What is a Religion?

From Scott’s Blog: IS EVERYTHING A RELIGION?

Awhile ago I realized that I could still be a conservative and not believe in a benevolent God, or a God at all. I saw that this actually strengthened my views.

If religion is loosely defined to means a set of beliefs and rituals, then even brushing your teeth can be viewed a some sort of religion unto itself. The distinction though is that a religion, unlike an ideology or a cult, typically has a some sort of creation myth and eschatology, neither of which can typically be falsified, nor does it offer a framework within the rules of science and math to do so. It’s up to its members to take these suppositions on face value, to believe unconditionally. String theory cannot be verified yet, but it does have an underlying scientific and mathematical basis that has some logical consistency, whereas religious creation myths don’t. Also, religions have a group or collective aspects to them, possibly as a form of de-individualization, in that your value as a person is not in your own intrinsic abilities, wealth, talent, and genes, but in how you serve ‘god’ and the collective. Consequently, for most organized religions the barrier to entry for redemption or salvation is not very high, a topic I discuss further here. Organized religions want members, and people will probably be turned off by a religion that condemns it members to ‘hell’ unless they are either super smart and or talented, versus merely being a ‘decent human being’ that believes in the required deity.

In summary, a religion has the following characteristics:

1. subservience, de-individualization (individuals serve not themselves, but either a higher power and or the collective/community)
2. unfalsifiable, offers no logically consistent basis within the rules of math and science to verify its beliefs
3. ritualistic, repetitive
4. low barrier to entry for salvation/redemption (especially in contemporary religions)
5. blank slate view of humanity, no one is intrinsically better than anyone else

An ideology, on the other hand:

1. aims for intellectual rigour and falsification
2. no creation myth or eschatology

Political parties are a mixture of the two in that there is an ideology, but it also requires some sort of group participation and loyalty to the candidate and the cause.

But don’t forget that transhumanism is also Christianity!. It’s got weird beliefs, a promise of eternal life through anti-aging drugs (or resurrection through cryonics), and an eschatology in the Singularity. Objectivism is a religion.

Perhaps transhumanism could be considered a type of religion, but its mores differ from most conventional denominations in that transuhmanism and rationalism tends to be individualistic. I would argue tranhumanism falls under an ideology, with some elements of religion.

Professors On Reddit Tire Of Liberalism

In the post 2008 era, intellectualism in and of itself has become a culture, with people in high-IQ endeavors such as professors, STEM workers, stock traders, quants, wonks, tech CEOs, nerds, real estate investors/speculators, mathematicians and theoretical physicists becoming ‘celebrities‘ to large portions of the population. You see evidence of this on Reddit; for example, a thread asking professors about the most annoying things students do got a mind-blowing 10,000 replies – quite possibly a site record. The replies are suggestive of a backlash by professors and students to the leftist self-esteem movement and helicopter parenting. Liberals want to be coddled, to be sheltered from reality. Parents, particularly liberal ones, insist their kids are special, possessing unlimited unlocked potential; professors, who see thousands of students a year, just see another dull slow learner, cringing at the thought have having to read another paper with butchered syntax composed by one of these ‘special snowflakes’.

Most Millennials, and to a lesser degree Generation X, associate IQ, intellect and social awkwardness with positive traits such as authenticity, introspectiveness and competence. Breaking social norms has become cool – as a way of rebuking leftist, dumbing-down PC conformity and delusion. Smart people, particularity in STEM fields, deal with reality and empirical data, not wishful thinking. Smart people, the millennials in particular, seek the counsel of these objective, empirically-minded experts like Pinker and Murray, preferring the unvarnished truth over the polished lies spread by the liberal media and pseudo-intellectuals like Malcom Gladwell. That’s why the SJWs are failing and why themes of HBD could be bubbling to the surface of mainstream public discourse. Decades ago, few peopel cared about the aormented professios -expecept other members of those professions. Multiple factors – The internet, the smartist era, and millenials endowed by the Flyn-Effect – has foisted these once obscure, nerdy, stodgy professions to the spotlight, eclipsing even athletes, actors, and other ‘traditional’ archetypes of fame and stardom.

In an article for Qz Jonathan Wai challenges Ivy League bashing liberal Frank Bruni. If you have a high enough IQ to get into the Ivy league, you can succeed at life without a degree by virtue of your intelligence. That’s why you see so many instances of people who were admitted to top schools still becoming successful despite either not finishing or not choosing careers directly related their degree. The connections help a lot, too.

For STEM, the choice of college is less important, but I suspect this has to to do with STEM majors having a higher IQ, which is positively correlated with income. Since most colleges have the same STEM curriculum, including Ivy Leagues, roughly the same IQ should be required to complete it regardless of the school.

Religion is Becoming Irrelevant

From marginal revolution: An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America.

The grand confluence of Protestantism has dwindled to a trickle over the past thirty years, and the Great Church of America has come to an end.

…The death of Mainline Protestantism is, as we’ve noted, the central historical fact of our time: the event that distinguishes the past several decades from every other period in American history. Almost every one of our current political and cultural oddities, our contradictions and obscurities, derives from this fact: Mainline Protestantism has lost the capacity to set, or even significantly influence, the national vocabulary or the national self-understanding.

