Conor Friedersdorf Profile picture
Omni-American, staff writer at The Atlantic, founding editor of The Best of Journalism–subscribe here:
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May 12 5 tweets 1 min read
Today I've reached the anti-bullying phase of an early childhood education curriculum and I'm struck by a choice that it makes and curious about how that came to be.

Consider two possible approaches to anti-bullying: 1. X is different and that's wonderful! Celebrate how unique they are! Speak up if anyone bullies them!

2. X is a valuable person with feelings just like you and me! That doesn't change just because they play/look/dress different! Speak up if anyone bullies them!
May 11 8 tweets 2 min read
Working through this curriculum, I see its authors struggling to work through a tension that I'm about to articulate, and I wonder how different school districts are handling it and what teachers and parents believe to be the best approaches they've found. The tension is, basically, wanting to teach kids to reject gender stereotypes--teaching them, e.g., there are no boys toys and girls toys, and you can be a girl and wear pants or a boy and where dresses--and also teaching them that e.g. clothes are a way we express our gender.
May 2 8 tweets 2 min read
If I tried my hardest to defend Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, I could not mount an intellectually honest defense, because it so frequently broadcasts content that is indefensible. And whatever you think of the New York Times doesn't make that any less true. This is a man who broadcasts sweeping pejorative generalizations about ethnic minority groups at the drop of a hat. In what world do any of you think the deliberately sensationalistic hearsay broadcast at beginning of this segment is responsible?
Apr 29 4 tweets 2 min read
Why are so many journalists turning on free speech and publishing takes that falsely present the rapidly expanding speech taboos of a tiny faction a "liberal consensus"?

*You are the contrarian here!*… The pop psychoanalysis of Elon Musk of all people is that he's stuck in the past
Apr 24 5 tweets 1 min read
The outcome of a single article doesn't necessarily tell us what policy news organizations should have for when / whether or not to reveal the real name of people engaging in pseudonymous speech, but now that the Libs of Tik Tok piece has run we can lay out what happened next: 1) it looks like the controversy over the unmasking has netted the account roughly 300,000 more followers, so it is more influential now, which some of you will see as a cost, others as a benefit. (I don't think it should influence journalistic policy either way).
Apr 23 7 tweets 2 min read
Short thread: In 1993, Henry Louis Gates wrote of Critical Race Theorists and their project, "The contemporary aim is not to resist power, but to enlist power," and warned them against abandoning the standard of content-neutrality in speech policing. At one point he wrote,"What cannot be side-stepped, finally, is the larger question, the political question, of how we came to decide that our energies were best directed not at strengthening our position in the field of public discourse but at trying to move its boundary posts."
Apr 22 5 tweets 1 min read
As the center-left mobilizes against disinformation, some nonprofits are focusing on educating citizens to be literate consumers of media & political rhetoric. That makes sense––critical thinking is a bulwark against misinformation and disinformation. Now think what that implies: Many of us were taught to prioritize separating fact from appeals to emotion, looking for evidence to support claims, identifying errors in chains of reasoning, and separating the truth of an argument from the identity of the person making it.
Apr 22 4 tweets 1 min read
To expand on the idea of *equal opportunity offenders* or poking absurdities in all directions--a certain kind of left progressive will retort that it's wrong to act as if there is an equivalence between Republicans and Democrats right now. And to me that framing is off: It presumes that there are two sides and that all of us are choosing to be on one or the other, or at least seeing the world through the lens of a two-sided struggle.

*But that is not how most of us see the world.* We aren't just independents, we reject the idea
Mar 2 8 tweets 2 min read
The universe of Tweets about the Ukraine conflict illuminate different ways that different people use this platform.

I want to focus on two in particular: 1) *Some want to better understand a complicated world. Twitter helps, exposing them to different news and viewpoints and arguments to follow and participate in. Through this informal, messy process they become better informed and gain greater clarity about their own views.*
Feb 11 5 tweets 2 min read
This week I asked readers what, if anything, should be done about medical misinformation… And I found that lots of people support extremely censorious measures.

Examples: One correspondent urged federal regulations enforced by a fact-checking committee that would decide if something is misinformation
Feb 9 5 tweets 2 min read
.@ezraklein has a good writeup of the recent Lancet study that tried to probe what explained variance among countries in Covid performance (1/x)… One striking outcome: "trust in government" and "trust in fellow citizens" were among the most important factors (more important than "trust in science," among many other things)
Feb 6 7 tweets 1 min read
A few thoughts on authoritarianism drawn from Karen Stenner's excellent book *The Authoritarian Dynamic*: "authoritarianism is an individual predisposition concerned with the appropriate balance between group and authority, on the one hand, and individual autonomy and diversity, on the other."

Q: When do you side with group and authority against individual autonomy?
Feb 6 4 tweets 1 min read
One fissure I'm noticing on Covid is one faction claiming to want to fight *dangerous Covid misinformation* and genuinely incredulous as to why anyone would be concerned about that. After all, who can defend factually inaccurate statements? 1/x I want to acknowledge that Covid skeptics spread a lot of nonsense, reaffirm my strong pro-vaccine bonafides, and cheer those who correct misinformation, but also to reaffirm the need for a public discourse that includes dissenters *even when they are wrong* 2/x
Feb 3 4 tweets 1 min read
Canada up 3 to 0 in the first period. It's as if the Swiss started pre-neutralized. TIL there's no checking in women's hockey.
Nov 27, 2021 11 tweets 3 min read
One more thread of email correspondence from this piece, some of it agreeing with what I wrote, some of it disagreeing with what I wrote, and some of it disagreeing with what I didn't write 1/x…
Oct 24, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
One other line from that piece on The Closer that's worth unpacking: The implication seems to be that it's inherently suspicious or problematic for someone with more power to claim to be the victim of someone with less power. Let's test that general view.
Oct 24, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
Here's part of @jelani9's article on The Closer that deals with a claim I've been thinking about more 1/x Is there any evidence that content on Netflix can lead to direct harm? Yes, 13 Reasons Why, seems to have done so, and was irresponsible, given what we've long known about suicide.…

Is there any comparable evidence of a comedy special doing harm? Ever?
Oct 19, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
There's one claim in this essay on the Chappelle special that I want to discuss real quick:… To me, this is clearly mistaken, which is to say: Dave Chappelle, other famous comedians, and many not so famous comedians can and do routinely mock, disparage, and poke fun at all sorts of groups, including the ones that the Successor Ideology understands as the most powerful
Sep 13, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
The confidence with which some attribute this monocausally to "racism" despite significant evidence that other factors are at play is the latest illustration of how reflexive adherence to an Ur narrative harms our ability to address what is, in this case, a life or death problem. Here is a USA Today poll about attitudes toward public safety in Detroit… Ask yourself if @jasonintrator's claim can be squared with its findings
Sep 6, 2021 13 tweets 4 min read
I've been thinking a lot about this. I share @radleybalko's view that far more damage is being done by Tucker Carlson (e.g.) than people making horse paste jokes. I disagree that a profusion of condemnatory pieces would improve things. Here's my thinking for your consideration: 1. While I have long believed that e.g. Tucker Carlson is acting in bad faith on many things, I don't think, e.g., Joe Rogan is acting in bad faith on Ivermectin, and condemning people who are wrong in damaging ways but are acting in good faith automatically loses a lot of people
Sep 3, 2021 18 tweets 7 min read
Here again is my piece on pandemic Australia…

And below, a thread with some of the email responses to it: From an Australian expat: Image