Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Panoramic Overton Window

 

What shape is your Overton Window? Is it tall and narrow, or low and broad? That is, what range of ideas are you willing to tolerate in public discourse? And how high are you willing to pile the rhetoric? Joseph P Overton, who worked for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, believed the realm of political ideas wasn’t limited so much by individuals’ interests as it was by a window of public discourse, where ideas at either end of the window were considered radical, and ideas falling outside the window (too “left” or “right”, assuming limiting ideas to a one-dimensional spectrum makes sense) were considered unthinkable, hence unmentionable. This window of discourse, usually thought of in just one dimension, was named after him — the Overton Window.

I discern two dimensions to the Overton Window, though, both width and height. It takes effort to maintain a big Overton Window, whether the window is unusually broad (breadth of ideas) or unusually tall (how high do people ratchet up the rhetoric?). Mere mortals, it seems, struggle to maintain expansiveness in both dimensions. Recently, Ricochet Member @steverosenbach wrote a post asking the Ricoverse for the names of honorable pundits on the left. One often-cited name was that of Scott Alexander, who runs the blog Slate Star Codex (SSC). Truth be told, Scott is not very far left (probably one reason so many of us find him palatable); moreover, Scott is sympathetic to much of the backlash against trends in leftist thought. Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Slate Star Codex, though, is that its Overton Window is panoramic.

If you have the patience to wade through SSC’s comments section on pretty much any article, what should astound you is the diversity of viewpoints in the commenters present. There are technocrats, libertarians, religious social conservatives, SJWs, the odd socialist, some neoreactionaries, some folks from the Manosphere and human biodiversity fans. David Friedman (Milton Friedman’s son) and Steve Sailer (yes, that Steve Sailer) regularly comment there. (If you’re interested in finding someone who’s really on the alt-right, but who isn’t just trolling, visiting SSC’s comments is perhaps the fastest way to find such a unicorn.) The amazing thing is that all these people are generally civil to one another. How on earth does this work?

Well, for one thing, SSC maintains a code of conduct. SSC’s code differs somewhat from our Code of Conduct (for example all expletives seem permitted by SSC’s code, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the “whim” of Scott Alexander himself. Scott will conduct “reigns of terror” if necessary to expurgate problematic commenters. The result, though, isn’t ideological narrowness, but ideological breadth — a panoramic Overton Window.

SSC has ties to the rationalist community. How rational rationalists manage to be is debatable — to outsiders they may just seem hopelessly nerdy, rather than paragons of reason. Still, they tend to share an allergy to heated rhetoric, and a skepticism of tribalism. Uncharitably, they’re skeptical of tribes because they’re nerds who struggle to fit into them, unless it’s their own tiny band of misfits. But that it’s OK to be a misfit there is one of the beauties of SSC: after all, so often what narrows the Overton Window is that people with misfit ideas are derogated as misfit people — people too contaminated by outgroupiness to hang with the cool kids, however “cool kids” is defined. Avoidance of contamination may be a moral foundation (for those into Haidt), but it’s also pretext for one of the crudest, most childish bullying excuses: outgroupers are gross ‘cuz they got cooties.

Conservatives are often outraged and disgusted. Actually, it’s hard to say whether flesh-and-blood conservatives are any more outraged than others while leading their everyday lives, but conservative rhetoric defends outrage and disgust on principle, as a moral foundation: there are some things up with which decent Americans should not put, like ending a clause with a preposition.

Heated, outraged rhetoric is by no means limited to the right. We are only so heated because they are, so they leave us with no choice, is how many conservatives feel about the matter. After all, one of the things which should disgust us as conservatives bravely willing to stand up for disgust on principle is emotional incontinence, and the emotionally incontinent include not only the unbearably sappy and precious, but also the unbearably irate. One way to resolve the paradox of our fury toward everything indecent, including emotional incontinence, is to decide fury isn’t really an emotion, at least not our own righteous fury.