Church attendence has been delining for decades:

And millenials are the least religious of any generation:

The default response is that millennials are more liberal than other generations and hence less religious. But another possibility is not that millennials reject religion on political grounds; instead, they don’t view religion as being aligned with empirical reality, deeming it a waste of time to engage with something that is obviously wrong. Perhaps that’s why atheist conservatism is becoming so popular. In the hyper-competitive post-2008 era where IQ is more important than ever and the specter of biological determinism hovers in our everyday lives, the Church seems antiquated and irrelevant. All that feel-good ‘you can be saved/we are all children of God’ doesn’t agree with the evidence that shows that some people by virtue of wealth, intellect, fame and accomplishments seem intrinsically better than others.

The Protestant work ethic doesn’t seem to work anymore unless you are really smart and or have some connections, as IQ has become our new caste system in post-2008 America. And there is some truth to this. If you have a high-IQ, you can lean how to code apps and possibly become a millionaire should the app become a success. Or you can code for a web 2.0 company and get filthy rich overnight should the company be acquired. Or you can become a professional trader at home, at a proprietary firm or on Wall St., making thousands of dollars (or even millions) a day speculating on the direction of stocks, options, futures, and other financial instruments. For people of more modest intellectual means, unemployment is higher and wages are obviously not as good, in addition to more job insecurity for fear of being fired for the slightest mishap (as you’re easily replaceable). For this intellectually average cohort, work, which is already hard to come by given that the supply of labor vastly exceeds demand for most jobs, is less about ‘self-actualizing’ and more about providing immediate, direct units of economic value to a boss. Some of these jobs can actually pay well (Mike Rowe’s dirty jobs, for example), but the majority are low paying service sector work.

Perhaps through fed & fiscal policy of bailouts, QE, and forever low rates, combined with a winner-take-all economic environment, this is the ‘real world’ version of ‘god’ (policy makers) choosing those who should be saved (rich, smart, successful people). I suppose that’s the closest thing to religion in America today, but it’s reality. So there’s no need to look to deities, holy men and ancient books for the answers.

There is Absolutely No Bubble In Technology

I remember in 2012, following the botched Facebook IPO and the stock’s subsequent decline, the liberal media was certain that web 2.0 had burst, their elation breaking through their veneer of journalistic impartiality as Facebook stock fell from its IPO price of $38 to as low as $20. At last for the left, after years of reading zerohedge, voting for Obama twice, Ron Paul, and the failed OWS protests, the chickens had come home to roost. Web 2.0 and their technocratic elite would finally be pulled to earth by the weight of their hubris to face the ‘trying times’ that normal people face. But by the turn of the new year, 2013, it was all over – the left’s hopes and dreams of another 2000 & 2008 tech and stock market crisis up in smoke as Facebook zipped past its IPO price following a blowout earnings report that left the lib’s ‘Facebook can’t monetize mobile’ narrative in ruin. The S&P 500 surged 30% that year. Silicon Valley home prices went into the stratosphere, Tesla gave the NYT the finger as its stock catapulted from $40 to $150 in the span of just three months, and Snapchat was slapped with a $4 billion dollar valuation (on its way to $50 billion soon).

So much for Facebook being an ‘obvious’ bubble at $38; it’s now at $83 on its way to $150 and beyond. Facebook may be worth $2 trillion by the end of the decade. These bubbleheads are worse than broken clocks in that the are never right. One shouldn’t waste their time entertaining this bubble mysticism, although I’m guilty because refuting bubbleheads is one my favorite types of posts. The tape matters. Reality matters. People, funds, institutions want ‘in’ on Facebook, Snapchat, Tinder and Uber – not only because of hype, but strong underlying fundamentals of the US economy and the these web 2.0 businesses. The 90’s tech bubble was mostly hype, compared to today where the PE ratio of the Nasdaq is less than 20, versus over 400 in 2000!

The reality is that there is absolutely no bubble in technology, but the left is so wrapped up in their belief and desire to see the economy and smart people fail and web 2.0 to collapse, that they are blind to facts. In 2008 the left wanted the financial system to fail to get Obama elected, now they want Silicon Valley (a high-IQ capitalist success story) to become a low-IQ dump like Detroit or Ferguson, and for Facebook and Snapchat (two examples of high-IQ web 2.0 free market capitalism success stories) to become Myspace (a failure). From raising taxes, to raising interest rates, to more regulation, the left supports anything that causes smart, talented, rich people to become poorer and less powerful. Normal, sane people celebrate success. The left, being the party of jealousy and envy, not only seeks failure – but actively instigates it – to bring society down to their level.

Related

Atheist Conservatism and the Dark Enlightenment

Atheist conservatism/libertarianism is one of the fastest growing movements. Many of today’s smart young people, who grew up on Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman (and maybe hayack and Rothbard, although being anti-fed is anti-wealth in my opinion. Fed policy such as QE and low interest rates, while unpopular with some on the right, does help the best and the brightest), know that the belief that you can grow an economy by overtaxing its most productive and useful members is as delusional as believing there is some guy in the clouds watching all our actions. If ‘salvation’ does exist, it’s through IQ, wealth, and individualistic intellectual accomplishments – not good deeds, collectivism, or belief in a diety. Social Darwinism means that some people are not fit for survival in today’s economic environment, whether because they are not smart enough or other biological factors are holding them back. A couple generations ago a person of average intelligence could attain a comfortable, stable middle class income and retire in his 50’s. In the post-2008 era, where productivity, efficiency and intellect reign supreme, you cannot just get by being average; you must be exceptional. That’s the reality, and wishful thinking and appeals to a higher power to spread the wealth and reset the system to a more equal state will not change this, sorry. Biological determinism does not preclude the existence of free will. We have free will within our biological limits. A person with an IQ of 90 has the free will to choose between working at McDonald’s or Jack in the Box, but not to become a physicist, for example.

