My Actual Libertarian Experience

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My Actual Libertarian Experience

Post by Red » Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:44 pm

So Monday I went to a debate at the Libertarian think tank the Soho Forum, sort of like a class trip (though it was just a few selected kids and I that came along, not sure what you call those). I wasn't aware that it was a Libertarian Think Tank or whatever you want to call it until I actually got there. We went there to go watch a debate about climate change, which, at a Libertarian think tank, I knew was not going to end well.

We got there pretty early, so it gave me the chance to look around, and it seemed relatively small. It was like a theatre, with the debators at the front. We found our desired seats, and a lady gave us copies of this month's issue of Reason magazine, which I slid under my chair and pretended to forget about. There was a bar that served refreshments, and they were also serving snacks, but aside from fruit they didn't have any vegan options, so I was just like 'Nah I'm okay.' I bought a Seltzer, and after I finished drinking it, I tried to find a recycling bin. I looked around, and unsurprisingly, there wasn't one. I didn't have my bag or jacket with me, so I did what I vowed 10 years ago never to do; Throw a can in the trash. I still feel like a piece of shit, but I've collected about 4,000 bottles and cans (no exaggeration) by working with my Environmentalist Club in the past 2 and a half years, so I think I still have a net positive on that front.

Since we had 45 minutes, my group and I, which included some of my friends, John, Nick, and Elizabeth, decided to walk around and converse with some of the early arrivals and the organizers of the event. I was walking around when Elizabeth, who was talking with this bald fuck named Ron, stopped me and said that I wasn't a big fan of the Green New Deal, despite still believing in climate change. This Ron guy seemed like a pretty nice guy though, and I talked with him about how Nuclear Energy is our best and only solution given our circumstances and all that jazz, and he seemed to agree with me judging by body language, but he seemed to be a bit slow-witted. I mean, I shouldn't judge, maybe he was tired, I dunno. It doesn't matter.

I also got into another conversation with an older dude, and we talked about free college tuition, and I said "Hey, I don't mind paying for college tuition as long as it's something like STEM or Med School. I don't want to be paying for someone to major in Gender Studies!" I said, half jokingly, and I went into how STEM has great economic and scientific benefits, and how free med school can help with ridiculously expensive hospital bills. He said, "Well, why would you want to pay for someone else's college, even with those benefits?" And I said, quite plainly "Altruism." And he said something along the lines of "Well, altruism has caused much more harm than good in history." And I was like 'Wow, the Ayn Rand is strong in this one...' I didn't say that, but I'm pretty sure my eyes did. I'm pretty sure I later overheard the same guy talking about how him reading 'Atlas Shrugged' was the beginning of his journey or some nonsense.

Once everyone arrived, the atmosphere got pretty chatty, and the place was eventually packed, and it was just about time for the debate to start, everyone sat down and got comfortable. I saw a lot of old people, and one old nerdy looking fuck with a massive beer gut wearing an 'Enjoy Capitalism' shirt, although I'm not sure if he has ever enjoyed capitalism a day in his life. Anyway, then one of the organizers of the event told us that the debate was an Oxford Style Debate, which is a debate in which the audience votes on who won basically. The resolution was as follows:
There is little or no rigorous evidence that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous global warming and threatening life on the planet.
My immediate thought was 'Oh, so this is basically over before it starts!' for obvious reasons. Not to mention it sounded a bit loaded IYKWIM, but whatever, I was willing to put up with it. What we had to do was go onto our phones, go to a designated website and vote Yes, No, or Undecided. I voted No, because... it's wrong.

