Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us

Posts tagged as: signaling

The rightist singularity

Statistics is what you use when you don't know what's really going on, so you're reduced to see patterns in data. It is useful, but it's not an ideal situation. Ideally you want to know exactly what mechanism is producing that data.

But of course data is in many cases infinitely divisible, and you can always go more micro in searching for causes. You want to know why society is changing so you do sociology, then you want to know the mental processes of the individuals so you do psychology, then you want to know what the neurons are doing so you do neuroscience, then you want to know what the neurons are all about so you do biochemistry, then you want to know how electrons move so you do physics, then you go into quantum physics, and then you realize that you still don't understand why engineer schools have so few women. Must be evil spirits.

To avoid the reduction treadmill humans use labels, or what we call names. Most names are quite accurate, some cause more problems than what they tried to fix. Say the political labels, 'left' and 'right'. We all know that they were just a convenient shorthand for the physical location of the different factions on the France National Assembly in 1789. The naming was very arbitrary, and nobody before the time had thought of studying politics through such a simplistic framework, yet it has become one of the most productive frameworks in the history of mankind. As it happens, in almost all human polities, before and after 1...

Clausewitz, Lenin, Robin Dunbar

Power is fascinating. It shouldn't be though. Nothing good comes from the fascination towards power, especially for those who don't have it. But we can't help it. We are a political animal. Which means we share a common descent with these fellas down here:

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TufiAgq--FU]

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We being monkeys, we aren't really fascinated with power, in abstract. After all it's quite hard to even define what 'power' is. What does it really mean to have power? What does power do? How does it work? One of the first signs a word/concept is too vague is that it doesn't translate well. In Chinese 'power' generally translates as 力量, but political power is translated as 權力.  It doesn't help that 權 generally translates as 'right'. As in 人權, human rights. And that's a recent coining, borrowed from Western political science jargon. You'd think Chinese would have their own ideas about power after 2300 years of centralized empire, but they don't have a clue.

So most people don't have a good understanding of what power is. What we do know is powerful people. Those are everywhere, and God are we obsessed with them. Fascinated. They're everywhere, and everybody's talking about them. We are fascinated with the powerful. How did they get it? What do they want it for? And how do they use it?

And oftentimes, rather than fascination, we are more like mystified. Bemused. Stupefied. What the hell are they doing? I guess that is the commo...

Groupthink

Nydwracu linked to this Tweet over here, which I found quite amusing.

Often the decline of Western Civilization is linked to the increasing numbers of foreigners in our midst, and often there is a tacit assumption that the decline is linear: the more NAMs the worse the decline. Well that doesn't explain why Whitopias like Vermont or New Hampshire were so overrepresented in this last example of retarded celebrity worship.

For some reason this table reminded me of this video on bloggingheads.tv:

http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/1345?in=31:56&out=47:06

I saw this clip years ago, and always wanted to write about it (there's a draft lost somewhere in my wordpress dashboard with the title: The Enemy), but it always pisses me off so much that I just can't come with any coherent writing, besides calling the guy a revolting douchebag (tell me those "yeahs" don't remind me you of Bill Lumbergh) and the woman a vapid whore.

Special ...

Groupthink vs whips

I started my blogging career with what I still consider one of my best posts, where I said that human history is very easily explained if you take into account the fact that (most)  humans are just plain dumb. Learning is hard, really hard. And it should, animals don't learn if they can avoid to. It takes domestication and industrial amounts of drilling to make an animal learn some behavior. It follows that it takes domestication and quite large amounts of drilling to make people learn some behavior.

While this sinking ship called neoreaction is, if only etymologically, an anti-modernist, declinist crowd, the very fact that I'm here writing a blog instead of just copying and pasting quotes from old books, means I regard myself as having some new insight that wasn't available to my forebearers. As I said earlier, cognitive science is full of true and powerful insights on how people think and why they do so. We now know not only of cognitive "biases", often constructed as surmountable errors, but the very architecture of cognition. Reading through Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind should be a good replacement for years and years of degrees on ethics and moral philosophy, which I now visualize as an industrial sweatshop of rationalization hamsters run by an evil medieval bishop.

While I very much admire the aesthetic sense of traditional societies, the fact is pre-mode...