Part of the Dark Enlightenment is the un-egalitarian belief, which is backed by science, that some humans are biologically ‘better’ than others. This limits the effectiveness of the state though social welfare to create equal outcomes. A person with an IQ of 170 is a more valuable (economically, expanding the canon of human knowledge, etc.) person than someone with an IQ of 70, so policy should be implemented that benefits the smarter person (such as free higher education) instead of throwing good at the bad. In other words, a government by the financial & cognitive elite to serve the elite. This is the form of governance that most optimizes capital (cognitive and financial), ultimately benefiting everyone and civilization by raising living standards, boosting economic growth, and technological advancement.

Welfare liberals, the type of liberal that posts on NYT and other leftist sites, believe that people become exceptional at cognitive endeavors (stock trading, investing, coding, math, writing, etc) not through IQ or innate ability, but through some unfair environmental advantage and that costly and useless social programs are necessary to bridge the achievement gap, which is really an IQ gap. Anything that reminds liberals that some humans are biologically better than others drives then mad because it conflicts with their belief in the perfectibility of the blank-slate man through the state.

Even though I lean conservative, I think there is a role in society for people who put creativity and self-actualization ahead of having children – a position high-IQ, pro-science, atheist conservative millennials would agree on, and this could explain why millennials are either not getting married or putting careers ahead of family formation. Variation is why species don’t go extinct under changing environments, and such variation can include the desire to not have children. Perhaps ancient MGTOWs decided inventing fire, agriculture, spearheads, and written language was more important than procreating. Such inventions advanced the human race at the short-term cost of population growth, a worthwhile trade-off when you consider these inventions, such as agriculture, enabled more population growth. Perhaps one solution is sperm and egg donation, in that high-IQ people who choose not to have children can be paid to spread their genes. Surrogates can be paid to bring these embryos to term. Genetic engineering is another possibility assuming we find and isolate the allele loci responsible for IQ. This is an example of pro-growth policy that deviates from traditional conservative norms, but fits within the atheist conservative ideological narrative.

Related:

Anti-Democracy, Part 4
Irreconcilable Differences (Pragmatic Right vs. Paleo Right)
Bridging The Red Pill and Beta Male Conservatism

Some Ideas to Reform Higher Education

Unlike some libertarians, I don’t believe the state is inherently oppressive. I believe in incrementalism, in making small changes to make a better society rather than uprooting society. An example is optimizing the allocation of public resources. We have a finite quantity of capital from tax payers dollars, it should be allocated in such a manner that it will provide the greatest ROI as measured by advancing the canon of human knowledge, responding to and staving off crisis, growing the economy, improving living standards, and advancing technology. Other pro-growth ideas borrow from Reaganomics, such as lowering taxes. Yet, although I acknowledge the government can play an auspicious role as far as public goods such as defense, infrastructure, venture capital and research is concerned, majoritarianism/democracy means people voting to enlarge the welfare state by taking wealth from the most productive and spreading it to the least, a form of slavery in which the productive are exploited by the parasitic. Market-libertarianism, but with some intervention when necessary, is possibly an ideal middle ground in reconciling individualism and freedom with government and the rule of law, a system similar to the one we have today. The government doesn’t need to leave the picture entirely – it just needs to do a better job allocating resources and devising policy, and through small changes not only is this possible, but the government can be a force for good, working in tandem with the private sector.

One of my favorite proposals the high-IQ basic income, along with other proposals. Another idea, and the topic of this article, is some sort of free education for high-IQ individuals as they are the most likely to derive a benefit from higher education. The problem with our current system of financial aid is that:

1. Too many students with financial aid, particularly low IQ students, drop out and or get poor grades – a waste of taxpayer money.

2. Students graduate with too much debt.

3. Existing scholarships and grants are too small, failing to sufficiently cover tuition costs and either excluding too many students or admitting students who are not qualified.

Unlike regular student loan programs, under our proposal they would not have to pay it back. The program could still be a success and less costly than existing programs because high-IQ people are more likely to finish college and only 5% or of the population would be smart enough to be eligible for this subsidy. Present student loan programs are wasteful due to high delinquency rates, creating a vicious cycle of students defaulting, governments offering more money, and colleges raising prices.


The Economist reported in June 2014 that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.2 trillion, with over 7 million debtors in default. Public universities increased their fees by a total of 27% over the five years ending in 2012, or 20% adjusted for inflation. Public university students paid an average of almost $8,400 annually for in-state tuition, with out-of-state students paying more than $19,000. For two decades ending in 2013, college costs have risen 1.6% more than inflation each year. Government funding per student fell 27% between 2007 and 2012. Student enrollments rose from 15.2 million in 1999 to 20.4 million in 2011, but fell 2% in 2012.[9][10]

The ROI of my proposal can optimized further by only offering free higher education to high-IQ people who major in a STEM field, or any field that is sufficiently rigorous. Dubious programs, such as child development, would not be eligible. Another idea is to drop the prereq classes, so that a person majoring in math, for example, would not be required to take an anthropology course.