So then they had some, uh, comedian come up stage, who is from the Libertarian podcast 'Part of the Problem,' (after pursuing his Twitter for 25 seconds, he doesn't seem very intelligent, or his humour is not to my taste) and he made some political jokes, and of course there was one about AOC. Side note here, even though I don't like AOC much, I mean, come on, leave the poor fucking girl alone; doesn't she get enough shit from you people? Anyway, I was messaging @Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz on Discord during his routine and he was getting quite angry if you catch my drift. And while I didn't find his jokes that funny, it seemed as though he was just staring at me during the whole thing (I was in the middle on an upper level), which I assume he just does for the cameras or whatever, and I didn't want to feel like an asshole for not laughing, like with the Pilot in that episode of Seinfeld, so I was like 'Hehe... ha... he..." Though in hindsight, I probably should've just kept a blank stare, but whatever.

The audience, being libertarians, loved his performance, laughing especially hard at the jokes aimed at liberals. There was this one guy sitting a row ahead with a big nose who was one of those people who laughed a little too loud at a joke that wasn't really that funny, but since he agreed with it politically he laughed hard. My friend Nick and I looked at him laugh, he had his head leaned back entirely, and his eyes here completely shut, teeth fully exposed, yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

So the debate commenced, and I'm not going to get into all of the details of the debate (not only do I not remember enough to tell you), but put simply, if you've been in the debate about climate change for long, then you know about the arguments on both sides, and those were basically what were said here (e.g. more plants now, ice age fallacy, etc). It was between Astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett, the guy who believed in climate change, and other guy Craig Idso who didn't. Idso went first, and to be honest, I'm not sure if this is my bias at play, he just seemed to be a snarky, arrogant cocksucker, who is obviously politically motivated, while Bennet seemed to be pretty outgoing and less patronizing. The audience was being quite boorish at times when Bennett was up on stage, laughing or booing him when he said something they didn't like. I think Bennett did a good job, and Idso was being a dick, but even if this were a room filled with me's, I wouldn't laugh at what Idso was saying, and be more respectful, despite what he says. If you have any other questions about the debate, I'll be glad to fill you in, if I can remember (and no, factory farming effects on climate were not brought up, sadly).

At one point, I had to go piss, and there was some guy standing in front of the door to the restroom, so I said "Excuse me" and the guy said "Fuck off kid" so I just stood back and waited for him to move. I had similar rude encounters at the place, but that's not important.

After the debate, I was surprised by the results of the vote. Of course, the climate changer denier won, but it wasn't by a large margin, only about 5%:
http://sohovote.com/
(The resolution in question will probably be different by the time some of you read this, so I archived this page, though I'm not sure if it'll load):
https://web.archive.org/web201904202140 ... ovote.com/

We were getting up to leave, but before that I went up to Mr. Bennett, shook his hand, said he did a great job, and he kept his composure well, despite the audience members being rude. He thanked me, and I was on my way.

So final thoughts? I think while most of the people in there are likely good people, they seemed to be simple minded and arrogant, but that's just me. What I'm really pissed off is how climate change is a political issue. Now if it were an issue on how to solve it, that might be tolerable. But whether or not that it's real and causing harm to us as a species? Are you fucking kidding me? But this is a rant for another time. Anyone else have any similar experiences with Libertarians or other ideologues? I might add a few more details based on the reception to this post, so whatever.

BTW, interestingly enough, there is going to be a debate about the health effects of saturated fats in diets, between dietary journalist quack Nina Teicholz (whom I know brimstone is a big fan) and David Katz next month.
The resolution for that debate is:
There is little or no rigorous evidence that vegetarian/vegan diets are healthier than diets that include meat, eggs, and dairy.
So yeah, unless someone here is willing to put Nina in her place in case Davey fails to, you know where it is.