The Voice of Evil

So World War T is raging on, and what seemed like a mere blitzkrieg where the anointed elite just sent the a panzer rampage to force everyone to make a transsexual friend or be fired from their jobs immediately; it seems that the blitzkrieg preparations have stumbled ostensibly because of internal wreckers, which of course calls for massive purges.

Steve Sailer gave this iconic quite:

The members of the board of the New York Abortion Access Fund, an all-volunteer group that helps to pay for abortions for those who can’t afford them, are mostly young women; Alison Turkos, the group’s co-chair, is twenty-six. In May, they voted unanimously to stop using the word “women” when talking about people who get pregnant, so as not to exclude trans men.

You can't make this stuff up. You certainly shouldn't make this stuff up. What a sick mind would make up something like this? Anyway I wondered what sort of person was this Ms. Turkos, and Google provided.

[caption id="attachment_1672" align="alignnone" width="534"]スクリーンショット 2014-07-30 18.09.58 Cthulhu's gaze[/caption]

I'm star...

Liberal Purity

[embed]https://twitter.com/adamgurri/statuses/494887299260628993[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/jasonpbecker/statuses/494894027251392513[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/ATabarrok/statuses/494898250777100290[/embed]

All this ritual showering and purification was triggered by reading the suggestion that the following person's voice is disturbing:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5ny6TrnQoM]

PS: Kudos to Ms. Castillo for her total takedown of Gay Dad Kuznicki.

The War on Noticing

From Noah Smith, aka yet another economist with a blog.

LET ME EXPLAIN JAPAN FOR WESTERNERS

There are three common mistakes that many Westerners make when observing or analyzing Japanese culture. First, they essentialize it - they assume there are some core things that never change, and that you can understand these things by studying samurai culture, or stuff like that. Second, they exoticize it - they assume that Japanese culture is very different from Western culture, and that there are deep secrets that only Japanese people themselves understand. Third, they homogenize it - they assume that the difference between Japanese individuals or subcultures is much smaller than the group difference between Japan and other cultures.

Let me translate this to you: Pattern Recognition is Bad. No, it's positively Evil. You should not try to use your brain and notice things. That may get you into trouble, and certainly prevent you from getting a job as an economics professor. What you need to do is ἐποχή squared; suspend all judgment, and if possible all cognitive function. Just do as you're told by your academic betters, i.e. me. 

Explanation of Japan for Westerners: Japan is a collection of rocks with some human beings on it. That's the vast majority of ...

Explain this

On 5 August 1968, Mao received the Pakistani foreign minister Mian Arshad Hussain, who brought with him a basket of golden mangoes as gifts for the Chairman. Instead of eating the mangoes, Mao [who hated sweets] decided to give them to the Capital Worker and Peasant Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Team … that had earlier been sent to the Qinghua University in Beijing to rein in the rival Red Guard gangs. Two days later, on 7 August, the People’s Daily, the official news organ of the Communist Party-state, carried a report on the mango gift that included the following extra-long headline in extra-large font: ‘The greatest concern, the greatest trust, the greatest support, the greatest encouragement; our great leader Chairman Mao’s heart is always linked with the hearts of the masses; Chairman Mao gave the precious gifts given by a foreign friend to the Capital Worker and Peasant Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Team’.

Mao gave the mangoes to Wang Dongxing, who divided them up, distributing one mango each to a number of leading factories in Beijing, including Beijing Textile Factory, where I was then living. The workers at the factory held a huge ceremony, rich in the recitation of Mao’s words, to welcome the arrival of the mango, then sealed the fruit in wax, hoping to preserve it for posterity. The mangoes became sacred relics, objects of veneration. The wax-covered fruit was placed on an altar in the factory auditorium, and workers lined up to file ...

Explaining the Cultural Revolution: signalling arms races as bad fiat currency

This is going to be a long post.

The idea of Chinese people worshipping wax mangoes because some Pakistani minister didn't have time to have a proper gift made for his visit to China is indeed quite startling. Of course some people will instantly run into the old stereotype of those perfid Orientals slaves, who have been forever worshipping their tyrants as Gods on Earth. But that's bullshit. The Chinese have always been a fairly unruly bunch, and the Emperor was never worshipped as a God, unlike the Roman Emperors of our humanistic West.

