Political correctness is a stupid idea

I made this point a few weeks ago, but now there is empirical evidence to back up my claim.   Razib Khan presented the following graph, which shows that people who score high on an intelligence test are far more likely to favor allowing unpopular speech:

This goes against the widely held view that PCism is concentrated on elite college campuses.  Presumably liberal arts professors score pretty high on a vocabulary test.

You might wonder if that only applies to questions about Muslims.  Not so, at least not among white non-hispanics.  In another post, Khan shows that (among whites) smart people are also more willing to allow others to claim that blacks are inferior:

PCism is also associated with the extreme left, whereas in fact the extreme left is the most tolerant of controversial views:

Opinions may differ on whether PCism is a stupid idea in the sense of being a bad idea.  But it’s hard to deny that PCism is a stupid idea in the sense of being a view that is disproportionately held by stupid people.  And to a lesser extent, PCism is a conservative idea.

I’m sure this goes against the preconceived ideas of many of my readers, so I await your comments explaining to me that this is all wrong.

PS.  The fact that an idea is disproportionately held by stupid people does not necessarily mean that the idea is incorrect.  There are undoubtedly some areas where my own view corresponds to the prevailing view of stupid people.  But PCism is not one of those areas.

PPS.  When I say an idea is “actually correct”, I mean that I believe it to be true and also predict that society will eventually come to accept the idea as true. Long-time readers know that I don’t believe there are any objective facts.



55 Responses to “Political correctness is a stupid idea”

  1. Gravatar of John Hall John Hall
    27. August 2017 at 09:17

    PCism has been a left-wing movement for my whole life at least. But that doesn’t mean that the right-wing doesn’t oppose restrictions on free speech. For instance, the right has favored all kinds of restrictions on freedom of expression over the past 100 years at least. It’s just of a categorically different nature.

    From a Moral Foundations/Jonathan Haidt perspective, the right is loaded on sanctity and loyalty. So they would tend to be willing to restrict freedom of speech when it comes to offensive language that violate those values. By contrast, the left-wing tend to be more willing to restrict freedom of speech if it furthers their value of fairness.

  2. Gravatar of pierremenard128 pierremenard128
    27. August 2017 at 09:32

    The working definition of political correctness here is wrong. What you are discussing is tolerance of opposing viewpoints. Advocates of PC are extremely tolerant of some opposing views (e.g., those coming from oppressed minorities) and less so of others.

    Thus the Muslim graph is more or less irrelevant to your thesis, and without it the evidence looks weaker.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2017 at 09:49

    John, So do you agree that extreme liberals are the most tolerant of allowing racists views to be expressed?

    Pierre, Sometimes I wonder why I even bother posting. Did you read my entire post? The same pattern occurs for racist views as for radical Muslim views. The most intelligent and the extreme liberals are the least supportive of PCism.

  4. Gravatar of BD BD
    27. August 2017 at 10:41

    Scott, well, I did read your entire post and I agree with both John and Pierre. Might it be that part of PC-ism is to claim to be open and tolerant? So these results are an expression of max-PC amongst liberals and those smart enough to know which side of their bread is buttered?

  5. Gravatar of FSE FSE
    27. August 2017 at 10:42

    I think the question is too ambiguous to serve as a proxy for political correctness. It can be interpreted as asking whether a racist should be censored by the state, which I think many liberals would not endorse. If so, the response would not apply to more common activities associated with political correctness, such as counterprotest, no-platforming, shaming, etc.

  6. Gravatar of Steve F Steve F
    27. August 2017 at 10:45

    In my estimation, the data presented by Khan is a good example of the idea I’ve seen you discuss before: that one can change some results based on how they conduct the poll. The wording leaves a bit of room for interpretation by the poll taker.

  7. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. August 2017 at 10:53

    good post sumner

  8. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. August 2017 at 11:07

    In any case, I believe any changes in attitudes toward free speech have been much too recent to pick up using such polls.