I will not be attending, since I will likely punch one or two people in the face. Oh yeah, unless I'm going crazy, there was going to be a debate with Andrew Yang about automation and how it's going to affect the job market and such in September, but he might be too busy (Presidential Campaign, etc) to attend, so they're finding some other dude.
Learning never exhausts the mind.
-Leonardo da Vinci

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Post by Lay Vegan » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm

Red wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:44 pm
After the debate, I was surprised by the results of the vote. Of course, the climate changer denier won, but it wasn't by a large margin, only about 5%:
http://sohovote.com/
It’s my understanding that Oxford-style debates are won by changing the most minds, not by winning the popular vote. That is, the greater percentage change between the first and second votes indicates the winner. If true, then Idso won by a landslide (11% margin).
Red wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:44 pm
(The resolution in question will probably be different by the time some of you read this, so I archived this page
It wouldn't make any sense to change the debate proposition afterword.
Red wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:44 pm
So final thoughts? I think while most of the people in there are likely good people, they seemed to be simple minded and arrogant, but that's just me.
It’s quite unnerving that Idso was able to convince 22% of the room to deny anthropogenic climate change. I suspect that politics is at play.
Red wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:44 pm
What I'm really pissed off is how climate change is a political issue. Now if it were an issue on how to solve it, that might be tolerable. But whether or not that it's real and causing harm to us as a species? Are you fucking kidding me? But this is a rant for another time.
You’re getting at it. The problem is not really of scientific literacy, but of implementation of science-backed policies. I can’t imagine why denying climate change would be in the best interest of business owners, unless a proposed solution is the levying of carbon taxes on fossil fuel companies (or going nuclear) for example? Heck, best to promote our own material self-interest and deny scientific consensus altogether. That way we can manipulate public policy in our favor. :roll:

Are any of these recorded? I love listening to debate podcasts while at the gym (I know, I’m weird).

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Post by Red » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:46 am

Lay Vegan wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm
It’s my understanding that Oxford-style debates are won by changing the most minds, not by winning the popular vote. That is, the greater percentage change between the first and second votes indicates the winner. If true, then Idso won by a landslide (11% margin).
11%? In a Libertarian Think Tank? That's pretty narrow if you ask me.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm
It wouldn't make any sense to change the debate proposition afterword.
It has the Resolution of the most recent debate.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm
It’s quite unnerving that Idso was able to convince 22% of the room to deny anthropogenic climate change. I suspect that politics is at play.
Well of course it is. Questioning such a rigorous and peer-reviewed consensus in a political setting? Unless it's Evolution, it could only be climate change.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm
You’re getting at it. The problem is not really of scientific literacy, but of implementation of science-backed policies. I can’t imagine why denying climate change would be in the best interest of business owners, unless a proposed solution is the levying of carbon taxes on fossil fuel companies (or going nuclear) for example? Heck, best to promote our own material self-interest and deny scientific consensus altogether. That way we can manipulate public policy in our favor.
See why I hate politics now? I'm not going to get into a rant now though.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm
Are any of these recorded? I love listening to debate podcasts while at the gym (I know, I’m weird).
There's a 'Video' link to the debate on the website, but it says 'coming soon.' It might be out on Monday or this coming week, but I don't know. Another debate about Israel happening on March 18th, and the video was uploaded on March 29th.

But here's the opening act from that 'comedian' I was talking about:
https://soundcloud.com/user-195520424/d ... -4-15-2019
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Post by Lay Vegan » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm

Red wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:46 am
See why I hate politics now? I'm not going to get into a rant now though.
Why not? Scientific illiteracy is no doubt a legit concern (people are stupid), but let’s get at the root of the problem: The politicization of science.

Is it really only a coincidence that Craig Idso just so happens to be the director of Environmental “Science” working for the largest independently owned coal-company in the world? There are confounding variables at work here.

I’m not convinced that politics in itself is bad, it can an effective tool used to establish a healthy public policy. Doing politics responsibly means reporting on the science accurately and objectively (even when it contradicts one’s own political interests) and supporting policies most in accordance with scientific consensus. In that sense, politics can’t be totally divorced from public policy, and science can’t be totally divorced from politics.