At Slate Star Codex, though, fury is treated as emotional incontinence, even as a form of cooties — “the toxoplasma of rage”. If you’re more interested in rhetorically pwning your outgroup than exchanging ideas, Scott doesn’t really want to host you. One rationalist mantra is “politics is the mind killer” — if self-styled rationalists truly believed this, why would any of them run a political blog, much less such a diverse one? Sounds irrational, amirite? But consider what’s meant by “politics” in this context, “Politics [as] an extension of war by other means”:

Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back—providing aid and comfort to the enemy. People who would be level-headed about evenhandedly weighing all sides of an issue in their professional life as scientists, can suddenly turn into slogan-chanting zombies when there’s a Blue or Green position on an issue.

Blue or Green, in this context, refers to sports fans of the Roman Empire. What matters is that Blue and Green are different teams, not if they really have differing principles. Sound familiar?

At Slate Star Codex, no-one has to pick a team. That’s curiously bloodless, even inhuman, you might think. And perhaps you’d think right. But it also keeps the rhetoric from piling too high and narrowing the Overton Window.

Many speak of broadening the Overton Window, when it seems their real goal, at least measured by what they actually achieve, is just shifting the Overton Window in their favor. Broadening the Overton Window among real humans also requires lowering it, humbling it, being willing to ratchet down the rhetoric as a sacrifice. Is that sacrifice worth it? I expect Ricochetians will disagree on that, as we do on so many things, but especially given the Ricochet mission, it’s hard not to admire Slate Star Codex’s panoramic views.

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Mine is wide and deep. When one stands on the margins, one sees the window differently.

    • #1
    • July 23, 2018, at 7:17 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Henry Racette Contributor

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Many speak of broadening the Overton Window, when it seems their real goal, at least measured by what they actually achieve, is just shifting the Overton Window in their favor.

    I want essentially everything to be open for civil discussion, and in that sense I guess I want to broaden the window. But my real interest is shifting the center of popular opinion to the right. While I’m generally in favor of broad and frank discussion, I don’t think everything discussed is actually worthwhile — and that much of it is counter-productive.

    The SSC sounds like a very noisy place.

    • #2
    • July 23, 2018, at 7:22 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    The SSC sounds like a very noisy place.

    I have found it’s surprisingly not, especially for those interested in keeping right-wing ideas inviting to the less right-wing, which includes centrists. 

    • #3
    • July 23, 2018, at 7:26 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Bob Thompson Member

    I go to SSC on occasion and find the approach there very acceptable. I don’t know how to describe my window. Being open to a wide range of discussion does not make one open to accepting a wide range of conclusions regarding useful behaviors or approaches to human interactions.

    I am probably more of a hermit than a nerd. I tend to want logic and facts to move me towards conclusions rather than emotion and feelings. So I will listen to arguments for positions but have my narrower MO for deciding what is acceptable to me.

    • #4
    • July 23, 2018, at 8:13 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. Henry Racette Contributor

    I want everything to be open for discussion… but I don’t want to discuss everything. 

    • #5
    • July 23, 2018, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    I go to SSC on occasion and find the approach there very acceptable. I don’t know how to describe my window. Being open to a wide range of discussion does not make one open to accepting a wide range of conclusions regarding useful behaviors or approaches to human interactions.

    Exactly. 

    SSC isn’t there to pressure any commenter into accepting a wide range of conclusions as correct, though commenters who expect to stay have to show basic acceptance of fellow commenters as commenters.

    • #6
    • July 23, 2018, at 8:23 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Nick H Coolidge

    I’ve read a few articles on SSC, but not a huge amount. Some of the ones I read I found very interesting, even when I could tell I didn’t agree with the author. But there were a couple I read that were so militantly atheist that it left me uninterested in digging further into the site. I don’t recall who was the author, but they went beyond just arguing from an agnostic point of view to being actively hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular. 

    • #7
    • July 23, 2018, at 8:43 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Nick H (View Comment):

    I’ve read a few articles on SSC, but not a huge amount. Some of the ones I read I found very interesting, even when I could tell I didn’t agree with the author. But there were a couple I read that were so militantly atheist that it left me uninterested in digging further into the site. I don’t recall who was the author, but they went beyond just arguing from an agnostic point of view to being actively hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular.

    In the context of his wider work, I find that Scott’s atheism softens.

