Stuff White People do

The Chinese in their ancestral wisdom, have proverbs for every single situation. In fact one of the hardest parts of learning the language is their reliance on idioms, which tend to be verbatim quotes of classical works. 3000 years of writing in the same language means there’s a vast pool of wise insight and sharp wit to choose from, but the old language isn’t intelligible as such, so you have to memorise the idioms by rote. Once you do though, you literally have a comeback for everything.

It’s so much part of the culture, that the tradition doesn’t only rely on classical texts. Chinese are prone to make up idioms in the vernacular just as often. There is one I particularly like, which describes people who do pointless stuff. Some time ago Xi Jinping, the recently declared big boss in China, had these words to say:


This was translated by the South China Morning Post as: “Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us”. The translation is quite literal, and pretty good as it is. The point on this sentence is “full bellies and nothing better to do”. This is the standard way of describing people who do something pointless out of what it’s assumed is too much leisure. As any beginner learner of Chinese knows, full bellies in China used to be a very uncommon sight, to the point that people used to greet each other by saying: “Have you eaten yet?”.

There’s a variant to the saying which I like better, 吃饱了撑的, which means eating to the point of feeling stuffed. The Chinese consider it the root cause of all nonsense. Americans today would say you’re full of shit. Kinda gross if you picture it,  but the association with fullness is there. As far as folk wisdom goes, Catholic countries also have this (quite accurate) stereotype about priests being always fat gluttons. They are also not known for making much sense either.

Personally when I think of food and priests, I don’t picture a fat Italian in a black gown eating too much spaghetti. No, I picture something more modern, yet consubstantial (to use catholic jargon). I think of…

Moldbug called our ruling class the Cathedral. And if you think about it, the economics profession has the most in common with the old medieval priesthood. They are generally smart, well educated people who are trained for up to a decade in what amounts to pure nonsense. They memorise the nonsense, and then use advanced logic to write down complex arguments and debate it with their peers. But only with their peers, their non-peers are commanded to shut up and obey.

Another proof that economics and priests are the same thing is that they end up talking about the same things. See this post at Chalupas Central. They are talking about the poor, and conclude that it’s about Ego Deprivation. Well I don’t know what Ego Deprivation is. My gut tells me it’s as pointless as Homoiousia. Now fortunately many commentators are refuting the pointless drivel that gets economics researchers paid, but then some comments make you lose faith in the powers of reason.

Trailsplitter November 27, 2012 at 7:56 am

It is because of posts like this that I love this blog. Thanks Alex!

Oh well. I do get that Economics was founded by Adam Smith, who was pretty close to becoming a priest, and his real job was moral philosopher. So yes there’s some overlap between morality and macroeconomics, and economists are entitled to be concerned about “the poor”. But Adam Smith, who was the real deal, a priest candidate, and did moral philosophy, surely didn’t conclude that poverty was about Ego Deprivation. In Chinese folk terms, it follows that he didn’t have a full belly. Which is quite likely. As ghastly as British food is today, in the 18th century it must have been really terrible. No cheap ethnic food indeed.

The Chinese saying was of course born in China, a society famously always lying in the Malthusian edge. It wasn’t easy to have a full belly in China, and those who did it were of a particular class. Mostly government bureaucrats, who were of course chosen in a famously competitive civil service exam. My feeling is that  Chinese masses developed the impression that smart people tend to spout quite a lot of nonsense, and they having passed the examination, hence being smart, the only reasonable cause must be that they had too much food. Which is a quite reasonable conclusion. But what if it’s not about food?

See probably one of the highest IQ blogs out there, Robin Hanson’s Overcoming Bias. I use to like much of what’s written there, but they also post a considerable amount of crap. See this post of a while ago:

Invent yourself and think through your impact

One of the things I do when I find something hard to understand is trying to translate it into another language. Say, Chinese. I usually find it quite hard to do, if not outright impossible. This is one of the beefs I have against Chomsky and his theory that all languages are superficial representations of an underlying ‘mentalese’ which is hardwired into human brains and thus universal. Well it’s not that impossible to word by word translate “Invent yourself and think through your impact”. I can do it. But it wouldn’t make any sense in the target language, because they just don’t think that way. They don’t have the concept. Concepts being culturally specific.  Chinese don’t go to college to “invent themselves”. They go there to get a piece of paper that will enable them to make more money than otherwise. And when they graduate they certainly are not thinking about spending $700 in saving lives in Mozambique. 2 months salary! I imagine what a Tiger Mom would tell her daughter if she talked about the categorical imperative of sending $700 to some QUANGO in Mozambique.