And the Chinese aren't stupid either, they've always been one of the major civilizations on Earth, often world leader in wealth, scholarship and technology. They have the longest unbroken literary tradition; not having undergone a dark age, it's amazing how many ancient books are still extant in China.

So why did this intelligent, civilized people fall so low as to worship a rotten Pakistani mango? Politics, that's why. They are humans and so are vulnerable to politics. And modern politics can get very, very ugly.

I'll quote liberally from the original post by Marquez:

The idea of a “cult of personality” is in some ways a peculiarly modern one. Practices of “leader worship” were of course not unknown in the past; one might almost say that they were basical...

Leftism is just an easy excuse

To expand on the Maoism post. Marquez came up with the flattery inflation theory to explain how cults of personality evolve in mechanistic terms. But the same idea can be used to explain not only Red Queen spirals of sycophancy. Any ideological innovation, both in states and inside small cults or organizations, behaves under the same principles.

Any political system, any organization, even the smallest one, is going to have people in power, and people out of power who want to be in power. Or at least marginally increase their level of power.

Which means you need to challenge those who are in power. The powerful are powerful because they have organized themselves into a power coalition, bound by ties of loyalty. A solid power block where all members are strongly loyal is, for all purposes, indestructible. So the only way to challenge the powerful is to try to incite disloyalty among its members.

More likely than not, some members of the ruling coalition are not very loyal. They'd rather defect. But they can't backstab the coalition just like that. You don't do that; it looks bad. Your comrades will go against you. There are costs to defection.

Unless you're not the only defector. You need a way to signal your intention to defect, so that other disloyal fucks such as yourself (and they're bound to be others) can join up, thus reducing the likely costs of defection. The way to signal your intention to defect is to come up with a good excuse. A good ...

Just Wrong

Robin Hanson writes a lot about how we should not fall into spurious fads, in a hopeless attempt to gain some status. He also cautions us that that's precisely what humans evolved to do, so we must be doubly vigilant about our innate biases.

See his latest post:

We have a strong tendency to believe what we were taught to believe. This is a serious problem when we were taught different things. How can we rationally have much confidence in the beliefs we were taught, if we know that others were taught to believe other things? In order to overcome this bias, we either need to find a way to later question our initial teachings so well that we eliminate this correlation between our beliefs and our early teachings, or we need to find strong arguments for why one should expect more accurate beliefs to come from the source of our personal teaching, arguments that should persuade people regardless of their teaching. These are both hard standards to meet.

We also have strong tendencies to acquire tastes. Many of the things we like we didn’t like initially, but came to like after a time. In foods, kids don’t initially like spice or bitterness, or meat, especially raw. Kids don’t initially like jogging or structured exercise, or cold showers, or fist fights, but many claim later to love such things. People find they love the kinds of music they grew up with more than other ...

The purpose of absurdity

Ron Unz had an interesting comment at Sailer's blog a while ago:

Actually, another suspicion I’ve often had is that much of that massively-promoted total nonsense like transexualism and Gay Marriage is meant to flush out and expose potential troublemakers potentially lurking within ranks of the elite before they can rise high enough to become a serious problem. In support of this hypothesis, the leading purge victims are usually found within the fields of popular culture, entertainment, celebrity, and the media, which constitute a crucial chokepoint in controlling our society. It’s obviously much easier and safer to detect and purge a future Mel Gibson while he’s just a rising young actor than after he’s spent a dozen years as Hollywood’s #1 star.

the reason the King walks down the street naked in his imaginary suit is to draw out and catch those people unwilling to say they see what isn’t there.

In an actual historical example, the Emperor Caligula appointed his favorite horse to the highest official government position in the Roman State. How better to break the spirit of potentially disloyal Senators and military commanders, and determine which of them might have independent thoughts.

Well put. But personally what struck me is that he had to come up with this by his own. A very intelligent man in his 50s had to personally realize this. When...

The cause of absurdity

My previous post has been understandably interpreted as an endorsement of the Dalrymple (echoed by Unz) theory that absurd ideas are made up on purpose to humiliate people and check who is really loyal to the power holders.