    It is true Scott’s milieu is quite accepting of militant atheism. At the same time, Scott has more than enough misgivings (at least for me) that maybe militant atheists are full of… it.

    When Scott writes of Jordan Peterson, comparing him to CS Lewis, Scott comes off pretty respectful of Lewis, I think.

    SSC is pretty devoted to analyzing things in terms of scientific materialism. That can be off-putting for Christians, but doesn’t have to be — the material world is God’s world, too, and interesting in its own right, even to those who think there’s more.

    Religion in America isn’t just an end in itself, but also a tribal marker, and tribal markers in general come in for mockery (pretty gentle mockery, if you ask me — self-deprecating mockery, too) at SSC. That Scott makes light of religion as a tribal marker, but also seems to admire CS Lewis, says something. Sometimes I wonder if Scott wishes he could be religious.

    • #8
    • July 23, 2018, at 9:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Guruforhire Member

    One of the reasons I am at ricochet and remain at ricochet is that I am exhausted, but not exhausted enough to just drop out of politics entirely.

    At some point everything has been said, impasse reached, and going further is just irritating each other. I don’t mind that other people are wrong and refuse to change, its just that I don’t need the aggravation anymore.

    I’ll let someone else pound their head on the wall of perpetual argument. They can go nuts for all I care.

    • #9
    • July 23, 2018, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  10. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I’m a regular reader of SSC for the reasons you discuss. My only criticism is I wish Scott would edit himself better. Too many excessively long posts that I give up on halfway through.

    • #10
    • July 23, 2018, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Nick H Coolidge

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Nick H (View Comment):

    I’ve read a few articles on SSC, but not a huge amount. Some of the ones I read I found very interesting, even when I could tell I didn’t agree with the author. But there were a couple I read that were so militantly atheist that it left me uninterested in digging further into the site. I don’t recall who was the author, but they went beyond just arguing from an agnostic point of view to being actively hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular.

    In the context of his wider work, I find that Scott’s atheism softens.

    It is true Scott’s milieu is quite accepting of militant atheism. At the same time, Scott has more than enough misgivings (at least for me) that maybe militant atheists are full of… it.

    When Scott writes of Jordan Peterson, comparing him to CS Lewis, Scott comes off pretty respectful of Lewis, I think.

    SSC is pretty devoted to analyzing things in terms of scientific materialism. That can be off-putting for Christians, but doesn’t have to be — the material world is God’s world, too, and interesting in its own right, even to those who think there’s more.

    Religion in America isn’t just an end in itself, but also a tribal marker, and tribal markers in general come in for mockery (pretty gentle mockery, if you ask me — self-deprecating mockery, too) at SSC. That Scott makes light of religion as a tribal marker, but also seems to admire CS Lewis, says something. Sometimes I wonder if Scott wishes he could be religious.

    I would think it would be hard for someone who values intellectual analysis to not have respect for CS Lewis.

    I certainly don’t mind gentle mockery, especially not if it’s self-depreciating, and I usually don’t mind someone poking fun at my “tribal markers” unless it’s particularly hateful. Like I said, I don’t recall exactly what the article was or if it was even something Scott wrote that I found distasteful. 

    • #11
    • July 23, 2018, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. The Reticulator Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Well, for one thing, SSC maintains a code of conduct. SSC’s code differs somewhat from our Code of Conduct (for example all expletives seem permitted by SSC’s code, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the “whim” of Scott Alexander himself. Scott will conduct “reigns of terror” if necessary to expurgate problematic commenters.

    Thanks for calling SSC to my attention. I’ve spent several minutes looking through its archives, and it seems there are enough interesting topics there for me to give it a try.

    I have sometimes wondered if that method of CoC enforcement isn’t best, but that it will work only when (1) there is a big variety of forums to allow for diversity, so that opinions unwelcome in one place might be welcome elsewhere, and (2) forums are big enough to attract an interesting audience, and (3) forums are not so big that they depend on advertising or subscription revenue to provide livelihoods for the people running them. In other words, it will work only for the world of blogs of the 2000s.

    • #12
    • July 23, 2018, at 12:53 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I want essentially everything to be open for civil discussion, and in that sense I guess I want to broaden the window. But my real interest is shifting the center of popular opinion to the right.

