‘Young white guys are hopping mad’: confidence grows at far-right gathering

‘Young white guys are hopping mad’: confidence grows at far-right gathering
‘Race realism’ and call for a white ‘ethnostate’ among themes at the American Renaissance conference in Tennessee
By Jason Wilson
Jul 31 2017

“We are soldiers in this war,” Jared Taylor told an overwhelmingly male and entirely white audience of around 300 late on Saturday. “And we will win.”

The founder and editor of American Renaissance, once a print magazine and now “the internet’s premier race-realist site”, no longer thinks whites can have America to themselves. But he wants an all-white “ethnostate”, carved out of US territory. 

This weekend, American Renaissance held its annual conference at a venue in Montgomery Bell state park, an hour west of Nashville, Tennessee. Attendees and speakers clearly felt a growing confidence. They have seen appreciable growth in membership of established and emerging far-right groups. They have also seen the election as president of Donald Trump.

Speakers at the event addressed subjects including “Race realism and race denialism” and “Has the white man turned the corner?”. One considered “The Trump report card – so far”.

When Taylor spoke, his audience was generationally diverse. Some, well into middle age or beyond, had heard it all before. But when he asked who was attending for the first time, the great majority raised their hands. 

Many were millennials. Though all attendees wore conference dress code – jacket and tie – more than a few younger men sported the “fashy haircut”, short back and sides with a severe parting, which has become a signature of the so-called alt-right. 

Many such young men lined up for selfies with Richard Spencer, the president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute thinktank who has achieved fame since greeting the election result with a cry of “Hail Trump”. 

Others browsed vendor tables, buying books from the white nationalist publisher Counter-Currents – titles included Towards the White Republic and In Defense of Prejudice – or picking up flyers from Identity Evropa, a group that markets white supremacy to millennials.

Taylor said such men were flooding to his group because they were “hopping mad”. “These young white guys,” he told the Guardian, “they have been told from infancy that they are the villains of history. And I think that the left has completely overplayed its hand.” 

It was not clear if fear or anger was the dominant emotion of the conference. Speaker after speaker addressed the supposed genetic and demographic decline of the west; the supposed low IQ of migrants flooding western countries; supposed links between IQ and “social pathology”; supposed “anti-white propaganda that suffuses our society”; supposed academic conspiracies that have worked to cover all this up. A common theme was the supposed propensity of non-whites to crimes like rape. 

Using colour-coded maps, graphs and pictures of human brains, some speakers strove to give racism the kind of scientific respectability it has not claimed since the second world war. 

Attendees were also told a lot about Trump. Taylor said the billionaire had provided “a great deal of excitement” when he was elected, but was now viewed with some skepticism.

Questioned by the Guardian, Spencer said Trump’s policy on Syria and the healthcare debacle were distractions from the only thing this crowd was interested in: immigration. 

“I give him a C,” he said.


At EPA museum, history might be in for a change

At EPA museum, history might be in for a change
By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis
Jul 30 2017

Scott Pruitt has repeated a particular line again and again since becoming the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

“The future ain’t what it used to be at the EPA,” he’s fond of saying. 

As it turns out, the past may not be what it once was, either. 

In an obscure corner of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building, a debate is underway about how to tell the story of the EPA’s history and mission.

A miniature museum that began as a pet project of former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy has come under scrutiny. It features the agency’s work over 4½ decades, with exhibit topics such as regulating carbon dioxide emissions and the Paris climate accord. The Obama administration championed such efforts, but President Trump’s policies are at odds with them. 

Now the museum, which opened just days before President Barack Obama left office, is being reworked to reflect the priorities of the Trump administration, an effort that probably will mean erasing part of the agency’s history.

Unlike other stark changes that have taken place at the EPA since Trump took office, the museum overhaul has not been primarily driven by political appointees. Rather, some of the same career staff members who worked on the exhibits under the Obama administration informed Trump appointees about the museum and the fact that parts of it were not in line with their vision.

“I wanted to make sure that they knew it existed,” said Nancy Grantham, a career public affairs employee at EPA, who has toured the exhibit with at least one Trump official. “That’s just how I operate. I don’t like to be surprised, and I assume others don’t like to be, either.”

Most people outside the agency aren’t even aware of the one-room exhibit just outside the entrance to the EPA Credit Union, which cost more than $300,000 to assemble and is open to the public free each weekday. McCarthy cut the ribbon with a giant pair of scissors Jan. 17, joined by a handful of former and current EPA officials and staff members. 