There are so many ideas of how higher education can be improved; another idea which I frequently explore is how solve the problem of credentialism.

College, to some extent, is an IQ test, but a very expensive and poorly designed one. Credentialism can be reduced by replacing costly diplomas with administered IQ tests, SAT , or any inexpensive test that signals cognitive ability, but ultimately any screening program where the results can be interpreted to mean some individuals are smarter than others will be fraught with much controversy, especially if it factors into hiring. The military uses such tests (you can technically have a PHD in math but still not get into the military if you fail their IQ test), but it would be hard to transition this to broader society. Some people are more comfortable with encumbering millions of smart students with debt than conceding that, yes, some people are smarter than others.

A commenter on Scott’s blog replies:

Which credentials do wish to get rid of? I’d rather have an IQ 125 surgeon who went to medical school than an IQ 150 surgeon who was self taught.

Credentialism isn’t only about signaling intelligence. Its a way of ensuring that certain standards in education are being met.

For specific fields credentialism is necessary, but you see credentialism for jobs that obviously do not require an advanced degree. This is because employers understandably want to hire best and the brightest out of a huge applicant pool, and the post-2008 economic environment is one where for most jobs the supply of labor vastly exceeds the demand, giving employers the luxury of being very selective. Smart people learn faster which means less money spent on training, and they are better at anticipating the needs of employers and customers. But such intelligence can be signaled with an IQ, SAT, or a Wonderlic Test instead of a costly diploma. A college degree is expensive and typically takes four years – time and money that could be better spent. That is the issue…students taking on too much debt because employers req. a degree because the degree (to some extent) signals competence, when there are better, cheaper ways of signaling competence.

The trades, for example, typically require certification, which can be obtained out of a higher education setting. This certification can be extended to all career choices, and could sidestep the whole IQ and disparate impact issue. To get a job in IT you must pass the IT test, which contains questions directly relevant to IT. Lower IQ people may not be able to pass the test, but it would not be subject disparate impact since the question asked directly pertain to the IT job. IQ screening is useful if the employer plans to train people on their own dime; employers want trainees who are easily trainable, and studies show high-IQ people learn with fewer repetitions than everyone else. Certification means the person seeking a certificate must get the training, which creates a financial constraint for some people. Giving free training courses to high-IQ people, who are the most likely to complete and benefit from the training, seems like good policy, but again, will be met with resistance by the left.

High school guidance counselors should dissuade individuals who are likely not smart enough to benefit from going to college, even if some of these students otherwise have high GPAs. Or discourage students from majoring in low-paying fields. Unfortunately, IQ tests are no longer being administered frequently except in instances where there is a suspected learning disability, so due to grade inflation many high school graduates, even graduates with modest IQs, are mislead into believing they are cognitively suited for higher education. The SAT used to be an effective screening tool, but political pressure has made it more like a general knowledge test and less like an IQ test, making it less effective at identifying exceptional individuals and assessing college suitability.

There is the National Merit Scholarship and although it does screen for high IQ, a $35 million annual endowment is hardly enough and excludes a lot of people who are smart, but otherwise don’t meet all the qualifications. Since it’s a privately funded organization, understandably its budget is limited compared to the federal government.

Obama’s 2-year free community college plan is a start, but it would perhaps be better to only make it applicable to those of a sufficiently high IQ and offer more coverage, otherwise there would be a lot of waste due to dropouts, while also falling short for those who would really stand to benefit.

The issue is textbooks and other expenses, which aren’t covered under Obama’s plan.

From http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2015/01/20-obama-free-community-college-bad-idea-sotu-butler

For one, the plan is badly targeted. Covering the full tuition of all community college students would mean middle-income, and even upper-income, students would get hefty subsidies, even though many do not need the help. Meanwhile, many lower-income students at community colleges would still not have the money to cover the non-tuition costs, such as books, supplies and transportation – and room and board for those not living at home. These costs usually dwarf tuition at a public community college – annual total costs averages over $16,000, while free tuition would account for only about one-fifth of that. True, lower-income students can qualify for Pell grants, but the maximum this year is $5,730, making community college a financial challenge for many, even if tuition were free.

A solution could be to use Wikipedia-like textbooks curated by Wikipedia editors and composed from Wikipedia articles. These guides could be printed and distributed cheaply.

There are Pell Grants, but they don’t screen for IQ nor, as the passage states, do they offer enough money. The result is that you have a lot of dropouts and insufficient funds to keep up with college costs.

Free 4-year private education would be prohibitively expensive, even if eligibility is restricted to those of the top 1% of intelligence. But to make public education free, according to The Atlantic, would cost $62 billion.

According to new Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans.

But if the government gave free public education to the top 5% of IQ (>120), that would only cost $3 billion. If restricted to STEM, it would be even less.

So this plan is financially feasible, but would face much bigger ideological hurdles (from those who argue the screening process in inherently racist because a disproportionately small percentage of blacks and Hispanics, who tend to score lower on IQ tests than whites and Asians, would qualify) than budgetary ones.

A Huge Weeks For Stocks… Libs Lose Again

Another big day for stocks. The major indexes rose 3% for the week thanks to the fed’s pledge to not raise interest rates, even as the fundamentals of the economy remain sound.

