Monthly Archives: April 2016

Our Less Particpatory Times

It seems we’re on the news carousal, going up and down, seeing the same scenery over and over again as the carousal revolves. This is could be to a dearth of ideas, boredom, or the monotony of geopolitical events which have become as predictable as whether the sun will rise. But maybe another problem is that public intellectuals and other influencers may be calling it quits, too. Around 2008 to 2013, during the depths of the final crisis and after, we saw a public intellectual explosion, particularly in the social sciences. Daniel Kahneman, Taleb, Pinker…all had books which spurred considerable debate. Even the self-help market saw a boom (Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek, for example). Then you had the rise of bloggers like Brad Delong, Robin Hanson and others, and while their blogs are still popular, it seems like their influence has diminished. Between 2007-2012, Ted talks were all the rave, but with all the marquee names having already given talks (some of them multiple times), TED has been scraping the bottom of the barrel as of late. The apex of blogging was probably around 2013, and it’s been gradually downhill since then, for a wide variety of niches. NRx blogging peaked in 2013, as did iSteve and most ‘alt right’ blogging. In 2012, a Ron Unz article published in The American Conservative about quotas against Asians in Harvard admissions became something of a mini-sensation, generating enormous coverage and debate, eventually culminating in Unz cashing in on his new found fame and parting ways with American Conservative to launch his own news site, Nothing since then surpassed the grandiosity that article.

In 90′s and 2000′s everything was more ‘participatory’ or ‘hands-on’, unlike the un-participatory, autopilot nature of the post-2008 and post-2013 economy and society. In the 80′s and 90′s, when everything was smaller, slower, and less efficient, ordinary people could get rich with stocks, technology, entrepreneurship, and while people still can get rich with those things (especially with index funds), it’s become much harder. The future of America is one where we’re all just consumers, not creators or producers, and while the economy and stock market can keep growing in this condition – and even thrive – it won’t be fulfilling for many. Web 2.0 has much higher barriers to entry, but immensely bigger riches than the 90′s tech boom. The stock market has posted bigger gains between 2009 to 2015 than the late 90s, but too many people are fearful and pessimistic, sitting on the sidelines as the indexes keep making new highs. Every single technology metric has exploded since the late 90′s – from smaller, more powerful computers, to services and apps that can outsource your entire life. We have Amazon self-publishing, podcasting, YouTube, Vine, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook – giving anyone with a pulse a presence. But the problem is, again, that pesky barrier to entry: too much content and not enough eyeballs. The ability to readily create content creates the false illusion that we’re having an impact, being productive. The US population and internet adoption rate hasn’t grown much relative to the amount of new content being added, whereas in the 90′s you had a boom in content and an even bigger boom in adoption. Then going back further, to the 50′s all the way to the 80s, you had four decades of post-WW2 prosperity and a consumer spending spree – tens of millions of impressionable Americans that were willing to buy anything you put in front of them, on TV, in the newspaper, or radio. This was a ripe time for entrepreneurs who captured this growth spurt. While consumer spending has continued to boom, they have far more choices, with successful, large companies having already established their dominance. This is why consumer staples ETFs (XLP and RHS) have been such great investments and will continue to do well. In a winner-take-all economy, you want to be buying the biggest and best. For the technology sector, that means Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT). Each of these is worth at least $250 billion.

With entrepreneurship (with the exception of web 2.0) being too saturated and costumer staples ETfs the best way to make passive wealth, that leaves a void which is filled by the rise of ‘intellectualism culture’ in post-2008 America, with entrepreneurs being supplanted by intellectuals and wonks. Nowadays, we all aspire to be the ‘smartest guy in the room’, because that’s where the money and fame is. Blogs by academicians are immensely popular (Tyler Cowen of, Robin Hanson of, and Brag Delong of;, a site started by a stat wonk Nate Silver, was an overnight success, although Nate’s earlier fame certainty helped. Same for, a very popular news site with a wonk-like appeal and methodology, launched in 2014. As discussed many times on this blog, ‘social awkwardness’, monomania and other ‘nerd/autistic/ INTJ&INTP mannerisms’ convey authenticity in or ‘new economy’, instead of agreeability and politeness, which is perceived as phony and superficial. People have gotten more judgmental, better at sniffing out ulterior motives, and the rise of Trump (against ‘mainstream conservatism’) and the rise of centrism (against SJW-liberalism) reflects this. Although social media is saturated, as with with most post-2008 successes, a high IQ is almost always a necessary condition for success.

But there is also the post-2008 rise of ‘hustle culture’ – which is related to individualism – of millennials trying to get rich with stocks, selling stuff online, and YouTube & Vine, as well as the online celebration and glamorization of wealth creation. The internet may have lowered the barriers to entry in terms of start-up costs, but there is a lot of competition in these domains. This form of individualism, while not always related to academia or academic subjects, is still tangentially related to ‘intellectualism culture’, in the Randian sense, part of the ‘wealth-intellectualism’ synthesis. A major aspect of this type of entrepreneurship (compared to pre-2008) is that it tends to involve few employees, is automated to a large degree, and involves intangibles (stock trading, coding, YouTube, websites) rather than building or making things – in other words, high-IQ type endeavors, which agrees with the last sentence of the prior paragraph.