There is no question that parts of the museum reflect an Obama administration-centric narrative. It includes a panel dedicated to the 2009 “endangerment finding,” in which then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson concluded that the agency was legally obligated to control greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change because they threatened public health. A separate panel features a Dr. Seuss cartoon-themed poster with the message “Join the Lorax and Help Protect the Earth From Global Warming.”

The Paris agreement, in which nearly 200 nations pledged in December 2015 to curb their carbon output, also has a display panel, which notes that the “EPA is leading global efforts to address climate change.” In June, Trump announced plans to withdraw from the agreement.

The Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature effort to regulate carbon emissions and combat climate change, also is prominently displayed. “The CPP shows the world that the United States is committed to address climate change,” the exhibit reads.


Re: The Worst Internet In America

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Dave Hughes.  DLH]

From: Dave <dave@oldcolo.com>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] The Worst Internet In America
Date: July 30, 2017 at 5:18:01 PM EDT
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

I – and I am sure Dewayne Hendricks – find it interesting that Saguache County, Colorado is dubbed the “worst Internet” in America. I am sure the nearly identical adjacent county to the south, Hurfano – would rate the same label.  Which means the most Internet deprived communities of Rural America.

But since both Dewayne and I were involved in 1993 in extending the Internet – wirelessly -from the only hard-wire point of access in Alamosa Colorado – even to one of the Saguache very small towns – Center’ – I think I can comment editorially on this matter.

In 1992 the National Science Foundation, observing that I had an interest – and even had- thanks to a pair of  902-928  megahertz “unlicenced’ spread spexctrum radios loaned by Dewayne to me,  a wireless connection to my house in Colorado Springs –  and further that I I thought that Rural America – starting with its schools could and should be connected to the Internet wirelessly rather than commercially costly dedicated wired telephone company lines and their charges.

The NSF offered me a series of substantial grants over several years so I could experiment with Wireless data connections, both for small rural schools, and later to connect-up data collecting  devices for scientific researchers who also had difficulty gathering field data other than by physical treks to and from such places as the Rain Forests of Puerto Rico, remote Alaska outback , or even the desert venues of southern Colorado,

First of all Saguache – and adjoining San Luis County are populated by largely traditional Hispanic peoples – whose appearance in Colorado  date back into the 1600’s when they migrated northward from Mexico and Sante Fe. The oldest church in Colorado is in the San Luis Valley. While they – as American citizens – have modern K-12 schools, speak both English and Spanish,supported from their more meager tax base and a scattering of Colleges, they – like many older Americans spend much time conversing face to face and in community settings. They do watch television which has reached their homes more than the Internet. I find it interesting that Microsoft is experimenting with using the white spaces on television bands to support rural net connectivity.

The San Luis Valley of Colorado is over 100 miles long and 50 miles wide. An ancient dried-up lake bed (the Great San Dunes of Colorado are there too) The populations will ever be small and scattered. Cost of  net Connectivity is no longer a real obstacle, so long as wireless connectivity and wireless spectrum remains unlicensed. I was able to connect up a pair of low cost radios 30 miles line of sight between the School In San Luis, Colorado, to a 30 foot rooftop antenna in Alamosa – the largest town in the Valley. There an entrepreneur set up and operated”Amigo Net’

The experiments that Dewayne and I conducted were successful and showed very small rural school adminstrations how they could afford to connect up their students. That was followed even by my subcontracting with Dewayne who traveled to Mongolia underneath another NSF grant, to extend the net to very rural peoples there.

I am not sure there is as much a cultural demand for Internet conversations in all of rural America. As in the rest of America, the connected youth in schools can be expected to lead the demand for connectivity as they grow up.

Dave Hughes

The Worst Internet In America 
By Clare Malone 
Jul 27 2017 

Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House

Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House
Donald Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry, once campaigned to abolish the $30 billion agency that he now runs, which oversees everything from our nuclear arsenal to the electrical grid. The department’s budget is now on the chopping block. But does anyone in the White House really understand what the Department of Energy actually does? And what a horrible risk it would be to ignore its extraordinary, life-or-death responsibilities?
Jul 26 2017

On the morning after the election, November 9, 2016, the people who ran the U.S. Department of Energy turned up in their offices and waited. They had cleared 30 desks and freed up 30 parking spaces. They didn’t know exactly how many people they’d host that day, but whoever won the election would surely be sending a small army into the Department of Energy, and every other federal agency. The morning after he was elected president, eight years earlier, Obama had sent between 30 and 40 people into the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy staff planned to deliver the same talks from the same five-inch-thick three-ring binders, with the Department of Energy seal on them, to the Trump people as they would have given to the Clinton people. “Nothing had to be changed,” said one former Department of Energy staffer. “They’d be done always with the intention that, either party wins, nothing changes.”