I should clarify that my point was not an endorsement, just an observation that absurdity as power-trip is a very ancient trick. The Chinese noticed 2200 years ago. I'm sure it's happened a lot, in all countries on earth. Even in middle sized organizations it happens to a lesser degree.

But Western culture never noticed. Andersen got close, but didn't get the actual point. Dalrymple, and now Unz, did notice by themselves, but it's still not a common observation. The fact is Western culture has its own conception of power, a very naive construct that prevents us from noticing how things actually work. We seem to think people have ideas, and act because they believe those ideas, and power just comes out of the strength of those ideas. Call it faith in Christ, or Protestantism, or liberalism. Our conception of history is the history of ideas. Never we stop to think who comes up with this ideas, how they change, why some spread and others don't.

Dalrymple and Unz seem to think that absurdities such as Communism or WWT are made up on purpose by a cabal of evil conspirators in order to show who's boss, and check who's on board with the program. Vladimir in last post had this to say:

While I agree that such stories provid...

Male culture

So I'm reading the Water Margin (Shui Hu Zhuan 水滸傳). Written in the 15th century, it's the most famous vernacular novel in Chinese history, together with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Well, I'm not actually reading it (it's long). I'm watching the 2011 TV show. Which is long too, but very neat. The Water Margin is the story of 108 men. Good men, strong, noble, virile men who are wrongly abused by the governmenet, and thus rescind their loyalty to the state, and run to the hills to form bands of bandits to fight for their manly honor. The story is based on the Song Dynasty, particularly the reign of the infamous Huizong (1082-1135), who was so fucking awful he deserves a post for himself. The novel is fiction, often very, very wild fiction; but it is loosely based in actual events on the era. There's an earlier novel about evil bandits in the mountains doing evil things. The Water Margin tripled the characters, and made them into good, noble men. It also sold like crazy, becoming the second most famous novel in the world, while it's more truthful predecessor was forgotten for 900 years.

The Song Dynasty gets a lot of good publicity for being wealthy, commercial and urbane. Indeed the Chinese economy boomed like it never would until well into the 19th century. The Song state also solved the problem of military warlords running petty kingdoms in their domains; the exam system became the only path into officialdom, and the strengt...

The Social Module

It's common now among scientists of the brain to propose that the brain is made out of separate modules, which receive input, process it, and produce an output, often in the form of behavior. If you've read any Haidt or Pinker you know what I'm talking about.

Letting aside the question of whether the brain actually works like that, even if we understand the idea of "module" as metaphorical, it does seem to be a productive framework.

Imagine that human beings all have a number floating above their heads. Like the HP floats above a character on a RPG or a strategy videogame. Let's say it's a three-figure number. That's your Status Points. It's more of an ordinal system; 001 means you're awesome, 999 means you're some omega piece of shit.

Now, we can't actually see that number (maybe we could in the lost ancient Golden Age of Magic); but we have a pretty good feeling for it. For all purposes a big chunk of a brain is dedicated to perceiving this number in oneself and in others. Some people are better, some are worse, there's a bell curve of SP perception. But all humans are pretty good at that.

The number isn't quite fixed. It hovers around a certain range, depending on the social circle you are at on a given moment. We all know people who are alpha at work and beta at home, people who are bullied at school but high status with a different group of friends. The SP number hovering around your head changes in these circumstances, and everybody else is...

The Relentless Pursuit of Advantage

Let's see if I can expand SP theory.

Early October is the anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China, and the people there get a one week vacation. As a result a billion people start moving in one direction or the other. Tourist spots in China become hell on earth, the closest thing to an ant colony. Those who can afford it choose to travel abroad, where there's bound to be less people. The yen being quite cheap these days, Japan is one of the top destinations for Chinese tourism.

You gotta give it to them, that the Japanese bureaucracy can really pull stuff off when it puts itself to work. 5 years ago I started to hear how one of the "growth strategies" of Japan was to be tourism, and the Japanese government was starting to move in order to achieve that. I thought it was madness; have they looked at a map? Japan is far away. There's not that much to see to be honest, most old cities having been burnt by Curtis LeMay, and replaced with quite uninspiring jungles of concrete. Japanese hotels are also old, small and expensive. And nobody speaks foreign languages. It can't work.