Perhaps we need public intellectuals (even pseudo-intellectuals like Gladwell), who have major media platforms, to get people talkin. Or cataclysmic events to shake the slumber and monotony. Otherwise we just go in circles. In 2008, you had the financial problem and the election of Obama, both which generated a lot of discussion online, and, even earlier, the events of 911 and the invasion of Iraq. But now, especially since 2012 or so, not much is happening, although Trump’s ascent came as a surprise to many. Pinker’s ‘long peace‘ is underway, save for some terrorist attacks here and there. Politics and blogging needs ‘stuff’ to happen – either news or the injection of new ideas from intellectuals – in order to evolve; otherwise, nothing changes. The same also applies to science; the formulation and verification of relativity killed off the aether theories that previously dominated.

Hacker News Rankings: More Than an Algorithm

Hacker News, like Reddit, is a community-powered news site where users can submit links they find noteworthy. By default, new submissions go under the ‘new’ tab, but some get promoted to the much more visible ‘news’ tab (the front page), generating a substantial amount of traffic to promoted sites. Submissions under the ‘new’ tab also have a ‘no follow’ tag:

Promoted stories lose the tag, in addition to the traffic, help for SEO purposes.

Given these benefits to having links promoted to the front page, many theories have arisen has to how the ranking process works:

How Hacker News Rankings Really Work

How Hacker News ranking algorithm works

However, ranking is not the same as promotion. In order to rank on the front page, it would seem you must first get the link promoted from the ‘new’ tab to the ‘news’ tab.

A common theme is that there is an algorithm that regulates the rankings. However, the front page isn’t that ‘big’, with only thirty entries, whereas the number of submissions is vastly greater. At peak hours, there is a new submission every 20-30 seconds. If sorting were by votes, there would be much more activity under the ‘news’ tab, but there isn’t, and it isn’t uncommon for promoted stories to stay up on the front page for many hours. Thus algorithms, are only a part of the picture, perhaps a very small part of it.

So what is the missing ingredient to promotion?

What prompted this question was seeing two entries (#25 and #26) on the ‘news’ tab that have conspicuously few votes relative to the others:

These two stories were submitted two hours before the screenshot.

Also, on the ‘new’ tab there are two entries (#34 and #44) that have five votes and are two hours old:

So if #25 and #26, with five and three points and are two hours old, can get to the front page, shouldn’t #34 and #44, which both have five points each and are also two hours old?

However, neither of them are visible on the front page:

But one of them (#44) makes it to #62 on the front page, but being so far down it won’t generate much traffic:

But then,20 minutes later, why is #22, which only has three votes, already on the front page:

Meanwhile, entry (#34) about ‘data science for math/phys background’ is still stuck on the ‘new’ tab despite getting six votes:

This seems inconsistent with an impartial ‘vote-based’ algorithm. Obviously, not all votes are created equal. In fact, I would wager that most votes don’t count at all. By my estimation, there are a handful of accounts that have sufficient privileges to promote links from ‘new’ to ‘news’. These votes count and the rest are ignored or discounted substantially. I imagine there are also votes that can demote links off the front page, which could be why some entries vanish. The problem with vote counting algorithms is that they can be gamed by spammers using new accounts to pad vote counts, but seniority is much harder to fabricate. Ken Shirriff offers additional commentary about penalties in the ranking algorithm.


I never understood how NRx reconciled technology with ethnonationalism, when the two seem at odds with each other. The Vox article lists tech billionaires Elon Musk and Peter Thiel as being somehow tangentially related to NRx, yet I imagine they probably advocate neoliberal economic and trade policy that would go against ethnonationalist interests.

In 2010, scholar Arnold Kling described ‘neo-reaction’ as having elements of neoconservatism, and while ‘neoconservatism’ nowadays has pejorative connotations, it seems accurate anyway. I came to a similar realization that neoconservatism may be the most logically consistent ideology in balancing homeland security & defense, property rights, rule of law, individual autonomy, nationalism, trade & markets, etc. Moldbug & Thiel variants of NRx don’t renounce capitalism, but rather seem to condone the inequity that arises from technology and capitalism.

I’m of the impression the ‘tech elite’ generally favor incrementalist approaches to reform (as do I) as apposed to overt collapse. People who have a lot to lose don’t want the system to fail, even if many parts of it are malfunctioning.

How about traditional conservatism, which advocates isolationism, protectionism, and decentralization. The problem with isolationism is it forces America to play defense rather than neutralizing threats before they can initiate an attack. Is it worth getting bombed first, in order to adhere to a rigid policy of isolationism, or bomb the enemy first? Ending the fed and economic centralization may also prove problematic, if not impossible, due to the large, interconnected nature of the economy. The data shows that there were vastly more economic panics and recessions before the establishment federal reserve, and later, the ending of the gold standard. Without a central bank, bank runs would be very common, causing substantial economic disruption. Protectionism may seem appealing from a labor standpoint, but one of the advantages of globalization it allows America to export inflation (through the petro dollar, low foreign wages, treasury sales to foreign governments), resulting in cheaper goods for Americans. Neoconservaitves, being pragmatic and data-driven, as opposed to holding on to an romanticized vision of a decentralized country, seem to better understand the realities of the world and the economy.

