Monthly Archives: February 2016

Scott, Utilitarians, The Rational Middle, Scientism, and Liberals

But he has no enemies to the left, and no friends to the right, which means that all his friends are his enemies, and all his enemies are his friends.

It would seem like there’s a mutual respect and camaraderie between Scott Alexander (and also Scott Adams), who represents the ‘rational middle’ or ‘rational left‘, and those on the ‘rational right’, which includes elements of NRx an the ‘alt right’. The ‘mainstream right’, on the other hand, probably doesn’t know who he is.

Scott does an adequate job entertaining opposing views, or at least more so than most or all ‘mainstream’ leftists. He at least discusses topics that we (HBD-enthusiasts,alt-righters, etc) may find interesting, and even though we may disagree with the conclusions he arrives at, many leftists wont even consider these topics, pretending they don’t exist and completely shutting-out debate.

In Solvent, the rise of centrism and the likes of Scott is about a ‘return’ of the pendulum to the middle after swinging too far to the left in 2012, now with the post-2013 SWJ backlash and gamergate, moving to the middle again, online at least. The ‘rational left’, unlike the welfare left, is generally opposed to Communism, collectivism and other elements of the ‘welfare left‘.

As an example of how the ‘rational middle’ differs from the ‘welfare left’ , consider the recent leftist, pro-Sanders outrage over Hillary not tipping at a visit to Chipotle. To the Sanders’ supporter, what immediately comes to mind (just by the headline, without actually reading the story) is, ‘what a stingy, mean person!’ The rationalist, however, considers the possibility that maybe Hillary paid with a credit card, making it impossible to leave a tip in a jar, or that Hillary didn’t have any spare change, or that she was in a hurry and tipping didn’t come to mind, or that Hillary doesn’t carry pocket change with her, or that someone else paid for it. The point is, there are other, more plausible explanations for why she didn’t tip besides being her being a bad person. As it turns out, Hillary paid $21 for a $20 meal and didn’t dip. So what. It’s not a big deal, but the radical left is looking for any excuse to portray Hillary in a negative light, understandably. Rationalism isn’t about excusing reprobate behavior, but rather considering the most plausible or likely explanation for something.

Also, the post-2013 SJW backlash has to do with a disillusionment among millennial Obama voters over the failure of liberalism. From 2008 to 2012, there was much optimism by the left over Obama, which soon faded. OWS, for example, went nowhere. And student loan debt is still higher than ever, and the job market still sucks for many millennials despite record high profits & earnings. Millennials realize that leftism isn’t working – it hasn’t lived up to its expectations.

As part of the post-2013 wealth and intellectualism synthesis, millennials want to be rich instead of being poor, and that means not attacking the rich, as leftists do, but going with the ‘flow’ and trying understand how wealth is created, learning financial independence and literacy, being rational, and understanding economics, finance, and the link between socioeconomic outcomes and biology. In light of the failure of OWS and the disappointment of Obama, many millennials realize that it’s more productive to emulate the rich and successful than waging class warfare and holding class envy. High-IQ people are also getting rich in web 2.0, while other smart people are making headlines with physics discoveries, and many millennials aspire to be like these tech and science luminaries, not poor, disgruntled, low-IQ losers who pound sand. People get rich and successful by creating value and producing merit, and despite the social and economic problems that still persist, the meritocracy is largely intact. With the left losing the economics war, now millennials realize, as part of the post-2013 centrism ‘boom’, that maybe the system, for it’s flaws, isn’t so bad, and that making money and being self-sufficient is better than fighting a futile war against the tide of civilization and progress.

‘Theory’, whether it’s economics theory or a theory in math or physics, have become the new ‘sacraments’ of post-2008 America. Empiricism is also important, too. The idea is that math and physics (theory) can fill the gaps of knowledge and explain the world. This is like Scientism 2.0, but I don’t mean this pejoratively. Science is preferable to low-information social justice and pandering. People aren’t falling behind because of institutional racism or greed, but rather because some people aren’t smart enough to be competitive in our hyper-competitive ‘results-orientated’ economy.

Pragmatism and utilitarianism need not be the exclusive domain of the left. Right-wing versions of pragmatism and utilitarianism can also exist – programs like eugenics, more funding for gifted education, high-tech funding, lower taxes, the occasional financial bailout, high-IQ basic income, etc. Euthanasia and rationed healthcare (by IQ, for example) are ways to maximize resources and reduce entitlement spending, in the spirit of utilitarianism but with a right-wing bias.

But I don’t think Scott is your typical SJW-leftist.

Exactly so. Scott will furtively acknowledge differences in IQ, but refuses to even conceive of differences in agency.

That’s better than being oblivious. Scott has a lot at stake. His blog is very popular and he’s trying to branch into fiction. Being too closely associated with the ‘alt right’ may detrimental to the ‘good will’ he has built over the years as a liberal. The ‘rational middle’ seems to be the ‘sweetspot’. It’s a formula that seems to have worked very well for him as well as Scott Adams and other bloggers. The ‘rational middle’ will criticize both sides, whereas mainstream liberals will only criticize the ‘right’. Criticizing both sides and not being beholden to either the red or blue ‘tribe’ helps build your intellectual credibility, even it makes some of people mad, as Scott showed in his ‘hate mail’ post. Detractors tend to be very visible and vocal in their feedback, which belies the popularity of centrism and the ‘rational middle’, or at least as shown by traffic figures. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are other examples of ‘rational’ leftists who have have received more criticism from the left for going against the grain in criticizing feminism and Islam than they have ever received from the right, yet Dawkins’ star keeps rising as his credibility grows by criticizing the the more irrational elements of his ‘tribe’.

Scott takes centrism seriously, to a fault. I remember posting on his blog awhile ago and he got annoyed that I used labels like ‘left’ and liberals’ on one of my comments, and I had rack my mind to find a way to re-word the comment without those terms. As a part of the ‘rational right’, I believe in realism and rationalism should be a guiding principle, but I don’t hesitate to use labels.

Trying to ‘convert’ Scott, or having him see the error of his ways, is futile, nor should we want to. He will do his thing; we will do ours. Through his anti-reactionary FAQ and other posts, he has brought more attention to NRx than most bloggers, as his blog is immensely popular.

Negative Interest Rates

This idiot, like that loser Peter Schiff who has been wrong about the economy and stock market for years, is predicting pandemonium if the fed embarks on negative interest rates.