Since early 2014 or so, the news cycle has become so moribund that the media has to invent scandal and outrage where none exists. 99% of news, especially financial and political news, is chatter to fill airtime and should be ignored. Nothing beneficial can possibly come from the time wasted consuming it. According to the leftist media, the Greece crisis was supposed to cause a global recession and Ebola was supposed to be the Spanish Flu. So much for that. The one-percent doesn’t care too much about wealth inequality or the debt being too high. They aren’t losing sleep over imaginary fears of hyperinflation or about the underclass storming the gates with pitchforks. The folks making hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars with apps or stocks don’t waste their time with the rubbish on Zerohedge, for example. People who subscribe to the delusion of doom and gloom are zombies, seeking crisis instead of brains, collectively banging their heads against the wall in an orchestrated, ritualistic fit of madness in the hope that if they persist, a crisis will bear itself out.

It’s evident the welfare left still has a bone to pick with Hillary from the 2008 elections, as it’s liberals who support Warren and Martin O’Malley who are getting the most worked up over Hillary’s emails. If there is one redeeming thing Hillary did in her carpetbagging, cattle trading, pantsuit wearing career, it’s that she is the only person who gave Obama a run for his money. She, Palin, and McCain helped expose Obama for being the wealth spreader and terrorist sympathizer that he is.

Given how detached organized religion is from observable reality, it’s not surprising the neo atheist movement is so popular, especially among high-IQ,empirically-minded millennials. Scientists and Neo-Aethists Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, for example, are ‘celebrities’ to large portions of the youth population, and are also correct about Islam being a threat to western civilization. The Church says we’re all equal, that you can all be saved if only you believe; no, that is wrong. Some are better than others (as in providing more economic value, being smarter and advancing humanity’s knowledge, etc). Some people are so irredeemably bad that they can never be ‘saved’, nor should they be. The rich and successful should not by cajoled by some parochial organization to donate their money to those who did nothing to earn it, out of a wish-washy concept of altruism. The Church, especially the Catholic Church, says all human life is sacred. Nope. Some will always be better than others and will be higher in the pecking order come Judgement Day. The leftists in the media are like liberal clergy, waiting for the End Times or crisis that will rapture the 99% and leave the 1% to perish. 2008 was close, but not enough. Libs lost, and will continue to lose.

Today’s liberal idiot:

PAUL TUDOR JONES: Income inequality will end in revolution, taxes, or war

Sorry, putz, but wealth inequality will keep widening, and it won’t hurt the economy. There will be no tax hikes, no revolution and no class warfare. The left can wage war through ineffectual media campaigns against the rich, but they will lose as they always have. Just because wealth inequality and profits margins are the highest since the Great Depression doesn’t prove that we will have another depression. It could just keep rising, as the underlying economic factors auguring a continuation of these trends are still in place. Interest rates never going up again. Consumers keep consuming, even as wealth inequality keeps widening. Rich people, especially rich foreigners, are compensating for any weakness in America’s middle class, in what is called the Pareto principle. S&P 500 profits & earnings, web 2.0 valuations, Silicon Valley real estate will keep rising. If you bet against the consumer, the fed, and the best and the brightest who are putting their minds to work keeping the system running with great success as was evidenced in 2008 with TARP, you will be stepped on like a cockroach. And to those who think making comparisons to America being Rome will hasten the decline or embolden their ill-founded, unsubstantiated opinions in the hope off the system collapsing and resetting to a more egalitarian state…I, we, the cognitive and financial elite laugh at you.

Stocks & Bonds Surge – The 1% Wins Again

Stocks surge, bond yields crash, and the 1% wins again as the fed vows to never raise rates.

Today’s Scorecard:

Dow +200
Nasdaq +40
S&P 500 +26

Here’s what happens when you bet against America, free markets, web 2.0, high-IQ, the fed, the consumer, globalization, smart policy markets, and the best and the brightest. It’s not pretty. Metaphorically speaking, you may as well throw your money into that wood chipper, as many of the losers and idiots who read Z3r0hedg3 have already done, still waiting for the crisis that will never come. Still waiting for inflation; still waiting for bear markets, asset deflation, and web 2.0 to burst. Still waiting, futility, for Bay Area home prices to fall. It will never happen – Social Darwinism 2.0 and the biological determinism bull market is unstoppable. All forces – economic, biological and social – are converging to a single point – the singularity, transhumanism, and technological rapture. Lesser humans will bow to our new cognitive overlords. You will be pulled, dragged kicking and screaming to this fate of which there is no escape. Your wishful thinking, your yearning for crisis and a day of reckoning when the elite who reside in their insular bubbles of prosperity will come crashing back to earth – is for naught. Some things, like web 2.0 valuations going up all the time, never change. Fighting it is like trying to stop a steamroller with a mattress.

Above rolling pastoral hills extending as far as the eye can see, a deep blue sky gradually fades into blackness. Metaphorically, sky is the limit in the new biotech revolution, a continuation of the first revolution in 1995, lead by Biogen and Gilead. Computer simulations of the DNA structure, protein folding, and amino chains that hold the promise of cures for many diseases, including most importantly, cancer. One day we may be able to transplant the totality of individual consciousness to a chip or some form of computational membrane. These chips can be implanted -either directly or remotely – to segregate bodies.