Neoconservatives, like reactionaries, seem to understand hierarchy and order, also rejecting populism and egalitarianism. I would take it a step further and introducing themes of HBD into policy, along with rationalism, creating a hybrid ideology called reactionary realism. Additionally, rescind voting acts or eliminate voting altogether, under the pretense of some sort of right-wing utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism and Consequentialism

There is some renewed debate about whether ‘Friendly AI’ can blackmail, also known as the Roko’s Basilisk problem.

More information about it can be found here, here, here, and here.

I’m kinda amazed by how much attention this has gotten, with stories even on Business Insider about the thought experiment.

Roko’s Basilisk addresses an as-yet-nonexistent artificially intelligent system designed to make the world an amazing place, but because of the ambiguities entailed in carrying out such a task, it could also end up torturing and killing people while doing so.

According to this AI’s worldview, the most moral and appropriate thing we could be doing in our present time is that which facilitates the AI’s arrival and accelerates its development, enabling it to get to work sooner. When its goal of stopping at nothing to make the world an amazing place butts up with orthogonality, it stops at nothing to make the world an amazing place. If you didn’t do enough to help bring the AI into existence, you may find yourself in trouble at the hands of a seemingly evil AI who’s only acting in the world’s best interests. Because people respond to fear, and this god-like AI wants to exist as soon as possible, it would be hardwired to hurt people who didn’t help it in the past.

So, the moral of this story: You better help the robots make the world a better place, because if the robots find out you didn’t help make the world a better place, then they’re going to kill you for preventing them from making the world a better place. By preventing them from making the world a better place, you’re preventing the world from becoming a better place!

This is a critique of utilitarianism and consequentialism. At the extreme, Stalin’s purges could have been justified on the grounds of utilitarianism, to promote the ‘greatest good’ for his people, even if millions had to die in the process. The perceived utilitarian tendency to reduce the totality of humanity in to into quantifiable ‘units’ of economic value or economic ‘agents’ whose utility must be maximized at all costs, irrespective of ambiguous concepts like morality, could explain why utilitarianism may be off-putting to some (too much logos and not enough pathos).

But such suppositions and fears may be unwarranted, because utilitarianism and consequentialism underpin society and the economy on a day-to-day basis. Consequentialism, related to utilitarianism, is simply a way of quantifying the risk/reward analysis of decisions by choosing actions that maximize utility and minimize costs, such as a business ordering in-demand ‘units’ and discontinuing less ones that don’t sell. All else being equal, a business that does not maximize utility is at a competitive disadvantage against one that does. Another example is dividing a restaurant bill.

Although utilitarianism and consequentialism are often seen as philosophical domains of the left, some on the ‘right’ also embrace it, for example, in supporting justifiable homicides by police and foreign interventionism. In the former, a ‘greater good’ is attained by preventing greater harm to innocents than the loss of a single life. In the latter, the killings of enemy combatants is justified to promote a ‘greater good’ of ‘peace’ and ‘stability’. Liberals may argue that a bakery that morally objects to making a ‘gay’ cake must be forced to do so on the utilitarian grounds of promoting the ‘greater good’ of equality.

Related: Utilitarianism Is Not Welfare Liberalism

The 2008 bank bailouts are another example of consequentialism as applied to modern policy – the end (financial stability) justifying the means (bailouts) to promote a ‘greater good’ (economic stability, benefiting millions of Americans) at the risk of possible moral hazard.

Should an AI be allowed to punish those who hinder the attainment of a ‘greater good’ or commit an action that may hurt a few for the ‘good’ of man, does this violate the principles of ‘friendly AI’? In some existential circumstances maybe it doesn’t. Hard to know.

Also, utilitarianism is compatible with < href="">anti-democracy. As Caplan and others have noted, most voters are irrational (the term ‘irrational’ strictly being used in the economics sense [1), and this irrationality results in voter preferences that deviate from the optimal, and I think there is some truth to this, and utilitarians understand that irrationality should not guide policy, only quantifiable evidence that generates the best policy. Utilitarians may be content with some voices (irrational ones) perhaps being marginalized or excluded if it leads to an optimal outcome, and I think that’s an acceptable trade-off.

What defines ‘good policy’ is harder to quantify, but one criteria is that it ‘advances’ civilization, although what quantifies as ‘advancement’ is obviously not politically agnostic. For the ‘left’ such policy may be to advance social justice causes, as a way of maximizing happiness. For the ‘right’ it may be to maximize economic growth and technological innovation, in the hope prosperity and innovation will trickle down and benefit all. Creating optimal policy benefits everyone, not just a majority. In the case of taxes, if taxes are too high it may disincentivize risk taking and investment, and then markets fail and the economy will also fail or undergo severe recession or stagnation, ultimately hurting everyone. China saw an explosion in living standards after, in the 70’s, abandoning market-communism and embracing globalization, as an example of good policy.

Right-wing versions of pragmatism and utilitarianism can also include programs like eugenics, more funding for gifted education, more funding for high-tech industries, lower taxes, and a high-IQ basic income. 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. These are programs or ideas that may yield the most utility even if they are unpopular with many people.

The Daily View: NRx Activism, Do You Live in a Bubble, Math Education, Contrarianism

Lately there has been some debate about pasivism vs. activism, in regard to NRx.

The the final way, rather than passivism or activism, is that, economically, autonomous economic forces will make welfare liberalism obsolete, and then, socially, social media will continue to erode the ability of the left to impose their cultural will on people unchallenged. By blogging, tweeting, and posting, we’re slowing affecting the narrative, gradually pushing the Overton Window to the right.