I personally reject libertarianism for such reasons (lack of scientific evidence for these unfettered free-markets they unrelentingly promote). There are other reasons too, but that would certainly drag this thread off topic.
Red wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:46 am
But here's the opening act from that 'comedian' I was talking about:
https://soundcloud.com/user-195520424/d ... -4-15-2019
Link seems broken :cry:

Edit, link works just fine. Opening act wasn't bad, though some of the jokes fell flat.

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Post by Red » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:20 pm

Lay Vegan wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm
Why not? Scientific illiteracy is no doubt a legit concern (people are stupid), but let’s get at the root of the problem: The politicization of science.
Why not what? Get into a rant? We'd be here all day, and I'm not willing to bore everyone with one of my tangent filled complaints. You'd probably be more intelligent in doing so though.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm
Is it really only a coincidence that Craig Idso just so happens to be the director of Environmental “Science” working for the largest independently owned coal-company in the world? There are confounding variables at work here.
I wasn't aware of that second part.

But this raises a question, is this based on the premise that his politics affect his opinions on environmentalism and such, or vice versa? Like, is he already conservative to begin with, which makes him favour coal, and deny climate change, or does he already do those things, which affect his politics?
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm
I’m not convinced that politics in itself is bad, it can an effective tool used to establish a healthy public policy.
I agree with you, politics serve a very important purpose as a mechanism for doing a lot of good in the world. My only problem is that the issues themselves are split between the left and the right, and is based on faith and rhetoric than evidence and reasoning.

Politics and Poliscience are pretty interesting academic fields too, so if they had more science in them, that'd probably strengthen their reputability in terms of academia.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm
Doing politics responsibly means reporting on the science accurately and objectively (even when it contradicts one’s own political interests) and supporting policies most in accordance with scientific consensus. In that sense, politics can’t be totally divorced from public policy, and science can’t be totally divorced from politics.
That's hitting the nail on the head.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm
I personally reject libertarianism for such reasons (lack of scientific evidence for these unfettered free-markets they unrelentingly promote). There are other reasons too, but that would certainly drag this thread off topic.
Feel free to start a new topic, but my two cents on libertarianism; Pure Libertarianism isn't all that bad, but it isn't all that good. While they won't have social programs or support for infrastructure, and free market capitalism can be very harmful, they at least don't have wars, campaigns against things like drugs, or halting medical research. It's a mixed bag. Left libertarian/authoritarian is obviously better, though.
Lay Vegan wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:05 pm
Link seems broken :cry:
Try from here:
https://www.thesohoforum.org/past-events
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Post by Jamie in Chile » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:34 pm

I think at this point I would not be willing to engage in debate with someone who denies climate change any more than I would be willing to debate with someone about whether cigarette smoke is harmful to the smoker, or whether 1 + 1 = 3 or whether it's 2. I think we have, by now, reached the point where debating it does more harm than good. The debate is won and continuing to debate is slowing down the debate about the solutions.

I (mostly) don't debate with people about climate change anymore.

By the way, I have an idea how to get libertarians on board with climate change.

1. Suggest a system of very high taxes on carbon-causing activities (such as flights) explaining that this is just getting people to pay for the impact on society and that everyone should be able to do whatever they want as long as they are willing to pay a fair price for the consequences.

2. Ask whether they prefer a moderate amount of large government now, or a very large amount of very large government later. Ask them what sort of government they imagine will be in place when coastal sea walls are being built and forced evacuations of coastal cities are taking place.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:41 pm

PS I know libertarians hate high taxes, so I appreciate that this is a hard sell, but my point being is that it's a lesser of evils vs things being banned and vs the huge government that will be needed later to defeat climate change if we don't act now.

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Post by Red » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:57 pm

Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:34 pm
I think at this point I would not be willing to engage in debate with someone who denies climate change any more than I would be willing to debate with someone about whether cigarette smoke is harmful to the smoker, or whether 1 + 1 = 3 or whether it's 2. I think we have, by now, reached the point where debating it does more harm than good. The debate is won and continuing to debate is slowing down the debate about the solutions.
I agree, 100%. I have a few climate change denying friends, and I'm tempted to say that climate change denial is basically on the same level as flat earth in terms of science denial.
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:34 pm
1. Suggest a system of very high taxes on carbon-causing activities (such as flights) explaining that this is just getting people to pay for the impact on society and that everyone should be able to do whatever they want as long as they are willing to pay a fair price for the consequences.