And you see these whiners in the comments of the NYT, Huffington Post and Washington Post, perpetuating bogus leftist conspiracy theories about the Rockefellers and fed funny money, taking shots at the financial industry, taking shots at research that shows IQ is important, and shots at New York’s elite public schools – all targets of the left. The perfect liberal world is one where IQ is meaningless or that smart people are defective in such a way that they are worse than those of average intelligence, where what little wealth remains is spread as thin as rice paper, where the web 2.0 boom has bust, stocks have crashed, Facebook becomes Myspace, Uber is regulated out of existence, and interest rates are at 10% – but everyone has an overpaid, redundant low-IQ job. Under leftist rule, even those who have the financial means not to work or are very talented will still be forced to do menial labor.

A good heuristic is to assume that 99% of the time what the media calls a crisis is really just noise and will pass. That 1% was in 2007 when predilections of a housing crisis did come true, but that is just one exception out of hundreds of failed predictions. Even Nobel Prize winners get it wrong, most notably the liberal Bob Shiller’s insistence that the market is overvalued. Since 2011, we’ve been telling readers to buy stocks. In 2011, at the height of the Europe debt crisis, we were right about Greece, Spain, and Portugal not pulling the world in recession and to buy the dip. We told readers in 2013 that the fed would never raise rates, despite the taper fears. We told readers in 2013 that the sequester and debt ceiling would not cause a recession. We told readers in 2014 that the end of QE would not cause inflation or a bear market. We were right on all counts. The permanently high plateau Irving Fisher spoke about is here, but it won’t end in a crisis. The party is not over – not by a long shot. Five years from now – just like five years ago- we’ll still be making new highs in the market, we’ll still be reading the same doom and gloom nonsense, we’ll still have these idiots waiting in vain for the black swan that will never come and America’s forever postponed ‘inevitable’ decline. And still …stocks will keep going up. Dow 25,000 soon. S&P 3,000. The question is: do you want to be a loser? Or you want to at least participate in the post-2008 wealth creation boom even if you are not smart enough to create the next Snapchat, which is will be worth $50 billion soon.

Related: Thanking the Fed for Doing a Good Job

IQ: More Than Just a Number, Part 2

Part 1: IQ: More than Just a Number

From Scott’s Blog:

3. Some people seem to have gotten genuinely upset about some of the recent discussion of IQ, on grounds something like that if high IQ is a necessary ingredient of some forms of academic success and they’re lower-IQ than other people, then they are bad and worthless. I strongly disagree with this and think it gets the reasoning exactly wrong, and I hope to explain why. But work has been pretty crazy lately (no pun intended) and I might not get the chance to write it up for a little while. Until then, please do me a favor and just take it on faith that you are a valuable human being who is worthy of existence.

As covered in the post Our High-IQ Aristocracy, you see this apprehension about biological determinism as it applies to the skills that are most pertinent in the 21st century – intellectual skills such as math, critical thinking and verbal, as opposed to physical skills like running and jumping. This consternation about how intelligence affects one’s perceived worth or ‘value’ to society is not unfounded, and there are no good answers to placate these fears without sugarcoating or outright lying, that yes, some people are biologically ‘better’ than others and that these ‘better’ people tend to rise to the top of society while those of lesser intelligence find themselves wedged between the cracks, invisible like coins under the cushion of a couch.

Maybe he’s right: Boris Johnson: some people are too stupid to get on in life

Natural differences between human beings will always mean that some will succeed and others will fail, the Mayor of London says in a speech. Despite calling for more to be done to help talented people from poor backgrounds to advance — including state-funded places at private schools — Mr Johnson said some people would always find it easier to get ahead than others. “Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130,” he said.

A commenter in Scott’s article proposes,

Following out that line of thought, it might be a good thing if poor people believed that their poverty was mostly their fault, giving them a strong incentive to do something about it, while not-poor people believed that the poverty of the poor was mostly not their fault, hence that they deserved help and sympathy.

To quote Bertrand Russell:

If you think that your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument, rather then by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you. But if your belief is based on faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting and distorting the minds of the young in what is called “education”. This last is particularly dastardly, since it takes advantage of the defencelessness of immature minds. Unfortunately it is practiced in greater or less degree in the schools of every civilised country.

We need an honest debate about these issues and practical, evidence-based solutions, not false hope and wishful thinking.

IQ has become a touchy subject (or at least more so than in the past) because of the greater role biological determinism plays in our super-competitive, winner-take-all post-2008 economy. When you look at all the people who have gotten rich since 2008 (stock market speculators, tech gurus, real estate speculators & investors, coders, web 2.0, VC firms, fund managers) or the people with the most influence on the national debate (Ivy League profs, MIT/ Caltech scientists, string theory physicists, political and economic wonks), it seems like high-IQ has become a requirement to be an important person in society. The “Rise of the Meritocracy” is real, and it isn’t going away.

Look at all the middle class jobs that were once filled by people of average or slightly below average IQ that are either being automated, outsourced, or eliminated altogether. Or how real wages for the middle and lower classes have been stagnant.

Then have the post-2006 housing construction bust that has never recovered, mostly hurting construction workers and other individuals of modest intellectual means, followed buy the recent collapse of the energy and commodity sectors, hurting more blue collar workers. Meanwhile, web 2.0 companies keep getting higher valuations, along with those Bay Area homes prices which keep going up with no end in sight. STEM people are running circles around everyone else:

…those with only average ability have, in large, seen their real wages stagnate and job prospects shrivel up, while the wages for smarty professions such as programming, physics, and quantitative finance have surged since 2008.

