Monthly Archives: August 2015

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

The NRx ‘Trichotomy’ Decomes a Dichotomy

From a Facebook post by Curt Dolittle, AN ANALYSIS OF THE STATE OF NRx AND ITS RELATION TO PROPERTARIANISM

Neoreaction has its roots deeply embedded in San Francisco-area tech culture. Moldbug is a technologist who is now trying to upgrade the internet. Anissimov worked as media director for the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and gained recognition through his association with transhumanism before jumping on Neoreaction.

It would seem NRx has morphed away from tech culture, as the traditionalists/ethno-nationaists have decidedly secured the ideological upper-hand.

From The Trichotomy Explained:

Since Spandrell’s celebrated blog post of April 2013, neoreaction has been seen as a trinity, or “trichotomy” of three principles: the Ethno-Nationalist principle, the Techno-Commercial principle, and the Religious-Traditionalist principle.

Now it’s more like a dichotomy. The Techno-libertarians have fallen out of favor. I am probably the only one who blogs about Silicon Valley culture in the context of reaction.

I’m not sure why the techno-libertarians have fallen from grace. Maybe it has to do with immigration, which plays a large role in the Silicon Valley economy and how ethno nationalism is incompatible with it. Vox Day, who is an emphatic ethno nationalist and traditionalist, has probably the biggest audience of any on the the ‘alt right’ and would appear to be the putative ‘leader’ of NRx thought.

I would be disappointed if NRx becomes another ‘white nationalist’ group. I think NRx has the potential to be something different.

The problem is NRx could be too smart for its own good. NRx may remain a philosophical movement and not a political one due to these internecine intellectual conflicts. Smart people tend to not want to conform, and will sometimes vehemently defend their differences instead of uniting. The Republican and Democratic Parties work because they have lots of members who are of average IQ, making it easy to unite behind a cause or a core set of values. But given how the traditionalists and ethno nationalists represent the overwhelming majority of NRx, cohesion is possible but maybe not in the direction I had hoped.

Dale Carnegie is Wrong

Erroneous beliefs tend to be infectious – think Malcom Gladwell and Daniel Kahneman books, the ’10,000 hours rule’ and other old wives’ tales. Erroneous beliefs thrive because they tell us want we want to believe, what makes us feel good – not what is true, because the truth tends to exclude a lot of people, and when you feel excluded you feel bad. No, you cannot be a great mathematician or physicist if your IQ is not high enough, even if you practice a lot. Yeah, truth and biological reality hurts, but there’s no escaping it.

Another book that needs to be thrown onto the trash heap of obsolescence is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book that may have been relevant in the pre-internet, pre-QE age – but not anymore. From the Wikipedia summary:

Six Ways to Make People Like You:

-Become genuinely interested in other people.
-Smile.
-Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
-Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
-Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
-Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Generosity, courteousness, open-mindedness, building rapport, etc – these traits and behaviors seldom seem to win over people online, and I’m highly skeptical that they still work offline in the hyper-competitive, winner-take-all, results-orientated post-2008 economy. I see many, many exceptions, of people whose ‘shtick’ is being a jerk, and these people have throngs of fans. Hell, you see this offline in Hollywood and in corporate America, too, of conceited people getting all the accolades and wealth. Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer, to name a few, are notorious for being difficult and dismissive – quite the opposite of Carnegie’s advice – yet they are at the top of their game and respected highly.

So, if Dale Carnegie is wrong, how do you win friends and influence people?

It’s very simple (to explain, not to execute), and embodying this trait will almost certainly guarantee respect, influence, and friends:

You have to be extremely competent. If you are perceived as being very competent, you will win friends and influence people.

You see this over and over again. Bill Gates is very competent. Warren Buffet is competent. Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg. Edison, Tesla, Newton, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs are all revered for their competence in the form of intellectual accomplishments, not for being agreeable ‘team players’. The list goes on and on. Competence trumps all, and maybe authenticity helps a little, too. If you try too hard be nice you will be perceived as being a doormat or a pushover, and you will not only fail to win friends and influence people, but you may even be taken advantage of. But can’t you be nice and competent? Of course, but competence, again, is key. Or, maybe, Mr. Carnegie’s advice only works if you’re competent to begin with.

In the NRx sphere, for example, Scott and Jayman are critics of NRx, but they are highly respected by the NRx/alt-right community as authorities on internet subcultures and human biodiversity, respectively. Competence is enough to bridge ideological disagreements. If you’re perceived as being competent, people, especially other competent people, will listen and they will respect your views, knowing that you’re a worthy intellectual opponent who not only challenges their views but opens new ones.

But being competent is hard…much harder than merely being a ‘people pleaser’. You you need a lot of knowledge, a deep understanding of things, experience, and probably a high-IQ, which for 95% of the population, by virtue of the Bell Curve, is unobtainable. You’re not going to sell a lot of books or get many speaking engagements selling a message that is out of reach for the vast majority of people.

Is Verbal IQ The Same As Speech/Language?

From PumkinPerson: Some thoughts on the nature of intelligence:

Verbal IQ (using your vocal cords as a tool to your advantage), and Performance IQ (using your hands as a tool to your advantage). So Verbal IQ measures abilities such as vocabulary, and Performance IQ measures largely spatial abilities such as making designs using multi-coloured blocks.

