinds of discourse. As of Mon. 3/19 at 2:15 CST.

        1. White Indian, by the spirit of the more perfect city-state free world, I SUMMON THEE!

    2. dunphy:

      We are libertatians on principle

      Also dunphy:

      The vast majority of laws are just.

  34. Fosdick haz a sad.

  35. “In a nutshell . . . libertarians deal with the world the way it is, rather than the way they want it to be. …”

    Which world? Libertarianism is a political ideology, a small, fairly isolated one. Though some–and overtly the Objectivists–would like to think that it is arrived at via pure reason, that is simply cult talk.

    The scientific method is not about promoting maximum liberty. Sure, scientists are meant to be free to explore all questions, but a scientific mindset is actually one filled with rules. Perhaps above all, failed hypotheses are discarded, and libertarians, as an ideology, are incapable of rejecting their first principles no matter how many times they fail in practice.

    1. Perhaps above all, failed hypotheses are discarded, and libertarians, as an ideology, are incapable of rejecting their first principles no matter how many times they fail in practice.

      “Freedom is good” is not a testable hypothesis. It can’t fail in practice. You fail.

      1. “Freedom is good” has as much content as “goodness is good.” How libertarians define freedom is how I define mass misery.

        1. So please explain to me how libertarian principles have failed in practice. Or are we just going to ignore your incoherent statements?

          1. Perhaps I should have said, no matter how few times they’ve ever been tested. Because I know you’ll reject any undelivered promises from tax cuts–or any other effect of a libertarian-approved policy–with a no true scotsman defense.

            1. The point of libertarianism is to increase freedom. It isn’t to create what you think is a good effect.

              1. I realize libertarianism is bullshit but surely you can do better than that. I think the point of liberalism is to increase freedom. How that is accomplished is where we differ, and the effects are how we should be judged, don’t you think? Because the specific policies libertarians require tend, in my opinion, to minimize freedom.

                1. Clearly, freedom isn’t the only liberal value. Liberals’ attentions are split between freedom, equality, the environment, etc. It’s this difference in values that makes liberals and libertarians so different, not a difference in methodology.

                  1. I would argue that freedom is maximized by addressing concerns about equality, the environment, etc., but of course it’s not required that freedom be the ultimate goal. It just so happens that it is for me.

                    I don’t think libertarians have a definition of freedom nailed down, otherwise they would be able to see that having free access to healthcare is much more constituent of actual freedom than being taxed 5% less is.

                    1. And I would argue that freedom really has nothing to do with equality or the environment, so your argument is bad from the start. You’re basically saying that ignoring freedom and valuing everything else will somehow give rise to freedom. This is magical thinking.

                      Of course we have a definition of freedom. We define it in far more detail than anyone else. Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, so long as you do not impede the ability of others to do the same. And as I like to remind you, this has been explained to you many times here, so the argument that we do not have a definition is obviously in bad faith. What’s your definition of freedom?

                    2. Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, so long as you do not impede the ability of others to do the same.

                      So why aren’t racial discrimination and environmental harm considered “impositions”? I don’t disagree with a word of your definition of freedom or that it should be the motive behind public policy. You just seem to selectively dismiss ways in which people impede on one another.

                    3. So why aren’t racial discrimination and environmental harm considered “impositions”?

                      Because choosing who to do offer your services to or who to hire doesn’t violate any of your freedoms. That would assume you have a right to my services or to be employed by me.

                  2. More freedom isn’t always better. It depends on the population. More freedom for a gym full of children might mean chaos, injuries, and destruction. This is also the case if the population has the *mindset* of children. See: Superdome, New Orleans.

                    Freedom is good as long as the population meats a certain threshold of logic and morality. Freedom is bad if the population falls below it.