By afternoon the silence was deafening. “Day 1, we’re ready to go,” says a former senior White House official. “Day 2 it was ‘Maybe they’ll call us?’ ”

“Teams were going around, ‘Have you heard from them?’ ” recalls another staffer who had prepared for the transition. “ ‘Have you gotten anything? I haven’t got anything.’ ”

“The election happened,” remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the D.O.E. “And he won. And then there was radio silence. We were prepared for the next day. And nothing happened.” Across the federal government the Trump people weren’t anywhere to be found. Allegedly, between the election and the inauguration not a single Trump representative set foot inside the Department of Agriculture, for example. The Department of Agriculture has employees or contractors in every county in the United States, and the Trump people seemed simply to be ignoring the place. Where they did turn up inside the federal government, they appeared confused and unprepared. A small group attended a briefing at the State Department, for instance, only to learn that the briefings they needed to hear were classified. None of the Trump people had security clearance—or, for that matter, any experience in foreign policy—and so they weren’t allowed to receive an education. On his visits to the White House soon after the election, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, expressed surprise that so much of its staff seemed to be leaving. “It was like he thought it was a corporate acquisition or something,” says an Obama White House staffer. “He thought everyone just stayed.”

Even in normal times the people who take over the United States government can be surprisingly ignorant about it. As a longtime career civil servant in the D.O.E., who has watched four different administrations show up to try to run the place, put it, “You always have the issue of maybe they don’t understand what the department does.” To address that problem, a year before he left office, Barack Obama had instructed a lot of knowledgeable people across his administration, including 50 or so inside the D.O.E., to gather the knowledge that his successor would need in order to understand the government he or she was taking charge of. The Bush administration had done the same for Obama, and Obama had always been grateful for their efforts. He told his staff that their goal should be to ensure an even smoother transfer of power than the Bush people had achieved.

That had proved to be a huge undertaking. Thousands of people inside the federal government had spent the better part of a year drawing a vivid picture of it for the benefit of the new administration. The United States government might be the most complicated organization on the face of the earth. Two million federal employees take orders from 4,000 political appointees. Dysfunction is baked into the structure of the thing: the subordinates know that their bosses will be replaced every four or eight years, and that the direction of their enterprises might change overnight—with an election or a war or some other political event. Still, many of the problems our government grapples with aren’t particularly ideological, and the Obama people tried to keep their political ideology out of the briefings. “You don’t have to agree with our politics,” as the former senior White House official put it. “You just have to understand how we got here. Zika, for instance. You might disagree with how we approached it. You don’t have to agree. You just have to understand why we approached it that way.”


The Worst Internet In America

The Worst Internet In America
By Clare Malone
Jul 27 2017

To drive the length and breadth of Saguache County, Colorado, is a dangerous undertaking. The roads, at least in spring, are lonely, clear and straight — “drive 30 miles then take a left” is the gist of most map directions. But the views are what can drive a person to distraction, veering recklessly over dotted yellow lines. There are hayfields drowned in water, blue and glassy so it looks like the sky fell into them, football fields full of black cattle standing stock-still like museum statuary, signs along empty stretches advertising meet and greets with the “Happy Gilmore” alligator, and crop planes that totter and swoop perilously over power lines before misting fields so green you think they might have invented the color.

The beauty of Saguache County can be an inconvenient one, though, particularly in the 21st century: It has some of the worst internet in the country. That’s in part because of the mountains and the isolation they bring. Saguache (sah-WATCH’) is nestled in between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan ranges, a four-hour drive southwest of Denver. Its population of 6,300 is spread across 3,169 square miles 7,800 feet above sea level, but on land that is mostly flat, so you can almost see the full scope of two mountain ranges as you drive the county’s highways: the San Juans, melted into soft brown peaks to the west, and the Sangre de Cristos, sharp, black and snowcapped, thrusting almost violently upward to the east.

FiveThirtyEight analyzed every county’s broadband usage using data from researchers at the University of Iowa and Arizona State University1 and found that Saguache was at the bottom. Only 5.6 percent of adults were estimated to have broadband.

But Saguache isn’t alone in lacking broadband. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans — 23 million people — don’t have access. In Pew surveys, those who live in rural areas were about twice as likely not to use the internet as urban or suburban Americans.

