College Degree: Status, Drop-outs, IQ, and Success

The Pros and Cons of Going To College

Does a college degree give you status? Maybe 50 years ago, when a college degree was more scarce, but nowadays a PHD in a STEM field confers much more social status and earning power than, say, a 4-year degree in something less intellectually rigorous like child development or gender studies. Intellectualism, wealth, and status are becoming increasingly intertwined, especially in the post-2008 economy. This is because people who are smarter are more ‘fit’ for survival in the post-2008 economy, as part of Social Darwinism 2.0. Those who aren’t fit, obviously don’t die physically from a predator, but they tend to die inside, emotionally, from economic hardship and low social status.

The problem is when students take out a lot of debt for a degree that may not have a high ROI. At least with STEM (especially computer science and engineering) you have a better shot of repaying the debt than, for example, with comparative literature. You can learn the humanities for free by going to the library or reading Wikipedia. While you can self-learn abstract physics and math concepts, often in STEM you need labs and other equipment that necessitates some sort of classroom setting.

From the comments, someone gives examples of famous and successful people who either did not go to college or dropped out:

The following people did not graduate college (and many never even attended): Ansel Adams, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Bob Dylan, Thomas Edison, Bobby Fischer, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, J. Paul Getty, John Glenn, Barry Goldwater, William Randolph Hearst, Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, J.D. Salinger, Taylor Swift, Ted Turner, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and Mark Zuckerberg.

As I explain in an earlier article, Much Needed IQ Realism in the Anti and Pro College Movements, innate talent and IQ plays a bigger role in success than whether or not someone graduates from college. All he did was cherry pick examples of high-IQ/talented people who were successful without college, passing it off as being representative of the general population of dropouts. People with below-average IQs who drop out of college tend to accomplish little in life, often going on welfare or doing low-paying jobs for the remainder of their lives. They very seldom (or at a rate much lower than high-IQ dropouts) become successful. They’re not gonna become the next Disney or Gates, that’s for sure.

Also, times have changed. Barriers of entry to entrepreneurship are higher, as are the failure rates. UP until 2008, housing, mining, construction offered good pay for college drop-outs, but the housing construction market imploded in 2006 and never recovered, as well as the the mining and energy markets in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Oil fell from $100 in 2013 to $40 as of August 2014, causing mass layoffs in the whole energy sector. That includes alternative energy, which is less attractive when oil prices plunge. With the exception of a small blip in 2000-2002, high-tech is much more resilient to macro conditions, but the IQ barriers to entry are higher, with or without a college degree.

Inverse Relationship Between Stock Prices and Volatility

Right now, even I don’t fully understand how markets work. I’m getting better, but still not where I need to be. There are two accounts under my control: a simple one that allocates an equal amount of money into 30-yr treasuries and a retail ETF, which has done well with annual returns of about 50%; and second, a more complicated mixed portfolio, which has not done as well as I had hoped due to the mistake that I explained yesterday. The gap between the better hypothetical portfolio and the my own is around $2,700, up from $2,000 yesterday. A disappointment. I still don’t fully understand how volatility works, and very, very few people – if any – understand the intricacies of volatility futures and mean-reversion delay. If you think volatility is complicated, futures add a new level of complexity. Generally speaking, as the market plunges, volatility rises. Normally, the inverse geometric * relations hold. But when volatility rises too much, like it did on Monday, there is a lag between volatility and stock prices, meaning that stocks can fully recover quickly but volatility may remain very elevated. So not realizing this caused me to misappropriate resources by being short volatility when I should have bought stocks.

* Rather than computing correlation coefficients, it’s easier and more effective to simply analyze the the two charts (the underlying index (S&P 500) and volatility futures) at the extremes:

The lag tends to be much less, or even non-existent, for smaller spikes in volatility. Also the lag tends to come later and not after the initial spike in volatility.

If the market crashes again, I am not going to make this mistake again. I’ll have a better strategy specifically for that situation, and then switch back to something else.