“Have you eaten too much?”

Now it’s funny that the Chinese would be attribute saying stupid things to eating too much, when China is the most food-conscious culture on earth. Chinese cuisine is famously good, and everything here is celebrated with food. Part of the disdain that Uyghurs have towards the Han is how the Han are always eating eating and don’t know how to have fun. Fun meaning music and dancing.

But as much as the Chinese like to eat, in reality they aren’t that fat (for now). Everyone knows that the fattest people on earth are the Anglos, and by a long shot. Which must mean they get full at higher rates than any other peoples on earth. And it shows. The first example was American, the second was Australian. Now let’s see how full the Brits are. This also I got from a link at Chalupa’s:

What do Animals Want?

Now I’m used to read macroeconomic non-sequitur crap, and other moralising status-whoring by economists. But this piece on animal rights blew me away. This is not your run-of-the-mill unfalsifiable crap. This is way beyond that. This is the left singularity showing its teeth.

First of all, whose idea was it to put a close-up pic of the old lady on top? It’s gross. You don’t take close-up pics of old women. It’s like asking the age of a 40 year old. You just don’t do it. Nothing against this woman in particular, but old women are ugly by definition. A detailed close-up of an unrelated old human is bad taste.

Now what is this woman about? She studies animal behaviour. Which is a pretty interesting thing to study. We all like to watch funny animal videos at YouTube, and she gets to do that for a living. All she has to do is a write a paper once in a while. She could have stopped there, but of course she didn’t. She had too much food, nothing better to do, so she decided to apply her findings to study Animal Welfare.

I blogged on Animal ethics before, and I do find it a quite interesting subject. It’s a big bleeding point in the European philosophical tradition, and as such it’s the source of much hilarity. And corruption. So which is this old woman about?

Probably both, though I don’t know. This woman is trying to make a case for animal welfare, and she does that by trying to link it with human self-interest. Of course that’s not a moral argument at all. It’s pure marketing. Fooling people into supporting something is not an argument for supporting it, it’s just marketing. It’s Sandra Fluke. But of course she doesn’t care about the logic behind her case. She just wants to convince others. Anglo philosophy has long morphed from a system of logic and proof into a mere branch of public relations. How to manipulate people’s psychology into supporting a thesis.  Not that they will beat the Jews on that.

The second part of her case is defining what Animal Welfare is, which is no easy task. She rambles a lot about anthropomorphism, the idea that animals deserve welfare inasmuch as they are similar to humans. But she correctly points out that animals consciousness doesn’t really exist in any provable way, so linking human psychology to animal psychology is quite impossible. So what’s her solution?  She defines animal welfare as giving animals what they want. Easy! Well, yeah. But in focusing on What Animals Want, what she’s doing is applying standard liberal ethics (as per Jim Kalb’s peerless analysis) to the animal world. So in the end what she’s doing is pure anthropomorphism but without justifying it.

She contrasts this approach with the naturalistic one, which says that animals should live as they would in the natural habitats. To what the old woman says:

A lot of people think that good welfare is when animals are allowed to perform natural behavior, and you can judge welfare by how natural it is. That’s always seemed to me a little problematical because animals in the wild are regularly chased by predators, and that would be natural. I don’t think one could actually argue that that was necessary for good welfare.

Well being eaten by a predator is certainly not What Animals Want, I’ll grant her that. She also points out the practical consequences of that in farms:

this horrible thing that happens with free-range chickens, that they feather-peck each other. It’s very distressing. People think doing away with batting cages will improve welfare. But in fact, you’ve got a whole new set of welfare problems associated with taking birds out of cages.