The FCC now defines broadband internet as the ability to download information at 25 megabits per second and to upload it at 3 megabits per second. This sort of connection enables a person to do the things that most Americans with home internet like to do — watch Netflix, play video games, and browse online without interruption even if a couple of devices are on the same connection. For around $30 a month, New York City internet providers offer basic packages of 100 Mbps service. In Saguache County, such a connection is rare; if a household wants a download speed of 12 Mbps with an upload speed of 2 Mbps, they can expect to pay a whopping $90.

This would be less of an issue if the internet weren’t so central to modern life. But taxes, job applications, payroll operations, banking, newspapers, shopping, college courses and video chats all are ubiquitous online. Saguache County’s students are expected to take their state assessments online even though an administrator at one school that houses K-12 students told me that until last year, the internet often went down for a couple of hours or even all day in the building.

The tide long ago turned from paper to digital in American life, and yet the disparities in access to the internet in parts of the country can be stark. Rural communities often face logistics problems installing fiber-optic cable in sparsely populated areas. In Saguache, internet problems are both logistical and financial; the county is three times the size of Rhode Island, while 30 percent of residents live below the poverty line.

Some would argue that the social contract has changed and that fast internet isn’t just a luxury — it’s a right of all 21st-century Americans. If that’s the case, we’re far from ensuring it. Just spend a few days hopping from town to town on Saguache’s long stretches of road.


Cars Suck Up Data About You. Where Does It All Go?

Cars Suck Up Data About You. Where Does It All Go?
Jul 27 2017

Cars have become rolling listening posts. They can track phone calls and texts, log queries to websites, record what radio stations you listen to — even tell you when you are breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit.

Automakers, local governments, retailers, insurers and tech companies are eager to leverage this information, especially as cars transform from computers on wheels into something more like self-driving shuttles. And they want to tap into even more data, including what your car’s video cameras see as you travel down a street.

Who gets what information and for what purposes? Here is a primer.

What Can Be Collected?

Government rules limit how event data recorders — the black boxes in cars that record information such as speed and seatbelt position in the seconds before, during and after a crash — can be used. But no single law in the United States covers all the data captured by all the other devices in automobiles.

Those devices include radar sensors, diagnostic systems, in-dash navigation systems and built-in cellular connections. Newer cars may record a driver’s eye movements, the weight of people in the front seats and whether the driver’s hands are on the wheel. Smartphones connected to the car, and those not connected to the car, can also track your activities, including any texting while driving.

There are few rules or laws in the United States that govern what data can be collected and used by companies. (An exception is medical information.) The United States generally does not ensure that companies strip out names or other personal details, or stipulate how such information should be used, for example.

Typically, a driver agrees to be tracked and monitored by checking off a box on one of the user agreement forms needed to register a car’s in-dash system or a navigation app. In most cases, the driver must agree to such terms to use an app or service.

Who Owns the Data?

While anyone from an app developer to Google or Spotify may be capturing your digital moves while you drive, in most cases the primary collector and owner of this deluge of data is the automaker. And while it presents some potentially valuable new opportunities for them, it also has raised some nettlesome customer relationship problems.

General Motors learned this the hard way in 2011 when it amended the terms and conditions for its OnStar communications system. They included a change that allowed OnStar to share vehicle information with other companies and organizations without asking for additional explicit consent from customers. The change led to numerous complaints, and the incident was even cited in a 2012 Supreme Court decision about warrantless tracking as evidence that drivers expect privacy behind the wheel.

Consequently, many car companies view the acknowledgment of such data collection as problematic for customer relations. While drivers may welcome use of the information to relay diagnostic and service information (“Time for an oil change!”), automakers are aware that many consumers are wary of other uses — so much so that several companies declined to comment on their future plans or data collection policies.

Is There an Advantage to Sharing It?

There are cases in which drivers regularly choose to trade their data to get a benefit.

For example, live traffic services like Inrix and Waze can save a driver hours of agony sitting in sweltering traffic in exchange for sharing location and speed information. There are also products like Autobrain, Automatic, Zubie and Verizon Hum that offer connected car services, like car diagnostics, via a dongle that plugs into a car.


New York property speculators have figured out how to evict everyone

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

New York property speculators have figured out how to evict everyone
By Cory Doctorow
Jul 29 2017

New York’s catastrophic homelessness is about to get much, much worse: the skyrocketing property values (driven by speculators who buy apartments in order to get their money out of corrupt and failing states abroad, leaving them empty with the understanding that they can be cashed out on short notice, thanks to the white-hot market of other money-launderers) have attracted very deep-pocketed, anonymous hedge-funds that are snapping up buildings with rent-stabilized and rent-controlled units, who use a ruthless set of highly refined tactics to kick out all their tenants and then flip the building.