Perhaps the problem with the Trump hype and ‘alt right’ activism is that it’s predicated on the mistaken belief that an irredeemable system (democracy) can be fixed through a ‘great man’, instead of the system being torn down and rebuilt. Trump, in effect, is a cog – a good cog – but still a cog of a dysfunctional machinery that consist of thousands of cogs turning the wrong way.

Related: NRx Ideology & Endgame, part 2

The Gift of Autism article has been updated to correct formatting errors in some of the latter paragraphs.

Do you live in a bubble. Take the quiz. I scored a 2, which is pretty bad. This quiz is similar to Charles Murray’s Are You A Snob Big Think video a couple years ago. People tend to form bubbles based on likes, dislikes, IQ, and ideology. There is some cross-compatibility between high-IQ people of differing ideologies (which is why the rationalists keep commingling with reactionaries), but there is little admixture between high and low-IQ people regardless of ideology. Smart, rich, well-educated liberals probably don’t want much to do with the least educated, least intelligent of their ideological ranks.

Also, activities that may seem gregarious and ‘low brow’ can be surprisingly expensive, examples being sporting events. By being too poor or minimalist to have cable, watch many movies, go on road trips, or attend sporting events, ironically you may actually score worse on the quiz.

Gig Economy Attracts Many Workers, Few Full-Time Jobs

‘Gig/sharing jobs’ are a way to circumvent the possible economic inefficiencies of minimum wages and regulation. If these gig jobs are so awful, workers can always look elsewhere, although good luck: On a 2011 national hiring day, McDonald’s got 1 million applicants for only 50,000 job openings, an acceptance rate lower than the Ivy League. The problem is that there are simply not enough low-skill jobs available relative to the amount of people applying, and attacking the ‘gig economy’ is not going to magically make better jobs appear.

Some gig workers make a lot of money, even more than they would with a regular job. The competitive and meritocratic nature of gig jobs reward efficiency and productivity, and this benefits customers and the economy. Uber, Air BNB, Task Rabbit allow people to earn money when they may not have otherwise been able to.

Becoming a Contrarian Like Everyone Else

Even though we’re probably on opposite sides of the political spectrum, I respect Barry’s sober analysis, rationalism, and level-mindedness in what is otherwise a maelstrom of sensationalism and hype in the world of financial journalism. I remember articles Barry wrote in 2010 about being bullish in the stock market, which conferred with my own economic analysis, and with the S&P 500 up 100% since then, it was a good call. Meanwhile those who listed to Peter Shciff and other losers lost money.

As we learned in “The Big Short,” the folks who made the contrarian bet against subprime mortgages and derivatives still had to absorb a lot of punishment before their wager paid off. Even when the market finally moved their way, the index that tracked this asset class took a long time to catch up to the reality of the meltdown.

This is indeed true. For every person or firm who makes money as a contrarian, whether it’s betting against treasury bonds, stocks, or mortgages, there are many who lose but are ignored by the media; only the winners are adulated. Sometimes the crowd is right; sometimes the status quo, even if it sucks or you don’t like it, is right. In 2011, for example, I knew that the status quo would prevail in that QE would not cause hyperinflation and dollar collapse. But in 2013, the SJW status quo began to unravel. Thus there is some timing involved, in knowing when to be contrarian or not.

Also, contrary to popular belief, predictions in 2006 of housing market collapse were hardly unique, although only very few people, such as Michael Burry, made money betting against the housing market. A large element of luck and timing is involved, because betting against the housing market to soon (such as in 2003-2005) would have likely yielded a loss even if the thesis was ultimately correct.

From Slate: It Doesn’t Add Up

But even if math is only useful for our jobs, few high schoolers know what job they will eventually have. (I wanted to be a herpetologist. And president. And a professional musician. And a biomedical researcher. And a priest.) How can they know exactly what math topics to learn? Fourteen-year-olds who choose not to take algebra II are limiting their future career options, or at least making it much more difficult to catch up if they decide in college that they want to be engineers. It’s impossible for every student to take every class that might help them in the future, but foundational math classes keep doors open.

This is a lot of truth to this. If coding is the ‘new literacy’, it’s reasonable to assume numeracy is a close second.

As shown by the comments and viralness of the article, it’s nice to see so many people agreeing how fundamental math concepts and terminology are not ‘too abstract’ for high school students, as well as elucidating the book’s glaring methodological flaws. People are tired of lowered standards, students being coddled, which hurts America’s competitiveness.

Maybe math education fails students, but also many students fail because they simply are cognitively incapable of grasping it. Rather than lowering standards to the lowest common denominator, a better solution solution is to eject the underachievers instead of wasting too much money on them, while everyone does the normal coursework.

Vox Explains the ‘Alt Right’ explains the ‘alt right’.

In agreement with posts I wrote in 2014, elements of the ‘alt right’, including NRx and HBD, are starting to gain more mainstream appeal, as evidenced by, a mainstream online news source, expose on the ‘alt right’, replete with all the usual characters like Moldbug and Land. This also agrees with the rise of the esoteric celebrity, because Nick Land and Moldbug, through Vox and other media sources, have received much more visibility through their complicated, esoteric beliefs than most people ever will. The article was also shared 5,508 times, a record high for, indicating a substantial amount of interest and curiosity in the ‘alt right’, and introducing millions of people to this intricate web of ideologies and intellectuals, that until recently was mostly underground.

