AMA (YYW)

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Caol----Blocked.
Yeah, no surprise there as  that is what all of those with ego based mental blockage to truth do.

Typical battleship mouth and rowboat mind at DDO and 85% of those here. 

--> @mustardness
lol

--> @Earth, @Swagnarok
>Internships, continued. 

I know there are a lot of jobs that want a year of unpaid "experience" before they offer you a job working as an assistant, and I think that's preposterous for reasons you can infer from my previous post about unpaid internships. 

That said, if unpaid work is the only way to get your foot in the door, then that's sometimes what you've got to do.

Here are my thoughts, though, for both of you as it relates to your careers:

Keep your minds open and look at many different opportunities.  Don't lock yourself in to teaching English, because in the long run it is not a stable career path.  
--> @coal
Thoughts on the Green New Deal?

I’ve heard you say that the federal minimum wage should be raised to $20 an hour or more. Are you not worried about potential unemployment effects of high minimum wage requirements?

What do you think of Cory Booker’s “baby bonds” proposal?

I feel like I’ve asked you this before, but don’t remember your answer, so: do you think the US should “audit the Fed”?

Would South Africa be better off if it reelected Cyril Ramaphosa?

Would India be better off if it reelected Narendra Modi?

Which of the “Medicare-for-All” proposals do you like best?

Should people under the age of 18 be allowed to, with the consent of their parent(s) and a psychiatrist, receive sex-reassignment surgery?

Should parents encourage their children to determine their own gender identity and respect their preferences with respect to, for example, gender pronouns?

Thoughts on school vouchers? What about charter schools?

Should, for example, a baker be required to fulfill a client’s request to bake a cake with a pro-marriage equality message on it? (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/10/uk-supreme-court-backs-bakery-that-refused-to-make-gay-wedding-cake) For clarity, this is different than a baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

Thoughts on Quillette? 

I’ve heard you express the opinion that white privilege doesn’t exist before. Three questions here:
  1. What do you mean by “white privilege”?
  2. If you were to be convinced of its existence, what evidence would people who believed that it existed have to present? (Asking for examples of evidence—for instance, “if this statistic x came out, it would make a strong case, even if it didn’t convince me entirely, for white privilege’s existence, insofar as that statistic was backed by a plurality of the evidence.”)
  3. Why do you think it doesn’t exist?

--> @coal
Do you think governments should require that companies pay their interns?

I agree with you about the idea that unpaid internships are probably exploitative and hurt low-income and lower middle-income people. I’m unsure if I’d ban them, though. 
--> @Tejretics
>Thoughts on the Green New Deal?

First, great set of questions. 

All in all, I think the way most of the "environmental" people approach addressing climate change is hostile to business, and that for so long as that continues, we are unlikely to see anything approximating a meaningful shift in the way business is done as it relates to contributing to global climate change.  The so called Green New Deal seems little more than an extension of that trend.

That is not to say that I want to roll back environmental regulations; I absolutely do not, and, rather, want stricter regulations imposed on nearly every aspect of commerce that creates pollution of any one of scores of kinds.  For example, tighter water and emissions regulations are critical to preserving the natural resources the country has for generations to come.  This includes creating the conditions for industry-killing penalties on companies that pollute in violation of this country's laws, and ramped up enforcement efforts.  This also includes placing more focus on the Federal EPA and taking control of environmental issues out of the states' hands.  If you want to take a look at the damage that commercial and industrial activity has had on this country, go on the EPA's website and see how far you live from a Superfund Site. 

But, taxing carbon emissions, plastics, and any other activity involved in commercial production is a catastrophic mistake because that is going to create nothing more than a legislatively imposed externality which will be passed off onto consumers, raising the cost of living for everyday Americans without clear benefit to them for doing so.  This is obvious to any thinking -- and not wholly naive or stupid -- person.  

