Comments tell us much about America, its peril and hope

Summary: One of the major projects on the FM website is acting as a mirror in which we can see ourselves, hoping that clearer understanding of our perilous situation will impel some into action. So the posts since 2007 are markers showing our devolution But the comments show this even more clearly. Here are some of the more horrific examples, along with some eerily forecasts and blindingly brilliant analysis. And trolls, lots of them.


There are 33,085 comments on the FM website since 2007. These are some of the most interesting threads. They show the war in America’s mind between tribal dogma and reality (e.g., science, history, even reality). Unfortunately, I cannot tell from these which way we’ll choose to go. (Note: only 60% of the FM website’s hits come from America)

About Comments

  1. Terror: the most terrifying thread, ever
  2. Peak oil: fact & alarmism do battle
  3. Climate change: alarmism wins
  4. Economics: faux theory & history wins
  5. American politics: crazy takes center stage
  6. American culture and society
  7. The best threads from last year
  8. The top threads of 2014
  9. For More Information

(1)  Torture finds a home in our souls

The most terrifying thread on the FM website, with so many people auditioning for jobs with an American Gestapo. Five years ago these comments foreshadowed the support for Obama’s assassination programs, the NSA’s illegal surveilance, and the brutal crushing of the Occupy protests. I didn’t see that, blinded by my deluded optimism about America.

  1. So many Americans approve of torture; what does this tell us about America?, 30 April 2009

(2)  Peak Oil — a debate mixing good sense and alarmism to get futility

Peak oil will come. Our plan is to hope for the best.

  1. 97 comments: A look at forecasts for peak oil – and the end of civilization
  2. 77 comments: Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off

(3)  Climate change

The threads about climate change are among the most fascinating. Watch the Leftist’s scream in horror when confronted with science (they listen only to their alarmist amateurs. Such howls are intermixed with hard sense, some optimistic — some despairing.

  1. 68 comments: A note on the green religion, one of the growth industries in America
  2. 53 comments: The ice caps are melting! Only massive government action can save us!
  3. 52 comments: Watch our world warm! How warm was June? What’s the trend?
  4. 38 comments: Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy — Watch the crazy flow!
  5. 36 comments: Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change
  6. 35 comments: Should we listen to amateurs’ analysis of climate science?
  7. 35 comments: Global Cooling returns to the news, another instructive lesson about America

(4)  About economics

See how faux economics has taken a hold on America’s imagination:


  1. 199 comments: America’s strength is an illusion created by foolish borrowing
  2. 99 comments: Ed Dolan talks to us about modern monetary theory. Can it save us? — Delusions about modern monetary theory
  3. 98 comments: Why do so many Americans want a gold-based currency?
  4. 53 comments: How to predict the outcome of this great monetary experiment, and how we got into this box
  5. 40 comments: Looking back at claims to have predicted the Great Recession


(5)  About American politics

Only the most alarming forecasts prove correct. See the criticisms of my delusional optimism (time has proven correct, and me wrong).

  1. 112 comments: McCain believes we are stupid. Is he correct? — See the amazing defenders of Sarah Palin as VP candidate
  2. 76 comments: Obama makes his first major policy error
  3. 74 comments: Under the cloak of liberalism America slides to Fascism
  4. 69 comments: Obamacare forces even true believers to assess Obama. Will we learn, & do better in 2016?
  5. 65 comments: Occupy Wall Street, another futile peasants’ protest
  6. 61 comments: Why don’t we see the New America being built around us?
  7. 59 comments: How can we arouse a passion to reform America in the hearts of our neighbors?

(6)  About American culture and society

  1. 70 comments: Women dominate the ranks of college graduates. What’s the effect on America?
  2. 65 comments: Explaining the season 6 finale of “Castle”, and what’s coming next. Spoilers!
  3. 62 comments: Spoilers for “Castle”: explaining the finale & season 7. It’s a metaphor for America.
  4. 54 comments: Lessons from the New Eden galaxy about reforming America
  5. 32 comments: “Castle” shows us a dark vision of Romance in America

(7)  Some of the best threads from last year

  1. 61 comments: The first question to ask about our war with Syria has nothing to do with Syria
  2. 58 comments: The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
  3. 42 comments: What we do here. Why it’s unpopular. And our new theme.
  4. 42 comments: Should we risk using anger to arouse America?
  5. 40 comments: A note from the time of WWI, lessons from The Great War for us fighting the Long War
  6. 35 comments: Looking at natural resources as limits to growth

(8)  Here’s are the tops threads of 2014

  1. 61 comments: The first question to ask about our war with Syria has nothing to do with Syria
  2. 61 comments: Why don’t we see the New America being built around us?
  3. 59 comments: How can we arouse a passion to reform America in the hearts of our neighbors?
  4. 58 comments: The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
  5. 54 comments: Lessons from the New Eden galaxy about reforming America
  6. 53 comments: How to predict the outcome of this great monetary experiment, and how we got into this box

(9)  For More Information

Running comment threads is one of the great challenges of website operation. How do the high-traffic websites handle this? See the answers here.