Both the Brietbart and Vox write-ups list 4chan and Reddit as being the ‘ground zero’ for this nascent intellectual movement, which again agrees with posts from 2014 where I explicitly list 4chan and Reddit as being on the vanguard of the post-2013 anti-SJW movement, originally under the banner of ‘gamergate’ but now expanded to include Trump and ‘Cuckservative’. As someone who in 2008 wrote about un-egalitarian economic systems, I saw the potential of the ‘alt right’ to fill the gaps of mainstream conservatism, in rejecting egalitarianism and political correctness. The Vox article also mentions Elon Musk, whom I have also written about many times on this blog. In 2005, I realized that the days of companies paying mediocre-talent people $20-50 an hour to just fiddle around were unsustainable, and I became interested in entrepreneurship, and then the financial problem of 2008 hit, with the perpetually anemic labor market that has remained sluggish long after the stock market and economy recovered, in agreement with my hunch.

From the Vox article:

Moldbug explains. “Good government is effective, lawful government. Bad government is ineffective, lawless government. How anyone reasonable could disagree with these statements is quite beyond me. And yet clearly almost everyone does.”

As evidenced by America’s high incarceration rate and militarization of police, America does a pretty good job at enforcing law, almost to a fault, except for illegal immigration which law enforcement turns a blind eye. But overall, excluding immigration and rowdy anti-Trump protests, America is among the most lawful countries in the world, while also strongly enforcing property rights, and I think that’s why America may be closer to the ‘reactionary ideal’ than many believe.

Due to tough law enforcement and long sentences for repeat offenders, America ranks among the bottom for assaults, among developed nations:

Muggings and burglaries are very common in Europe, mainly because the punishments are so lenient and law enforcement is inept, and maybe immigration plays a role too.

However, America has a higher homicide rate, although the explanation may not be politically correct one.

Get rid of the trial lawyers and turn back the dial some decades, and we may be 90% of the way there. Also, the Founding Fathers, despite rejecting monarchy, were critical of democracy and were concerned about a ‘tyranny of the majority’, choosing to establish a representative system of government instead of a direct democracy.

The parts about paloconservatism could have been omitted. The ‘alt right’ seems specifically a post-2013 movement, along with variants of ‘less wrong’ rationalism, and bears only tangential resemblance to 90′s-era paleoconservatism. Rationalists, including the ‘rational right’, care more about empirical evidence and the pursuit of truth and understanding, even if such truths go against political correctness, than identity politics and activism.

However, even for a group that prides itself on rationality and data (such as Michael Asmiov’s statistics which Vox lists), there are potential logical inconsistencies that may be difficult to reconcile:

When asked who should lead it, Moldbug’s tech roots come through. “It’s easy to say ‘put Elon [Musk] in charge, he’ll figure it out,’ and he might well,” he tells me via email.

The 19th-century Scottish thinker Thomas Carlyle, a hero to many neoreactionaries.

Libertarians also tend to be big fans of modernity, and despite its affinities to the tech world, neoreaction really, really is not. Neoreactionaries believe that for a long time — maybe since the French Revolution — things have been going to shit. Moldbug likes to trot out anecdotes about crime in the Victorian era to make his point. Here’s a description of 1876 London he cites:

The problem is Musk seems like a ‘free trade’, pro-tech-immigration guy, which goes against some of the protectionist and isolationist views of the ‘alt right’. As shown by the UAE, you can reject democracy and have a monarchy while still having immigration (guest workers make up the bulk of the UAE population) and free markets (provided in the case of the UAE it doesn’t violate Islamic law). That’s why I’m a reluactnt neoconservative – because it’s still the most logically consistent of major ideologies in balancing personal autonomy with markets, property rights, the ‘rule of law’, and national defense – or partial libertarianism.

eoreactionaries are not individualists. They think in terms of social structure and order, and view social classes or races as the units determining the future of society, much as Marxists speak not of individual workers and capitalists but of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as a whole. They are tribalists, and for the most part — let’s not mince words — they are racists.

Moldbug in particular views American society as a kind of Indian-style caste system. He views the Democratic Party as a coalition of Brahmins (liberal intellectual types who went to fancy schools), Dalits (poor, mostly black or Latino people), and Helots (Mexican immigrant workers). “What the Dalit alliance gives progressives is more than just a vote bank,” he writes. “What the Dalits are is muscle, a militia, a mob. … Basically, the Brahmins have every possible Machiavellian interest in encouraging an invasion of Third World barbarians. The more, the nastier, the better. Their real hereditary enemy is the native barbarian — the half-civilized Vaisya, the ignorant megachurched Okie redneck, the Huckabee voter, the Bircher and McCarthyite, America Firster and Coolidge voter.”

Hmmm…but individualism and castes need not be mutually exclusive. Social Darwinism is a good sorting mechanism for a mixed-economy society, with ‘intellectual castes’ within a meritocracy. The idea is that in a meritocracy or free market, ‘order‘ and ‘structure’ will arise out of biological differences such as IQ, with less intelligent people tending to fall to the bottom through autonomous processes. It’s analogous to the Peter Principle, which states that people will be promoted to their level of incompetence, except people will rise to their IQ level, however high or low that may be, although there may a point of diminishing returns for very high IQs.