I think there’s a very useful and profound (HBD-wise) metaphor in that. Not that she realises that of course. In the end, if you treat animals like humans, and give them welfare, you will get the same results as human welfare. Logic isn’t that hard. Unless you have eaten too much, of course.

You can imagine what the Chinese think about animal welfare.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Voight-Kampff Empathy Test

    “whose idea was it to put a close-up pic of the old lady on top? It’s fucking gross. You don’t take close-up pics of old women. It’s like asking the age of a 40 year old. You just don’t do it. Nothing against this woman in particular, but old women are ugly by definition. Literally so.”

    Now tell me, in single words, only the good things that come into your mind when you think about… your mother.

    • Mothers are nice, also by definition.
      I wouldn’t expect you to like my mother though.

      • Voight-Kampff Empathy Test

        You may have missed my intent. Your mother will also be an old woman. Would you speak this way about her picture?

        Also, your standard is an especially foolish one to apply if we are discussing truth. The only pictures of women that are to appear, are those that would be approved by your dick? This is not so far from the desire of anime fans to live in a reality that consists of nothing but cuddles and catgirls.

        • My mother *is* an old woman. But she is my mother. She’ll always be pretty. To me.

          There’s a middle ground between putting only pictures of hot babes and puting a close-up of an old lady. If they had put a close-up of Petraeus’ wife when reporting his adultery, he wouldn’t even have been fired.

          Reality’s cool but some thinks are inherently gross.
          If you like reality so much please take a good look at every of these pictures. Make them bigger.

          • I think you’re bringing in the whole Reactioanry male sexual ‘realism’ where it doent belong – ie being honest about men not finding mature women attractive despite feminists trying to convince men thats bad/discrimination.

            Old women may be unattractive, but the post you linked had nothing to do with sexual attraction or human aesthetics. The story was about a particular women’s opinion on a topic, so they showed that women. End of story. That she or the photo is unattractive is literally irrelevant.

            The india link actual works against your argument. Here ‘ugly’ pictures are in fact the purpose of the story. That they are not nice to look at is the point.

          • Oh shut up you sanctimonious prick. There’s ways of taking pictures. You don’t take close up pictures of ugly things. This woman in a normal picture taken from afar showing an old lady in a respectable outfit would be perfectly proper.

  2. I don’t see the elite Economists as much different from the rest of the ideology-corrupted social scientists – extremely talented and skillful defense lawyers (well, given the audience, and the feeble resistance) for delusional lies people desperately want to be true. You can imagine the entire Blue Orthodoxy as being a parade of OJ Simpson’s, clearly guilty murderers who nevertheless get off because each one has their own legal dream team. The Moldbug piece that comes to mind is the global warming one where he mentions his researcher ex-girlfriend and the pernicious allure of getting in “The Gray Journal”, and where he furthermore mentions Von Neumann’s quote about what it’s possible to do with enough extra parameters. Economists love playing with parameters to make their points.

    The part about animals reminds me of a post I read a while ago about an immigrant, maybe a cab driver, in I think it was Denmark. He said he wanted to leave and go to some country with a less suffocatingly comprehensive welfare state – and the analogy he used was the Danish law against feeding pigeons. The purpose of the law was not to prevent the multiplication of pigeons and the resultant guano problem, but because it was thought that the birds would become dependent on the hand outs and be unable to fend for themselves come winter and starve to death (when the sympathetic and generous humanitarians preferred to stay indoors and ceased feeding them in the park). The immigrant was trying to make the point that welfare makes the poor similarly dependent, but I was struck by the need to a criminal penalty, where one might fine some kind little old lady, for the sake of the birds.

    • Economists are higher status, and their opinions are of higher value, in that they justify the system in a way that a sociologist doesn’t. After all not everybody gives a crap about social justice, but everyone wants economic growth. Economists are everyday on TV, on the papers, they are at the centre of the intellectual sphere. And they do debate and fight each other in a way most other social science people don’t.

  3. Economics is a very important subject. Think of Karl Marx, which managed to turn a big part of the world into communist states. I could think of no other profession that has that much impact on the human existance. Like other social science fields, it is more proned to corruption. Some use this as a platform to serve their own idealology.

