Against “The Toxoplasma of Rage.”

“The Toxoplasma of Rage” is regularly cited as one of Scott Alexander’s best essays, and I think it’s fundamentally mistaken, at least about the high-profile incidents it showcases.

He calls it “toxoplasma” because – like toxoplasmosis in rats and cats – there are supposedly two stages to how a story goes viral:

  1. Activists promote dubious stories because that demonstrates their zeal to their fellow activists.
  2. Counteractivists promote the same dubious story to demonstrate how dumb the original activists are.

 

I have a different theory: Continue reading

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Mass exposure to prison.

From comments at Thing of Things:

There has been some criticism recently of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.  See, for example, Vox:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/30/15591700/mass-incarceration-john-pfaff-locked-in

However, Brookings (and Ozy) points out that if you reframe the problem from “mass incarceration” to “mass exposure to prison”, the War on Drugs retakes primary importance:

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2015/11/25/drug-offenders-in-american-prisons-the-critical-distinction-between-stock-and-flow/