High-IQ Wins Again – Stocks Surge For 2nd Day

Stocks keep going up, the left’s shrill cries for crisis still being ignored. Zerohedge wrong again, another defeat snatched from the jaws of what seemed like a certain victory. So close and yet so far. The Nasdaq is up a mind-blowing 7% in the past 2 days alone – staggering. The S&P 500 up 6%. The left wants to live in a world where IQ is not important, where stocks stop going up, where wealth inequality is bad for the economy, where Bay Area homes prices & web 2.0 valuations fall – and it’s never gonna happen, sorry liberal perts. We’re still in the greatest wealth creation boom ever.

The NRx movement should embrace Silicon Valley and Wall St. as being places that reward merit, individualism, and wealth creation over egalitarianism and collectivism. HBD is still more relevant than ever. IQ, STEM, coding… all important. High-IQ stocks like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix are rocketing higher day after day. You have to understand that America, more so than any other place in the world, rewards creativity, IQ, capitalism, and competence – and that’s why stocks always come roaring back, no matter how hard the liberal media tries to make things get worse. The left wants Silicon Valley to become another Ferguson, Baltimore, or Detroit. The only black lives that matter to the left are those who vote for liberal candidates.

I am aware of the moral decay problem, but even Moldbug said in his manifesto that decay is not the biggest problem, it’s violence, and I agree.

Especially organized violence. Next to organized human-on-human violence, a good formalist believes, all other problems – Poverty, Global Warming, Moral Decay, etc, etc, etc – are basically insignificant. Perhaps once we get rid of violence we can worry a little about Moral Decay, but given that organized violence killed a couple of hundred million people in the last century, whereas Moral Decay gave us “American Idol,” I think the priorities are pretty clear.

He’s right. The confiscation of private property by force and decree is worse than decay. Moral decay does suck, but you can always try to opt out of it. You can turn off the TV & radio, stop reading the trashy ad-filled newspapers that are trying to scare you. That’s what I have done. No TV and no radio and no newspapers. It’s crap. I don’t need to read the headlines to figure out that the supposed China crisis was mostly hot air or that stocks would rebound – I came to those realizations myself based on my years of knowledge about how the economy and stocks work. About china, there is hysteria is that GDP growth is slowing from 8% to 7%. I am not kidding…everyone is freaking out over a single percent, and there’s no evidence this weakness has spread to America. 99% of opinions & news is worthless. You need to find that 1%.

Buy The Dip

As everyone is freaking out about stocks falling, a buying opportunity has presented itself:

The pattern now is reminiscent of the selling in late 2011 which, in retrospect, was a good buying opportunity as the market proceeded to rally another 70%.

The big concern right now is over supposed economic weakness in China. But aside from that, there aren’t any new developments in the US economy to justify another bear market, or at least nothing in the data has meaningfully changed between today and a month ago when the market was 12% higher. 99% of what’s said by the financial media is just rumors and fear intended to boost advertising dollars and ratings. The doom and gloom media is trying to create narratives when, in fact, most of this selling has no underlying structural cause and is just noise. Capitalism is not dying. Economically, China is still doing better than the vast majority of emerging markets. Stock prices of high-IQ companies like Amazon, Google , Facebook, and Tesla will keep rising. Consumers will keep consuming. Valuations for Uber and Snapchat will not fall. Bay Area homes will keep being expensive , including my neighborhood where prices keep going up.

As for myself, my stock account is negative for the year, so it’s not like I can pretend to be unharmed in all of this, although I only keep some of my money in stocks. Deeply regretting not buying TQQQ on the dip at $75 couple days ago, and it’s now at $91. Had I done some things differently, I would have about $2,000 more dollars now on the account, and while it isn’t that much money, it’s still a personal failure on my part in not choosing the better trade. Yeah, they say the grass is always greener ….blah blah, but I want to get to the point where every decision is an optimal one.

If you have a sizable sum of money, Bay Area real estate may be better than stocks. You get a much smoother rate of return. But that’s not an option for the vast majority of people, since the homes in that region are expensive and scarce. That’s the ‘depressing’ reality about investing: the easier it is to invest in something, typically the worse the returns for the average person. A lot of people who buy stocks lose money; there are too many stocks and sectors to choose from, and most of them are bad. To bypass this inherent difficulty of choosing stocks, it’s recommended buying index fund ETFs or sector ETFs, which are described below.