The last hurrah of central banks is the negative interest rate policy–NIRP. The basic idea of NIRP is to punish savers so severely that households and businesses will be compelled to go blow whatever money they have on something–what the money is squandered on is of no importance to central banks.

All that matters is that people and enterprises are forced to spend whatever cash they have rather than “hoard” it, i.e. preserve and conserve their capital.

The innocent ‘saver’ that is being punished by the fed, is mostly myth – the vast majority people have very little savings: Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings

For the average person, a negative interest rate of a quarter point (assuming it ever happens, which it probably won’t) amounts to a pack of gum over a period of year. People who have wealth seldom keep it in the bank. They tend invest it. A negative interest rate isn’t much different than a bank ‘fee’, and is much less than the annual fee charged by your typical investment adviser, yet there’s no outrage over that. Peter Schiff’s investment ‘ideas’ are down 30% or more since 2008 in a market that is otherwise up 150%. Your much more likely to lose all your money listening to idiots like him than from negative interest rates. Credit cards typically charge double digit interest; again, little outrage or crisis over that.

Negative interest rares will flatten the yield curve, as money flows into longer-dated treasuries that still have positive yield. It will also boost corporate bonds. Low interest rates also makes stocks more attractive. Although the PE ratio of the S&P 500 is around 15, when adjusted for 0% interest rates it’s really around 14.

Japan and many European countries have had negative interest rates for awhile, and there hasn’t been any upheaval or unrest. The reality is, the typical individual has very little to save, as most money is immediately spent. Most people live paycheck to paycheck; others are parasitically on welfare.

We can’t let facts get in the way of a sensationalist narrative.

Trump’s America

From the WSJ, by Charles Murray: Trump’s America

In writing for the WSJ, Murray must skirt around ‘IQ’, which is a major contributing factor for the decline of the ‘middle’. Murray knows this, too – he wrote a whole book about it: The Bell Curve. But since people, I guess, are too easily triggered by IQ, he espouses the virtues of traditionalism.

In our hyper-competitive, winner-take-all post-2008 economy, wealth inequality has become tantamount to IQ inequality, as I explain. This is because recent factors such as automation, technology, and globalization have amplified the consequences of individual cognitive differences, with smart people tending to rise to the top due to being more ‘fit’ in the Darwinian sense in this ‘new economy’ we find ourselves in.

But Murray may be wrong to attribute Trump’s success to class envy or a resentment against the ‘elite’ – it may have more to do with the fact Americans want a president that exudes strength and masculinity, compared to the limp-wristed, low-energy Obama, Jeb, or Sanders.

Educational attainment is a good proxy for IQ, and as you can see smarter people are faring better as measured by wage growth:

https://innovationandgrowth.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/wages12.png

http://scalar.usc.edu/works/growing-apart-a-political-history-of-american-inequality/media/Gordon%20technology%20graphs%20(rev2)%20FIG%202%20Chart%201.jpg

Some of this is also due to credentialism, too, which I also discuss. But even that alone cannot explain why drop-outs from prestigious, selective schools do better than drop-outs from no-name schools, suggesting that IQ again plays a role. Having an IQ that is high enough to get admitted into a prestigious school is sufficient, as in the case of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and other high-IQ individuals who either dropped-out or became rich in industries entirely unrelated to their degrees.

Instead of attacking the rich and other ‘elite’, blame credentialism, affirmative action, liberalism & democracy, low IQs, and also the individual, too, for making poor life choices.

We can’t have an honest, productive debate if not being offended is more important than the pursuit of the truth.

Is America Really ‘Dumbing Down’?

It has become a common refrain among pundits on both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ to lament that America is in a state of ‘dumbing down’, with examples of pop culture (Keeping up With the Kardashians, MTV, etc) and education (political correctness in curriculum, SJWs on campus, etc) as evidence of America’s alleged intellectual decline. This belief may be more motivated by partisanship than data, and a confirmation bias may exist in that both sides are looking for evidence, however tenuous, of how the other side is making America ‘dumb’. Liberals blame pols like Trump or too much religion; for conservatives, it’s pop culture, the rise of agnosticism and atheism, and the breakdown of the family structure/unit. But that doesn’t really answer the question if America is ‘dumbing down’, as ‘social decay’ and ‘dumbing down’ need not be mutually inclusive. The problem is there is conflicting evidence, making it hard to conclude either way but, but I generally believe that reports of America’s ‘dumbing down’ are largely overblown. For every example of how America is becoming dumber, I can find counterexamples.

Many on the ‘right’ argue that college is ‘dumbed-down’, but one one hand, Charles Murray argues that college is only worthwhile for individuals with an IQ above a certain threshold, 120 or so, in contradiction of the former. It can’t be both. The evidence suggests Murray may still be right, despite creeping liberalism on campus, as I argue here:

That’s a pretty high threshold according to Murray, but others say college is ‘dumbed-down’, so it can’t be both. I suppose the threshold would apply to STEM an not other majors? Maybe Murray was referring to college back in his days, which had more rigorous standards, whereas today college may be easier. Nonetheless, the college dropout rate today is still very high (approx 60-50%), suggesting that even ‘dumbed-down’ courses may prove too challenging for many, in agreement with Murray’s findings, although people leave for reasons besides the coursework being too hard.

The college drop-out rate rate has remained persistently high. If college were as ‘dumbed-down’ as some insist it is, wouldn’t the drop-out rate be lower?

The conflicting picture is present in evaluating the supposed ‘dumbing down’ of primary and secondary education. An article from Education Week, Why Have American Education Standards Collapsed?, as well as an earlier article, Are We Just Fooling Ourselves? Is American Education a Colossal Failure?, argues that America’s educational standards have collapsed:

In my last blog, I described how high school textbooks that used to be written at the 12th-grade level for 12th graders are now written at the 7th- or 8th-grade level. I cited a report that said that many community college teachers do not assign much writing at all to their first-year students because they cannot write. I revealed that the community college course called College Math is not college math at all, but is in reality just a course in Algebra I—a course that is supposed to be passed in middle school in most states—with a few other topics thrown in, and many community college students cannot do the work.

But on the other hand, as I explain in more detail in earlier article America’s Intellectual Renaissance, an article from The Atlantic paints the opposite picture of how students have more homework than ever, with difficult assignments that take hours to complete. And there’s more standardized testing than ever.

From Intellectual Renaissance I also show the global IQ map, of how America ranks higher than many countries despite America’ large Hispanic and black population. And from Why Smart People Deserve More, America leads the world on a per-capita basis in published research, patent applications, research & development grants, and Nobel Prize laureates. Hardly ‘dumbing down’.