    Nevertheless, this does not mean that all economics are crap. Analogous to this is the social science field that give us the concept of HBD. Along side giants like Arthur Jensen, we have Stephen Jay Gould. In the same way that Stephen Jay Gould does not invalidate the work of Arthur Jensen, we should not paint all economists with the same paint brush. The key is whether the theory has predictive value. In that, I think there are many good economists like Milton Friedman who are worthy of our respect. Of course, no one is saying these folks are infallible. We use the theory as long as it works and discard or modify it after we invalidate it, just like other fields.

    • Your writing style is so stereotypically Chinese it’s spooky. The same cheerful naive teenage style.
      Milton Friedman? Seriously?
      “We use the theory as long as it works and discard or modify it after we invalidate it, just like other fields.”
      No we don’t. We make up theory to justify what the government wants to do. When the government changes policy we make up some new theory to justify it. Where have you been the last 80 years?

      • who said anything about government. I was talking about individual person. Yes, I am aware that each government pick and choose their economists and many had political agendas. BTW, what do you have against Milton Friedman anyways.

        • Well Milton Friedman was chosen by the government of the time, and he had a political agenda.

          • Every economist has a political agenda. What good is a economics idea if it can never affect social policies? It doesn’t mean every economist is bad though.

          • Are you against any economist with a political agenda? or do you disagree with the one from Milton Friedman?

          • I think monetarism has done a lot of damage.
            And yes I’m against economists having political agendas at all. Because they are fucking clueless. Economics is not a science, everyone has its say, in the end those who get power are simply justifying what those already in power want to do anyway.

            Economists in China are called 砖家 for a reason.

  4. “being eaten by a predator is certainly not What Animals Want”

    Aren’t the predators animals too? Isn’t eating animals what they want?

  5. Her former husband Richard Dawkins is into anti-specism, which is like anti-racism, but for animals.
    [The Blind Watchmaker:]
    Our legal and moral systems are deeply species-bound. The director of a zoo is legally entitled to ‘put down’ a chimpanzee that is surplus to requirements, while any suggestion that he might ‘put down’ a redundant keeper or ticket-seller would be greeted with howls of incredulous outrage. The chimpanzee is the property of the zoo. Humans are nowadays not supposed to be anybody’s property, yet the rationale for discriminating against chimpanzees in this way is seldom spelled out, and I doubt if there is a defensible rationale at all. Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our Christian-inspired attitudes, the abortion of a single human zygote (most of them are destined to be spontaneously aborted anyway) can arouse more moral solicitude and righteous indignation than the vivisection of any number of intelligent adult chimpanzees!

    The only reason we can be comfortable with such a double standard is that the intermediates between humans and chimps are all dead.
    [thank goodness]

    If, in various forgotten islands around the world, survivors of all intermediates back to the chimp/human common ancestor were discovered, who can doubt that our laws and our moral conventions would be profoundly affected, especially as there would presumably be some interbreeding along the spectrum? Either the whole spectrum would have to be granted full human rights (Votes for chimps) [see the ‘thank goodness’ above], or there would have to be an elaborate apartheid-like system of discriminatory laws, with courts deciding whether particular individuals were legally ‘chimps’ or legally ‘humans’; and people would fret about their daughter’s desire to marry one of ‘them’. I suppose the world is already too well explored for us to hope that this chastening fantasy will ever come true. But anybody who thinks that there is something obvious and self-evident about human ‘rights’ should reflect that it is just sheer luck that these embarrassing intermediates happen not to have survived. [I’ll reflect on it and conclude: we are indeed lucky]

    • “Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our Christian-inspired attitudes”

      That’s all he really wants to say, isn’t it? How breathtaking of those damn Christians.

      All politics are local. I guess all scholarship too.