In what appears to be an era of permanently stagnant inflation-adjusted middle class wages – speculation, attaining a high position of power, stocks, web 2.0, and high-end real estate is how people are getting rich in the smartist era. But to succeed and or participate at those endeavors, you typically have to be a member of the cognitive elite.

Another commenter, Amanda, addresses a valid point:

That’s interesting. Do you think talent is primarily inborn? Because if it is, then saying a fair society should reward people primarily for talent seems… and not-fitting with most people’s moral intuitions, which laud hard work, self restraint, and other self-chosen actions as the highest moral good.

It seems to me that “talent is genetic” suggests that equal outcomes are more fair, and “talent is based on hard work” suggests that equal opportunity is more fair. Even taking morality out and looking at it more pragmatically, it’s more effective for society to incentivize qualities that people can actually change.

The meritocracy can be reconciled with biological determinism by creating optimal economic environments where the best and the brightest can thrive, such as the implementation of a high-IQ basic income, more money for gifted education, supply-side economics, etc. Nature does have a good sorting mechanism for those who are preordained for success – it’s called IQ. America wastes a lot of money educating dull to average students who will quickly forget what they learn and have no use for what little they retain. The solution is to throw more money at high-IQ students since they are more likely to accomplish more (better ROI). In the 20th century, as Charles Murray attests, the SAT played an invaluable role helping the gifted low and middle classes enter the ranks of the cognitive elite, but the left wants to do away with the SAT because the ‘wrong people’ score high due to the test being ‘racist’. The left cares more about equal outcomes than equality of opportunity.

The best evidence I’ve seen that IQ does not measure intelligence is cited in Walter Ong’s excellent Orality and Literacy. Here, Ong cites the field work of A.R. Luria in rural Uzbekistan. The people Luria studied were from an oral (i.e., illiterate) culture. In literate culture, we would expect illiteracy to be correlated with low intelligence. However, in an oral culture where everyone is illiterate, we would expect to find that intelligence spans the normal human range.

What Luria found is that oral people are just awful at things syllogism, categorization, and generalization. Put another way, an oral person would do very poorly on an IQ test, not because of any innate lack of intelligence, but they don’t think in such a way that would allow them to make sense of the questions….

Some IQ denialists get tied up on the idea that some some races possibly score much lower others, thus invalidating IQ, but this is a red herring to distract from their opposition to the idea that some people are simply cognitively better than others. IQ denialism seems to be broken into one of two camps:

1. Those who believe IQ, if it does exist, is a meaningless number that doesn’t signify anything important, or in invoking Reductive or Argument from Ignorance Fallacy that IQ measures ‘how well one does on an IQ test’. Apparently, America’s military disagrees, and as many as 33% of applicants are not smart enough to even make it to boot camp.

2. Second, those who think IQ doesn’t exist and or that intelligence cannot be reliably measured, assuming a definition of intelligence exists. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence is an example of such claptrap. A person who scores low is just as ‘intelligent’ as someone who scores high, it’s just that the IQ test is measuring the wrong ‘intelligence’ for the low-scorer.

There are culture-fair IQ tests, and IQ tests are most useful when evaluating and identifying talented and disabled individuals from roughly the same socioeconomic backgrounds. You take 1000 white suburbanites and test their IQ; the higher scoring kids will, by conventional measures of intelligence, be smarter. They will also have a greater likelihood of completing higher education and earning more money (when matched with the lower IQ students). There are caveats, but an IQ test is a very good predictor of future life performance.

Another commenter,Stezinech, writes:

If you phrase it as “the difference between IQ 70 and IQ 100 is largely genetic”, you will get liberals nodding their heads vigorously, but if you talk about the difference between IQ 120 and IQ 150 and how it is also mainly genetic, and how it makes a big difference in the world, they will most likely balk and have to fight back the urge to argue about the importance of hard work, and how anyone can do anything if they try hard enough.

It’s not surprising why individual congenital cognitive excpetionalism is antithetical to the welfare left. Aided by macro factors (fed policy such as QE and perpetually low interest rates, govt. spending on defense/crony capitalism, TARP, globalization, free markets, booming BRIC middle class), technological factors (smart phones, apps) and social factors (increased propensity of people to consume, falling personal savings rate) and biological factors (Flynn Effect), nerds (the cognitive elite) have become immensely rich in the post-2008 era through merit, individualism, and raw intellect – all of which goes against the liberal ethos of egalitarianism, collectivism, and redistributionism. The left wants to believe that all humans are blank slates that can only programmed and perfected by a nanny state, and here you have people that, by virture of high IQ, throw cold water on this leftist presupposition that environment (universal pre-K, better schools, etc), not nature, engenders individual exceptionalism. They, the nerds, are the square pegs in a world of round holes, and they were born square. IQ scores tend to remain remain stable throughout life, lending credence to a congenital, innate factor.

Is it bad that I think intelligence is a big part of moral worth? I don’t think we should kill dumb people or anything but if I had choice between saving 5 people with IQs of 80 and one guy with an IQ of 140, I would easily pick the smart guy. The truth of the matter is that not everyone is equally important. Yes, we need ditch diggers but any idiot can do that. Only a small percentage can be theoretical physicists.