According to GDP per capita, a good proxy for national IQ, only Japan and Singapore rank higher:

In all of these maps, America consistently ranks among the top, and 10-15 points higher than low-IQ countries like Brazil and Turkey which struggle with recession, corruption, commodity export dependence, high inflation, failing currencies, and high crime.

As further evidence against ‘dumbing down’, a Wait But Why article about the Fermi Paradox, a topic that is fairly complicated, with a nod to Robin Hanson, too, went massively viral, getting thousands of ‘re-tweets’ and Facebook ‘shares’ and ‘likes’. It says it got almost 300 thousand Facebook likes and shares, a staggering number. That’s the most I have ever seen for an article anywhere; normally, an article gets a couple hundred, sometimes a thousand or two. The article discusses Hanson’s ‘Great Filter’, as well as the The Kardashev Scale, typically subjects that are of the the domain of physicists and astronomers, not average people. Hanson is now an ‘esoteric celebrity‘, having attained digital fame and immortality with his ‘Filter’ concept, as well as his groundbreaking research on ‘Futarchy’, quantum mechanics, and prediction markets. Thanks to the viral article, thousands of more people now know who he is. But the fact that the article, which is about a complicated subject, went so viral is evidence against ‘dumbing down’, and that there is a huge, unmet demand for complicated stuff. The left wants to believe that people only want to read ‘social justice’ stories, that ‘black lives matter’ and so on. No, scientists, quants, nerds – people who produce economic value and enrich the world with their knowledge and discoveries – matter more.

I was on arXiv a couple days ago, and in just 2015 & 2016 alone, hundreds of pre-prints in the ‘finance’ section were published – one section out of hundreds, and just a single year, and just a single repository. Over many years, many topics, and many repositories, we’re talking thousands of articles of research about complicated stuff – physics, finance, math, etc. Not all of this research is from Americans, but a lot of it is.

So I think the verdict is still out as to whether or not America is ‘dumbing down’. There is evidence either way, but possibly more evidence to suggest it’s not.

The silver lining is that there are enough smart, productive people to compensate for potential moral and societal decay. Also, a generation of smarter, better-informed population of ‘rationalists’ (millennials) on sites like Reddit and 4chan may be helpful in loosening the grip of emotive SJ-liberalism that has taken hold since the 60′s. We, the ‘rationalist right’, need people who are smart enough to see through the left’s lies and then spread the word, because dull people sure won’t.

Intellect: The Universal Solvent

In late December 2015, Scott Alexander’s How Bad Are Things article went massivly viral, with accolades from both right-wing and left-wing communities and forums, which got me (and others) thinking about how Scott is consistently able to transcend the left/right bulwark. Normally, people write articles for a specific audience or clique in mind, and spillovers [1] are uncommon. For the right, it’s National Review and Brietbart articles, for example, which are read and written by conservatives. For the left, it’s Mother Jones and Salon, both read and written predominately by liberals. But Scott’s articles seem to appeal to everyone, with audiences as diverse as NRx on the far-right, to socialist and Marxist communities on the far-left. It’s especially impressive, however, how Scott was ingratiated into the NRx community/movement [2], almost becoming an ‘honorary reactionary’, despite being somewhat critical of NRx and holding political and social views that could be antithetical to NRx.

So how did he do it. It boils down to four reasons, which I will expound on:

1. He’s competent and authentic, which helps him forge bonds with other smart people irrespective of ideology.
2. As well as a good writer, he’s a good ‘listener’, entertaining both sides of an argument instead of bludgeoning readers with only his beliefs.
3. The post-2013 centrism ‘boom’ and the rise of the ‘rational middle‘ and the ‘contrarian mainstream’, in rejecting ‘low information’ partisanship, demagoguery, sentimentalism, and sensationalism from both the left and the right.
4. Related to number 3, a recent demand for more evolved, in-depth discourse.

Consider the L. Ron Hubbard quote above, but replace ‘communication’ with ‘intellect’ or ‘competence’, which are almost interchangeable. NRX, unlike the ‘mainstream/Fox News’ right, is more intellectual, with themes of theology, philosophy, epistemology, existentialism, sociology, futurism, economics, and history imbued in NRx writings, rather than just petulant ‘libs bad/cons good’ screeds. But NRx is obviously right-wing, yet Scott and the ‘rational left?’ are able to forge some middle ground with NRx and the ‘alt right’, with intellectualism as the solvent allows these two groups that are otherwise in many ways ideologically dissimilar to commingle. Ideologically and intellectually, Scott is neither a phony nor a poseur, and he exudes authenticity. Being a mental health worker, Scott bears witness to the ‘human condition’ on a daily basis, lending his firsthand account to issues that are otherwise obfuscated by academia or trivialized, editorialized, or sensationalized by the pageview-powered digital media. It doesn’t get anymore authentic than that. In writing about mental disorders or ingroup/outgroup dynamics, many people – both on the left and the right – can relate, having either experienced ostracization or mental illness themselves or knowing someone who has. Scott is knowledgeable (specifically, in his domain of human psychology and internet subcultures), and that’s how you reach across the aisle – through competence, and being forthright and open-minded, which I discuss in more detail in Why Dale Carnegie is Wrong. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, in our post-2013 centrism boom, arrogant, low-information [3] zealotry is generally frowned upon, especially by other smart people and online. For example, Scott, being a psychologist, has the intellectual credentials to support his opinions, while also being charitable towards his intellectual opponents, and that makes him respected by all sides. [4] It’s virtually impossible to create an argument that is so strong as to be impervious to criticism from the other side, and trying will only make you seem arrogant and unintelligent, not worldly and persuasive.

Scott’s success is also symptomatic or emblematic of a tectonic shift in online media and journalism from sensationalism and partisanship that was characteristic the pre-2013 era, to post-2013 era of centrism, ‘long form’ journalism, and rationalism, filling an insatiable demand by millions of smart, young people, especially since 2013, for the unvarnished, unmolested truth instead of pleasantries wrapped in a pretty bow of political correctness. But at the same time, millennials have also become impervious to sales pitches, hype, and demagoguery. The smartest generation not only detests phoniness and insincerity, but are masters at detecting it. In an era of fact checking and defensive writing, skepticism is the new earnestness. If you think you are going to impress the smartest, most empirically minded generation ever with your bold proclamations, over-generalizations, and partisanship, you will be put in your place (as Malcom Gladwell learned the hard way in an AMA where astute Redditors poked holes in his pseudoscience flim-flam). The purist of truth – the good, the bad and the ugly – is paramount, and this is evidenced by how taboos are being smashed, with the rise of the ‘contrarian mainstream’ – stories and websites such as Slate, Thought Catalog, Wait But Why, Vice, Daily Elite, Quillette, and Scott’s blog, Slate Star Codex, that introduce potentially controversial ideas (such as that parenting may be ineffective, why IQ matters, etc) that may have been samizdat just as recently as a decade ago, but are disseminated to a much larger audience and with much approval instead of offence. Smart people on both the left and the right choose Truth, even if feelings aren’t spared, over being spoon-fed pablum. Taking offence too easily and holding ideological grudges (even if it’s against Hitler) impedes the free flow of knowledge, is un-intellectual (too provincial), and is seen as inauthentic.