    Are you a barkeep or a bouncer, and is the rightward shift you want ideological or tribal? These aren’t mutually exclusive questions. People can be a little of both, and want a little of both.

    Ricochet — “join the conversation!” — was intended to be more of an invite-people-in space than a keep-people-out space, although being right of center limits it to half the spectrum. Invitations in are made with winsome ideas and a winsome social group. Deciding who’s in the outgroup, though… Over the years, we’ve lost some people who wanted our outgroup to be more than just those uninterested in conservative politics or uninterested in following the CoC. They wanted to be bouncers defending a smaller ingroup than was actually here, sometimes in the name of shifting things further right, according to their idea of “right”.

    The job of shifting the Overton Window rightward by narrowing the breadth on its left side (or at least its perceived “left” side) is a job some choose to pursue, and as a practical matter, it contributes to rightward shift as much as anything. That’s the bouncers’ job, but many of us are temperamentally barkeeps.

    • #13
    • July 23, 2018, at 12:56 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    One of the reasons I am at ricochet and remain at ricochet is that I am exhausted, but not exhausted enough to just drop out of politics entirely.

    What you describe is one reason I sometimes take a “vacation” to SSC.

    I tagged this post “erisology” and at some point I should write another post properly introducing this hobby named after Eris, the goddess of discord herself.

    Erisology is basically the study of why disputes tend to suck in the way that they do. Scott and some other bloggers seem to specialize in it. Meta stuff, yeah, but somehow more relaxing to me than politics itself.

    • #14
    • July 23, 2018, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Well, for one thing, SSC maintains a code of conduct. SSC’s code differs somewhat from our Code of Conduct (for example all expletives seem permitted by SSC’s code, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the “whim” of Scott Alexander himself.

    Misgendering not allowed? Does that mean you’re not allowed to say ” that Caitlyn Jenner girl,” or that you’re not allowed to say “that guy, Bruce Jenner”?

    • #15
    • July 24, 2018, at 6:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Someone on Ricochet (I forget who, or I’d give credit) introduced the idea of a two-dimensional Overton window, where the width of the window described ideology and the height of the window described civility. It sounds to me like SSC has a aims for a wide but short window. (This gets more complicated when it comes to things like “misgendering” which the left sees as a question of civility, but the right sees as an ideological issue.)

    A lot of our problems today stem from the fact that the left has been steadily pushing the window upward (perhaps downward would be a better metaphor) while simultaneously trying to drag the right edge to the left. The right has noticed this, but while they’ve been steadily pushing back against the leftward drift, they’ve not only ignored the height of the window, but taken full advantage of it, some even joining in the upward push. Indeed many on the right have proven unable to understand why some of us find the height of the window just as, or in some cases more troubling than its left-right orientation. Those of us who worry that the window is too tall are routinely accused of, “not being willing to fight,” or even of undermining attempts to push it rightward.

    • #16
    • July 24, 2018, at 6:10 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Mike H Coolidge

    Umbra of Nex (View Comment):

    Those of us who worry that the window is too tall are routinely accused of, “not being willing to fight,” or even of undermining attempts to push it rightward.

    As if “fighting” on the pages of Ricochet, or universal agreement on the awesomeness of some “fighter” is somehow going to have some effect on anything. Get over yourself people. You have no control over outcomes. You didn’t cause the current situation with your sufficient emoting and attacking your opponents emoting. Just enjoy the ride and have good conversations about controversial subjects, preferably ones that are only tangentially related to political reality, if at all.

    • #17
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:13 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Umbra of Nex (View Comment):
    Someone on Ricochet (I forget who, or I’d give credit) introduced the idea of a two-dimensional Overton window, where the width of the window described ideology and the height of the window described civility.

    That would be me, in the comment which eventually inspired this OP ;-)

    • #18
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:21 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Bob Thompson Member

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Umbra of Nex (View Comment):

    Those of us who worry that the window is too tall are routinely accused of, “not being willing to fight,” or even of undermining attempts to push it rightward.

