- Replies to Ancient Tweets

Replies to Ancient Tweets

Occasionally someone tweets about Cold Takes such that I want to respond. But I can't respond over Twitter because I don't tweet. So here are my thoughts on some tweets people have made. The vibe I’m going for here is kind of like if someone delivered a sick burn in person, then received a FAX 6 years later saying “Fair point - but have you considered that it takes one to know one?” or something.

@ezraklein on Rowing, Steering, Anchoring, Equity, Mutiny (11/30/21)

Ezra Klein on Rowing, Steering, Anchoring, Equity, Mutiny:

I basically think I just agree with all of this. My post didn’t present them as mutually exclusive, just as sources of confusion (see this table where I categorize different non-exclusive combinations). “Maintenance” is a good one.

@Evolving_Moloch on Pre-agriculture gender relations seem bad (11/29/21)

William Buckner on Pre-agriculture gender relations seem bad:

I feel spiritually very on board with a comment like “You have to read, can’t just accept codes!” I ideally would’ve read all of the details, and I hope to come back and do this someday. Why didn’t I?

  • I think I did check out a couple, but it was really logistically difficult for a number of them, as they were sourced from expensive out-of-print books and things like that. (I had a similar issue with the data on early violence cited by Better Angels of our Nature, and I’ve been slowly finding used versions of the books, compiling a little library, and planning to eventually dig through everything and see whether the whole picture comes crashing down. I might not finish that for a long time, but stay tuned!)
  • I ultimately decided not to explore every angle I could, which could’ve taken weeks. Instead I figured: “I’ve dug further into this than any other concise presentation I’ve seen, and certainly further than the existing highly-cited sources (e.g., Wikipedia) seem to, so why not put out what I have, and if it spreads, maybe someone else will point out what I missed?” In a sense, then, this worked OK, and I basically endorse “Dig deeper than others have” as a better rule than “Do a full minimal-trust investigation every time.”
  • Another factor was that I expect my conclusion to hold up based on a number of other subtler data points, such as the fact that Wikipedia’s “support” for good gender relations actually contained quite a bit of info that seemed to suggest bad gender relations, and the fact that the best source I’d found on hunter-gatherers overall seemed pretty down on the situation. (More at the full piece.)
  • And indeed, if the above points are the biggest corrections out there, that really doesn’t seem to change the picture much. I do not think “women lead women’s spaces” is good enough! And yeah, I wouldn’t instinctively classify the example he gives as a “leader” in the sense of having political power over the society as a whole, though I’d guess there are a lot more details that matter in that case.