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5 thoughts on “Comments tell us much about America, its peril and hope”

  1. Many topics in the list have been discussed for many years. Can one observe an evolution of those comments — in tone, line of reasoning, types of examples brought forth, linkage between issues, suggestions for solutions? And if so, what conclusions can be drawn from it?

    1. Guest,

      All good questions. The subjects and readers have drifted over the past 7 years, making comparisons different.

      What would the Instapundit’s readers, who dominated so many threads in 2007-2008, say today? We can only guess. Probably as belligerently and ignorantly speak up for faux economics, war, and expanded government oppression of the “others” (you know who you are).

      The people who believe America is over (e.g., Oldskeptic) probably still do.

      The people who believe the doomsters probably still do, although they have probably jumped from peak oil to the now more fashionable climate change.

      My guess is that nothing has changed. More specifically, my hundreds of long discussion — usually focusing on basic facts — have been in vain. Completely so.

      5-7 years is a dot in time, so that should not surprise us. America is a giant nation, to which change will usually come slowly. Weeks of change over decades, until decades of change come in weeks — Lenin’s description of the process evolutionary biologists call punctuated equilibrium.

  2. The 2008 thread “McCain believes we are stupid. Is he correct?” full of commenters ineptly try to defend the indefensible choice of Sarah Palin as VP candidate, remains deeply alarming.

    You have to suspect at this point that if a future president appointed a horse as senator, hordes of commenters would come out of the woodwork to defend that choice.

    America seems to be retracing Rome’s final days…

    1. Thomas,

      Thanks for the reminder about the Palin defenders! I added a note about that to the post

      Re: Rome’s final days

      Perhaps the Roman Republic’s final years, or perhaps decades. Great nations die slowly.

      As for the Empire, I see few parallels. Rome fell from internal decay and external invasion (consuming all that led & frying their sperm in the hot baths did not help). None of that well applies to America today.

  3. The notion of analyzing comments is interesting. Who are the people that comment? Why do they go through the trouble of typing a response to a response to a response? Why spend all that time when any experience on the internet would almost invariably have been one of enclaves talking to themselves? Has anyone had a moment in a web comment thread about a complicated issue where people with diametrically opposed views ended it with “hey, that’s a great point. I never thought about it like that. I’m going to have reevaluate the underlying essence of my entire world view.”?

    I’ve been following this site for years and love the thoughtful attention to data and analysis. That’s why I keep coming back. The US does appear to be in a curious state of wondrous wealth and miserable decline. And I often wonder why it’s so readily accepted. Why is change more painful and feared than inevitable death?

    I’m 46 and due to a peculiar quirk of fate I’m also connected to a wide variety of communities. Liberal grad students, conservative gun owning realtors, punk kids, health care professionals, guys in the Army, IT people, new agey spiritual folk chanting and hugging, French shamans, Yaqui and Hopi indians, fundamentalist Christian restaurant owners with kids, Burning Man goers, public school teachers, journalist photographers…

    I bring all that up because smart caring people exist in all those communities and subcultures. They may all say “change must happen!” But what change? Change that challenges their world view? Their lives are busy, mostly overwhelmed, with our modern life of work and just plain living. Most people, and especially those with kids, rarely have the time to do the reading and research it would require to have a reasonable conversation about monetary and trade policy and yet that’s an important issue that effects the entire country.

    In the southwest water policy is crucial and ridiculously complicated with lots if vested interests. The people I know who work in that field can barely have a sensible discussion.

    You have great posts on climate change with lots of data. But reading all that takes a lot of time and most of the people I encounter don’t have it. Or maybe they just want to go see a movie. Or go eat with friends and then get a beer.

    Excuses perhaps but then you get to something like what ultimately is life? Has our world become so complex that regular people are overwhelmed and even specialists have a tough time? And then what about all the ego issues involved in discussion? Who is right? I’m right, dammit!

    The way our culture is set up we’re so emotionally vested in being right that discussion about complex issues becomes more a game of one upmanship rather than anything like an attempt to understand and build solutions.

    This is long and rambling and I guess at the end if it all is a vague hope maybe that one day there be something like a radical restructuring of how we approach our lives. But that’s a vastly different topic better suited to screaming at each other.

    To the editor, thanks for all the effort you put into encouraging discussion and analysis. It’s appreciated.

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