  6. Jesus, and Paul had a terrible amount to say against the practice of using the appearance of moral superiority to gain social standing (this is the actual meaning of the command not to pray as the Pharisees do—Jesus and the disciples and their later followers prayed in public all the time, even instructed in how to pray). Unfortunately most of the Church and pretty much all of the Cathedral (being post-Christian) has become seriously unmoored from this. Few things suck worse than Christianity without Christ. Few things generate more nonsense than sections of the New Testament construed without understanding of the Old.

    • So what’s the point of following a religion if it doesn’t give you higher status?
      I’m sorry for Paul but people don’t join a cult to go to heaven. If only.

      • Spandrell,
        You get a lot of goodies from following a religion in a ‘this-world’ sense. Some of the more hardcore sects of Christianity even today will give you a virgin bride who will be Biblically submissive and have your children. But you’ll not get that from any weak-sauce Churchians. They’ll also give you a substantial amount of mutual aid, but only hardcore groups can control free-riding enough to accomplish that. Plus, you can avoid the hellfire that you most fully otherwise deserve 🙂 Neurotypical people don’t function well at all without religion. Abandon theirs and they put something much worse in its place, with often even more requirements and far less benefits.

  7. This was all detailed pretty well in “That Hideous Strength”.

    Also, Bruce Charlton did a lot with the academic aspect.

    Really I just end up posting the same sources over and over.

    P.S. Update: I got a new job! No more government for me. Officially 4 days short of a whole year.

    • Congrats. We’ll miss you around though, don’t get too busy.

      Also don’t forget to provide more meat on the dysfunction and evil of corporate America.

      • I went from civil service to massive government contractor working on something similar to what I was working on. I do enjoy getting paid a lot more to do similar stuff in a less oppressive environment with better people. I’m going to try and round out my bank account enough to take a long sabbatical whenever this gig ends.

        I had to go to a government office for a meeting the other day. I could feel the evil surrounding me and see it on the faces of the ?humans? I had to interact with for an hour.

  8. Related:

    “The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don’t Want You to Know”

    It never fails. Every single cocktail party, as soon as someone finds out that I’m a graduate student studying marine biology, they ask, “So, do you get to play with dolphins?” Since my heart is as black and cold as the oceanic abyss, I usually take this opportunity to disillusion yet another poor soul of their childhood fantasy of Mystical Dolphin Love .

    Dolphins are not gentle or psychic. If they could talk they would not impart eco-wisdom or deep spiritual truth. Dolphins are violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape. I feel it’s my duty to warn you, despite the risk of insulting creatures made of hundreds of pounds of muscle and rows of sharp teeth. Throw out your rainbow dolphin painting , and check out dolphins’ low-down dirty secrets:

    –Dolphin sex can be violent and coercive. Gangs of two or three male bottlenose dolphins isolate a single female from the pod and forcibly mate with her, sometimes for weeks at a time. To keep her in line, they make aggressive noises, threatening movements, and even smack her around with their tails. And if she tries to swim away, they chase her down. Horny dolphins have also been known to target human swimmers -Demi Moore is rumored to have had a close encounter of the finny kind.

    –Dolphins kill harbor porpoise babies. In Scotland, scientists found baby harbor porpoises washed up with horrific internal injuries. They thought the porpoises might have been killed by weapons tests until they found the toothmarks. Later, dolphins were caught on film pulping the baby porpoises-the dolphins even used their ecolocation to aim their blow at the porpoises’ vital organs.

    –Dolphins kill their own babies. Baby dolphins have washed up alongside the dead porpoises, and some scientists think that all the porpoise-slaughter was just practice for some old-fashioned infanticide . For other mammals like lions, killing the babies makes the females immediately ready for the next pregnancy, and maybe that’s the case with dolphins, too.

  9. The same thing can be said about blacks. Blacks lived in an animal like state in Africa, eaten by predators and living wild, singing and dancing, no idea/ interests about higher human concepts. Then what do the White man do? Get him to a civilised situation, ban slavery, ban human sacrifice and voodoo and now what do we have? Blacks using White invented cars and guns to kill each others in ghettos. Are they really better off then when they were wild and free in Africa?

    • Well according to the logic of that hag, it depends on What They Want. It seems they want to become gangsta rappers. So we must let them. QED.

      And couldn’t you find a better nickname?

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