Centrism neither new nor original; it’s a device Bill Maher has used for comedic effect, for years, poking fun at demagogues on both sides, but it seems to have taken the internet by storm since 2013 or so, probably as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash, and with the rise of ‘rationalist culture’ which rejects emotive demagoguery. In the years following the election of Obama, the pendulum swung too far to the left and now it’s returning to the middle (or at least online it is). This reversion to the middle is not only observed on popular social news site like 4chan, HackerNews, and Reddit, but in even academia; for example, the liberal bias in the social sciences, which for years went undetected or ignored, is finally getting much needed coverage. This ‘reversion to the middle’ could explain is why there is a backlash by ‘normal’ liberals against SJW-liberals. People see that the ‘rational middle’ is about empiricism and facts rather than being wed to a flimsy ideology. That’s why in recent years ‘social news’ sites like Reddit, 4chan, and HackerNews have become so popular – going so far as threatening the turf of the dumbed-down mainstream media – and even though these sites have different subcultures (some of them possibly quite offensive to the uninitiated), they all converge in rejecting partisanship, sentimentalism, and sensationalism in favor of nuance and intellectualism – specifically, truth and understanding.

Between 2008-2012, both the right and the left were duking it out over Obama, Obamacare, and OWS, but with Obamacare not going anywhere, OWS a failure, and with the economy and nation in autopilot mode, perhaps a pervasive, almost cynical, centrism has dawned, almost a resignation that change is impossible. From 2008-2012, both the right and the left had high hopes, but now empty handed, with gridlock, the status quo, and ‘politics as usual’ winning. As a result, ‘Preaching to the choir’ seems to be going out of fashion, whereas in the pre-2008 era people were more inclined to obediently rally behind causes. With the back-to-back disappointments of Obama and Bush, the choirs have disbanded, and people are disaffected and tired of the shallowness and pandering that constitutes much of modern American politics. Instead of dumbing it down, you have to smarten things up. There is a budding demand for more evolved political discourage, and people, particularly smart, well-informed people online on either side of the political spectrum, are tired of the stale, insincere platitudes, factual inaccuracies, and pandering from politicians. [5] But, interestingly, they are tired of low-information pundits distorting or oversimplifying the views of politicians, which is why some on the ‘left’ are defending Donald Trump, arguing that Trump is more than just a hairpiece, but rather a brilliant tactician who is playing the media rather than the media playing him. Scott Adams, another major figure of the ‘contrarian mainstream’, also argues this point.

From The Archdruid Report, Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment:

The centerpiece of most of these insults, when they’re not simply petulant schoolboy taunts aimed at Trump’s physical appearance, is the claim that he’s stupid. This is hardly surprising, as a lot of people on the leftward end of American culture love to use the kind of demeaning language that attributes idiocy to those who disagree with them.

This agrees with how smart people, on both the left and right, are tired of puerile, immature discourse in the media’s coverage of politics and politicians, even if such language is directed at politicians they [these smart people] don’t personally endorse. In the post-2013 era of centrism and intellectualism, ‘truth’ and ‘understanding’ transcends political ties. Being childish is the antithesis of being smart.

Despite the empty rhetoric about hope and change that surrounded his 2008 campaign, after all, Obama continued the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush so unswervingly that we may as well call those policies—the conventional wisdom or, rather, the conventional folly of early 21st-century American politics—the Dubyobama consensus.

And this second passage shows the failure of both the left and right, paving the way for centrism.

This bipartisan dissatisfaction is echoed in a column America the Unfair, by Nicholas Kristoff, and in a Forbes article Why ‘The System’ Is Rigged And The US Electorate Is Angry:

“A common thread,” writes columnist Nicholas Kristoff, “is that this country is no longer working for many ordinary citizens.” The anger is bipartisan, although the lists of suspected villains differ.

This rise of centrism is exemplified in a blog post on Medium, The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb, which went viral, about how understanding your opponent is as important, if not more, than understanding your own views, and how merely understanding is perhaps better than trying to change minds.

As any debate club veteran knows, if you can’t make your opponent’s point for them, you don’t truly grasp the issue. We can bemoan political gridlock and a divisive media all we want. But we won’t truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us. And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions.

A dare for the next time you’re in discussion with someone you disagree with: Don’t try to “win.” Don’t try to “convince” anyone of your viewpoint. Don’t score points by mocking them to your peers. Instead try to “lose.” Hear them out. Ask them to convince you and mean it. No one is going to tell your environmentalist friends that you merely asked follow up questions after your brother made his pro-fracking case.

For example, Scott doesn’t pigeonhole either side, instead considering the merits and faults of both, with perhaps a small bias of his own, but otherwise letting the reader decide and not making his bias so obvious that it draws too much attention to itself. In a 2015 article LOOKING A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH, one of Scott’s most popular articles ever, he weighs both the merit and the faults of anti-SJW moment, and how the anti-SJW movement may have overplayed its hand by crossing the line into extremism at the cost of credibility.

First, he considers the merits of the anti-SJW argument – how the SJWs are behaving like bullies by going after innocent administrators and teachers:

Or to be even more cynical: social justice was supposed to be Yale’s weapon against Caltech and Podunk. But now Yale students are using it against Yale professors and administrators, and now it’s a problem. It’s like the police beating up city council members with the truncheons they usually reserve for poor ghetto-dwellers; you can bet there will be a newfound concern about police brutality at city council meetings.

But then he criticizes anti-SJW extremism, arguing how extremism backfires by becoming the medium instead of the message:

I think that is the problem. When creepy white supremacists criticize social justice, they’re at no risk of taking over the wider SJ-critical movement. As the old saying goes, white supremacists are the best argument against white supremacy, and most of them couldn’t take over a blanket fort with a flamethrower. But rhetorically-gifted Yale professors who get thinkpieces published in The Atlantic are exactly the sort of people who would take over the wider SJ-critical movement, become its most important voice, and define what it means both to the rest of the world and to its own members.