So, what can be done?  The way that the commercial and industrial activity is going to stop hurting the environment is for something to displace fossil fuels.  Transportation and electricity are the two primary offenders, behind agriculture.  Agriculture is something that can be reformed but not at a socially acceptable cost (eating more grains and less meat is not a solution; though lab grown meat might be).  As for transportation and electricity, the locus of governmental efforts towards combatting climate change should be oriented towards alternative energy.  The electricity problem is one we already know and have the technology to solve.  Nuclear power is beyond obviously the way forward in the developed world.  To that end, more research is needed on thorium reactors.  They are safer and more stable.  As for transportation, biofuel is the future, predominantly from kelp and algae. There will still be a place for fossil fuel (diesel freezes at temperatures that are increasingly common in, for example, the midwest in the winter), but only once biofuel becomes cheaper than gas will the market shift from petrochemicals to renewables.  Getting biofuel cheaper than gas and commercially available on the level that gas is should be almost entirely what any governmental effort to combat climate change should focus on. 

--> @Tejretics
>I’ve heard you say that the federal minimum wage should be raised to $20 an hour or more. Are you not worried about potential unemployment effects of high minimum wage requirements?

I have evolved my thinking on that.  I think a $20,000 UBI is preferable to a $20.00/hr minimum wage.  However, the reason I am in favor of this is not because of the (entirely exaggerated) effects of potential unemployment. 

Nearly every single thing Republicans say about labor markets is provably false, exaggerated, or not even within the realm of plausibility and nearly every whitepaper you will read on, for example, what impact a $20/hr minimum wage would have on, say, Walmart defies credulity. 

This is reality: Walmart's business model is rancid to American taxpayers because Walmart passes off the economic costs of substandard employment onto states and the federal government by and through how they run their business.  Take a look at the economic value of the poverty benefits that Walmart employees collect from the states and the federal government, and you get a very clear idea of how that disgusting company has been so profitable for so many years (since the Clinton administration's "reform" in the 90s).

Note: whenever you hear a center-right democrat like Bill Clinton, or a corporate whore like Ted Cruz talk about "reform" what you should be hearing is "how can we deregulate markets to pass off externalities onto the taxpayers?"  Because that's all it ever means...

Two things need to happen, though: the economic costs of hiring a non-full time employee need to be made identical to the costs of paying a full-time employee, and there needs to be a UBI paid for by taxing corporations like Walmart. This absolute madness of "killing jobs" or whatever is exactly that... madness, that has no basis in reality.  What needs to change is Walmart's business model, the tax code, and the regime of employment law that has permitted Walmart to exist as it currently has.  Antitrust regulations and their enforcement is also necessary for similar reasons. 

--> @Tejretics
>What do you think of Cory Booker’s “baby bonds” proposal?

I have never heard of this, but it looks like an outstanding idea. 
--> @Tejretics
>I feel like I’ve asked you this before, but don’t remember your answer, so: do you think the US should “audit the Fed”?

The Fed can't be audited, which is exactly Rand Paul's purpose in the proposal.  What would an audit entail?  What would the objective be?  There is no obvious answer.  Rand Paul is an incompetent bloviating narcissist whose pseudointellectual ax to grind with the fed is an insufficient reason to spend money on anything, and especially tax money. 

>Would South Africa be better off if it reelected Cyril Ramaphosa?

He seems less worse than some of the alternatives, but South African politics are not my forte.  I can speak competently about European (Western, Central, and Eastern) politics without difficulty, as well as Middle Eastern, North African, and some Asian politics; but Subsaharan Africa and South America are the two areas of the world that I know relatively quite a bit less about.  

I could do some research into this, but overall... I tend to have a very cynical attitude about everything in Africa since decolonization.  Africa's first form of economic development occurred during the period of colonialism, and European countries brought Africa out of third world abyss into the modern age.  Then, a series of World Wars destroyed all that ever was or would be, there.  

That is not to say that I supported apartheid, or would today, or would have in the past.  Horrible things were done in the name of racial prejudice, but more horrible things are done in Europeans' absence--and that continues to this day--including no shortage of racially or tribally motivated violence (if not genocide) that would never have fallen if colonialism had not ended. 

Other, more civilized places (India, and to some degree Pakistan, as well as Bangladesh) are relatively fairly more capable of sorting out their own affairs; but Africa is overwhelmingly less so.  The genocide and ethnic conflict rates, and deaths resulting therefrom, bear this out.  

>Would India be better off if it reelected Narendra Modi?