As mentioned before, my favorite sectors:

Retail (XLY,RETL,RTH)

Healthcare (XLV)

Large-cap technology (QQQ)

Payment processing (Mastercard, Visa, Paypal; there is no ETF for these)

Least favorite sectors:

Energy (XLE)

Commodities (GLD,USO)

Emerging markets (EEM)

Miners, oil shippers, and drillers (Misc.)

Emerging market currencies & bond funds (Misc.)

Junk bonds (JNK)

High yield misc. funds (MORL)

These sectors to to be macro-sensitive, meaning that they are susceptible to changes in the US dollar or emerging market GDP growth. These sectors also have too much volatility and poor returns. A junk bond can pay 7%a year, but the volatility is too high for a small return that can be erased in a few weeks of bad trading.

30-yr Treasury bonds (TLT)

Treasury bonds are also pretty good, since the weakness in China and the overall stock market malaise will delay any rake hike until 2016. A lot of people, who don’t how bonds work, don’t know the difference between a treasury bond and a junk bond. A high yield or risky bond* is a ‘risk-off’ asset, meaning it generally does badly during periods of economic weakness or fear. This is due to the flight to safety, which causes people to move money out of riskier assets into safer ones such as short-term government debt. A treasury bond is the opposite : they tend to do well during periods of panic, so if you plan on diversifying or hedging by buying bonds, make sure you are buying the right kind. When there is a flight to safety, money goes out of riskier junk bonds and into the safest ones of all: treasury bonds.

* this includes junk bonds, leveraged bond funds, emerging market bonds, REITs,

Wired For Success: Brain Scans Predict Mathematical Ability

This is a huge story on Reddit right now, getting a staggering 4000+ up-votes in less than eight hours: Brain scans better forecast math learning in kids than do skill tests, study finds: Gray matter volume and connections between several brain regions better forecast 8-year-olds’ acquisition of math skills than their performance on standard math tests.

The viral response on Reddit is evidence that the large millennial demographic has an interest in HBD-related matters, whereas with older generations you don’t see as much enthusiasm. Millions of Young people are willing to give HBD the benefit of the doubt instead of dismissing it a racist, sexist, or whatever. Maybe this is because millennials, many of whom are well-educated and have superior critical thinking skills, are realizing that the left’s environment-based explanations (not enough public school funding, rich people, poverty, etc) for education and socioeconomic under-achievement among certain groups has fallen short, and that biology, not environment, is the primary cause of underachievement. That means people are falling behind because of low IQs or ‘poor brain wiring’ in an economy where intellect is increasingly important. People who are wired for math success are also wired for socioeconomic success, as IQ and income are highly correlated, and in the post-2008 economy this trend has accelerated. The hyper-competitive economy has magnified the economic consequences of individual cognitive differences, such that a person with an IQ 120, for example, is at a much greater advantage than, say, 100 years ago. Until the 2000′s, people who were bad at math still had a lot of good career options, but nowadays with manufacturing jobs going away and everything being outsourced and automated, math, and intellect, and wealth are becoming increasingly intertwined and inseparable. That article hits close to home – maybe those kids who were whizzes at math in elementary school and are now making six-figures in STEM jobs didn’t just make better life-decisions, but are actually biologically better than everyone else, too. That means you have much less free will than you want to believe, and that biology preordains some to success but all too many to mediocrity or failure, and there’s little that anyone can do about it.

As shown below, the income disparity between advanced degree holders and everyone else has widened markedly since 2010. Getting an advanced degree typically requires an IQ of at least 115, hence being smart has never been so important for socioeconomic advancement as it is today. If you don’t have an IQ that is at least one standard deviation above average, you life may suck.

The research tracked 43 children longitudinally for six years, starting at age 8, and showed that while brain characteristics strongly indicated which children would be the best math learners over the following six years, the children’s performance on math, reading, IQ and memory tests at age 8 did not.

Hmmm….but I also wonder among the sample how many poor test performers had unfavorable brain scans, versus good test takers? It could be a small faction of poor test takers have good scans , whereas a larger percentage of good test takers do. The study does not explain why the relationship holds in the future but not at the time of the initial test.