  9. Gravatar of JG JG
    27. August 2017 at 11:36

    How accurate is the general social survey? I looked at the web site, and it is a 90 minute in person survey. Would a representative sample of Americans spend 90 minutes for an in person interview?

  10. Gravatar of JG JG
    27. August 2017 at 11:47

    Also, how many people taking an in person interview will admit they are opposed to free speech and right of assembly and, especially intellectuals, who think they are morally superior to the average common man?

  11. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    27. August 2017 at 12:37

    The left identifies as progressive these days not liberal. If the poll had been designed properly it would have treated liberal as third group distinct from progressives (Obama) and the nationalists (Trump).

    Of course liberals support free speech but there are hardly any of these left in positions of power. Guys like William Weld and Gary Johnson were barely relevant remember.

  12. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. August 2017 at 17:41

    Apparently, college educated are also likely to (stupidly) believe newspapers.


    I don’t trust a word written in newspapers.

  13. Gravatar of Rajat Rajat
    27. August 2017 at 17:52

    I don’t know anything about the GSS, but the Khan post describes ‘liberal’ as ‘in the classical sense’. I can see how classically liberal people would favour allowing offensive speech, but would liberals under the conventional US definition (which would better describe most US college faculty and students) feel the same way?

  14. Gravatar of DonG DonG
    27. August 2017 at 18:47

    I will believe that “smart” people are more tolerant of non-PC speech, when the professors at Berkeley stand up to the violent mobs attacking those people trying to exercise non-PC speech.

  15. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    27. August 2017 at 18:55

    Pomf =3

  16. Gravatar of Ken P Ken P
    27. August 2017 at 19:02

    This poll does not agree with what I see on my FB feed. In fact, I see an alarming level of opposition to free speech when I read comments on the ACLU site. It also does not agree with what progressive politicians are saying.

  17. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    27. August 2017 at 19:10

    Great post.

    I say PC-ism runs through the entire political spectrum.

    There is PC-right wing and PC-left wing. And then PC feminism and so on.

    The expression “all-volunteer military” is standard in many right-wing circles, such as AEI. Of course, we do not have a volunteer military. We have a mercenary force.

    And pointing out that the VA is distilled communism—federal employee doctor and nurses in federally owned hospitals providing free care to former federal employees—is not PC.

    The VA is defended by Paul Ryan. If it is such a great system, let’s take it nationwide for everybody.

    For years after My Lai, Lieutenant William Calley was presented as folk hero in right-wing song and literature. In modern times, PC versions of Pat Tillman’s exploits in Afghanistan were released.

    A sort of PC hagiography has grown up around Ronald Reagan, who was possibly the most protectionist President in US history, even eclipsing Hoover. Read contemporary accounts from Cato Institute. The Reaganauts also negotiated a sharp devaluation the dollar, ran huge budget deficits and appointed money printers to the FOMC in an attempt to outvote Volcker for easy money.


    Rural America is a pinko-wonderland, with water systems, power systems, airports, phone-internet service, rail systems and whole industries subsidized or cross-subsidized by the federal government or consumers.

    Some institutions and practices become so deeply embedded that they are never discussed, and thus PC. The Heritage Foundation can call Hong Kong the world’s freest economy. Hong Kong has the world’s least affordable housing. Why? Tight property zoning and chronic trade deficits. The Heritage Foundation evidently regards property zoning as consistent with free markets. It is PC.

    PC is an interesting concept.

  18. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2017 at 19:11

    When the facts change . . .

    . . . my commenters don’t change their views.

    I don’t find any of these excuses to be even remotely plausible.

  19. Gravatar of FSE FSE
    27. August 2017 at 19:31

    Any academic worth their salt knows that it takes more than one unexpected result to constitute a change in facts, particularly when there are obvious methodological flaws.

    It is even more important to remain skeptical when new results flatter your preconceptions.