I have serious reservations about Modi, and Hundu nationalism in general.   
--> @coal

Keep your minds open and look at many different opportunities.  Don't lock yourself in to teaching English, because in the long run it is not a stable career path.  

Good advice, though I'm not going into teaching.
--> @Tejretics
Note: if you want me to elaborate on these, specify what it is what you want me to elaborate on.  These aren't open ended questions, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here, but I can if you've got follow ups. 

>Which of the “Medicare-for-All” proposals do you like best?

Bernie's

>Should people under the age of 18 be allowed to, with the consent of their parent(s) and a psychiatrist, receive sex-reassignment surgery?

No, but not because I don't think that their parent's consent should be required; because I think performing that surgery on teenagers or any human before the age of about 25 is abhorrent.  Were I to write the rules, 25 would be the minimum age to receive that particular operation. 

>Should parents encourage their children to determine their own gender identity and respect their preferences with respect to, for example, gender pronouns?

I think the idea of a parent asking their kid if they want to be referred to as a boy, girl, or something else is transcendent idiocy. 

>Thoughts on school vouchers? What about charter schools?


There are some charter schools that have done outstanding things, and some private schools that already do outstanding things. That said, there are more horror stories as it relates to charter schools than there are success stories.

The basic problem with that question is that is assumes a qualitative (and probably quantitative) distinction in student outcomes based merely on the species of organization (public, private, charter, etc.).  The things that matter, however, in terms of improving student outcomes more proximately depend on the quality and caliber of teachers who are actually in the classrooms, and there is zero credible evidence to indicate that charter schools attract better teachers than public schools. 

The thing to do to improve student education is to increase the requirements to be a teacher, and raise teacher pay to reflect the value they create for society.  No teacher anywhere in the United States should be making less than $60,000/yr, and most should be making more. 
--> @Tejretics


>Thoughts on Quillette? 

I don't know what that is. 

--> @Tejretics
>Should, for example, a baker be required to fulfill a client’s request to bake a cake with a pro-marriage equality message on it? (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/10/uk-supreme-court-backs-bakery-that-refused-to-make-gay-wedding-cake) For clarity, this is different than a baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

There is, indeed, a difference between refusing to bake a cake for use at a gay wedding that is materially indistinguishable from a cake that would be used at a heterosexual wedding (beyond, say, trivialities like plastic figures on top); and refusing to bake a cake for use at a gay wedding that IS materially distinguishable from a cake that would be used at a heterosexual wedding.  The former implicates immutable quality based discrimination, whereas the latter implicates what you might call "a right of professional discretion" implicated in one's profession. 

Recently, I was watching a documentary on YouTube about tattoo artists, and the subject of this part of the documentary was about he tattoos that tattoo artists declined to perform.  Different people had different lines as it relates to what they would or would not do.  For example, one person said that he would not apply a face tattoo to someone who had not had their face tattooed before, because the long term implications of that would be unreasonably harmful.  That's an excellent thing to do.  Another person said that they would not apply a particular tree tattoo on someone's forehead, because the tattoo was associated with violence against women.  That is another excellent reason to decline to apply a tattoo.  A third person refused to do Nazi tattoos, or anything associated with Hitler or the Third Reich (no iron crosses, nazi-eagles, etc.).  That seemed perfectly reasonable to me as well.  None of them ever said that they refused to apply a tattoo on someone because a prospective customer was gay, a woman, a minority race, etc. 

When we are talking about 'the content applied to a cake', rather than a cake itself, is similar to the difference in "refusing to apply a tattoo to a person because of who or what the person was" in contrast with "refusing to apply a particular tattoo because of objections to the tattoo's contents".  I would have a problem with the former, because doing otherwise would be to legitimize discrimination under the pretext of professional discretion.  However, the latter implicates issues that go beyond discrimination, and implicate higher and more individualized questions of professional ethical decisions that, if regulated, would fall into the territory of "compelled speech".  

