Found 2 comments on HN
This dynamic is significant in the culture wars of today.

As part of some work in architecture for some public sector projects, I read "The Nazi Census" which was a description of the technologies and techniques of the 1938 german census which was a basis for the NSDAPs brutal bureaucracy. (

One of the interesting parts was adding "unused," fields to the Hollerith punch cards for "future use," much like we use extensibility fields in data models today. The book says many of the people recruited to administer it were promoted from the ranks of the disaffected, often far above their level to ensure their loyalty. It was a technique used by the NSDAP, Stalin, and Mao, where they put country "peasant" types in administrative roles over towns and cities to exploit rural resentment of city dwellers.

As a result, you can "steelman" the sentiments behind many conservative arguments by summarizing them as questioning the wisdom of handing reins of unimaginably powerful institutions and technologies to people who identify as victims with an implied entitlement to revenge, and who are not bound by the ethical frameworks of the deposed - the ones assumed when those techs and institutions were built. It at least provides a logic beyond evil and hatred.

Regardless of whether it's accurate in the context, it's a heuristic for reasoning about the motives and quality of an argument.

newman314 · 2016-02-19 · Original thread
Or a somewhat different example, the Nazi use of census records (seemingly innocuous) to find and track Jews (horrific).

In fact, I would strongly push for anyone working with "big data" to read up on this. Just because we can, does not mean we should.

Data does not have a "use this only this way and only for good" button.

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