                    1. It’s the difference between trivial and meaningful freedom. The age-old example of stoplights applies. You are less free to barrel through an intersection whenever you want, but that restriction on a trivial freedom means you are more free not to die in a fiery pile-up. Living among other human beings requires these sorts of trade-offs all the way up and down the ladder of behavior from basic etiquette to national law. Striking the balance that maximizes real freedom is not easy, and “getting government out of our lives” and other such slogans won’t accomplish it.

                    2. It’s the difference between trivial and meaningful freedom. The age-old example of stoplights applies. You are less free to barrel through an intersection whenever you want, but that restriction on a trivial freedom means you are more free not to die in a fiery pile-up.

                      Actually, your way of thinking is trivializing freedom. If not having the risk of dying is a “freedom,” then we are all slaves to the universe. Positive rights are a trivialization of freedom because they are ultimately unattainable.

                    3. If not having the risk of dying is a “freedom,” then we are all slaves to the universe.

                      I hate to break it to you, but we are all slaves to the universe.

                      I would think that prudent and realistic measures taken to reduce human deaths would be an important part of maximizing freedom.

                      Since you’re against positive rights then I suppose you feel really bad about making me pay for the government guns that protect your life and property.

                    4. I hate to break it to you, but we are all slaves to the universe.

                      OK, so you admit your definition of freedom is trivial. Thanks.

                      Once again, we are venturing into a discussion of positive and negative rights. I’ve explained to you why negative rights are secured before positive rights many times. I’m not going to again.

                      Since you’re against positive rights then I suppose you feel really bad about making me pay for the government guns that protect your life and property.

                      Considering the probability that we live in the same area is slim, no you do not pay for those government guns. If you did I would normally be against forcing you to pay for it, but since your such an asshole, I probably wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

                    5. heller, the distinction between so-called negative and positive rights is problematic. For every right to be free from something, there is usually a necessary right to positive action on the part of others. Nozick and others have attempted to make the distinction important, but I’m not convinced and I’m not the only one.

                    6. For every right to be free from something, there is usually a necessary right to positive action on the part of others.

                      That makes no sense. No positive right is necessary because they are never the sole method of obtaining the desired outcome. You don’t need to demand a right to food from others in order to feed yourself. Instead, you could cooperate and obtain food without violating negative rights.

                      Negative rights, on the other hand, are necessary. In order to keep your food, you need to have the right to keep it.

                    7. Your definition of “being free from something” is overly general. Usually negative rights mean that government can’t do something. Like, government can’t muzzle you but I could block you from using my chatroom.

                      Positive action is not necessary in those situations, just a conscientious government. Now, there are “negative rights”, like the right to not be shot by someone. Again one could argue that a conscientious society would obviate that positive need. Libertarianism, is, fundamentally, the compromise position with anarchism: that for a limited and well-defined subset of those negative rights which require positive action, it is prudential to enact a government which has the authority to extract resources, under certain well-laid-out conditions to secure the positive actions necessary to maintain those negative rights.

                    8. for the dogmatarians who are about to flame me for being overly general, to be a genuine scotslibertarian, the “well-defined” concept is defined around the NAP.

                    9. Libertarianism, is, fundamentally, the compromise position with anarchism

                      Thus it can’t rely on inherently anarchic first principles. Its justification for the use of coercive force in limited instances is exactly equivalent to liberals’, who perhaps limit those circumstances somewhat less, but differing on tax rates doesn’t cross any fundamental line whatsoever.

                    10. And we’ve already discussed the differences between positive and negative rights, and why libertarians must accept negative rights before positive rights in order to maximize freedom. Unfortunately, you fail to listen and continue to bring up the same issues that have been addressed many times.

                    11. More freedom isn’t always better.

                      That depends on your definition of “better.”

                      If you value something other than freedom, you are judging freedom merely as a means to reaching that value. Libertarians value freedom as the end, not the means.

                      It also depends on your definition of freedom. Libertarians would not define the ability to harm someone else as freedom, since it is violating someone else’s freedom.