A brief discussion on compelled speech is appropriate, here.  Jordan Peterson is the person who made the phrase "compelled speech" prominent, or at least caused it to enter contemporary lexical usage.  Peterson did this in the context of interpreting the effects of an Ontario regulation which would have required under threat of civil (and, by extension, criminal) penalties for failing to use so called "preferred pronouns" of people on the basis of gender.  There was no "good faith" defense available or enumerated under the Ontario regulation, which would have excused liability for honest mistakes (it is not always obvious what a person's preferred pronouns would be, and that is especially true given the plethora of newly created so called pronouns by the activists in the humanities).  The "speech" that would be compelled would be the pronoun usage, and the compulsion would be the threat of law or legal sanction. 

--> @Tejretics

But, a cake and language are not the same thing.  A cake is a good, which is perishable, consumable, and is more frequently than not created for the purpose of consumption.  Cakes could signify anything, or nothing, for any reason.  The particularities of what a cake is meant to signify is not for the baker to inquire, just as a butcher need not inquire whether his steaks will be broiled, grilled, seared, or fed to wild dogs -- however sincerely held a butcher's objection to feeding his steaks to wild dogs may be.  The same applies to the baker, and loaves of bread.  The baker of bread has no business inquiring as to whether his baguettes will be used for making sandwiches, or, if so, the type of sandwiches, however sincerely held his objection to use of his bread for making that most offensive of sandwiches -- the muffuletta -- may be.  What may become of a general cake, likewise, is and ought to be of no concern to the baker of such confections. 

A cake, even a speech-free wedding cake typically sold for weddings, may be used for any purpose; celebration of a retirement, a company convention, celebration of the birth of a child, or a child's first communion; or a seance, a cross burning, the singular indulgence of a person sure to suffer from diabetes, or any other conceivable reason a person would want to buy a cake.  Giving a cake to a gay couple is not, therefore (much to the dismay of Neil Gorsuch) anything even vaguely approximating a "celebration of gay marriage".  This is nonsense on ideological stilts, a house on an ideological foundation of sand, or any other appropriate metaphor. 

Even a cake that says "Just married" or any one of the other customary phrases, is indistinguishable from any other commodity.    But a cake WITH CUSTOMIZED SPEECH on it in any of the forms of speech that may be interposed on a cake of any kind goes beyond something of a mere commodity.  To the degree that a cake is customized from what would otherwise be usually available, with unique speech oriented towards PARTICULAR things, we run into the risk of any finding other than one which permits professional discretion akin to that of what I described with the tattoo artists being "compelled" in the same way that the Ontario Human Rights regulation's idiocy would have compelled particular pronoun usage.  Examples of the speech I'm talking about would include, for example, specific and unique requests for things written on cakes like "Happy Birthday, Hitler!" or "Happy First Annual Cross Burning!" or "Milwaukee Association of Witchcraft's Third Annual Seance".  Compelled speech could also include things like compelling a baker to air-brush a swastika on a cake, or depict the image of an act of sexual intercourse for a "First Annual Swingers Convention". 

The bright-line rule would be hard to draw, though.  The best I can say is that, to the degree that the speech sought varies from that which would otherwise be commercially available to the public at large, a baker should have the right to decline to do that thing.  However, we should be clear that something like "Celebrating the wedding of Adam and Andy" written on the cake would, for our purposes, be indistinguishable from speech to the effect of "Celebrating the wedding of Adam and Stacy".  The mere fact that two male names, were present on a cake should not be a sufficient reason for a baker to decline to sell a gay couple a cake, because the baker would likely write the names of a heterosexual couple on the cake without discrimination against them.  But, if Adam and Andy wanted an image of two men engaging in intercourse on their cake, the baker would be well within his rights to decline. 

Where speech that would adorn a wedding cake would be materially indistinguishable from what would otherwise commercially available (such as the names of two spouses to be), Adam and Andy can request both their names on the cake without compelling the baker's speech.  But, where Adam and Andy make requests for speech that goes beyond, say, "Celebrating the wedding of Mr. and Mr. Jones", to something like "Daddy Dom Andy and Sissy Sub Adam begin today their lives of sexual domination and submission.  Woof. Woof." that is clearly a level of individualized speech that any baker would be within their rights to decline, for the same reason that the same baker may be well within their rights to decline "Celebrating the Milwaukee First Annual Cross Burning". That is to say, the degree of deviation from that which was otherwise commercially available must represent a material difference. 