It’s destroyed the lives of multigenerational New York families and created a kind of invisible homeless army of working families with children who go from shelter bed or relatives’ couches to jobs and school, teetering on the brink of living on the street.

The tactics deployed to evict tenants — elderly retirees, families, disabled people, veterans — are shocking and ghastly, including trumped-up claims of mental illness used to secure involuntary commitals to mental institutions; threats to take away families children if they report the lack of heat and water (on the grounds that only an unfit parent would keep a child in a home without heat and water), hiring homeless people to live in the corridors of family buildings and defecate on tenants doormats, and on and on.

When a landlord embarks on a campaign to “unlock value” in his building, it becomes a consuming psychological torment for renters. “Landlord harassment is practically all anyone I know talks about,” a beleaguered tenant named Nefertiti Macaulay told me. “When it comes, it’s like a bomb’s gone off in your living room.” After an equity firm bought her building and began pressuring tenants to leave, Nefertiti tried, with mixed results, to organize a rent strike.Amiable and proper, with a tattoo on her shoulder of the famous bust of the Egyptian queen who bears her name, Nefertiti has lived her entire life in Brooklyn. After her experience with her landlord she became a housing advocate and currently works as a community liaison for Diana Richardson, who represents Crown Heights in the New York State Assembly. She told me of a seventy-one-year-old man and his ninety-year-old mother who have lived in the same apartment in another building for forty years. “The new owner wants to give them $60,000 to move, and they think they have to take it because the landlord says so. They’re more than likely to end up at the mercy of the [Department of Homeless Services], at an annual cost to the city of $43,000 per person. I see it happen all the time.”

One of the tactics owners employ is to hold rent checks without cashing them and then sue tenants for nonpayment. Delores, who has lived on Eastern Parkway for twenty-five years, found herself embroiled in this scheme. Between 2013 and 2015 her building was flipped twice. “We don’t even know who the owners are.When we call, no one answers. And when they do answer, they’re very disrespectful. They tell us they’re going to relocate us to East New York. Where in East New York? It’s like we’re bad inventory they want to off-load to some warehouse so we’re not in the way anymore.”

Some landlords bring tenants to court for putting up bookshelves (which may violate the letter of a lease that prohibits renters from drilling into walls) or for having a roommate or, in one case I know of, a pet canary. “Most people here don’t believe in the courts because they’re used to it working against them,” said Nefertiti. “That’s what landlords count on.” Many renters are unaware of the laws protecting them and have little knowledge of how New York’s intricate housing bureaucracy works, so they are easily intimidated by determined owners. A court date is also a missed day at work. Landlords don’t expect to win all of these skirmishes, but the barrage of lawsuits helps set the stage for a buyout: financially and emotionally ground down, the tenant agrees to relinquish his rights and depart.


Al Gore: ‘The rich have subverted all reason’

Al Gore: ‘The rich have subverted all reason’
With the sequel to his blockbuster documentary An Inconvenient Truth about to be released, Al Gore tells Carole Cadwalladr how his role at the forefront of the fight against climate change consumes his life
By Carole Cadwalladr
Jul 29 2017

In the ballroom of a conference centre in Denver, Colorado, 972 people from 42 countries have come together to talk about climate change. It is March 2017, six weeks since Trump’s inauguration; eight weeks before Trump will announce to the world that he is withdrawing America from the Paris Climate Agreement.

These are the early dark days of the new America and yet, in the conference centre, the crowd is upbeat. They’ve all paid out of their own pockets to travel to Denver. They have taken time off work. And they are here, in the presence of their master, Al Gore. Because Al Gore is to climate change… well, what Donald Trump is to climate change denial.

It’s 10 years since the reason for this, the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, was released into cinemas. It was an improbable project on almost every level: a film about what was then practically a non-subject, starring the man best known for not winning the 2000 US election, its beating heart and the engine of its narrative drive a PowerPoint presentation.

When the filmmakers approached him, he explains to the room, “I thought they were nuts. A movie of a slideshow, delivered by Al Gore, what doesn’t scream blockbuster about it?” Except it was a blockbuster. In documentary terms, anyway. The careful accretion of facts and figures genuinely shocked people. And it’s a measure of the impact it had, and still continues to have, that Gore delivers this vignette to a rapt crowd who, over the course of three days, are learning how to be “Climate Reality Leaders”.

