400 fans later this Substack thing seems to be cooking pretty good, so let’s pause and recalibrate.
Handwaving Freakoutery (HWFO) began as a Medium publication in 2018 primarily geared toward mathematical analysis of gun violence in the USA, examining media narratives, disproving many popular ones, and offering alternatives. As we went down this journey together, we discovered that media falsehoods are driven largely not by shadowy actors attempting to manipulate the narrative, but by market forces requiring the media to adopt false narratives for profit, both inside and outside the gun space. We later began to understand that the media behavior is connected to the evolution of culture, so we developed a framework for speaking of cultures themselves, and examined how the internet is increasing the rate of cultural evolution, how the media is connected to this rate increase, how the divergent cultures themselves are fueling the culture war, and how all of this indicative of various doomsdays.
HWFO pivoted to Substack in 2021 because Substack is way cooler for various reasons. One of the things Substack is worse at, however, is having multiple tabs where I can index articles for prior reading, grouping them by topic. So we’ll do that here, and we’ll update this post once per month as I continue to migrate Medium material over to Substack, supplementing with new articles as I go.
As a reminder, this publication is and will always remain free to read, and any money earned through Substack subscriptions or Patreon will be dutifully spent on the author’s alcohol fund. But to give something back to the readers, anyone who does contribute to said alcohol fund will gain access to a private Slack server to discuss HWFO topics with other HWFO readers (and me) outside the public eye. A few dozen folks are yammering away in there right now, and some of the article topics are born from these discussions. I’ll post an updated access link April 1st.
Index by Topic
HWFO in Other Media – an index of podcast appearances, “TV” appearances, and publications outside of the Medium, Substack, and Open Source Defense umbrellas.
So Long Medium – where we talk about the pivot from Medium to Substack.
Everybody’s Lying about the Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide – where we tear apart the “more guns = more deaths” monkey business with mathematics.
The Left is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths – where we dive deep on the real problem with gun deaths, male suicide, and how we might fix that.
Geographic Evidence that Gun Deaths are Cultural – where we use GIS systems to show that almost everywhere where gun homicides are high, gun suicides are low, and visa versa, so “it’s the guns” is a very poor explanation of what’s going on.
The Gun Homicide Epidemic Isn’t – where we look at historical US homicide rates and show that we do not have an epidemic of gun homicides, we have an epidemic of media freakoutery about gun homicides.
The Magic Gun Evaporation Fairy – a dive into the literal impossibility of gun buybacks or gun confiscation.
Gun Buybacks Don’t Work if you Believe in Math – where we calculate how many guns you’d have to buy back to avert a homicide, and extrapolate the general case.
Real Talk about School Shootings – where we peel apart the school shooting numbers and explain how they’re a terrible thing around which to craft policy.
Doctors are Wrong about Firearm Effectiveness in Mass Shootings – where we explain that magically replacing all rifles with pistols would probably increase the body count of these things, so any focus on rifles in mass shooting policy is a red herring.
The “Sabika Sheikh Firearms Licensing and Registration Act” Fails Third Grade Math – where we perform some low effort mathematical dunking on a house rep, but raise the larger issue that the gun control crowd simply has no comprehension of how widespread gun ownership is.
Culture / Culture War
Science Says Sam Harris is Alt-Right – where we take a deep dive into how all prior political axes are being collapsed into a purely woke/antiwoke band, buttressed by a deep explainer on wokeness itself.
The Two Confusing Definitions of Racism – where we explain how difficult conversations about racism are literally impossible to have, because different groups are defining the term differently.
Explaining the Social Justice “Woke Anti-Semitism” Paradox – where we unpack certain popular Woke narratives and show that they combine to produce anti-Semitic behavior. This same analysis could be used for Asians, and explains why they’re getting a raw deal in liberal zones in 2021.
Spot the True Believer – where we use Eric Hoffer’s “mass movement” framework to explain MAGA and Woke.
Modeling the Socioeconomic Future with Dungeons and Dragons – where we use the DND character building model to explain bell curves, Charles Murray, automation, and silicon valley’s obsession with UBI.
Conversations with Black Folks about Cops – where we examine the police brutality problem from the perspective of someone on the street, instead of someone in a Critical Race Theory academy.
Stop Calling it a “Coup” – where we show how the “capital insurrection” was nothing more than a continuation of 2020 behavior, and what that portends.
Deplatforming, Sargon, MAGA Hat Kids, and the Kulturkampf – where we compare our modern culture war to prior culture wars and discover this is new dog old tricks.
Rape Math – where we try to back-calculate what the numbers probably are for use in the “not all men” discussion.
Don’t Read This – where we make mid 2020 election prognostications that turned out to be pretty on point.
The Purge Will End in Violence – where we discuss the early 2021 tech purge and what it portends in the long game.
The Media Engine of Chaos – where we use HWFO gun article traffic numbers from Medium to explain the root cause of all these shitty gun articles in the media, and by extension, all the other shitty articles too.
I Just Made $100 off Some Dead Kids, and That’s the Problem – where we drill even deeper into the media incentives for mass shooting coverage, and how they literally increase the odds of more mass shootings, to make them even more money.
The Long Problem – where we use the Atlanta Spa Shooter as a case study about how flawed media incentives lead to incorrect narratives.
Want a Vaccine? Elect a Nationalist - where we explain how “me first” nationalism beats globalist cooperation within the game theory of international relations, using Covid vaccination rates as our case study.
Does the USA have the Worst Covid-19 Response? Not at All – where we compare the USA to other similar countries and discover we’re sort of middle of the road in how we’ve handled it.
Covid-19 Stands to be Done by the Summer – where we use infection rates from prisons which achieved herd immunity the hard way to predict when we’ll be done with this stuff.
Open Source Defense
I also write for OSD about guns, and some of those are worth bookmarking as well.
Gun Policy Needs a “Decision Support System” – where we mathematically determine exactly how many homicide and suicide victims the modern gun control policies would actually avert, and use that model to determine a true gun control policy compromise that includes giving back the stuff that doesn’t work.
Letter to 2020’s New Gun Owners – where we do a point by point breakdown of the entire Biden gun control platform.
Collateral Damage, Race, and the Virginia Gun Control Bill – where we show how Virginia’s attempt at an assault weapons ban actually created the opposite effect, sanctuary counties, and how its implementation will be systemically racist by necessity.
Talk to Your Kids About Guns – where we add another rule to the four rules and discuss safe storage of firearms around children.
Generally speaking, if anyone likes anything I write about guns, you should go read all the rest of the material over on OSD as well. I’m definitely not the smartest guy in the room over there.