However if the human mind were placed in the body of a snake, our Verbal IQ would be virtually useless because we’d have no vocal cords with which to speak,

Pumpkin may be conflating ‘talkiness’ with verbal IQ as measured by the verbal portion of the SAT or the verbal part of an IQ test. Although verbal ability (such as vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing ability) and speech are related, the proficiency or verbosity in the later doesn’t necessarily strongly correlate with competence in the former. People who score well on the verbal part of the SAT, especially the hard pre-1995 version, tend to be very intelligent, but highly intelligent people tend to not be gregarious and extroverted, whereas talkative people with good social skills may score low on the verbal part of a standardized test, and a low score doesn’t inhibit their ability to vocalize. Verbal IQ can be acquired by reading as opposed to talking. The Ferguson protectors are quite vocal, but do they have a high verbal IQ? No.

Studies show that deaf children score poorly on verbal portions of IQ tests. Since, early in life, reading and phonics are linked, children who are deaf are deprived of this crucial auditory learning process, hence low verbal-IQ scores. Perhaps people who become deaf later in life have a higher verbal IQ than the congenitally deaf, since the former picked up the fundamentals before becoming deaf. This could explain how introverts, who tend to be taciturn, can perform very well on verbal portions of IQ and standardized tests, and is evidence that there is more at play in verbal IQ than just language and talking.

What is the antecedent of verbal IQ? Probably, g, a catch-all for generalized intelligence. People with high generalized intelligence tend to be better at all aspects of intelligence, with strengths and weaknesses in different subsets, but overall above average ability. Working memory, such as the ability to retain information, can lead to a superior verbal IQ because people with strong working memories read faster, more efficiently, and retain more of the words they read, leading to a high crystallized IQ as well. Processing speed, a subset of performance IQ, is also important for verbal IQ since people who process words faster will have richer vocabularies.

I also expect a positive correlation between non-verbal IQ and verbal-IQ, even among deaf subjects, and such a correlation does indeed exist. From human varieties, The study of deaf people since Braden (1994):

Slate & Fawcett (1995) report a high correlation between WISC-III performance scale and WISC-R performance scale (0.93) in a sample of 47 deaf students (but 43 students over a 3-year time period). The correlation between WISC-III PIQ with WRAT-R Reading, Spelling and Arithmetic subtests are 0.41, 0.48, 0.64, respectively. The respective numbers for WISC-R PIQ are 0.43,0 .45, 0.68.

For reference:

WISC-III = an IQ test for children
WISC-R = an older version of the above test
PIQ = performance IQ, non-verbal
WRAT-R = a subject-based test with Reading, Spelling and Arithmetic subtests

And from a meta study

First, as the severely hearing-impaired are a language-deprived group and performance IQ tests are in essence cognitive tasks, the implication follows that level of language development may not be related to cognitive functioning. The logic of this position is that the deaf, a language-deprived group, score as well as the controls who have normal language development. A more thorough examination of this serendipitous interpretation of these data is in print (Vernon, 1967b).

Second, it has been noted that deaf children, a group with severe cultural deprivation due to lack of experience with language, do as well on performance IQ tests as normal hearing children without this deprivation. The implication is that cultural deprivation may not play the role currently being ascribed to it in the development of intelligence.

This lends credence that language is independent of generalized intelligence. So it would seem like there is a mechanism (not intelligence) early in life that leads to the development of language (the fundamental), and these building blocks later play an important role in verbal IQ. Those with higher IQs, beyond knowing the fundamentals, are more efficient at information processing (generalized IQ), hence a higher verbal IQ.

The Great Debate: Gamers vs. SJWs : An Etiology

Every month is seems like there is some internet outrage that I’m behind the curve on. It’s like Jr. High school where you have those who like Leonardo diCaprio and those who like Brad Pitt, or something. But in more serious terms, the outcome will have important implications for the future of online discourse and free speech. Whether it’s gamergate, feminism, SJWs, Gawker, men’s rights, or NRx, the lines have been drawn; which side are on you on? Even for bloggers who try to avoid conflict and partisanship have to take sides. Do you stand with gamers or SJWs? Scott is trying to be both sides, and some of his more left-leaning readers are unhappy.

There are three online debates raging right now: The aforementioned ideological one, a new twist on the age-old left (SJWs) vs. right (gamers) divide; the second is about job loss, economics, and automation; and possibly the third about college and whether it’s necessary or not, although I think that one ties in with the second.

The events that precipitated first debate – the biggest and most heated of the three – are myriad. My theory is pre-2014 or so, these groups were atomized. You had the Less Wrong people in their community, men’s rights/Red Pill in their respective communities, NRx in their own, etc…but then a combination Gamergate, Twitter, Sad/Rabid Puppies, the meltdown at Gawker, the decline of the Less Wrong community and the rise of SlateStarCodex, and other factors, mixed these otherwise disparate groups together, creating the ideological maelstrom we’re witnessing now.

Effective Altruism Need Not Be Politically Correct

Maybe the form of altruism with the highest ROI isn’t one that is politically correct. The problem is when one side takes cheap shots the other, such as by invoking Godwin’s Law, as an easy substitute for having to actually provide a substantive counterargument. If my version of EA (effective altruism) is a high-IQ basic income, eugenics, and more funding for gifted education, to some people I’m suddenly a Nazi or some other disparaging label. To quote Scott Adams, ‘Refutations without evidence are self-refuting’ The naturalistic fallacy is also invoked in that because the word ‘altruism’ invokes connotations of ‘goodness’ and ‘happiness’, people assume that something that is labeled ‘altruistic’ must also feel altruistic, when the two need not be mutually inclusive. A eugenics program carried out over many generations may in the long-run be altruistic for the ‘greater good’ of humanity by advancing technology and the canon of knowledge, but many still find eugenics repulsive without even giving it a second thought, letting labels and knee-jerk reactions override logic and debate.