  20. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    27. August 2017 at 19:31

    I don’t think smart people are smart when they are crowded.
    (Compare the everyone’s knowledge performance of the each groups)

    Belief system dynamics?

  21. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    27. August 2017 at 19:32

    Maybe mixed group is better

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2017 at 19:39

    FSE , Agreed, but I did not expect extreme liberals to be the least politically correct.

  23. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    27. August 2017 at 19:49


  24. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    27. August 2017 at 20:08

    This back up my experience that conservatives are generally intolerant of speech that goes against there beliefs on a wider spectrum than liberals. Liberals may censure people about racist speech but conservatives will censure you about religion, race, sexuality, movies, tv shows, music the list goes on. Its sad that liberals are becoming less tolerant but also sad that conservatives are not becoming more tolerant.

  25. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    27. August 2017 at 20:10

    When I have started to learn economics, I am very suprised that the term “externalities” in economics have vast control range(scope of control

  26. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    27. August 2017 at 21:50

    The IQ effect is significantly stronger than the education effect. My impression is that PC is concentrated on campuses among the less intellectually demanding disciplines.

    I also suspect that Timur Kuran’s work on preference falsification is relevant. People may privately support free speech but not be willing to risk much for it, while much of the negative effect of PC comes from the highly motivated (the “point-and-shriek” brigade).

    The stronger public supporters of PC disproportionately tend to be women, the stronger public opponents disproportionately tend to be men. Looking at the social psychology literature, that seems to be (unsurprising) tail effects, but the stronger x’s are usually tails. (According to the social psychology literature, women are more likely to value agreeability, see disagreement as a threat and stress feelings over rules–which include rights.)

    So, the graphs are informative correctives but not sure they get at what is driving the underlying phenomena.

  27. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    27. August 2017 at 21:53

    I’ve changed my views somewhat since reading that post, Sumner; I have become a lot more suspicious of the benefits of support for free speech. I still support it mostly, though.

  28. Gravatar of BC BC
    27. August 2017 at 22:03

    In the second link (about letting racists speak), Khan resolves the paradox with, “I think what we are seeing are vocal and motivated minorities who are drowning out liberal (in the classical sense) majorities.”

    We already know from direct observation that campus PCism is a left-wing idea. Conservatives were not the ones complaining about Halloween costumes, Charles Murray, Ann Coulter, Milo Y., etc. It’s possible that most smart, progressives don’t support the PC police. Also, maybe many of the PC police are not white, non-Hispanic?

    In any event, saying that the left-wing PC police are not even representative of most left wingers is different from saying that “to a lesser extent, PCism is a conservative idea”. One obvious question is, if all of these smart left wingers supposedly support free speech, then why don’t more of them assertively make clear that there is no room for the PC police in the progressive movement? To be fair, liberals are often victims of the left-wing PC police.

  29. Gravatar of John Hall John Hall
    28. August 2017 at 03:57

    Scott, you asked “So do you agree that extreme liberals are the most tolerant of allowing racists views to be expressed?”

    The people most tolerant of allowing racist views to be expressed are racists. I think what you mean is racist views that they DISAGREE with. (add winky face)

    Tolerate is an interesting word to use here. There is probably more support for the ACLU among the left than the right. The ACLU supports free speech and is willing to defend racist views in order to further their broader goal of defending free speech. Of course, they might be strongly critical of that speech. People who donate too the ACLU probably wouldn’t even want to be in the same room as someone spouting racist views. However, they wouldn’t want to lock that person up for their views either. So they tolerate it in the sense of not wanting a legal response to it, but they probably don’t want to tolerate it on a more personal level.

  30. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    28. August 2017 at 05:25

    One can be for free speech (i.e, support the first amendment) and still dislike poli1tical correctness, without trying to outlaw it. But PC speech has had negative effects on many places and have effectively overruled free speech, particularly on publicly funded college campuses. Should private institutions prohibit free speech? They effectively do it all the time. Is that allowed? It appears so. Obviously those who are PC don’t view themselves that way. They just view themselves as correct. We can be happy that studies show those who wish to outlaw free speech appear less intelligent according to certain scaling measures, but what does that have to do with improving our body politic? Nothing. I have no solutions that do not include force.