This was the most up-voted comment on Reddit:

There is a difference between aptitude and achievement. Psychometric (standardized) tests are most often tests of achievement, not aptitude. The measure of connectivity and cortical thickness is a measure of aptitude, not achievement.
The brain scans will not tell you if a child understands complex fractions. An achievement test will tell you this. An achievement test will not tell you if the same child could one day master tensor calculus. The article suggests this may be possible.
Neuroimaging will not replace achievement tests, and achievement tests are not good measures of aptitude.
Note that the researchers used neuroimaging to measure aptitude, and then psychometric tests to assess achievement later on.

However, although millennials show a keen interest in IQ and HBD related topics, confusions still remain. A psychometric test is not always the same as a standardized test. A psychometric test doesn’t even have to be an IQ test. Some psychometric tests test for personality or mental disorders, etc. A well-constructed IQ test should not be an achievement test, meaning that it’s possible for someone who gets low grades or is even illiterate to perform well on an IQ test. IQ tests or the pre-1995 SAT are good aptitude tests, and the later is also effective as a achievement test. As for cortical thickness being a proxy for aptitude and IQ, the relationship isn’t actually so clear. Counterintuitively, according to a study, high-IQ individuals early in life have less cortical thickness than average-IQ subjects:

Later in life, cortical thickness tends to be the same for all IQ levels.

The Meritocracy We Don’t Understand

From Wired: Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs

The meritocracy is alive and well, but it’s the meritocracy we don’t really understand. Many are producing merit, but their efforts are wasted because they don’t know the rules. I guess what I mean is that you have industries and regions in America, such as the Silicon Valley, where the meritocracy and capitalism is alive and well, but this is only for a small fraction of the country. More than a trillion dollars of wealth from web 2.0, rising stock prices, and Bay Area real estate has been created since 2009. Coders strait out of college or even high school are making 6-figures, but too many people are pursuing dead-end endeavors, their efforts wasted because capitalism is becoming much more myopic, with few winning sectors, industries, and companies (like web 2.0 & coding) and many more losers.

Wages in San Francisco and for software engineers are surging:

So this is evidence that at least in some regions and industries, merit is being rewarded.

Even right now, you have the S&P 500 just 7% from record all-time highs, yet over 50% of stocks are 20% or more below their highs – again, lots of losers and few winners. We expect this trend to continue, with the stock market making new highs and GDP holding steady even as fewer and fewer companies and sectors participate. This is because fund managers have gotten better at allocating money, choosing sectors such as large cap information technology that are the most impervious to macro-conditions, and ignoring weak sectors like emerging markets, commodities, and energy. It’s the winner-take-all, bigger-is-better theme in overdrive. If you’re not in the shrinking winner’s circle, you’re probably gonna be a loser. This blog, to it’s credit, has done a good job of knowing which sectors to to choose and which ones to avoid.

Some say the American dream is dead, but, I suppose, it depends for whom.

So many are fooled that the American dream is still attainable that they’ll leave us little guys alone to subsist somewhat happily under the radar.

It’s attainable for some, but for many not. It’s more likely attainable if you major in STEM and or have a high IQ; much less so if you major in a low-paying subject and are reckless with money. As shown below, it pays to be in high-IQ sectors like computer science:

So this is the meritocracy, but maybe not the one we would like. If you are smart and get a STEM degree, you are rewarded with more money. ‘Effort’ and merit are not mutually inclusive, meaning that just because you try hard doesn’t mean you will achieve as much as some who is smarter and doesn’t expend as much effort. That’s why working smarter is more important than working harder. If you are smart and ambitious, but are working in the wrong sector/industry, you may also find yourself falling behind.

Due to the normal distribution of IQs, poor decisions making in life, the winner-take-all economy, and the dearth of capitalist opportunities, the majority of people may feel like the American Dream is dead even though it is alive and well for some.

Related: Is Capitalism Dead? It Depends, I Suppose

Embracing Modernity, Part 2

From the infamous Nov. 2013 Tech Crunch article Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries that introduced thousands of people to NRx:

Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, …

The veracity of this statement is questioned among many reactionaries who argue that technology and free market capitalism has made things worse by disrupting the ‘social order’, a view held by many paleo conservatives. Based on my own readings and my involvement, it definitely seems like NRx is rejecting the ‘Silicon Valley/technology’ subculture and putting much more emphasis on tradition and ethnocentrism, and this is especially evident in 2015 with ‘black lives matter’, the Confederate Flag, Donald Trump and immigration, and other social/culture issues that are on the forefront of the National Debate, pushing ‘technology culture’ to the periphery.