He doesn’t even call it anti-SJW, but rather ‘SJ-critical’ which, perhaps, is less politically polarizing. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Scott’s articles are thoroughly researched and well-written – pretty much on par with professional journalists, whose job is it to write articles that have broad enough appeal to sustain a large readership, but still edgy or contrarian enough to keep people curious and coming back, and yet not so partisan or judgmental as to alienate too many potential readers. Professional writers have a knack for creating content that appeals to a lot of people – almost by anticipating the reader, tapping into the reader’s thoughts, fears and desires, while composing the message in such a way as to cross political and economic barriers, almost like walking an ideological tightrope. With subtlety and tact, playing the ‘middle ground’ or ‘splitting the difference’, can help spur discussion on issues or perspectives that are overlooked, or to introduce new, potentially controversial ideas to an audience that is not yet inculcated. Using this incrementalist approach, Scott has been effective at nudging the Overton window on certain issues, particularity in raising valid criticisms of SJWs.

But also, Scott and his blog can be likened to the hub of a giant bicycle wheel with each spoke representing a viewpoint or ideology that he links out to, similar to Marc Andreessen on Twitter:

….Mr. Andreessen is like the hub of a wheel with each spoke representing a differing view/perspective that links back to him, creating a symbiosis of sorts between the hub (Andreessen) and all the people (spokes) he interacts with. But also, Mr. Andreessen cannot be pigeonholed as either being resolutely ‘left’ or ‘right’, as his views encompass the full-range of the political spectrum…

Instead of being insular, by constantly linking out, you become the source or the hub. People come the the ‘hub’ to see whats trendy, what’s important. Another example of a successful hub is Peter Woit’s immensely popular physics blog, Not Even Wrong, which everyday is visited by leading physicists and mathematicians, as well as thousands of science enthusiasts the world over, because Mr. Woit has positioned himself as a ‘go-to’ source for the latest happenings in physics, by constantly linking out, even to things he doesn’t agree with. Personally, he’s skeptical of string theory, but he links to eminent string theorists all the time, demonstrating not only open-mindedness on his part, but how intellectual bonds are stronger than ideological ones. Two physicists who disagree about the structure of the universe can find common ground in their high intelligence, their appreciation of science, and their quest for truth and understanding.

[1] There is perhaps a bigger spillover for left-leaning content than right-wing content. Conservatives like iSteve, for example, share Salon, Slate, and New York Times articles a lot, but liberals seldom share National Review, Breitbart, or iSteve articles. Conservatives may be more likely to entertain opposing views than liberals.

[2] Some argue NRx is not a movement, because a ‘movement’ implies revolution, and NRx is supposed to be counterrevolutionary.

[3] Although one could consider the likes of Vox Day and Moldbug to be zealots, they are very well-informed of the issues and competent, which make them authentic and intelligent, and not ‘low information’. As I explain below, people, especially online, are tired of low-information zealotry. Also, many on the ‘alt right’, as opposed to the ‘mainstream right’, do a pretty good job entertaining opposing viewpoints. The ‘rationalist left’ also does a good job in this regard, too, compared to the ‘mainstream left’.

Take, for example, the Frankfurt School, which many on the right dismiss as simply ‘Cultural Marxism’, and this is largely correct, but there is a small upwelling among the ‘alt right’ to re-examine it, as Frankfurt School, despite being ‘leftist’, is critical of both mainstream liberal and conservative critiques. Low-information, mainstream liberals just blindly assume democracy and freedom will fix everything, and the Frankfurt School is critical of this reductionist view.

[4] How about Paul Krugman? Isn’t he competent and an expert? He’s not a hub, only entertaining views he agrees with, with a tendency of turning his ideological opponents into straw men. Also, he’s too liberal, too indoctrinated to a preexisting orthodoxy to appeal to rationalists.

[5]That’s why Hillary’s recent ‘Hispandering‘ was met with so much derision, even from the left, whereas if this occurred in 1996 there probably would not have been much of a backlash. Nowadays, people see right through it.

Web 2.0 & the Economy: It’s Different This Time, Part 2

In the past month, there have been a plethora of doom and gloom articles about web 2.0, Silicon Valley, the economy, and start-ups. In this series, I address some of the major concerns, arguing that perhaps the negativity is not all warranted.

Part 1

From Amerika.org: The coming dot-com 3.0 collapse: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter

Everyone has been predicting tech bust 2.0 since 2009, and they keep being wrong. The post-2008 tech boom – which includes web 2.0, Facebook, Google, Uber, Amazon, and Silicon Valley – is more permanent than cyclical or transitory. Like the Bitcoin boom, it has also defied all predictions of it demise. It’s not like 2000 or 1929 where the is going to be a deafening implosion. Instead, the exiting trends that are established, such as valuations going up, will continue. The arguments for tech bubble 2.0 are less convincing than the arguments for a continuation of the boom.

Fred Wilson, in his predictions for 2016 writes:

Markdown mania will hit the venture capital sector as VC firms follow Fidelity’s lead and start aggressively taking down the valuations in their portfolios. Crunchbase will start capturing this valuation data and will become a de-facto “yahoo finance” for the startup sector. Employees will realize their options are underwater and will start leaving tech startups in droves.

As a VC expert, I’m surprised Fred doesn’t realize these markdowns are strategic (possibly tax related), not because of reduced investor demand. There is zero evidence of Snapchat shares changing hands at reduced valuations.

Crunchbase will start capturing this valuation data and will become a de-facto “yahoo finance” for the startup sector. Employees will realize their options are underwater and will start leaving tech startups in droves.

Fred is being sensationalist here. I don’t see any of that happening, except for the deterioration low-quality ‘unicorns’ like Jawbone, GoPro, and Fitbit.

A someone who has followed financial markets for years and written thousands of words and hundreds of essay on the matter, I’m pretty good at being right, at separating doom and gloom hype from reality

In an earlier article about Theranos, I give examples of how the media predicting failure:

Whether it’s Tesla, Uber, Theranos, or or any other successful start-up, the left are like bloodhounds drawn to the scent of failure of the successful, even when such failure does not actually exist. The liberal media is so desperate for the successful to fail that they have to make stuff up, turning molehills into mountains.