    As if “fighting” on the pages of Ricochet, or universal agreement on the awesomeness of some “fighter” is somehow going to have some effect on anything. Get over yourself people. You have no control over outcomes. You didn’t cause the current situation with your sufficient emoting and attacking your opponents emoting. Just enjoy the ride and have good conversations about controversial subjects, preferably ones that are only tangentially related to political reality, if at all.

    I can tell you that, although I can likely never commit myself to an effort as completely as that of Bill Binney and Ray McGovern, I have taken the time to talk in person to Ray to let him know that I believe he is seeking the truth, which he confirmed to me, and he expressed thanks to me that I was helping by spreading the word among conservatives who have concerns similar to his. Ray is a lifelong Democrat with few political views to match mine beyond our common belief in the value of the Constitution to protect the American ideal.

    • #19
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:25 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Well, for one thing, SSC maintains a code of conduct. SSC’s code differs somewhat from our Code of Conduct (for example all expletives seem permitted by SSC’s code, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the “whim” of Scott Alexander himself.

    Misgendering not allowed?

    Well, you could see for yourself by checking out SSC for yourself.

    It’s abundantly clear that SSC is not a conservative site, although it can be quite friendly to conservatives. For SSC’s rules to therefore use “misgendering” in the way non-conservatives have come to use the term is thus only to be expected.

    SSC’s code of conduct would not be appropriate for Ricochet. Many Ricochetians would be offended, for example, to find themselves suspended or banned for some of the things which are considered insults at SSC. Nonetheless, for conservatives who want to participate in SSC, it’s not so onerous to do so. You just have to be willing to treat fellow commenters with what the folks over at SSC consider respect. There are some trans commenters at SSC, and part of courtesy at SSC is to address them as they wish to be addressed. While innocent slipups in these things are no big deal at SSC, addressing these commenters in a way that deliberately antagonizes them would get you kicked out. Scott’s house, Scott’s rules. Seems fair.

    • #20
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Still not really sure what erisology means, but liked the sound of it so much I added it as a tag to my ballpark post.

    • #21
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Bob Thompson Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Well, for one thing, SSC maintains a code of conduct. SSC’s code differs somewhat from our Code of Conduct (for example all expletives seem permitted by SSC’s code, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the “whim” of Scott Alexander himself.

    Misgendering not allowed?

    Well, you could see for yourself by checking out SSC for yourself.

    It’s abundantly clear that SSC is not a conservative site, although it can be quite friendly to conservatives. For SSC’s rules to therefore use “misgendering” in the way non-conservatives have come to use the term is thus only to be expected.

    SSC’s code of conduct would not be appropriate for Ricochet. Many Ricochetians would be offended, for example, to find themselves suspended or banned for some of the things which are considered insults at SSC. Nonetheless, for conservatives who want to participate in SSC, it’s not so onerous to do so. You just have to be willing to treat fellow commenters with what the folks over at SSC consider respect. There are some trans commenters at SSC, and part of courtesy at SSC is to address them as they wish to be addressed. While innocent slipups in these things are no big deal at SSC, addressing these commenters in a way that deliberately antagonizes them would get you kicked out. Scott’s house, Scott’s rules. Seems fair.

    I don’t go there to participate in interchange. I gain insight into the thinking of others and I learn things just by reading.

    • #22
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I don’t go there to participate in interchange. I gain insight into the thinking of others and I learn things just by reading.

    Yes. I am a SSC reader, not a commenter. I’ve read enough comments there, though, to have some idea of who’s who, and it’s heartening to see the way those on the right, including the quite socially conservative, are treated over there.

    • #23
    • July 24, 2018, at 7:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):

    Still not really sure what erisology means, but liked the sound of it so much I added it as a tag to my ballpark post.

    A preview @gumbymark — although not in my words:

    Normally I don’t like catchy neologisms. Since I work in the consulting business I come across many of them, each more contrived and cringey than the next, all designed to capture a concept and plant it in people’s minds in a way that sticks whether they like it or not. But some of them actually have a pretty good insight-to-hokeyness ratio and deserve some love. I hope “erisology” can fit into this category.