--> @Tejretics
>I’ve heard you express the opinion that white privilege doesn’t exist before. Three questions here:
  1. What do you mean by “white privilege”? 
  2. If you were to be convinced of its existence, what evidence would people who believed that it existed have to present? (Asking for examples of evidence—for instance, “if this statistic x came out, it would make a strong case, even if it didn’t convince me entirely, for white privilege’s existence, insofar as that statistic was backed by a plurality of the evidence.”) 
  3. Why do you think it doesn’t exist?
White privilege (or white skin privilege) is the societal privilege that benefits people whom society identifies as white in some countries, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. Academic perspectives such as critical race theoryand whiteness studies use the concept to analyze how racism and racialized societies affect the lives of white or white-skinned people.
According to Peggy McIntosh, whites in Western societies enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience, as "an invisible package of unearned assets".[1] White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one's own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one's own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.[2][3]

Source: Wikipedia


It's not a comprehensive definition, but it does a reasonably adequate job of describing the concept.  I take "white privilege" and any discussion of it on the terms set forth by the so called "critical race theorists"; or other so called academics like Michael Eric Dyson (who is, so far as I am concerned, beneath contempt in terms of his pseudointellectual enterprises on this subject).  I note Dyson because he is among the most prominent, well respected, and seemingly well credentialed people in this "field".  He is certainly more reputable than a bottom feeding troglodyte like Ta Ha Nasi Coates, or whatever his name is.  

I don't know how to respond to your second question, but my response to your third question will preempt the premise of your second question. 

White privilege is not "white" privilege, but majority privilege.  Where the presumed differences are not unique to Western culture, but instead are common features of all cultures across the world for whatever majority exists in a particular locale, referring to the privilege as "white" privilege is a misnomer.  More broadly, though, Michael Eric Dyson's enterprise should not be about whining about how good white people have it or how good he thinks a stereotypical middle class white suburbanite has it (which, by the way, is exactly what he does; more on this in a bit).  His enterprise should be about raising the standard of decency with which we all treat each other.  But, instead because he is a small-minded racist, Dyson preoccupies himself with blaming white people for what he interprets to be "black" problems. 

That last idea there, which is the idea of "white" benefits and "black" problems that consumes Dyson's thoughts on nearly everything he talks about, is not based on empirical facts.  Rather, it's based on stereotypical generalizations based on non-representative microcosms of communities that are historically associated (often without basis) with "whiteness".  When I lived in a Boston suburb, my neighbors were White, Asian, Indian, and Arabic.  There was not a house on the street that sold for less than a price in the upper six figures, most were in the low seven figures.  Whites outnumbered most others, but we had an aerospace engineer for a defense contractor (Indian), a bonds trader (Arabic), three doctors (Asian and Indian), and a lawyer (Asian) in my neighborhood.  We also had a bunch of white Irish catholics, a few protestants, a hand-full of jews, and two mixed-race families (Chinese woman, and White man; and Indian man, and White woman).  There was no discrimination.  Wanna know where there is discrimination?  Subsaharan Africa, against white people.  Take a look at Zimbabwe, and then get back to me.  Same with China or Japan. 

So, the point here is not to say that there aren't qualitative differences between how certain members of racial subgroups are treated.  There are, but to say that those differences equate to one racial subgroup's privilege and the other's detriment is nonsense, and to localize the supposed privilege to one race where the majority of the detriments complained about are little more than stereotypes about black people entertained by people like Dyson... that's racist and offensive in its own rite.  








--> @coal
I have serious reservations about Modi, and Hundu nationalism in general.   
To clarify my position on this, I think he's been and will continue to be disastrous. 
--> @Tejretics
Disastrous might be further than I would be inclined to go, but a politician whose proclivity is to stir the pot of Hindu nationalism in the context of an ongoing conflict with Pakistan that the world seems concerned will escalate is a bad idea.  That said, I don't think Modi would launch a nuclear strike on Pakistan (for blatantly obvious reasons), nor do I think that Pakistan would ever nuke India (for equally blatantly obvious reasons).  But, what I do see Modi's election doing is stoking the fire of a conflict that needs to be put to rest.  