There are many more…

In 2005-07, the leftist media dismissed Facebook as a fad like Myspace. After being wrong there, then, in 2012, the left said Facebook was doomed because the stock fell after the IPO, and that Facebook would not be able to monetize mobile users. The stock is up 300% since then, and mobile advertising growth is crushing expectations:

In 2011, the liberal media sensationalized a story about an AirBNB renter vandalizing an apparent. What was overlooked or ignored in the anti-AirBNB sensationalism is that the vast majority of rentals are without incident.

The event happened, which is a terrible blow to the company’s reputation. The confusion seems to be around whether or not Airbnb will compensate her for her losses. The company at first said no, then said yes, and clarified that they made the offer last month when it happened, not in response to the PR storm yesterday.

Terrible blow? lol more like a hiccup. The valuation of AirBNB has since surged 500%. So has growth.

The problem is there is no accountability. Pundits can just shoot their mouths off, making unsubstantiated comments that are later proven wrong and no one calls them out on it.

Google has some obvious weaknesses. Its ad revenue per page has been declining for years because the internet is now coated in ads, and very few people on the internet actually buy anything. This has caused sites to become clickbait in order to draw in enough traffic to get a decent income from the lower-paying ads they now run; this in turn causes a concentration of traffic on relatively few sites. That puts us right back in the place where we were with old media where six big companies ran the show, and this has decreased the value of the internet as a news source.

Google has been unstoppable since launching its ad platform in early 2000, with a monopoly contextual ads and duopoly in mobile advertising (shared with Facebook). Cost per click keeps rising, and it seems like virtually all commercial websites have Google ads. As for ad blindness, what a lot of skeptics don’t understand is that adverting is most effective for 60% or so percent of the general population who have IQs between 80-110 and will keep clicking ads, which is a lot of people and a lot of clicks.

Second, there are two people who buy ads: small buyers who are looking for a quantifiable ROI (sales, leads), and large buyers that are looking for ‘mind share‘, where the ROI is harder to quantify. An example or the former is someone selling an ebook report or collecting emails, and the latter is, for example, a movie studio buying ads to promote a Summer blockbuster. The studio doesn’t care if visitors buy anything or not (the movie trailer doesn’t have any way to buy anything); they just want to blast their movie promo everywhere, and will pay a lot to do so. Same for those expensive car ads you see everywhere. Ford doesn’t expect anymore upon seeing their ad to immediately rush out and buy a truck, but instead to merely consider Ford as an option when shopping for a new automobile.

Right now, as of February 9th 2016, Snapchat announced a deal with Viacom – a very deep-pocket advertiser looking to spread ‘mind share’. Now we can see how Snpachat will live up to its $15+ billion dollar valuation, which I predict will rise as high as $30-60 billion within the next year or two.

Facebook wallows in weakness as well. It has tons of users because people can access it from at phones or on the job. The problem is that these people, beyond a few product categories, do not represent consumers. They are there to screw around. As a result, while Facebook and other social media have many users, they do not have many buyers. It’s not even clear that ads on these sites attract eyes from people who want to buy the products, which is why the ads are getting more random and more frequent, becoming a genteel form of spam. Twitter suffers the same problem.

Hardly, as I show above regarding Facebook’s huge growth in advertising revenues. Facebook, unlike the doomed Myspace, appeals to an older demographic who have more purchasing power than teens. But even sites such as Snapchat and Instagram, that appeal to younger demographics, are not having trouble finding advertisers, who are willing to spend millions of dollars promoting clothes and other products to this large demographic (mind share). As part of the boom in mobile and video advertising, Instagram revenue is projected to surge:

Also, as I explain above, a lot of online advertising is to build ‘mind share’, with the intent of merely nudging people to consider a brand, not to actually make an immediate purchase.

And from the WSJ: Tech Startups Face Fresh Pressure on Valuations

The one for Square is off only 20% from the private round vs. the Dec. 31st close. It hasn’t moved that much, and it’s too soon to assume it’s under pressure. Most of the valuations gains were made in the years leading up to the IPO, as companies are going public later and later. That could explain why some of the post-IPO gains seem stunted.

The author mentions the worst companies that even I, web 2.0 bull, would never invest in. He mentions box.net but ignores dropbox. No mention of Air BNB, Uber, Snapchat, Slack. Although these aren’t public, there is an investor bias against hardware, but such a bias is warranted given the storied history of once high-flying hardware companies eventually soaking investors due to profit margin compression, competition, or becoming fads or obsoleted, examples being Sony, Atari, Garmin, Nintendo, Sega, Fitbit, Nokia, Motorola, Gopro, Jawbone, Skull Candy, Research in Motion, and many more.

Yeah, there is valuation pressure, but for companies that aren’t very good. This is evidence investors are becoming smarter and more selective, whereas in the 90′s a company like Fitbit would have had a PE ratio of 500 instead of 50, which is what it is right now.

Some more shoddy reporting for the from the WSJ: As Angel Investors Pull Back, Valuations Take a Hit

On AngelList, a crowdfunding site aimed at such investors, the average valuation for a company receiving funding reached $4.9 million for two quarters last year, its highest level in five years. But valuations dropped to $4.2 million in the fourth quarter, the lowest level since early 2012. Dow Jones VentureSource data shows that deals involving angel investors fell by 16% last year.

It seems like a big deal until you realize there is a huge variance in prices and that 2012 isn’t very long ago. The biggest and most successful ones such as Snapchat, Uber, Air BNB, Dropbox, and Pinterest seem to be doing just fine.

It’s easy to separate the potential winners from the losers. As mentioned before, start-ups that deal with hardware and other physical stuff tend to fare much worse than apps, websites, and software. For example, Fitbit, Skullcandy, Jawbone, and Gopro have all performed poorly. Now jawbone got the axe, raising money at half its 2014 valuation. Had VCs heeded my simple strategy of avoiding hardware, a lot of pain could have been avoided. Hardware is just too difficult to get off the ground. Costs are too high, and tangible products are vulnerable to becoming fads of commoditized.

From the New York Times: Expect Some Unicorns to Lose Their Horns, and It Won’t Be Pretty

Haven’t we been ‘expecting’ this since 2012, yet the biggest, most successful unicorns keep going up in value.

For all the hype and doom about Square stock, the price is back to where it was when it began trading a month ago, although it has fallen 20% in recent weeks.

But this is a good opportunity for employees to understand the risks of stock options, but it’s not like the world is coming to an end. Such risks have always existed.

My prediction is by the end of 2016, we’re still going be seeing record high valuations for the top unicorns.