(his father is Jewish, for one thing)

This information is unnecessary and maybe is an effort by the author to sow discord between NRx, which tends to reject antisemitism, with Neo Nazi nationalists.

Also the article gets other parts wrong, putting words in Moldbug’s mouth:

He is sympathetic to arguments for black racial inferiority. “Ever since Mill wrote his response to Carlyle on The Negro Question and probably well before, writers in the English Protestant tradition have been defending the blatantly theological proposition that ‘all men are created equal,’” he snidely commented on a 2008 blog post. “In the absence of any evidence for this proposition, one can always assert that evidence for the contrary is unconvincing. Note that exactly the same rhetorical strategy can prove the existence of God, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that matter.”

No one has said anyone is inferior or superior. Going by the data, certain groups tend to do better or worse than than others, at varying tasks, which could make certain people inferior at tasks where pertinent skills may be lacking. But, yes, not all men are created equal, biologically at least, but the Deceleration was likely referring to ‘equal under god’, in contract to the hierarchical system of Catholicism.

This has channeled into the Trump movement. Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart writer and major Trump defender who’s perhaps the most vocal exponent of alt-rightism online, famously employs an army of interns, a lot of whom he says are “young 4chan guys.” In their own alt-right explainer, Yiannopoulos and co-author Allum Bokhari argue that /pol/’s alt-righters have embraced racism purely for shock value:

Just as the kids of the 60s shocked their parents with promiscuity, long hair and rock’n’roll, so too do the alt-right’s young meme brigades shock older generations with outrageous caricatures, from the Jewish “Shlomo Shekelburg” to “Remove Kebab,” an internet in-joke about the Bosnian genocide. Are they actually bigots? No more than death metal devotees in the 80s were actually Satanists. For them, it’s simply a means to fluster their grandparents … Young people perhaps aren’t primarily attracted to the alt-right because they’re instinctively drawn to its ideology: they’re drawn to it because it seems fresh, daring and funny, while the doctrines of their parents and grandparents seem unexciting, overly-controlling and overly-serious.

For good measure, they quote Moldbug/Yarvin: “If you spend 75 years building a pseudo-religion around anything – an ethnic group, a plaster saint, sexual chastity or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – don’t be surprised when clever 19-year-olds discover that insulting it is now the funniest fucking thing in the world. Because it is.”

There is truth to this, as I’ve written extensively about millennials and how they are leading the ‘alt right’, as well as other niche ideologies and movements. Because millennials may be better educated and more informed than earlier generations were, millennials are better able to grasp concepts like HBD, as well as a greater tendency to question authority, which today such authority emanates the leftist establishments in media and education. Also, there is the post-2008 disillusionment with Obama and post-2012 disillusionment with OWS, as millions of millennials realize that social liberalism isn’t working, that Obama couldn’t (obviously) keep his promises to make education and healthcare free and reign-in Wall St., with good-paying jobs for all. With the post-2009 bull market in its 7th year (the 2nd longest ever) and with tech luminaries like Musk and Zuck and Travis ( making multi-billion dollar fortunes in less time it takes to graduate from college full of debt, millennials are realizing it’s better to try to get rich, to emulate the smart and successful, than fight a losing war against the rich and successful. Then you have the post-2013 rise of centrism and rationalism (the left’s version of the the ‘alt right’), in rejection of SJW-liberalism. Instead of going to expensive parties, millennials would rather ‘go Galt’, rejecting collectivism, in favor of intellectualism, minimalism, and wealth creation.

Diagnosing Democracy

Moldbug’s final post: Coda

I know ‘neocon’ and ‘neoliberal’ have become pejorative labels as late, but these are the only two ideologies that seem to respect individualism within a mixed economy, as a middle ground between the ‘rule of law’ and personal autonomy. Bernie Sanders represents the far-left, who want to restrict individual wealth too much, and then you have the traditionalist-right, who may be to restrictive about capitalism and personal autonomy. After reading hundreds of pages worth of NRx and ‘alt right’ blogs, I have yet to see someone propose anything better, except for perhaps the Monarchist/mixed-economy approach, which already exists in a handful of countries. Any hypothetical system government, in trying to strike a Pareto-optimal equilibrium between authority and personal freedom, is eventually going to end up resembling what we have now, albeit with some small changes. And others like Land are frustratingly opaque and more theoretical than action/policy-orientated.

Say the word democracy. Notice how good it sounds. Everything democratic is good. A democratic meeting, a democratic policy, a democratic giraffe… if the adjective fits the noun at all, anything you paint with it comes out shiny and bright.

The good news is anti-democratic sentiment is already gaining mainstream appeal among millennials. Even some of the liberals I talk to are critical or skeptical of democracy, arguing that it’s inefficient and has lead to costly foreign interventionism and other problems, while not providing enough for American citizens who need help. But America was never that that democratic to begin with. It’s a constitutional republic with very high incarceration rate, with a lot of arbitrary laws. But maybe that is also a function of democracy, but it’s not liberalism like Western/Northern European liberalism. Maybe more like ill-liberalism, but not conservatism either. But at the same time, America tends to be too liberal regarding immigration and pop culture hyper-sexualization, so it’s mishmash of authoritarianism, market-liberalism, and social liberalism. Hard to find a single word that encompasses it. But it’s not the European-style ‘social democracy’. To simply attribute all of society’s ills to the apparition of a ‘liberal democracy’ seems like a misdiagnosis. That is not a defense of democracy either, and it’s evident that Europe’s social democratic model has lead to a lot of problems, particularly Islamic immigration and debt.