Well, 5 years later Japan has more than doubled the number of visiting tourists. From 8 to what might well reach 20 million this year. That has a lot to do with Chinese tourists. The yen being quite cheap right now, Chinese tourists find Japan to be quite cheap. It's also quite close. So a zillion Chinese came to Japa...

Morality

Von Neumann, widely regarded as perhaps the most intelligent man who ever lived, had this to say:

It is just as foolish to complain that people are selfish and treacherous as it is to complain that the magnetic field does not increase unless the electric field has a curl. Both are laws of nature.

There's an amazing story (H/T Candide) of a Belgian couple who for some stupid reason decided to drive across the Belgian Congo (DRC today). They documented the whole trip on this forum. The whole adventure is a great story, of course. Unless you're like me, and can't stop wondering why would anybody attempt such a stupid trip. Why, oh why. I mean I sorta get it if you're a 20 something man with your buddies. But a couple on their 30s (by the look of them)? What kind of man brings a woman to such a place? It's insane. On the other hand I find it very useful, when I show it to my wife to tell her how lucky she is of having a man without a death wish.

That said, it is an amazing read. I liked this passage the best:

Bicycle tracks are not suited for Landcruisers... so we got stuck. The villages usually had the worst obstacles. In this one village there was a big boghole filled with water. We drove in but did not see the pigs that were taking a bath so we slowed down to give them the time to get out...

Truth

Good old Mencken said:

(pause your adblock or Ghostery or similar extensions to see embedded Tweets)

https://twitter.com/HLMenckenBot/status/680636693829951488

Well, as I always say, there are no mysteries in life. Reality isn't strange, you just have a bad model. Not that I'm innocent of that mistake. I'm known of chanting how the truth will always prevail, even when most people obviously prefer bullshit, and have always done so. I, like Mencken, like Orwell, also used to pick my brains out about why people just didn't see what is in front of their noses. I had a habit of pointing at the truth, and it never made me any friends.

Now I know why; you just can't make friends with the truth. It's like trying to buy stuff without money. To catch people's attention you need conversational currency, i.e. you need bullshit. Controversy, nonsense, whatever gets people to talk and do things. Then you can watch them talk, and do things, judge their characters according to what they say and do, and choose your friends accordingly. Compared to that, the truth is of much more limited application. If there's a wolf, knowing there is a wolf, and that wolves are dangerous is very useful. But if there are no wolves, who the hell cares if they're dangerous? In the absence of wolves, talking of wolves is just signaling. Say you like wolves, and you come out as an animal lover....

Men doing their own thing

Basically means doing steroids and denying that those have any bad effect.

You'll remember a post I did a while ago on the Chinese classical novel, the Water Margin. That's a 14th century novel, thought to be based on the peasant rebellions that overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in China in the 1350s. So that's 665 years ago. The novel is a historical novel of a previous rebellion in the 1110s. Rebellions are of course stories of men, and the Water Margin is an epic story of 108 men who are forced to leave society by evil men, and thus go up the mountain to do their own thing. To this day, when a man says "fuck it" and leaves polite society to do his own thing, in Chinese you say he is "forced to climb to mount Liang", which is the hideout of the rebels in the Water Margin.

So what did these great bros do up at Liangshan? Bully each other into a signaling spiral of binge drinking, binge eating, pointless fighting and destruction of normal family life. And completely disregard for women. The only women in the novel are bros too, women fighers who can beat 100 men while handling huge spears on horseback. Those are cool. Other women are hoes, and hoes are not cool. The sheer nonsense and sometimes pure evil that the novel describes as being the honorable and manly thing to do is just amazing. One of the stories that amazed me the most was how 秦明 Qin Ming joined the gang.

Oh sorry, I forgot that Chinese names just don...

Means, goals and signaling

As I said in a recent post, the euphoria caused by the Donald Trump candidacy and the recent breakdown of public order in Western Europe has given renewed energy to white nationalism in both sides of the Atlantic. Now it seems like the time is ripe for revolution. Surely when Ivy League universities are openly staging rallies saying white people are evil by definition, and when white women are being openly assaulted by Middle Eastern migrants in the streets of Sweden and Germany, now white people in all sides can unite and fight back!

... Have they? Haven't seen that. All I see is the left using the overwhelming power of the state to push back with ruthless efficiency. I see German mayors not even bothering to pretend that they care that 9 year old german girls are being harassed on his streets

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdSsJQ-fvOU

 

I see the Christian Church in Sweden building mosques adjacent to empty churches

img56b0fffa2ec8a

 

And we recently saw like the neomasculine King Roosh was cowed into submission by the overwhelming force of leftist media.

caazilvusaitz86

 

And not only was Roosh was beaten so badly that he's fearing f...

Signaling spirals

1800: Oh, you still have slaves? I freed all of mine.

1860: Did you know they still have slaves in the South? My sons have enlisted to kill those evil slavers.

1920: You listen to classical music? I go to a Jazz Club, there's a black musician who is so awesome.

1950: I have a black secretary.

1970: I have a black friend.

1980: I have many black friends. I even slept with one.

1990: I have a black child. Well, half black.

2000: I adopted a fully black child. Straight from Africa. Zero white admixture.

2010: I adopted two black children. One from West Africa and one from East Africa.

2016:

This past Sunday, my gorgeous wife – a white evangelical, like me — gave birth to our beautiful African-American triplet daughters whom we adopted as embryos. These sweet girls will hopefully soon be coming home to meet their 3-year-old African-American brother and 2-year-old biracial sister, both of whom we adopted as infants.

People forget that Christians invented holiness signaling.

As a friend said, hopefully liberals will see that they can't compete with evangelicals and will move to the other side. If that happens I'll salute Mr. and Mrs. Halbert for saving civilization.

Holiness Escalation

Remember this? The lily-white couple who implanted 100% black embryo and gave birth to black triplets? They were so happy of themselves. So proud of it. The holiest people on earth. Surely nobody could be holier than us!

babies

Oh boy. There's a Japanese saying, 上には上がある (ue ni wa ue ga aru). It means that as high as you get, there's always somewhere higher. As good as you think you are, there's always someone better. The world's a big place. And humans can be so annoying.

Another white  American Evangelical couple are on the news. They have a black adopted child, but that's obviously old fashion, don't get points for that. So they had to do something. Now they have adopted a baby with no brain. That's right. No brain. And they made a video about it! Take that. The black embryo-couple only had some boring picture of themselves holding three babies. But we have a video. On Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN-1O_nVZzY

 

Besides, the black implanted babies have brains. How 2015 is that? You don't go to heaven by adopting babies with brains. That's just like, racist. Are you IQ-worshippers or something? Why do you need a br...

The Bow of the King of Chu

Google openly praises leftist terrorist supporters, Obama forces schools across the US to allow transexuals to choose the toilets they use. The West is fucked up. Yes, I know. The mission of this blog has been to explain in plain language why the Left exists, why it's so crazy, and why it gets even crazier over time.

Part of that mission is to find similar instances of crazy political ideas in non-Western cultures. Sir John Glubb spent some time in the Arab world, and he seemed to have the same interests, so he produced a very interesting account on political madness in the Abassid empire, which looked fairly similar to contemporary leftism. I live in East Asia, and so I write a lot about East Asian history. I may end up making some money by selling my readers a fancy book with some stories. In the meanwhile, let me share another interesting anecdote.

The most fertile era of Chinese intellectual culture coincided with what came to be called the Axial Age. In China is the era between 550 BC and 200 BC, more or less. That's the era of the Hundred Schools of thought. China was divided in many kingdoms, who each wanted a piece of each other. It was if anything more violent and chaotic that Classical Greece, which had similar dynamics; division, constant warfare, and amazing intellectual life.

Continue Reading →

Science and Truth

http://www.cnet.com/news/mark-zuckerberg-45b-initiative-makes-investment-andela-facebook/

The start up presently trains prospective developers in Nigeria and Kenya. "We live in a world where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "Andela's mission is the close that gap."

Says he. I wonder how does he know.

Maybe he found at reading one of these papers while at Harvard?

The balance of the natural and social world

Apparently I missed this kind post by Jim where he calls me clever but pessimistic. Guilty as charged. I agree with his point though. Irrational optimism works. I'm just not very good at it. Which is why I've been reading and writing on how to generate it exogenously, i.e. for people like me.

The discussion there at Jim is uncharacteristically good. The main issue people ask is that you can't just make up a new religion. That's a good point. It's also a bummer, given that my shtick for 5 years has been that We Need a New Religion (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). But once you understand what religion is about, what it is for, it's obvious that you can't just make one up from thin air. Any coordination mechanism for groups, any set of ideas to generate loyalty is more likely to work if it feeds upon previous ideas which are out there, preferably for a long time. If only to make people not feel inadequate about their past ideological stances. If you want Christians to join your group you should make them feel good about having been a Christian; at least parts of it. Ever read the Quran? The writer was very, very familiar with Christianity and Judaism. Christianity was of course also based on Judais...

Self-Deceptive Status Filters

People call me cynical because I say ideology is crap. It's just stuff people say to look good to their peers. Signaling, that is. And I support this claim by pointing out that people just don't know shit. David Hume proved that. We don't even "know" the laws of nature with any certainty. Yes, we're used to some things happening after certain things. There's chains of events that strongly hint at causality. But you can never know for sure.

Of course that kind of fuzzy knowledge is good enough for human purposes; people do get by in their lives, do things expecting consequences to occur, and they almost invariably do. But the strength of that knowledge depends on the frequency of their repetition. So people only really know what they're very familiar with. Their job, generally. This maps to Conquest's Second Law: everybody is conservative about what they know best. People are not conservative (i.e. they are leftist) on the things they don't know. Why would they be? They don't know much about it. And yet they have an opinion about it. They talk about it. Why would you talk about something you don't know about? Signaling, of course.

Signaling doesn't exactly equate leftism, but it kinda does. Signaling is about gaining status. That's why you signal, that's what living in society is about. If you were a tiger you'd be in the jungle eating animals and looking for females to rape; as it happens humans are social primates, and we need to get along with other humans...

Making Virtue out of Necessity

Or, making virtue out of lack of lack of other paths for upward mobility.

The most important topic in social science, the humanities or however you want to call it, is what drives cultural change. Things change, that is obvious enough, and humans have been discussing it since they ever started doing abstract thinking. We understand a lot of change now. Physics tell us why the physical world changes: by obeying the laws of physics. Biology tells us why living things change: through evolution. What we still haven't figured out is why societies change. Cultural change. You can define culture as behaviors inherited through non-genetic means. We still haven't quite figured out the laws of cultural change. It happens they're immensely complicated. We know it has a lot to do with politics. And it happens that the very act of trying to figure culture out is a political statement, so it's hard to get honest inquiry running. The stakes are too high.

But still, I've always been fascinated (I'd say obsessed, but the word is quite abused these days by all sorts of posers) by why different societies do different things; and how people do different things across history. Even the same persons end up having different opinions over time. Of course you could buy the Christian-Enlightenment paradigm and think that they've just earned new information over time. You see, they suddenly realized that gaymarriage is a human right. Or you may take my Darkly Enlightened behaviorist i...

The Role of Government, 2

A few centuries ago people in Europe discovered free trade. The market. They got the state to say: go make money, free of any guilds or regulations.  I won't stop you. Go out there and make money. Compete freely. So people went to make money. Started businesses, factories, mines. In short order we got 2 industrial revolutions, the greatest technological advances in history, and vast, vast, amazing amounts of wealth. Pretty neat.

But. We also found the market isn't perfect. Yeah it produces wealth. A damn lot of it. But leaving people alone to make money also resulted in other outcomes which weren't so desirable. For some people, at least. You see, people compete to make money, and the competition can get ruthless, so people start doing bad stuff. These undesirable outcomes ended up being called "market failures". There's a whole literature about that. Externalities. Monopoly. Sweatshops. There's lots of stuff, it isn't quite clear what is and what isn't a market failure; but the consensus out there is that there are quite a lot. And that the government should use its power to regulate the market in order to prevent and/or fix market failures. Again, it's messy business, as tends to happen with government stuff, but that is how it works today. And it doesn't work that badly. We got clean air and stuff. Which is nice.

So let me do this analogy:

A few centuries ago people in Europe discovered civil rights. Democracy. They got the state to say: g...