The Esoteric Celebrity

Intellectualism, wealth, and the entanglement of the two has become the new nobility or religion in America today, with thousand – maybe millions – of disciples and acolytes following in the footsteps of our ennobled intellectual sainthood and priesthood. We aspire to be like them, to emulate their mannerisms because they are the new ‘ruling class’, in much same way the British fawn over the King and Queen, although our tech and intelligentsia nobility is much smarter and economically useful than Britain’s consanguineous nobility, who are figureheads that draw upon the commonwealth – literal welfare queens.[1]

This new nobility has given rise to affectations intended to signal intellectual-worth, which in our increasingly technological, winner-take-all economy has become inseparable from self-worth. We all want to be philosophers (or at least perceived as smart as one) as well as economists, scientists, and objectivists. I want to be a part of it, too. In post-2008 America, STEM and STEM-like subjects like philosophy and economics are more respected than ever in the marketplace (in terms of higher wages), online (as measured by shares, viralness, approbation), and in pop culture (as measured by appropriation), too.

The culture of intellectualism is evident and thriving in both the mainstream and esoteric. Complicated, esoteric articles by philosophers and scientists are always going viral whereas social justice articles can’t even get off the launchpad without the help of multi-million dollar media properties like Salon or The Atlantic.

For example, here is one such esoteric article that went viral, combining both philosophy and economics, and is further evidence we’re in a philosophy ‘boom’ both in the field of philosophy and on social media, where such articles readily go viral. Philosophy, as of 2008, has extended its tentacles over many fields as varied as economics, physics, exobiology, and computer science. I hereby nominate philosophy as a STEM field. While it may not pay as much or have as many immediate real-world applications as the hard sciences, it’s still intellectually demanding and has become an inseparable component of the STEM-patchwork.

And as further evidence of the rise of the esoteric celebrity, consider “The Duck” aka “@jokeocracy”, who infamously ‘martyred’ his account in protest of Twitter censorship and political correctness, sending reverberations throughout not only the ‘alt right’, but the far-reaches of the internet. He’s part NRx, part-STEM, part Red Pill…he embodies an aesthetic of coolness, erudition, and authenticity that few will ever achieve. In addition to the stock market, the marketplace of ideas is the only market that matters, and Duck, metaphorically speaking, is a ‘blue chip’ in that regard. His account is suspended indefinitely, but the memory and screenshots of his tweets will live on. [2]

Or consider Davis Aurini, a pioneer of neo masculinity, whose website Stares at the World, which covers philosophy, artificial intelligence, culture and men’s right’s, receives thousands of views, and although most people are not smart enough to appreciate his work, many do, and his Youtube channel has over 10,000 subscribers. Of course, he’s not a famous as Jenna Marbles, but he successfully carved out a niche of his own. And although makeup tutorials may seem low-brow, the women who make thousands of dollars with them typically are not.

For the mainstream, consider the rise of ‘selfie culture’ as a sign of intellectualism and individualism in rejection to pre-internet era leftist collectivism. Some call it narcissism, but it could also be about rejection, even if subconscious, of leftist ideals. Being a ‘rock star’ of yesteryear was a collective endeavor involving a multitude of parties – agents, managers, record labels, TV & radio stations, etc – but today’s ‘rock stars’ – internet celebrities, socialites, and other unconventional celebrities – are bucking the leftist pull of conformity and collectivism, striking ‘gold’ on their own terms and keeping almost all of the proceeds instead of splitting it up among dozens of middlemen that can be likened to tax collectors. As evidenced by the inexorable decline of union membership, for example, the economy more than ever is rewarding individualism over collectivism, and this shift is evident both in culture and economics.[3]

As part of how INTP/J people rule the world, this also ties in with employers, too, viewing ‘social skills’ and extraversion (collectivist traits) as crutches for the incompetent, instead deeming IQ, quantifiable results, and competence (individual traits) as more important, especially since 2008. Silicon Valley pioneered this results-orientated culture, with great success and prosperity, which has caught on to the rest of corporate America:

Silicon Valley is the center of the universe – a bastion of innovation, capital creation, risk taking, and an unassailable meritocracy where anyone, regardless of national origin, age, or professional status can become instantly rich through hard work and intellect. We’re witnessing a concentration of wealth for the top 1% of IQ, but stagnation for everyone else. This trend will continue. To be smart is a ticket to prosperity in today’s hyper-meritocracy; to be dull is to be condemned to a lifetime mediocrity.

In the great fragmentation, we’re all weirdos and nerds now, or at least many aspire to be, because those are the people who are getting most of the fame and fortune since the 2008 financial problem (we don’t call it a crisis) and the super-effective bailouts that followed, which set the stage for the rapture of the cognitive elite that, for years earlier had been encumbered by excessively high interest rates.

From The Daily View: We’re All Becoming Weirdos

When the 2008 financial problem struck, and in the years that followed, corporate America, in response to deteriorating balance sheets and falling share prices, culled millions of overpaid, unproductive employees – temping, outsourcing, automating, or simply eliminating many of those jobs. But incomes and job opportunities for coders, quants, mathematicians, and economists – people who produce quantifiable results – have fared much better.

The point is, it’s time to make yourself useful (intellectually) if you want to be relevant and a participant in today’s competitive economy, creative class, and knowledge-based economy and society. Or you can wondering why you’re getting nowhere in life waiting in vain for the crisis that will never come or the social cycle to turn its dial.

[1] Under a reactionary monarchy, only the demonstrably competent would rule, not figureheads. Not sure how succession would work in the event of incompetent heirs.

[2] He made a new twitter account but the page no longer exists. I think he made a promise to delete his new account, which he followed through on.

[3] A possible exception to this is the publishing industry, in which I support the ‘gatekeepers’ in filtering out the unending conveyor belt of crud while rewarding authors who do have demonstrable talent. Although some independent authors are very successful, these tend to be the smarter ones who already have established presences offline and or online. Authors who go the conventional route can make decent careers in writing, whereas most self-published authors make very little.

Defending ‘Theory’ and Rationalism

Lib Nicholas Nassim Taleb takes another shot at Dawkins.

As for the passage itself, there’s room for both theory and empiricism, as I explain in an earlier article Falsifiability, String Theory, and Policy:

1. Algorithms save time, versus having to do everything individually. Whether it’s movies or video games, computer simulations have become so realistic as to be almost indistinguishable from reality. Although some problems such as turbulence remain unresolved, algorithms do a reasonably job of approximating reality. Why waste time with heuristics if an algorithm is 99% accurate and can be done instantly?