The technologists, while rejecting economic liberalism and some elements of social justice, aren’t really culture warriors. With the exception of the anti-feminist traditionalist George Gilder and others, the ‘culture wars’ are not their domain and they tend not to get too involved with those issues. But even George Gilder, who is a free market capitalist and anti-SJW, would disagree with the dovish ‘alt right’ over Israel and foreign interventionism, as well as issues such as immigration, since Gilder is notably pro-immigration. There is some acrimony by the right towards Silicon Valley over the later’s push for more immigration. Pro-immigration conservatives have faith in the rule of law to keep the state cohesive, despite the influx of new people, and see the free market has having precedence over ethnic interests. This divide between techno-capitalists and traditionalists on the rights just goes to show how diverse right-wing politics can be, even within the broader ideology conservatism. Among the the left, a similar divide exists among neo liberals, who support policy to create equal equal opportunities within a meritocracy, and welfare liberals, who want equal outcomes and for the system to be changed completely to achieve this goal.

Throughout this blog, I’ve argued against stagnation and in support of modernity, a version of NRx which puts me among a very small minority of the fledgling movement, which now seems to have become a dichotomy. There is even a Wikipedia entry for this – Reactionary Modernism – which embraces technology and modernity but rejects liberal ideals, so to some extent that’s what I am, but with more emphasis on personal freedoms and free markets.

Technology is how civilization advances, and if society fails the biggest losers will be the most productive and competent, who have the most invested intellectually and financially in Western civilization succeeding. Modernity, whether it’s the invention of fire in ancient times, to quantum computers today, is how people control their environments instead of merely being subjected to the whims of them, and it’s our ability to not only understand abstract concepts like mortality and finiteness but also take active steps to control it, is what makes modern humans unique from any other animal. Dinosaurs could not control their fate, and they had no such concept of mortality. We, as humans, do. And perhaps the onus is on the best and the brightest among us to create the technologies to save future generations from the unknown, future disasters that loom.

Charles Hugh Smith in an article, One Word Defines This Era: Stagnation laments how progress has stagnated, writing:

How many of you can honestly claim that the services you get from government or global corporations are better now than they were in 2000, or 1985? Get real, people; more often than not, the service has declined or stagnated rather than improved.

But there are improvements, it’s just they they don’t get as much media coverage as doom and gloom.

One examples is that Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can be cured or put into long term remission, whereas in 1985 the mortality was much higher.

For example, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recently analyzed 1148 CP-CML patients and showed that the 8-year survival was ≤ 15% before 1983, 42%-65% from 1983-2000, and 87% since 2001.6 Therefore, the projections for the next decade, taking into account the recent progress with second-generation TKIs, are for the life expectancy of CML patients to be close to that observed in the general population.

http://asheducationbook.hematologylibrary.org/content/2012/1/122.full

Thanks to the drug Gleevec, Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which was one nearly 100% fatal, is now a chronic, manageable disease like AIDS:

Gleevec, marketed by Novartis, kicks chemotherapy in the ass, and is an example of how the free market improves lives.

Wages may seem stagnant but you also have to take into account new technologies and increased entitlement spending, although I do concede that the later is problematic and needs to be addressed, but solutions will be hard to come by. A problem that is decades in the making isn’t going to go away overnight. But when the left complains about paychecks not rising, they have to realize that everything from education to healthcare is being increasingly subsidized by taxpayers and employers, with out of pocket costs historically low. New technologies means you get more utility for your dollar. With Netflix, for $20 a month and the cost of internet, you can stream unlimited entertainment, whereas a generation ago entertainment options were much more limited. Americans are so well-fed there’s an obesity crisis.

That’s why I’m a little more hesitant to dismiss modernity and join the everything is doomed/sucks chorus. There is bad, but there is also good.