Millennials Make a Killing Day Trading on Reddit

Millennials Make a Killing Day Trading on Reddit

MarketWatch’s Shawn Langlois and Sally French join Quentin Fottrell and Priya Anand with the details on how Reddit became the go-to place for rowdy millennial traders to gather in 2016.

Again, not to make this too political, but many on the left keep repeating the same narratives despite an abundance of counter-evidence:

-That the stock market is a bubble and or an impending bear market (the S&P 500 as of this post is only a couple percent from new highs despite the endless predictions since 2009 of collapse.)

-That that stock market is a ‘sucker’s bet’, a ‘scam’, and that it’s ‘rigged’. (See above video of daytraders who are consistently making a killing with stocks and options despite the left’s insistence that this shouldn’t be possible due to the market allegedly being rigged. I guess those daytraders did not get the memo.)

-That those who are successful have an ‘unfair advantage’, ‘connections’, or ’10,000 hours of practice’, and those who fail are the victims of ‘racism’, ‘classism’, ‘sexism’…whatever. (People succeed because high IQ, as the video above and other examples show, not ‘unfair advantages’. None of these traders have special connections with Goldman Sachs, but instead are succeeding due to an ingrained ability/talent in reading market direction, owing to superior critical thinking skills, economic analysis, and pattern recognition abilities.)

-That all millennials are broke and in-debt. (While some are broke, many are not, as the above video shows. There are many millennials who are making 5-6 figures in various STEM profession , who have hundreds or tens of thousands of dollars in savings and or real estate or stocks. The problems is that the left is generalizing all millennials as broke, ignoring the many successful ones who are making money and or did not major in a worthless subject.)

This video is also an example of the synthesis of wealth, individualism, and intellectualism, as shown by the social taxonomy. People are getting rich through their talents, through individualism and being smart, not collectivism. Millions of millennials as aspire to be rich and successful, unlike Bernie Sanders who resents the rich and seeks to spread wealth from the most successful people to those who did nothing to earn it.

Education and the Blank Slate: Setting Realistic Expectations

Excellent article from a surprising source: Helicopter Parenting Has Given Birth To A Generation of Entitled Victims

Another similar patient I saw was a 14-year old female presenting with depression and anxiety. Though she was of moderate intelligence, she and her highly-educated parents insisted on her taking the toughest classes in pursuit of her primary goal: to be accepted to a top college such as Harvard or Princeton. Her mother helped the child compensate for her below average grades by citing a “learning difference” and aggressively advocating for academic accommodations so that her daughter could continue her quest for scholastic excellence. These semantics elided the reality that the girl was not at the same intellectual level as her brightest peers. She became severely depressed and engaged in self-harm behaviors, citing her primary stressor as the competitive nature of school.

If we continue to walk on eggshells to avoid offending these hypersensitive young adults, we are empowering their victimhood status. If we continue to indulge their irrational demands, we are robbing them of the opportunity to learn how to function independently in the real world.

Not to make this too partisan, but some on the ‘left’ (and I hesitate to use this label because there are many on the ‘right’ who also believe in the blank slate) want to believe the nurture can supersede the barriers to success imposed by biology, and that to acknowledge such biological reality makes one an ‘oppressor’. People who fail to succeed may be victims of poor genes, but are not victims of an oppressive system. Instead of these people being coddled by delusional affirmations, as the author suggests, we need to make them aware of their limitations, and then devise strategies for these individuals to live to their full potential, however limited that may be, even if this may seem ‘unfair’. The ‘real world’ is unfair, and coddled young adults are in for a rude awakening after the cocoon of political correctness is stripped away that, no, they are not special.

Related: The ‘blank slate’ view of humanity is looking increasingly outdated

The evidence that human nature is under genetic control has been building for some time, yet despite this it remains a taboo to discuss it because it doesn’t fit with the ‘blank slate’ model of human behaviour. If you turn on any radio bulletin about the sex gap in STEM subjects, for example, or the differences in academic achievement between the social classes, possible genetic factors are never mentioned. I’m never sure if this is because the people in broadcasting are unaware of them, or whether it is just assumed they’re so obvious as to be not worth explaining

The reasons for the cultural taboo about genetics are obvious, understandable and political, although buttressed by mainstream Christianity, which is opposed to any sort of genetic determinism. As Fraser pointed out in his recent piece about designer babies, the word ‘eugenics’ still elicits a strong and negative reaction, even if people are happy to ignore it taking place in practice.

Exactly. Also such an article would likely never be published in a mainstream American publication, but Britain, despite its social liberalness, to its credit seems to be slightly less squeamish about HBD matters. And to take this further, economic events since 2008 are making Social Darwinism a reality, whether you wish to believe it or not, with some people failing to succeed not because of an oppressive system but because of bad genes. The ‘blank slate’ is obsoleted not just by empirical scientific evidence but by the economy as well.