It’s the reason why we are all here – his foundation, the Climate Reality Project, an initiative that grew out of the film, provides intensive training in talking about climate change, combating climate change denial – and the tone might be described as “activist upbeat”. This is a crisis that is solvable, we’re told. Trump is just another hitch, another hurdle to overcome. And it will be overcome. Only occasionally does a sliver of despair leak around the edges. You have to stay positive, a man called David Ellenberger tells the audience. Though sometimes, he admits: “There’s not enough Prozac to get through the day.”

It’s almost a relief to hear someone acknowledge this. Because before there was “FAKE NEWS!!!” and the “FAILING New York Times!” Trump was tweeting about “GLOBAL WARMING hoaxsters!” and “GLOBAL WARMING bullshit!” The war on the mainstream media may capture the headlines currently, but the war on climate change science has been in play for years. And it’s this that is one of the most fascinating aspects of Gore’s new film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Because if the US had a subtitle at the moment, it might be that, too, and the struggle to overcome fake facts and false narratives funded by corporate interests and politically motivated billionaires is one that Gore has been at the frontline of for more than a decade.


How Intelligence Leads to Stereotyping

How Intelligence Leads to Stereotyping
A new study complicates the trope of the stupid bigot.
Jul 29 2017

Upon seeing a young man hoisting a Hitler salute in 2017, most people likely do not think, “there goes a Rhodes Scholar.” Racists stereotype other people, for the most part, but there are also stereotypes about racists. And the stereotype about racists is that, well, they’re kind of dumb.

But a new study complicates the narrative that only unintelligent people are prejudiced. The paper, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, suggests smart people are actually more at risk of stereotyping others.

The study consisted of a series of experiments, all of which suggested that people who performed better on a test of pattern detection—a measure of cognitive ability—were also quicker to form and apply stereotypes.

First, researchers from New York University showed 271 participants a series of pictures of red, blue, and yellow cartoon aliens with different facial features, paired with a statement of either a nice behavior (“gave another alien a bouquet of flowers”) or a rude one (“spat in another alien’s face”):

Most of the pairings were random, but two were skewed so that keen observers might pick up on a pattern: 80 percent of the blue aliens were paired with unfriendly behaviors, and 80 percent of the yellow aliens were paired with nice ones. The subjects didn’t know if the statements about the aliens were true or false. In this way, the study tried to mimic how people actually form prejudices about certain groups, like through anecdotes in the media or through portrayals in TV shows.

Later, the subjects were asked to pick which alien had committed a given behavior from a lineup:


Quantifying Decentralization

Quantifying Decentralization
We must be able to measure blockchain decentralization before we can improve it.
By Balaji S. Srinivasan and Leland Lee
Jul 27 2017

The primary advantage of Bitcoin and Ethereum over their legacy alternatives is widely understood to be decentralization. However, despite the widely acknowledged importance of this property, most discussion on the topic lacks quantification. If we could agree upon a quantitative measure, it would allow us to:

• Measure the extent of a given system’s decentralization
• Determine how much a given system modification improves or reduces decentralization
• Design optimization algorithms and architectures to maximize decentralization

In this post we propose the minimum Nakamoto coefficient as a simple, quantitative measure of a system’s decentralization, motivated by the well-known Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve.

The basic idea is to (a) enumerate the essential subsystems of a decentralized system, (b) determine how many entities one would need to be compromised to control each subsystem, and (c) then use the minimum of these as a measure of the effective decentralization of the system. The higher the value of this minimum Nakamoto coefficient, the more decentralized the system is.

To motivate this definition, we begin by giving some background on the related concepts of the Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve, and then display some graphs and calculations to look at the current state of centralization in the cryptocurrency ecosystem as a whole according to these measures. We then discuss the concept of measuring decentralization as an aggregate measure over the essential subsystems of Bitcoin and Ethereum. We conclude by defining the minimum Nakamoto coefficient as a proposed measure of system-wide decentralization, and discuss ways to improve this coefficient.

The Lorenz Curve and the Gini Coefficient

Even though they are typically concerns of different political factions, there are striking similarities between the concepts of “too much inequality” and “too much centralization”. Specifically, we can think of a non-uniform distribution of wealth as highly unequal and a non-uniform distribution of power as highly centralized.

Economists have long employed two tools for measuring non-uniformity within a population: the Lorenz curve and the Gini coefficient. The basic concept of the Lorenz curve is illustrated in the figure below: