Author Topic: signaling  (Read 724 times)


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Re: signaling
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2021, 05:20:07 AM »
If there is anything bringing the two tribes closer together I would guess it's the common sense. Wearing a mask is safer than not wearing one, but intelligent people may disagree on how much safer, because scientists don't agree. So no matter how much we learn about airborne germs, this particular virus, etc.  it's something between a guess and a calculated risk. And there are downsides to always erring on the side of caution. Wearing a mask all day while you work outdoors in the hot July sun or an eight hour shift tending bar or waiting tables, which are strenuous, also involve frequent speech - these are added stress factors. Then there are the fights on airplanes. People are buying extra drinks so they can take their masks off. Then the flight attendant has to deal with drunk customers.
Didn't hear the Krugman interview yet.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2021, 05:27:45 AM by mahagonny »


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Re: signaling
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2021, 12:36:45 PM »
Anyone have a good bibliography for reading about the current depressing tendency of righties to signal, by doing things like refusing to mask and vax, etc?

A point of clarification: Painting a rainbow on a crosswalk is signaling; refusing to get vaccinated or wear a mask is taking action. It may be a stupid action, but it has actual direct consequences. As more people get vaccinated, the unvaxxed non-maskers are less of a threat to anyone but themselves and people close to them.

If we're going to use the term "signal", for anywhere on the political spectrum, let's be consistent and stick to the defintion.

Signal: a gesture, action, or sound that is used to convey information or instructions, typically by prearrangement between the parties concerned.

I'm pretty sure that the prominent refusal to mask up is a kind of signalling about who you are and what you believe.

Actions can be symbolic in addition to being actions. If I piss on the flag, I'm acting and conveying information.

By that usage of "action", then anything at all is an "action". My point was that taking action is doing something which will have explicit consequences, rather than  something which only has value as an expression of the actor's views. To use the example of pissing on the flag, if no-one observes the person doing it then it is entirely pointless.

A related category would be conceptual performance art.

Which, if anyone cares to know, appears in the writings of the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel, among others...


I'm not saying signaling cannot be effective; I'm saying that signaling is action that is only effective due to its expression of the actor's views. Volunteering at a soup kitchen would help homeless people directly; carrying a placard in a protest would not. (It might result in some sort of action on the part of government, but the action itself would provide no material benefit to homeless people. Its ONLY value is in what it signals.)

Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal  is perhaps an example of an action with a value that was not purely symbolic. It was intended to not only show Elijah's views, but to provide evidence for the people about which god to serve. And the effectiveness of the action depended entirely on the outcome. Its purely "signaling" value was negligible. (Everyone already knew which god Elijah served.)

As dismalist indicated, "signaling" requires virtually no cost to the signaler, whereas "taking action" does. (And the most valuable "taking action" has no guarantee of the limit of the cost, such as people who join "Doctors Without Borders" and go into a war zone, and may be injured or killed as a result. Signaling, on the other hand, leaves the signaler completely able to bail when it gets uncomfortable.)


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