  31. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    28. August 2017 at 05:31

    While I get your point, I think you make a mistake in using the term PCism because it mostly appears to be made-up and not well defined. Political correctness, at least by my understanding, is the idea that we should use the least offensive and most objective terms when speaking. For many this is connected to the moral implications of not needlessly offending others, while for others it’s a more ethical understanding of the power of words. Personally, I feel that it is important because it’s impossible to have a useful discussion when one or both sides is using ad hominem attacks and is poisoning the well. People should be PC in a civilized democracy.

    As with any idea, there are people who are more zealous than others and, as I assume you are getting at with your post, there is a group that values political correctness above constitutionally protected rights like free speech. While it’s mostly used in a derogatory sense, Social Justice Warrior seems to be the more applicable term for this group.

    Anyway, this is mostly my defense of political correctness as an idea since it seems to get dragged through the mud and twisted around a lot recently. You don’t have to be politically correct, but you should if you want your arguments to be taken seriously, however that doesn’t mean it should be institutionalized and protected above free speech.

  32. Gravatar of JG JG
    28. August 2017 at 05:52

    For many years polls have shown those with college degrees support free speech more than those without college degrees. This is nothing new.

    Khan’s poll is based on “smart” and according to how one scored on a vocabulary test. Although “smart” suggests degreed, the smart classification in and and of itself seems a bit subjective.

    Also, there is confusion about PC. PC is contra truth more than contra freedom of speech. Although it doesn’t always achieve this objective, one of the goals of freedom of speech is to facilitate the truth. Otherwise what is the good of free speech if its ends are purely personal preference and/or rooted in error?

  33. Gravatar of Miguel Madeira Miguel Madeira
    28. August 2017 at 06:16

    John Hall – “PCism has been a left-wing movement for my whole life at least. But that doesn’t mean that the right-wing doesn’t oppose restrictions on free speech.”

    pierremenard128 – “The working definition of political correctness here is wrong. What you are discussing is tolerance of opposing viewpoints.”

    JG – “Also, there is confusion about PC. PC is contra truth more than contra freedom of speech.”

    What all this show is that “PC” is largely a useless concept. My impression is that PC could mean 4 things:

    A – Intolerance of different opinions
    B – Cultural leftism (i.e. anti-racism, pro-abortion, feminism, pro-open borders, pro-gay marriage, etc.)
    C – Intersection of A and B
    D – Reunion of A and B

    By the meanings B, C and D, I bet that the left-wing is more PC than the right-wing (notwithstanding the question about “Allow racist to speak”)

  34. Gravatar of LK Beland LK Beland
    28. August 2017 at 06:29

    Very interesting data points. A few other of notice:

    -88% of those tolerating Muslim cleric hate speech also tolerated racist speech.
    -37% of those tolerating racist speech are NOT willing to tolerate Muslim hate speech.

    Women are less in favor of free speech.

    Religious people are less tolerant of free speech.

    Also, smarter people seem to support these views in greater numbers than less smart folks:
    -Allow racist to speak
    -Allow homosexual to speak
    -Allow militarist to speak
    -Allow communist to speak
    -Allow atheist to speak
    -Allow Muslim to preach hatred of America

    Off-topic, but might be of interest ( https://gnxp.nofe.me/2011/11/26/liberals-vs-conservatives-smart-vs-dull/ ):

    Trade took away American jobs

    Yes Yes
    Dull 29 39
    Not Dull 36 41
    Smart 11 11

  35. Gravatar of Student Student
    28. August 2017 at 07:33

    I think you are equating free speech with PCism. While there is significant overlap, they are not the same thing. PCism is/was about saying things in a way that is minimally offensive, it’s not about limiting free speech. I think both the left and the right lose sight of this. I think your point about the relationship between defending free speech and intelligence is a good one though.

    I actually think Pope Francis distinguishes well between free speech and PCism well in Amoris Laetitia so I will cite no. 139 (he is obviously talking mainly about interactions between couples but I think it applied generally).

    “Keep an open mind. Don’t get bogged down in your own limited ideas and opinions, but be prepared to change or expand them. The combination of two different ways of thinking can lead to a synthesis that enriches both. The unity that we seek is not uniformity, but a “uni- ty in diversity”, or “reconciled diversity”. Fra- ternal communion is enriched by respect and appreciation for differences within an overall perspective that advances the common good. We need to free ourselves from feeling that we all have to be alike. A certain astuteness is also needed to prevent the appearance of “static” that can interfere with the process of dialogue. For example, if hard feelings start to emerge, they should be dealt with sensitively, lest they interrupt the dynamic of dialogue. The ability to say what one is thinking without offending the other person is important. Words should be carefully chosen so as not to offend, especially when discussing dif cult issues. Making a point should never involve venting anger and in ict- ing hurt. A patronizing tone only serves to hurt, ridicule, accuse and offend others. Many disagreements between couples are not about important things. Mostly they are about trivial matters. What alters the mood, however, is the way things are said or the attitude with which they are said.”

  36. Gravatar of Student Student
    28. August 2017 at 07:41

    I meant equating anti-free speach with PCism.

  37. Gravatar of DocH DocH
    28. August 2017 at 09:50

    Apologies if this has already been addressed in the comments, but the author’s statement “I don’t believe there are any objective facts” is nonsensical because it is self-contradictory. If there are truly no objective facts, that itself is an objective fact.

  38. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    28. August 2017 at 10:55

    “This goes against the widely held view that PCism is concentrated on elite college campuses.  Presumably liberal arts professors score pretty high on a vocabulary test.”

    No it doesn’t, because that study is outdated.  With the speed of change, you cannot go back to 2008.  You need the most recent 4, 5 years tops, because it is during this timespan that the information came to light of which you are now writing your post.

    Also, there is a sub population of the radical left that has a soft spot for listening to Islamic radicals speak I’ll of western capitalism, while they would condemn Christians speaking ill of Islamic culture.  The study does not parse this out.  There are hypocrites big time for this.  

    And the question about “racism”, the study is not asking about racism in the form of “white people believing in black inferiority.”  The question is a general question, which of course readers can interpret any way they want, and with surveys it is often not even close to being representative of people’s actual views.  See the 2016 election for details, as most “polls” showed Clinton winning handily.  These pollsters supposedly understand the electoral college process, yet largely failed.  

    Many on the alt left publish encouraging and supportive comments towards racist views against for example white males, and have that in mind when saying yes, they would be Ok with racist views.

    The way questions are asked cannot be ignored.


    “When I say an idea is “actually correct”, I mean that I believe it to be true and also predict that society will eventually come to accept the idea as true. Long-time readers know that I don’t believe there are any objective facts.

    That is a self-contradictory statement, because to say there are no such thing as objective facts, is itself a statement appealing to the objective facts of the human mind.  Namely, that human minds are objectively incapable of understanding any objective truth.

    Haha, Rorty is so easy to demolish.  All you need to do is subject Rorty’s own standards to his own writings.  What he writes about worldviews, contradicts his own objectively presented worldview.

    Ask yourself, if there is no such thing an objective facts, then what of the statement you just made about you having beliefs?  Clearly you are presenting an objective fact about yourself when you claim that you don’t believe in the existence of objective facts.  You never said “Hey everyone, take a vote to see what I am saying on this blank page”.  No, you wrote statements and are attempting to convince your readers really are objective facts.

    Are we to take what you said about what you believe in as merely rustling of leaves in the wind, to be interpreted in any way, all equally valid, as long as whatever is believed, is believed by “society”?  This is insanity on stilts.  

    Try to prove that you believe that objective facts do not exist.  You cannot, without presuming the validity of them.  Go ahead, try.  Even if you try to dodge and avoid and talk around things, you will invariably make an appeal to some standard that is not itself subject to popularity contests. 

    Did you know that those who refer to what “society” believes, what “society” does, are appealing to a collectivist conception of humans? Are you libertarian (need individualism) or communist (collectivism)?

     If 50% of the population believes yes, and 50% believes no, what does “society” believe?  If it is 51 yes 49% no, does “society” now believe in yes, and not no?  Are the thoughts of the 49% incapable of saying anything true if those thoughts are also in a minority?

    You say you do not espouse socialism?  You are using their framework of denying individuality.  You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

    Truth is, and always has been, an individualist concept.  Truth about anything is always known by individuals first.  What happens after that is actually irrelevant to the question of whether that original thought was true.  A true statement is not true by virtue of subsequent polling stations.  A true statement is true by virtue of an absolute scientific standard that transcends votes.  The same “absolutist” standard that you are claiming for yourself in in the truth of what you “believe” and what you “predict”.  

    As with all mystical doctrines, there is always an escape hatch left for the author.  In your case, we can list items we thought were objective facts, that are not actually facts, and do that ad infinitum…except what you claim you believe.  Then the escape hatch is opened, and you claim that is OK, because just is one case we know objective truth.  A billion no’s for others, then a yes for yourself in that one way.

    Nope, that is the wrong approach.

    If your readers believed your post here was a recipe for spaghetti, you have nothing in Rortianism to refute them.  You can’t say that is not what you wrote, because what you wrote is not a function of what you believe as an individual, it is a function of simple statistics where human intelligence does not matter or factor in.  You would have to conduct a poll, and ask.  And even then, how many people need to be asked before you get the answer?

    You are presuming your unstated, but very much relevant beliefs *about* your stated beliefs to be objectively true BEFORE your own supposed standard is even met, that is, before “society” even reads it, contemplates it, and then believes in it.  

    Of course “society” is not defined.  But to ask, should “society” be defined as what most people believe?  Or what the state enforces by law?  Or, only those things you believe in that conveniently most people believe in and is therefore true and ignore those things that most people believe that you do not?  With 51% support of willing voters, or survey participants, the Earth becomes flat again?  Or should “society” only be science faculties in college campuses?  If so, which ones?  Why those and not others?  

    Objective truth does not go away simply because humans err.

    What about the researchers/surveyors?  Clearly we need more surveys to ensure that everything the survey authors presume or claim as true, go through the required process of truth vetting as well by way of surveys.

    And then we need more surveys to ensure that those surveys are what the authors say they are.  

    And then we need surveys to vet those surveys, and on and on.

    You’ll be conducting surveys all the way down.

    And all the while, you have to ascertain a standard of truth given what you are writing about.

    How will you know anything if you cannot even coherently explain the standard of knowing anything?

  39. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    28. August 2017 at 11:21

    This is a difficult topic to discuss because people rarely define what they mean by “PC.”

    On the most basic level, PC is just politeness. I’m sure there are word that used to be commonplace during your younger years that you no longer hear used, Professor, and maybe there are words you used to use but no longer do. Have we lost anything of value from discarding from polite discourse racial epithets and jokes based on ethnic stereotypes? Seems like everyone pretty much agrees that those have been changes for the better that are very much “PC.” They’re also just being aware that your words can hurt people and choosing not to do that. If you agree, you’re already on board for “PC.”

    Then there’s the “PC” of “allowed to speak” discussed here. What does that mean? Maybe on campus it’s different, but for the most part I think people agree that controversial views should have the same access to the fora of speech as any other views.

    The disagreements, really, are about context and appropriate counter-speech. A Muslim preaching hatred of the US from the pulpit or on the street corner may be different from doing to, for example, at Arlington National Cemetery. Surely people who disagree with the racist are allowed to peaceably assemble near the venue of the racist’s speech.

    Students who seek to de-platform (terrible term) a particular speaker on campus are objecting to the expression of those thoughts in the particular forum and context of their community. While I happen to think that you gain more from contextualizing controversial speech on campus than shouting it down, I don’t think students are crazy if they disagree. Nor do I really understand the amount of hand-wringing it inspires.

    As an example, what happened in Boston seemed to me to be exactly right. The “free speech” rally could and did go forward, but was vastly outnumbered by peaceful counter-protesters.

    But one could argue that the message of the “free speech” rally was effectively shouted down (did anyone but the most interested hear what they had to say in Boston?). Is that excessive “PC?”

  40. Gravatar of NateTheGrate NateTheGrate
    28. August 2017 at 15:21

    I am not sure that the percent of a group that would allow something to be said is the most important statistic. What about the question “Would you be willing to use violence to prevent a person from saying X?”. If 5% of a group said Yes, I would not be very comforted by the fact that 70% would allow someone to say X.

  41. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    28. August 2017 at 19:15

    I believe the results of this poll, but I also suspect there are poll design issues (wording and framing) at play, e.g., educated people know the “correct” answer is to allow speech, even though they would look for ways to isolate, discredit, or punish the speaker. In contrast, the uneducated simply say “STFU!”

    It also matters which order the questions are asked, as once someone says yes/no to one group, they feel obliged to give the same answer for the other group; this is the sort of thing push-pollsters know and design around.

    But I’m guessing the main effect is that the educated know that speech is sacred, therefore the correct answer is to “allow” the speech but find insidious ways to punish the speaker so that would-be speakers know to shut up, whereas uneducated jump directly to the preferred outcome.

    Lorenzo also has insightful comments about fringes driving the pc-ism.

  42. Gravatar of pierremenard128 pierremenard128
    28. August 2017 at 20:21

    Scott, sometimes I wonder why I even bother commenting. Did you read my entire comment?

    I said that without the Muslim graph, your evidence is **weaker**. You do understand that if a piece of evidence you put forth is actually irrelevant, your overall case becomes weaker as a result?

  43. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    29. August 2017 at 05:42

    What is the definition of PC? As a moderate democrat (I believe in market monetarism, welfare reform, tax reform, gay marriage and black lives matter), I struggle to understand why conservatives are so upset by PC. My impression is that PC means that college students take themselves too seriously and vilify people living in the real world. To me that has always been true. To me this is a silly annoyance. I very much support free speech. However, I think it is very appropriate to criticize the people say hateful things and the people who support them to include Trump. Do college students and some professors take it to far? Yes, but is that really such a significant threat to society? I am deeply disturbed by the events in Ferguson and Baltimore. I think the guy from Google was probably treated unfairly. But I think we should be more upset about Ferguson than Google. I struggle to understand how PC is such a threat when compared to other issues we are facing. It may be that my definition of PC is off, so I would welcome a clear definition of PC from those who consider it such a threat. Thank you.

  44. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    29. August 2017 at 07:44

    “Political correctness” is a label typically used for liberal terms and actions. So much for the definition what PC is.

    And Scott’s whole post is beside the point because it’s not really about what every little tiny political group thinks about the issue. In reality it’s only about who holds the power. And regarding PCism and attacks against the First Amendment the Left is completely in power.

  45. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. August 2017 at 07:56

    Everyone, When I talk about “PCism” I am not talking about being polite. Who could oppose being polite (other someone like Trump)? Rather I am referring to the view that only left wing views are acceptable, right wing speakers should not be allowed. That’s the controversial part of PCism.

    Bob, I never said PCism was a big threat.

  46. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. August 2017 at 07:59

    Bob, Also keep in mind that PCism is a moving target. It’s now difficult for white authors to write about non-white characters. That sort of “cultural appropriation” hysteria did not exist in the 1990s version of PCism. It’s getting worse. Who knows where it will be in 5 years.

  47. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    29. August 2017 at 08:09

    I am referring to the view that only left wing views are acceptable, right wing speakers should not be allowed.

    That’s right to the point.

  48. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    29. August 2017 at 12:16

    I guess I don’t know where you’re seeing that only left wing views are allowed and right wing views aren’t. We have a whole segment of media dedicated to right wing views and amply-funded think tanks to promote them.

    As I mentioned, I’m aware to student protests around campus speakers that students characterize as racist, transphobic and xenophobic, but (1) I guess don’t really think of those as “right wing views,” and (2) surely the students have just as much right to speak their objections. How to balance those competing speech rights is actually pretty tricky.

    I will admit that I struggle sometimes to understand exactly where the concerns about cultural appropriation come from, but I don’t think it’s difficult to see how writing about characters outside your own experience is particularly likely to result in repeating stereotypes.

    Anyway, people were complaining about “PC” when it meant “stop using racial epithets” and it doesn’t seem any more convincing now. Yes, the world is getting more complicated for us white men when we have to considering the thoughts, feelings, needs and voices of people who aren’t white men. That’s a good thing.

  49. Gravatar of JG JG
    29. August 2017 at 14:47

    Scott doesn’t believe in object moral truth or mathematical truth for that matter. He believes in something akin to the probability of truth. I guess he believes everything is chance.

  50. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    29. August 2017 at 15:38

    I will think more later

  51. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    30. August 2017 at 08:40


    You write: I don’t find any of these excuses to be even remotely plausible.

    One of the key inventions that enabled the moon landing (and autonomous driving) is the Kalman filter. You have several sensors (surveys) which imperfectly measure the state of the system (opinion). One key idea in the Kalyan filter is to fuse this with a model to estimate wheat you expect the sensors should say based on what happened before and use the combination to decide what is happening now.

    Partially Ignoring data got us to the moon.

  52. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. August 2017 at 14:06

    Adam, You said:

    “As I mentioned, I’m aware to student protests around campus speakers that students characterize as racist, transphobic and xenophobic, but (1) I guess don’t really think of those as “right wing views,”

    You don’t seem to understand that campus radicals regard ALL conservatives as racists. It isn’t just that they don’t want neo-Nazi speakers, they don’t want moderate Republican speakers.

    Perhaps you haven’t kept up with events since the 1990s.

    And your suggestion that people who complain about PCism are angry at not being able to use insulting terms for minorities doesn’t even pass the laugh test. You are obviously new here, but I can tell you that I did about 100 posts last year trashing Trump for racism. You really need to get up to date with what’s going on in the 21st century.,

  53. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    31. August 2017 at 09:59

    Which moderate republicans have been prevented from speaking? I’m aware of incidents involving Charles Murray, Milo and Anne Coulter. The first wrote a hotly contested book with significant racial implications. The other are two race, gender and immigration agitators. Did I miss the deplatforming of Mitt Romney or something?

    Mostly, though, I don’t understand why there’s so much focus on what kids are doing on campus. They’re kids. Kids have always been lacking in judgment.

    And I said people who complain about “PCism” now are saying exactly the same things as people who complained when PC meant they couldn’t use racial epithets.

    I’ve been reading and occasionally commenting here for years. Heck, at this point it might almost be a decade.

  54. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    1. September 2017 at 16:53

    PCism is not remotely just kids.

  55. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    2. September 2017 at 09:58

    Adam, Wait a minute. Are you comparing Charles Murray, one of the top ten conservative intellectuals in America, with those other two clowns? Are you saying he should not be allowed to speak on campuses? How about Condi Rice?


    There are many such examples. My school’s philosophy department invited an expert on the Afghanistan War to speak, and then the invitation was pulled under heavy pressure fro faculty. This stuff happens every day. I guess the media you read doesn’t report on it.

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