2. Scientists who create theoretical models understand the limitations of their models, and also have ways of measuring the plausibility of said models based on various preconditions without having to explicitly test their theories. Many physicals laws, for example, must obey conservation of energy, must have various invariance properties, and not ‘blow up’ under various limits and extremes and give reasonable answers otherwise. All of this can be verified mathematically without experiment. Once a model passes the ‘smell check’, tests can be run on it. However, as in the case of theoretical physics, constructing appropriate models is hard enough, let alone testing them.

3. Theory can proceed verification, not the other way around. General and special relativity were later verified with tests. Same for Maxwell’s equations, which predicted the speed of light, and later verified.

4. Scientists are aware that trajectory models cannot predict whether someone will throw a baseball or why he would want to throw it, yet Taleb assumes that scientists are unable to make this categorical distinction between a closed-system and an open one.

Liberals like Taleb want to promote ‘leveling’ – the belief (also shared by other pop psychology charlatans) that humans (especially smart ones) are irrational. ‘If smart people occasionally make mistakes, we can’t trust smart people to make decisions’ To the left, the ideal state of man is irrational, egalitarian, and primitive, not civilized.

Unless someone is clinically insane, everyone acts rationally in their own best-interests (homo economicus), but IQ determines outcomes, with smarter people having more fortuitous rationalizations. A stupid person may rationalize buying lottery tickets, for example, which it’s why it’s appropriately called the ‘stupid tax’. In the strictly mathematical sense, playing the lottery is irrational (due to the negative expected value for the participant), but less intelligent people rationalize playing it. These people act irrationally due to the availability of a priori knowledge (such as the odds of wining the lottery, which are available to the public), but other instances are not so obvious such as whether or not the stock market is in a bubble, in which case there is much more ambiguity. To settle this, in Defending Rational Markets, I argue there are two types of rationality: ‘real time’ rationality (based on what is happening now) and post-hoc/a posteriori rationalism (after the fact). For example, if someone observes that a stock has risen linearly from $40 to $60 in twenty minutes, would it not be so irrational for him to assume it will rise to $61 in the 21st minute? So he buys. But then the SEC halts trading of the stock and fraud is revealed. He loses everything. In retrospect he acted irrationally.

But if there’s ambiguity, doesn’t that invalidate certain models, particularly financial models? Not necessarily. The theory of Rational Expectations implies that even if everyone is uncertain, the aggregate of guesses will lead the ‘best’ answer, or in other words, the best guess for tomorrow it today’s forecast. For example, in predicting GDP growth, some economists will predict a number that is too high; others, too low. Since financial markets involve thousands of agents (stock brokers, hedge funds, day traders), the ‘committee’ is very big, meaning that it’s unlikely that everyone will be wrong. Regarding #1, financial models (such as Brownian Motion and jump diffusion) based on Rational Expectations do a reasonably good job approximating real-life financial markets. Even ‘fat tails’ and most ‘black swans’ can be accounted for if the models are sophistical enough. For the market to be irrational would imply that there is some sort of arbitrage. Option pricing formulas forbid arbitrage, and in real-life there is no arbitrage observed in option pricing, in agreement with the underlying theory.

Related:

Irrational Investors Don’t Exist
Defending the EMH

He’s Right

From Yahoo finance Martin Shkreli is actually a great guy

He’s right:

A ‘kakistocracy’ is defined as a government run by the incompetent, the opposite of a meritocracy or technocracy, which is the situation we have not only in the US government but also all around the world, especially in Northern Europe. On one hand, awhile back I argued that a government that does too little instead of too much may be optimal, but doesn’t mean we cannot do better.

If I had to summarize NRx as succinctly as possible, it would be: Replace and Rule. Replace the existing dysfunctional regime and then rule. The Silicon Valley techno-libertarian ‘culture’ is an example of a system that seems to be working as evidenced by how prosperous and economically impervious that region is compared to, say, Michigan. There are other options.

Millennials leading the alt-right

The Current Chapter

There are some positive things to be said for sure about a young, energetic, tech-savvy identitarian movement:

Ability to hijack online culture and force the mainstream to pay some attention to long suppressed racialist ideas.

Young people are more willing to embrace the radicalism that this age demands.

Anonymous culture, beyond protecting one’s job and family, also enables total ideological freedom.

Race is important. We must get over delusions of total color-blindness.

The satire and counter-cultural nature of this young movement also makes it appealing to other young people.

All of this agrees with my observations about millennials, who are more open minded to discussing potentially incendiary topics such as race and how it pertains to economics and achievement, whereas older generations tend to default to ‘safe’, ‘color blind’ responses like ‘race is unimportant/doesn’t matter’ (for the left) and ‘we need stronger families’ (for the right). In either instance, no mention of biology.

But ultimately, the fact millions of millennials are waking up to the fact they have been lied to and duped by the both the left & right establishment bodes well for the ‘alt right’.

But this is why Reddit gives me hope for the future. Yes, I know Reddit has a lot of liberals and idiots, as do all large communities, but critical thinking (versus demagoguery) is also highly valued on Reddit, and social news sites like Reddit and 4chan spearheaded the post-2013 SJW backlash, which continues to this day. Same for the rise of Gamergate, Nrx/Dark Enlightenment, HBD, Red Pill, and many more ideologies and movements that originated or were abetted by sites such as Reddit and 4chan (such as /pol/) that threaten the leftist order.

It’s like a barbell – on one extreme are the SJW millennials and on the other are the ‘alt right’. And then there is also the rise of the ‘rational right’ and ‘rational left’, the latter in refutation to welfare liberalism and the former as a version of neoconservatism/Reaganism with elements of HBD but also some elements of anarcho-capitalism. Online, we’re also seeing a return to centrism as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash, of liberals who once voted for Obama realizing the error of their ways.

But what’s also interesting is how much everyone on Reddit and 4chan knows about finance, history, and economics, especially considering how little of it taught in school, and in contrast to reports about how education has become dumbed-down (which, based on the preponderance of the empirical evidence, I don’t really believe). It’s as if they acquired it through osmosis or something. It’s not so amazing to me, as I’ve written numerous time before about how savvy millennials are about all sorts of brainy or esoteric subjects – ideologies, computer science, finance, math, physics, and so on. It’s also part of the personal finance revolution that has been underway since 2008, with millions of millennials planning for their financial independence instead of depending on a handout from government, and this is commendable and gives me optimism not only about millennials but about the future. The millennials don’t seem as spendthrift as the boomers.

There’s reason for optimism.