If you read Moldbug’s April 2007 essay, A Formalist Manifesto, while he rejects progressivism (and it’s modern liberal and conservative offshoots), moderation, libertarianism, as do I, his solutions are incrementalist – making small adjustments instead of creating a whole new system – which, is somewhat similar to my approach of optimizing cognitive and financial capital through better policy with our existing mixed economy.

But three, which is the real killer – so to speak – is that we are not, in fact, designing an abstract utopia here. We are trying to fix the real world, which in case you hadn’t noticed, is extremely screwed up.

So he says he’s not trying to make a Utopia, only fix our existing system from the perspective of how an engineer would do so so.

The goal of formalism is to avoid this unpleasant little detour. Formalism says: let’s figure out exactly who has what, now, and give them a little fancy certificate. Let’s not get into who should have what.
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To a formalist, the way to fix the US is to dispense with the ancient mystical horseradish, the corporate prayers and war chants, figure out who owns this monstrosity, and let them decide what in the heck they are going to do with it. I don’t think it’s too crazy to say that all options – including restructuring and liquidation – should be on the table.

Essentially, this is propertarianism, which is kinda similar to the minarchist or ‘night watchman’ state approach. He’s not rejecting technology, but rather the liberal/democratic values of ‘the Enlightenment’, which I agree with. This is also the view shared by Michael Anissimov, a NRx blogger who is pro-technology and anti-egalitarianism.

Technology may actually be a tailwind for the NRx cause, hastening the decline of democracy and egalitarianism, with IQ as the new caste system in our hyper-competitive post-2008 economy.

The Purdue Plan

No more student loans? Purdue University proposes selling shares of students’ future income

Purdue University wants to offer a very different way for students to pay for school: private investors will fund their education, and get paid back as a portion of the students’ future income. It’s called an Income Share Agreement (ISA)—if students earn more than expected after university, they pay back more; if they earn less, they pay less.

I would put my money on the students with the highest IQ/SAT scores and or STEM majors…pretty obvious to me and probably everyone else, too, which is why I would be surprised if the program isn’t terminated, should it prove successful, due to political pressure by the left. Let’s see …a Computer Science major with a near-perfect SAT vs. a Feminist Studies major with a mediocre SAT score, who would I rather fund? Even if you eliminate majors, I and any other rational investor would invest by IQ/SAT scores, since IQ and lifetime income highly correlated.

And that brings me to a second idea I have, which is related to the high-IQ basic income, and that is allowing private equity to invest in high-IQ kids in much the same way they invest in companies and other asset classes.

It would work like this: IQ scores for children are collected, and those who score really high (>140) would be listed anonymously on a special government database that is only accessible by firms who will pay the entry fee to see it. So it would not be visible to the general public unless you pay the fee. An entry for the IQ database could look like this:

# 5342 | Gender: M | Age: 5 | Verbal IQ: 140 | Spatial IQ: 160 | Tot. IQ: 150 | complete: 45% | Click Here to Sponsor

Upon sponsoring, the money would go into a trust fund that isn’t accessible to the beneficiary until later, presumably college. Like the Purdue plan, the investor would be entitled to a certain percentage of future earnings, and this would be determined by records held by the IRS, but unlike the Purdue plan the payouts would not come from the beneficiary’s salary but instead the government, similar to the high-IQ basic income proposal, but it could cost less due to external funding.

There would be a funding cap on each entry, as detonated by the ‘% complete’ column, which upon hitting 100% the child would be removed from the database. I imagine males with high spatial IQs would get funding the quickest, with women the slowest. Removing gender would make it more fair, but would make investors more hesitant to invest.

The program could be made more profitable by raising the payout threshold, so that instead of getting a certain percentage of any income, only a certain percentage of income above, say, a million dollars. If the threshold is high enough, some investors will lose money, making it a gamble like a high yield bond. Or by including lower-IQs into the database; however, rational investors would avoid them if higher IQs are available. There could be some combination of payout and IQ threshold based on income actuarial data, the risk preference of investors, and how much of a short-term loss the government is willing run in exchange for potential long-term economic value. If after 15 years the program has a net loss of, say, $5 billion, but the equivalent of five Googles, Amazons, Apples, or Facebooks are created, that’s a good deal, since those companies will pay taxes, making the program a net-positive indirectly. And these companies also create jobs, both directly and indirectly, and boost the overall US economy.