2. Ask whether they prefer a moderate amount of large government now, or a very large amount of very large government later. Ask them what sort of government they imagine will be in place when coastal sea walls are being built and forced evacuations of coastal cities are taking place.
Those may sound like good and practical ideas, but when it comes to politics, people are generally very short-sighted. They are quick to reject solutions that conflict with their ideology, no matter what. Ah yes, human psychology, man's greatest foil.
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Post by Red » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:59 pm

Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:41 pm
PS I know libertarians hate high taxes, so I appreciate that this is a hard sell, but my point being is that it's a lesser of evils vs things being banned and vs the huge government that will be needed later to defeat climate change if we don't act now.
You have to convince them first, unfortunately. And again, some people are so ideological that even if they accept the reality and risks, they still don't want their ideology to be conflicted (in this case, allowing for big government).
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Post by Lay Vegan » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:53 am

Red wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:20 pm
I wasn't aware of that second part.
I like to vet my sources. :D
Red wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:20 pm
But this raises a question, is this based on the premise that his politics affect his opinions on environmentalism and such, or vice versa?
It’s likely bidirectional. Bad politics can lead people to believe silly things (anti-vax, climate science denial, creationism etc.) and conversely, silly beliefs can lead people to accept/promote bad politics.
Red wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:20 pm
Politics and Poliscience are pretty interesting academic fields too, so if they had more science in them, that'd probably strengthen their reputability in terms of academia.
I don’t know much about political science, but as with the other behavioral sciences who study complex social systems, there are far too many confounding variables to control for (people don’t exist in a vacuum). @esquizofrenico mentioned some of the ethical problems of mimicking hard science methodologies within the social sciences in the other thread:
esquizofrenico wrote:Another problem is, of course, that some experiments that would be very easy to do with objects that are considered by the majority as non personal, are impossible to perform with personal objects. To kidnap a group of babies and putting them in an isolated chamber for their whole life to see if they develop a new language would be an extremely useful experiment, that would settle a lot of discussion about the origin of language. But good luck doing that.
Linguists can’t go locking children up in a room to investigate how language develops. Similarly, political scientists can’t go demolishing a nation’s economy to learn whether it will go to war. In social science, data must come from the real world scenarios, outside of the confines of carefully controlled experiments. That’s not to say social science theories are completely unreliable or useless (the opposite is true) but the reliability of key theories comes from the statistical analyses of uncontrolled real-world events.

An economist’s prediction that raising the minimum wage would bring mass unemployment isn’t unreliable but less reliable relative to a chemists’ prediction of some chemical reaction. Can I convince to stop saying social sciences are useless or unreliable?
Red wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:20 pm
Feel free to start a new topic, but my two cents on libertarianism; Pure Libertarianism isn't all that bad, but it isn't all that good. It's a mixed bag. Left libertarian/authoritarian is obviously better, though.
I think I have an old thread on NAP being incompatible with consequentialist ethics.

I don’t know what “pure libertarian” or “left libertarian” mean. What I do know is that the unquestioning assertion that free-market capitalism alone will ameliorate various social & economic problems like poverty, health care, and climate change is pure fantasy. There are no real-world examples of unfettered free market economies, and the few historical cases that do exist lead to economic collapse. Pre-Great Depression U.S. anyone? I know, not quite free-market, but free enough for banks and food processing plants etc. to monopolize their markets and actively violate consumer interests. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal

I support capitalism because the evidence supports it. I will support free-market capitalism (anarcho-capitalism?) when I am provided good evidence it would work.

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