The is related to the far-left (and I sometimes hesitate to use this label because there are also many on the ‘right’ who also subscribe to the blank slate), who tend to believe that people are born equal but imperfect, and it’s the role of the ‘state’ to ‘prefect’ them, in much the same way new computers all have the same operating system installed. The HBD-right and some on the ‘rational left’, on the other hand, may believe that some are born ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than others, and the state should create economic and social environments for everyone to live their their full cognitive potential, not to promote equal outcomes.

But based on my own experiences with the ‘alt right’, many Christians actually reject the blank slate and believe in biological determinism, such pertaining gender and racial differences. Also, IQ is not the ultimate determinant of the worth – or lack thereof – of an individual, but rather it’s of equal importance to other other mental traits such as morality and personality. I somewhat disagree – IQ is more important than emotional intelligence (EQ), and with practice EQ can be raised, whereas IQ cannot.

It also, paradoxically, leads to greater kudos for those at the top who are wrongly seen as having justly earned their success, when in fact it was partially through genetic luck. Our discourse is filled with that tiresome phrase ‘privilege’, yet the greatest privilege is to be born intelligent, healthy and attractive (and, just to compound this sense of injustice, these three things correlate).

Advantaged people should not apologize for their privilege but rather embrace it, and less advantaged individuals should acquiesce to the hierarchy than dissent.

The UBI Revisited

In continuing on the debate over the viability or lack thereof of the Universal Basic Income (UBI), from

What If We Just Gave Poor People a Basic Income for Life? That’s What We’re About to Test

Despite the the fact that the likelihood of a UBI in America is pretty much nil, that didn’t stop the article from being shared by 17,000 hopefuls.

And also the transcript of a recent Freakanomics podcast about the UBI: Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?

The pro-UBI argument seems to be predicated on some assumptions:

1. It will be in lieu of some or all existing welfare programs

2. It will be cheaper than existing welfare

3. Recipients of the UBI will use it to ‘better their lives’, ‘start businesses’, ‘go to school’, and the money ‘will not be wasted’.

From the Slate article:

As it turns out, that assumption was wrong. Across many contexts and continents, experimental tests show that the poor don’t stop trying when they are given money, and they don’t get drunk. Instead, they make productive use of the funds, feeding their families, sending their children to school, and investing in businesses and their own futures. Even a short-term infusion of capital has been shown to significantly improve long-term living standards, improve psychological well-being, and even add one year of life.

But I’m still not sold on the UBI, and maybe that makes me a ‘mean person’ because I don’t think the government should be writing checks to people willy-nilly? If it can be demonstrated that a UBI will be less expensive than existing programs, maybe. If the UBI is being spent on non-essentials, likely won’t help. IQ and education may be good filter for determining who stands to benefit the most from cash payments, versus regular welfare. Smarter, more educated people are more likely to use their income efficaciously, providing a positive ROI to taxpayers.

Maybe individuals who squander their UBI and have to resort back to welfare should have their UBI revoked, since apparently they were unable to ration their money wisely.

The UBI also assumes that the fiscal multiplier is high enough that the UBI will pay for itself, which is a matter of debate:

So what do the data say? There aren’t many studies of the issue. But two stand out: Robert Barro’s work and research by Valerie Ramey, an economist at the University of California–San Diego, on how military spending influences GDP. Both studies found that government spending crowds out the private sector, at least a little. And both found multipliers close to one: Barro’s estimate is 0.8, while Ramey’s estimate is 1.2. This means that every dollar of government spending produces either less than a dollar of economic growth or just a little over a dollar. That’s quite different from the administration’s favored multiplier of four. What’s more, Ramey also found evidence that consumer and business spending actually decline after an increase in government purchases.

Form the Freakanomics transcript, this passage stood out:

ALTMAN: Maybe 90 percent of people will go smoke pot and play video games. But if 10 percent of the people go create new products and services and new wealth, that’s still a huge net win. And the kind of American puritanical ideal that hard work for its own sake is valuable, period, and you can’t question that, I think that’s just wrong.

FORGET: Well, I think that there are lots of kinds of work. I think that people do need to create meaning in their lives, and for a lot of people that does come through work. I’m not sure that they necessarily need eight hours of work a day and 40 hours of work a week to find that meaning.
Forget, like Sam Altman, sees a potentially huge upside in freeing people of the need to work.

FORGET: If you look at the 18th and at the 19th century, some of the great scientific breakthroughs and some of the great cultural breakthroughs were made by people who did not work. These were gentlemen of leisure, right? These were people who had enough family money to support themselves. They certainly didn’t have to dirty their hands doing the kinds of work we take for granted. I don’t think these individuals felt useless; I don’t think their contribution was negligible. I think it was very important to the development of the world.

That’s probably true, so why not give the income to the 10% who will actually use it better their lives and society, rather than everyone? That’s my motivation ind the high-IQ basic income: if studies show smart people are morel likely to be creative, to make breakthroughs, then the best results would be obtained by only limiting payouts to the smartest of society, not everyone. Give high-IQ people the financial freedom to tinker and create, improving society in the process, instead of them having to worry about making ends meet. I think that’s compromise that can satisfy both proponents and opponents of the UBI.

In regard to the Slate article, another problem is a UBI may not be enough for some expenses, like higher education, starting a business, medical bills, or certain types of job training, so projections about what a UBI may be able to accomplish may be too optimistic. Whether it’s education, healthcare, or a basic income, some rationing and judiciousness is needed to ensure not too much taxpayer money is wasted.