That’s the disconcerting reality. The socioeconomic ramifications of individual cognitive differences are amplified in the competitive post-2008 economy, compared to, say, 100 years ago when differences in outcomes of a person with a 110 IQ vs an 90 IQ wasn’t as significant. By virtue of the normal distribution of IQs, with a sufficiently large variance, we have a ‘cognitive elite’, without which we wouldn’t have what constitutes modern technology and rising standards of living. The utilitarian approach would be to save the high-IQ person because he has the potential to create more economic value, indirectly, than a low-IQ person. For better or worse, IQ has become our new caste system, and understandably a lot of people don’t like this, as biological determinism infringes on our ideal of free will, an erogenous concept that was ingrained by public schools and the ‘self-esteem’ movement of the 80’s and 90’s. And I’m sure everyone has their stories of high-IQ flame-outs “i know so-and-so who is smart, but did nothing in life blah blah..” – but by in large – smarter people do accomplish more in life. I kinda wish were different, but to invoke Bertrand Russell, reality beats delusion.

Furthermore, the IQ requirements to earn a living wage will continue to rise due to automation, outsourcing and credentialism, and policy makers have no viable solutions that are grounded in empirical reality as opposed to wishful thinking, assuming they choose to address the problem in the first place. Given that IQs are normally distributed, initiatives to somehow magically educate/retrain the workforce to performing increasingly cognitive demanding labor will run against the barriers imposed by this distribution of IQs.

Without fail, in any public discussion of IQ there are skeptics who give anecdotal evidence of what they perceive as under-achievement of high-IQ people, as way of arguing that smart people waste their potential and thus aren’t any better than anyone else. IQ is analogous to the number of transistors in a processor, in that more transistors means more processing power. The statistical significance between SAT scores (a good proxy for IQ) and income is strong. While differences in socioeconomic backgrounds could be a confounding factor, another possibility is that higher scoring people have the skills that lead to better paying jobs, and hence earn more money. IQ tests measure memorization, ability to draw connections between disparate pieces of information, information processing – skills that would seem invaluable for success in any cognitively demanding endeavor. According to this well-received tedx talk Do standardized tests matter?, people with high SAT scores (a good proxy for IQ) do better in life as measured by academic achievement, creative output, job performance, and income. Although the odds of finding the next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg in the high-IQ subset of the population are low, it’s pretty much zero in the modest IQ subset. Billionaires, in general, are much smarter than everyone else, and while not every high-IQ person will become rich, having a high-IQ certainly helps.

High-IQ people seem to be be faring better in the post-2008 economy than those of modest intellectual means. Biological determinism is real, the question is how to deal with it on a personal level, how to reconcile one’s mediocrity in a society that increasingly values cognitive excpetionalism? I dunno. People who are smart, who understand engineering and the physics of the universe are valued more highly than those who don’t. Is that fair? Maybe not, but maybe that’s the way it should be because, yet again, due to the indirect value created by high-IQ people. Egalitariansm is incompatible with our competitive post-2008 economy, and this is a rude awakening to many on the left who wish it weren’t so, who bury their heads in the sand, yearning for a return to simpler, more equal times.

Anti-Democracy, Part 4

You know it’s a slow news day when the big story is Clinton’s drinking habits. The only people who are getting worked up about Hillary’s overblown email problem and Russia are the people whose paychecks depend on manufacturing hype and outrage for clicks and page-views. The doom and gloom media was hoping Putin was dead, but guess what? He’s alive, and stocks surged again.

A commenter, Wrong Species, on Scott’s blog writes:

If China was able to “create” Yao Ming, then maybe we should try to bring back eugenics. Doesn’t have to be anything too extreme, maybe the government could pay high IQ men to give sperm and high IQ women their eggs. Or more controversially, pay low IQ people to get sterilized. Assuming that we are picking the right people, is there a downside other than people feeling it’s icky?

Eugenics can be justified from a pragmatist perspective to possibly reduce crime and entitlement spending, and if framed in such manner I don’t see why Conservatives couldn’t eventually endorse it, but the invocation of the slippery slope fallacy and comparisons to Nazism (Reductio ad Hitlerum) precludes the possibility productive debate on this issue. The idea is we have a finite amount of resources (public goods); we should allocate them, all else being equal, to those who have the potential to contribute more to society. A negative eugenics problem would be more effective for reducing crime and entitlement spending, given that positive eugenics seems to already be occurring through assortative mating.

Perhaps the best form of government is one run by elites that benefits elites, or what can be called un-egalitarian rule or a technocracy. This is based on the premise that average people , by in large, don’t know what is best for them and given the ignorance of individuals on most issues, an argument can be made for excluding them from influencing policy in any way. Sometimes the people do get it right (support of Afghanistan strikes in response to 911), but most of the time they get it wrong (voting to enlarge entitlement spending for unproductive individuals, for example, or opposition to QE and TARP). Elites also have a large socioeconomic interest in having the system not fail and thus in an act of self-preservation will enact proactive policy during crisis, because the last thing the elites want to have happen is for the system to collapse and all their wealth and power to evaporate.

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable, if you’re honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: you’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset.

One can argue our tripartite form of Government is set up to create and foster ‘awful, ineffectual’ politicians, and this apathy is a feature rather than a flaw. It’s better to have pols do as little as necessary to keep the system running, only to intercede during crisis – but no more, pissing off both sides than being overzealous. Looking back at history, governments and politicians that were too effective tended to be really awful.

Related:

Anti-Democracy, Part 2

Anti-Democracy