Related: Stanford’s Free Tuition

The Cult of Wallacemania

After trashing Infinite Jest in a 2013 post, Vox Day wrote another David Foster Wallace post, and sites like the Atlantic and Salon keep writing articles about Wallace, so I’m going to write one, too, and this will be my first and probably final article about him.

There is Wallace, the author of notoriously difficult books that sell well but are seldom read in entirety, and then there is Wallace the cult figure. I didn’t understand Wallacemania until I realized he is the literary equivalent of Mitch Hedberg or Kurt Kobain. So many similarities – all were famous in the 90′s, all died prematurely at or near the peak of their stardom, all were blonde with ‘surfer’ looks, and all exuded authenticity and counter-culture appeal in repudiation to the perceived consumerism and banality of the 80′s. By critical consensus, Wallace isn’t the best or most prolific postmodern/hysterical realist author – that title would probably go to DeLillo, Pynchon, or Zadi Smith – but because of the aforementioned factors, he still, seven years after his suicide, gets more attention than those other authors combined.

And even though it’s a slog that few readers saw to its end, perhaps what made Infinite Jest unique and enduring, in contrast to DeLillo’s Underworld and Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, also both published in 1997, is that Wallace was looking towards the not-so-distant future, to a world not much different from our own, but in other ways terrifying, and all too prophetically true, whereas Pynchon and DeLillo were writing about the past.

Wallacemania is a cult, his most devoted followers living vicariously through him. Like a religion, they think reading his books (or at least keeping an unread copy on a bookshelf or on top of a desk) will provide personal fulfillment and answers to existential questions. In the years since his death, there are many articles that implore ‘what would Wallace think of xyz’, similar to the ‘what would Jesus do’ refrain. Another factor is signaling, in that Wallace’s cerebral brand of subversiveness and cool will rub off on anyone who is seen with his books; reading is optional.

And listening to a Kobain or Hedberg album is an enjoyable experience and only a small time commitment, unlike the self-inflicted Sisyphean torture that is a Wallace book or one of his rambling articles such as the one about lobsters, tennis, or whatever.

Social Hierarchies and Techno Libertarianism are Compatible

An interesting pot by ‘NRx safe’ Equality creates Conflict

When those on the traditional right talk about societal hierarchies, they may mostly be referring to gender roles, and this is valid, but the hierarchy also exists in the HBD-sphere as it pertains to IQ, which is America’s new caste system that is playing an increasingly important role in socioeconomic outcomes. This is what separates NRx from the rest of traditional right in that the former believes that the biological differences between individuals makes egalitarianism not not only impossible, but that some people by virtue of traits like IQ are biologically ‘better’ than others, a view that tends to conflict with Christian conservatives, who believe in redemption through faith, not biology.

Techno Libertarianism can be compatible with NRx beliefs of biological preordination because those who succeed or fail in the marketplace have the innate skills and talents to do so (a high-IQ, for example), while those who are lacking fall behind, in what could be called ‘Social Darwinism 2.0′. I added the 2.0 to indicate a revival of Social Darwinism as a defining characteristic of the post-2008 economy, in that those who are not participating in the recovery may not be smart enough, hence ‘unfit’. In agreement with the writings of Charles Murray in his prescient 1995 book The Bell Curve, socioeconomically, the cognitive elite running circles around everyone else, an this is especially obvious in the post-2008 economy, and those who are not smart enough to adapt to the changing economic conditions are falling behind.

Ethno nationalists/traditionalists of NRx argue that immigration and the disruption of traditional values also plays a role in people falling behind, in addition to biological factors like race and IQ, whereas technologists and free-market exponents like Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel* tend to dismiss the concerns of ethno nationalists and traditionalists. This relates to the divide between the rapidly shrinking capitalistic wing of NRx vs. the ethno nationalist/traditionalist majority.

People who embrace Equality are actually unaware of human nature.

I would take it even further to say that human nature is only playing a partial role, and that autonomous economic forces are also behind the left’s failure in the pursuit of equality.

* This only pertains to free market capitalism, not views of race & IQ, which in regard to Andreessen and Thiel are unknown