RIP Slate Star Codex

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jennypenny
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RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by jennypenny »

From the blog: NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog


Medium: The New York Times's Inconsistent Standards Drove Slate Star Codex To Self-Cancel
Scott Alexander is the pseudonymous proprietor of Slate Star Codex, a science and history blog well-liked by many libertarians and neoliberals. On Monday, he took the drastic step of deleting the blog after a New York Times reporter threatened to reveal his name in a forthcoming article.

IlliniDave
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by IlliniDave »

I've never read the blog, but this saddens me. I despise "cancel culture".

ffj
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by ffj »

More independent thought leaving or forced to go underground. I was listening to Scott Adams the other day and he mentioned that this had occurred, as well as to look for more of the same happening to other creators this election year.

There are a lot of reactions occurring to these strong-arm and silencing tactics, and even though there are a lot of rough edges out there with other platforms, people are responding to these incidents. I don't see the NYT's of the world being all that relevant 10-20 years from now, if not drastically sooner.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

There used to be a popular cycling blog called bike snob NYC (might still be around). If I remember correctly many years ago the blogger there was also outed by NYT. I don't like that they do this.

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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by jacob »

The guy works as a psychiatrist and the concern is that patients will read up on his blog and that this will change the treatment relationship with existing and future patients. This seems like a perfectly reasonable concern. It should be weighed against how important it is for NYT to provide a full name for their article. In this case, it seems like it's not very important relative to how much damage it could cause.

Some highly regulated professions don't allow their employees, especially those with fiduciary or security roles, to have a social media---or any kind of media, really---presence for this reason. This is primarily to prevent conflicts of interest, especially principle agent issues. In this case, a patient might wrongly perceive that there's some kind of political component to the therapy or whatever---heck, they're patients so they could have all kinds of crazy ideas, no? Most people do these days.

This is also why you'll see e.g. investment blogs suddenly disappear from the surface of the earth whenever the blogger got hired by a hedge fund or an investment bank. These guys become ghosts as far as the internet is concerned. A bigger risk would be if his employer's or association's legal department decides to instate a "no blogs allowed" policy.

This does not have anything to do with cancel culture or boycotts. It's more an issue with running two businesses/operations/lives w/o being able to maintain a wall between them. In some cases, like psychiatry, that wall requires anonymity because of the amount of overlap between what he's talking about on the blog and what he's talking about with his patients.---If SLC was a woodworking blog, it would be much less of an issue.

As always anonymity is a matter of degree and in this case NYT makes anonymity very hard for little apparent reason/gain. I figure they'll work something out especially since it isn't a hit piece.

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jennypenny
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by jennypenny »

It's not cancel culture, but there is definitely an antagonistic view of bloggers within the journalism community. They (journalists) feel that bloggers don't have to adhere to the same standards as 'legitimate' journalists and can hide behind their anonymity. This is true. There's no question that there is a lot of bogus information that poses as journalism on blogs. OTOH, there are a lot of media outlets that skirt the line and media standards have plummeted in recent years. (how often do you see one outlet pick up a bogus story and then several other outlets run with it before anyone fact checks the original article?)

To argue the opposite side ... journalists benefit from the support of the organization for which they work, who will often have their back even when they make a mistake, quietly publishing corrections. Journalists also benefit from the immediate stature that comes from having a Times byline, whereas someone writing the same quality of material on a personal blog would have a lot more to prove. There is also the presumption of validity (this must be a newsworthy subject) and truthfulness (someone must have fact-checked this). At least there used to be. I often hear another argument that goes something like 'if they were real journalists they would work as journalists instead of in another field and do journalism as a hobby.' It's a strange argument since most journalists can't afford to live on what they make as journalists, writing and/or podcasting on the side to pad their income. Journalism (unfortunately) is a side hustle for most in the field, whether traditionally employed or not.

Personally, I don't think bloggers 'have it easy' like I often hear journos say, and I don't like that some editors at the larger media outlets are actively trying to 'out' bloggers. They might argue that it's to protect journalistic standards but the motivation is mostly to eliminate and delegitimize the competition. Establishment media was slow to acknowledge and incorporate the new rules of the game (25 years of blogging --plenty of time to figure it out IMO), but instead of trying to improve their game they are trying to sabotage their opponents and get the refs (SM platforms) on their side. In any other industry this would probably be seen as antitrust activity.

Tyler9000
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Tyler9000 »

jennypenny wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:34 am
They might argue that it's to protect journalistic standards but the motivation is mostly to eliminate and delegitimize the competition.
Yep.

The Times quotes anonymous sources daily as long as those sources promote a preferred storyline and can be used to sell papers. Their "journalistic standards" are conveniently flexible.

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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by theanimal »

I saw someone mention that this action is evidence that the NYT has relegated itself to mob tactics to stay relevant. As mentioned previously, it's not an unreasonable request to maintain anonymity and they've done it before for many others, including those in the same profession. Perhaps those at the NYT are fed up with being outclassed and out written by some guy who puts out brilliant posts in his spare time and found a way to cut him at the knees. Very sad.

nomadscientist
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by nomadscientist »

jacob wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:36 am
This does not have anything to do with cancel culture or boycotts. It's more an issue with running two businesses/operations/lives w/o being able to maintain a wall between them. In some cases, like psychiatry, that wall requires anonymity because of the amount of overlap between what he's talking about on the blog and what he's talking about with his patients.---If SLC was a woodworking blog, it would be much less of an issue.

As always anonymity is a matter of degree and in this case NYT makes anonymity very hard for little apparent reason/gain. I figure they'll work something out especially since it isn't a hit piece.
1. It's a hit piece.