That said, Pakistan was and is consistently in the wrong as it relates to sheltering terrorists.  The ISI is one step away from aiding material aid and comfort to terrorists, themselves.  But, that doesn't mean India needs to act irrationally, or fan the flames of Hindu nationalism.  I hate to stereotype, but I'd much rather India remain a place that is open for business and development, which continues to raise the standard of living for its people, and which continues to provide an unending series of culinary delights to the West in the form of Indian restaurants owned by expats. 
The food comment wasn't meant to come across as racist, btw., which I suppose it might, given the text, and in the context of my prior comments about colonialism (though I specifically excluded India and Pakistan from that comment).   That said, I do love Indian (and Sri Lankan, Punjabi, Nepali, Himalayan, Afghani, and Pakistani) food. 
--> @coal
If you were to rank the ten best universities and colleges in the United States, what would your ranking be?

What would your ranking be specifically for STEM fields?

What about for the social sciences?

Use any criteria you think are important.
--> @coal
>Should, for example, a baker be required to fulfill a client’s request to bake a cake with a pro-marriage equality message on it? (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/10/uk-supreme-court-backs-bakery-that-refused-to-make-gay-wedding-cake) For clarity, this is different than a baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. 

There is, indeed, a difference between refusing to bake a cake for use at a gay wedding that is materially indistinguishable from a cake that would be used at a heterosexual wedding (beyond, say, trivialities like plastic figures on top); and refusing to bake a cake for use at a gay wedding that IS materially distinguishable from a cake that would be used at a heterosexual wedding.  The former implicates immutable quality based discrimination, whereas the latter implicates what you might call "a right of professional discretion" implicated in one's profession. 

Recently, I was watching a documentary on YouTube about tattoo artists, and the subject of this part of the documentary was about he tattoos that tattoo artists declined to perform.  Different people had different lines as it relates to what they would or would not do.  For example, one person said that he would not apply a face tattoo to someone who had not had their face tattooed before, because the long term implications of that would be unreasonably harmful.  That's an excellent thing to do.  Another person said that they would not apply a particular tree tattoo on someone's forehead, because the tattoo was associated with violence against women.  That is another excellent reason to decline to apply a tattoo.  A third person refused to do Nazi tattoos, or anything associated with Hitler or the Third Reich (no iron crosses, nazi-eagles, etc.).  That seemed perfectly reasonable to me as well.  None of them ever said that they refused to apply a tattoo on someone because a prospective customer was gay, a woman, a minority race, etc. 

When we are talking about 'the content applied to a cake', rather than a cake itself, is similar to the difference in "refusing to apply a tattoo to a person because of who or what the person was" in contrast with "refusing to apply a particular tattoo because of objections to the tattoo's contents".  I would have a problem with the former, because doing otherwise would be to legitimize discrimination under the pretext of professional discretion.  However, the latter implicates issues that go beyond discrimination, and implicate higher and more individualized questions of professional ethical decisions that, if regulated, would fall into the territory of "compelled speech".  
This answer makes a lot of sense, thanks. 

--> @Tejretics
Re: cakes

I do what I can
--> @Tejretics
>If you were to rank the ten best universities and colleges in the United States, what would your ranking be?

I don't have access to the kind of data to do that.  But, if I did, my list would probably include the University of Chicago, Cal Tech, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. 

>What would your ranking be specifically for STEM fields? 

I don't know.  Same answer.  I don't have the data.  But, the list if I did would probably include the above.  

>What about for the social sciences?

Same as above, I don't have the data.  But, if I did, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and Yale would be on that list most likely. 




--> @coal
Did you mean to end your thought with the word rite? Would be interesting if you actually view critical theory racism as a ritual.
--> @Greyparrot
I meant to use the word "rite", but there is no doubt that there are ritualistic (as well as quasi-religious, liturgical, and theological) elements to the practice of applying critical theory's precepts to the world.  I could say some things about that, but I think most of that stuff is fairly self-evident once you understand how critical theory works. 

More questions encouraged. 

Maybe ask me about why /r/askhistorians is by far the worst subreddit on Reddit.