                    12. Your freedom to own a piece of land infringes on my freedom to own that same piece of land.

                    13. Two people cannot claim sole ownership of the same piece of land. Your point?

                    14. That arrangement obviously violates someone’s freedom, so therefore it shouldn’t be a freedom that libertarians defend any more than the freedom to murder.

  36. And you’d think that “practice” would be required of any scientific-like political worldview. The pragmatists tried to align philosophy and policymaking with the scientific method. Libertarians are just a weird antitax cult who learn the basics of reason and then are told by Ayn Rand or whoever that it leads them inexorably toward a specific set of policies.

    Public policy can (and should) be data-driven, but the goals of public policy can’t be separated from value judgments; in fact it makes no sense to talk otherwise.

    Data can tell you whether a policy keeps old people out of poverty. Whether you care about keeping old people out of poverty is the important first question, and it’s not a scientific one.

    1. I’ve been a serial lurker for years, and it’s quite obvious that Tony has the critical thinking skills of a trained rat (my apologies to trained rats), so this point will make no sense to him, but I felt compelled to make it anyway:

      In an economy and society as large and complex as ours, data will tell you nothing save that one event followed the other temporally, with no method currently (and probably never) available to positively discern a causal connection. (Read Hayek’s: The Road to Serfdom for a rendition of this argument you aren’t intelligent enough to understand.)

      That is why the comments earlier in the thread about minimizing all coercive action are so profound. The coercive action necessarily hurts individuals and alters the nature of the system in ways that can not be predicted by the men (and women) whose primary motivation is power and fame? oh, and the chillrenz!!!

      1. “(and probably never)” s/b “(and probably ever)”

        Double negatives hurt my head.

        1. And yet, someone with such a name as “el esc?ptico” should be quite comfortable with such phrases as “no tengo nada,” wouldn’t you think?

      2. The problem of determining causation in complex systems does not lead us to the specific set of public policies libertarians want. One thing we can determine with empirical evidence is that strong social welfare states outperform “freer” economies on meaningful human-concerned metrics. And Hayek was in favor of every bit of a social safety net as I have ever advocated on these boards.

        1. freer

          Is that like truthier?

        2. Over what time frame?
          10 years? 40 years? 100 years?

  37. The scientific method is not about promoting maximum liberty.

    I shouldn’t, but…

    No shit, Sherlock; the scientific method is about testing a hypothesis to see if it holds up.

    If you claim marijuana prohibition is “good” for people and makes the world a better place, then you should be able to prove that being in jail is better for a nineteen year old kid than sitting on a couch smoking a joint.

    Don’t forget to show your work.

    1. I am totally against the US’s approach to drug policy, so on this point I think we’re in agreement.

  38. Once you define “poverty” you can see if government “anti-poverty” programs help the truly needy or a lot of upper middle class government functionaries more.

    And there’s all that crazily unquantifiable marginal utility stuff to work through.

  39. Thats pretty funny dude.

    http://www.Anon-Planet.tk

    1. That libertarians, about 90% of whom are intelligent design advocate equivalents on the climate change front, think they’re the most scientific of all political philosophers? Yeah, fucking hilarious.

  40. “The business of science should be to promote reality, not ideology”
    Except in the case of AGW.

    1. It’s your ideology getting in the way of reality, not science’s.

  41. In addition, libertarians score much higher on systemizing (the drive to analyze the variables in a system, and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behavior of the system) than either liberals or conservatives do. On the other hand, libs and cons score higher on empathizing (the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion) than do libertarians.

    Isn’t this sort of a round about way of implying that libertarians are thinkers while conservatives and
    liberals are populist sheep?

    In our political scene, it seems that “responding with an appropriate emotion” means either mindless sympathy or mindless antipathy. It’s more about having a feeling of being agreed with, of sharing opinions similar to others, than rational analysis.

  42. Frankly, I’d rather not seed any control in the hands of these “logical”, atheistic, non-empathetic types. We’ve been down that road before ? think about the euthanasia kick circa 1913. All this article demonstrates is that Libertarians probably make shitty doctors.

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