    Erisology is the study of disagreement, specifically the study of unsuccessful disagreement. An unsuccessful disagreement is an exchange where people are no closer in understanding at the end than they were at the beginning, meaning the exchange has been mostly about talking past each other and/or hurling insults. A really unsuccessful one is where people actually push each other apart, and this seems disturbingly common.

    The word erisology comes from Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, who proved already in antiquity that you could get people into fights by giving them ambiguous messages and let them interpret them self-servingly and according to their own biases.

    This post and this post introduce the term. Scott Alexander is a blogging pal of Nerst, and SSC has been “studying erisology” for years without having a catchy term for it. My previous post for Ricochet on the matter was here.

    • #24
    • July 24, 2018, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • Like
  25. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):

    Still not really sure what erisology means, but liked the sound of it so much I added it as a tag to my ballpark post.

    A preview @gumbymark — although not in my words:

    Normally I don’t like catchy neologisms. Since I work in the consulting business I come across many of them, each more contrived and cringey than the next, all designed to capture a concept and plant it in people’s minds in a way that sticks whether they like it or not. But some of them actually have a pretty good insight-to-hokeyness ratio and deserve some love. I hope “erisology” can fit into this category.

    Erisology is the study of disagreement, specifically the study of unsuccessful disagreement. An unsuccessful disagreement is an exchange where people are no closer in understanding at the end than they were at the beginning, meaning the exchange has been mostly about talking past each other and/or hurling insults. A really unsuccessful one is where people actually push each other apart, and this seems disturbingly common.

    The word erisology comes from Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, who proved already in antiquity that you could get people into fights by giving them ambiguous messages and let them interpret them self-servingly and according to their own biases.

    This post and this post introduce the term. Scott Alexander is a blogging pal of Nerst, and SSC has been “studying erisology” for years without having a catchy term for it. My previous post for Ricochet on the matter was here.

    So it is particularly apt as a tag for my ballpark ranking post since I anticipate there will be some disagreement, for unfathomable reasons, with my completely objective and scientifically-based rankings.

    • #25
    • July 24, 2018, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    My Overton window is a Mobius strip. It doesn’t matter what you want to talk about. I’m going to turn it into a discussion about money.

    • #26
    • July 24, 2018, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    Midge, I’m not sure that breadth of ideas and civility are independent axes. Under the right circumstances people can be driven to anger over almost anything. It’s often more a matter of how they’re being treated or preconceived notions about the the person they’re debating than what’s being debated. At first blush this might seem independent of the topic, but consider how rare it is for a discussion of mainstream topics get uncivil. Even if we’re inclined to rain fury upon our enemies, it’s pretty hard to identify our enemies when they’re espousing mainstream positions. We recognize our enemies by their advocacy for less popular positions. I see incivility as a crude, brute-force attempt to shift the window.

    • #27
    • July 24, 2018, at 2:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Chuck Enfield (View Comment):
    Midge, I’m not sure that breadth of ideas and civility are independent axes.

    Perhaps not quite. But in general, the higher the rhetoric is ratcheted up, the harder it is for differing opinions to actually talk to each other, which narrows the breadth of opinion which can be discussed.

    The people I know who are best at cogently discussing extreme ideologies are also really low-key about it, while those who try to apply heated (and especially blatantly manipulative) rhetoric along with their extreme ideas often just come off as antisocial.

    On the other hand, someone whose ideas are more toward the center of a milieu’s Overton Window can usually get away with more heated rhetoric while still being thought of as normal and “decent”. But that tends to pull the ends of the Overton Window toward the center, narrowing what can be discussed.

    Is it possible we’re describing roughly the same thing here?

    • #28
    • July 24, 2018, at 9:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake Post author 

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Well, for one thing, SSC maintains a code of conduct. SSC’s code differs somewhat from our Code of Conduct (for example all expletives seem permitted by SSC’s code, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the “whim” of Scott Alexander himself.

    Misgendering not allowed?

    Well, you could see for yourself by checking out SSC for yourself.

    It’s abundantly clear that SSC is not a conservative site, although it can be quite friendly to conservatives. For SSC’s rules to therefore use “misgendering” in the way non-conservatives have come to use the term is thus only to be expected.

    The question was rhetorical.

    • #29
    • July 24, 2018, at 10:22 PM PDT
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