2. The reason and gain is getting this guy fired.

3. Sure, if he didn't post about politics and politics-adjacent topics, he would be allowed to speak.

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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by jacob »

@nomadscientist - Since the article has not been published at this point that is all speculation and conjecture on your part.
Would recommend reading SLC's blog post discussing the matter. It's linked in the OP.

nomadscientist
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by nomadscientist »

It is called SlateStarCodex. I have been reading it for ten years.

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jennypenny
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by jennypenny »

It's not a hit piece. My complaint is that they intended to out someone unnecessarily. They also vetted him more than they would most people for a article at this level, which as I stated above is probably because they make presumptions about bloggers and were looking to see if there was a reason behind the desire for anonymity beyond the reason given.

btw ... this is something journos state explicitly in conversation, it's not something I'm presuming

chenda
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by chenda »

I once saw a psychiatrist who I later saw on his Twitter feed made a few off-the-cuff political comments. Nothing especially controversial but I immediately felt our relationship was irreparabley comprised and I couldn't see him again. He was no longer the neutral professional which he needed to be.

I'm sure there is no deliberate attempt at the NYT to silence him and I'll expect they will change their mind (it's hard to see any public interest argument to reveal his identity) but either way he is playing a risky game, and I can certainly see why some professions/organisations ban this.

Campitor
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Campitor »

I've visited the Slate Star Codex in the past several times. I can see why the author would want to be anonymous considering how psychiatry and psychology is being weaponized in the current political climate. The most innocuous and scientifically correct statements could be used to strip the author of his livelihood and his ability to practice and publish.

Should the NYT publish his name, when there's no need to do so, it's a hit piece. NYT has no problem keeping sources anonymous when they feel it's in everyone's best interest - no reason they shouldn't do so now. I'd love to see the article that compels the NYT to ruin the career of a psychiatrist. :evil:

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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Alphaville »

this is awful, and it seems to me he’s been doxxed already. a 10-second google-fu session would get you there at this point.

Fish
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Fish »

jacob wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:36 am
This does not have anything to do with cancel culture or boycotts. It's more an issue with running two businesses/operations/lives w/o being able to maintain a wall between them.
I find this a better explanation of the situation though my lens is biased toward perceiving this as another cancel culture incident. However, it should be noted that there is a trilemma of (wage job, controversy, notoriety) at play here. Generating any kind of negative attention as a W-2 employee almost guarantees termination if the employer is large enough to have an HR department.

The issue is not so much the NYT silencing Scott as much as a culture where anyone’s livelihood is at risk when discussing controversial subjects outside of a time-varying Overton window. There is no consequence for trend-followers but it presents a no-win situation for independent thinkers, many of whom will pre-emptively cancel themselves. For me this explains why FI humans tend to be opinionated: it’s not because the rest of us aren’t, but rather their downside is limited when their speech is associated with their real identity.

A different issue is that Scott wants to keep his platform without having skin in the game. While attribution to a real identity might not be necessary for the NYT article, he is receiving attention from the mainstream and therefore playing the game at a higher level. If not the NYT today, a different outlet tomorrow. He cannot maintain the old status quo indefinitely, unless the rules of the game are changed.

nomadscientist
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by nomadscientist »

What is concerning about this is Scott doesn't even oppose the prestige ideology and has said only things that were fully acceptable at the time they were said. As the prestige ideology becomes more extreme and intolerant this is grounds for retroactive life destruction. I doubt when he applied to medical school he wondered whether he should avoid licensed professions because the career risk was too great when expressing political opinions. But now we live in such a world.

FIRE is becoming almost a necessity for "independent thinkers." But if it gets too common they will go after FIRE as well.

Campitor
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Campitor »

FIRE is becoming almost a necessity for "independent thinkers." But if it gets too common they will go after FIRE as well.
My biggest fear isn't loss of income but the violence that comes when an opinion challenges group-think. The tyranny of the mob doesn't have any self imposed limits.

No amount of FU money will save you if the mob has you targeted. And even if you do escape, it will not be without cost.

Karl Marx may just get the last laugh.

https://www.history.com/topics/china/cu ... revolution
Mao launched the so-called Cultural Revolution (known in full as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) in August 1966, at a meeting of the Plenum of the Central Committee. He shut down the nation’s schools, calling for a massive youth mobilization to take current party leaders to task for their embrace of bourgeois values and lack of revolutionary spirit. In the months that followed, the movement escalated quickly as the students formed paramilitary groups called the Red Guards and attacked and harassed members of China’s elderly and intellectual population. A personality cult quickly sprang up around Mao, similar to that which existed for Josef Stalin, with different factions of the movement claiming the true interpretation of Maoist thought. The population was urged to rid itself of the “Four Olds”: Old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas.

nomadscientist
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by nomadscientist »

Mobs can be avoided; they are only possible in some geographic circumstances. Again, avoiding mobs is easier if you don't need a job.

Campitor
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Re: RIP Slate Star Codex

Post by Campitor »

nomadscientist wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:01 pm
Mobs can be avoided; they are only possible in some geographic circumstances. Again, avoiding mobs is easier if you don't need a job.
I agree with you but with some caveats. The majority of people will not be able to escape the tyranny of the mob. If our society is plunged into a cultural revolutionary dark age, it may effect even the most geographically isolated zip codes. When the required expertise and services are gone because of purity purges, it will hurt everyone. The FI/FIRE folks are just further down the line.

And if you're doxxed, you may get denied services. Wouldn't be the first time someone is kicked out of a business for their politics or harassed non-stop during normal business transactions or personal chores.

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