Tag Archives: phychology

Intellectualism Signaling

In earlier posts here and here I discuss signaling, but I want expound on this further, specifically ‘intellectualism signaling’.

Signaling is actions and mannerisms that are intended to boost one’s social status among like-minded peers. Such mannerisms can include actions (writing, activism, etc.) and aesthetics (physical appearance, materialism, etc.).

I define two types of signaling: intellectualism signaling and visual/materialism signing.

The latter is much more primitive and mainly done to satisfy biological urges, in courting the opposite sex but also in some circumstances boost status, ultimately to increase the probability of procreation. Examples include a muscular man wearing a tight shirt to accentuate his physique. Or someone buying a fancy car or a fancy watch to impress a girl or his friends. Material possessions and visual musculature signal wealth and strength, which are traits some women are seek in men.

The former, intellectualism signaling, is slightly more complicated, and I think more interesting.

Signaling, according to Wikipedia, is defined as:

In contract theory, signaling (or signalling: see American and British English differences) is the idea that one party (termed the agent) credibly conveys some information about itself to another party (the principal). For example, in Michael Spence’s job-market signalling model, (potential) employees send a signal about their ability level to the employer by acquiring education credentials. The informational value of the credential comes from the fact that the employer believes the credential is positively correlated with having greater ability and difficult for low ability employees to obtain. Thus the credential enables the employer to reliably distinguish low ability workers from high ability workers.

I define this type of signaling as ‘intellectualism signaling’, and it has become very prevalent since 2008 in our competitive economy and society that increasingly rewards intellectualism and ‘results’ (individualistic traits) over collectivism and cooperation.

Intellectual signaling can include any intellectual activity that is public and unpaid. Teaching a math class is not signaling, but answering questions in an online math community is because it’s public and there is no expectation of pay. The reward, rather than money, is a boost in ‘expert status’, which is why this category is the same as ‘expert culture’.

If intellectualism signaling, unlike visual signaling, does not seem to fulfill a biological function (procreation), so why is it important, so prevalent? As I explain in In Search of Fulfillment, power, which comes from a boost in social status, elicits positive feelings, as much if not more, as material possessions: people trade time (unpaid experts answering questions through sites like Mathoverflow) and money (an alumni buying a building bearing his name) for power and status, in the former performing feats of intellectualism to boost status even if such acts do not have quantifiable economic return:

Part of the reason has to do with signaling and social status from other like-mined peers that comes from performing difficult feats of intellectualism, even if such feats don’t pay well. The gains in status are valuable, even if such worth cannot be as easily quantified in an economic sense. Popularity, even if it’s only as an esoteric celebrity, means feeling good, endorphin flowing, etc. If people pay money for entertainment and drugs that are supposed to elicit these feelings, then it must be worth something. For example, wealthy alumni trade money for status in having buildings named after them or through philanthropy, creating a legacy that will outlive their lives.

Stories and shared narratives, as signaling, is a common means of intellectualism to boost social status. If someone posts story about ostracism and getting bullied in high school and the story receives ‘up-votes’ and other tokens of adulation, the writer’s status rises even though he’s not richer, nor did he build anything. In the past, power and status was through nobility, industry, government, physical strength, or wealth, but ‘intellectualism culture’ and ‘expert culture’ has enabled otherwise ordinary people to hold some degree of power and status. Intellectualism, unlike connections, is an internal trait and is thus highly meritocratic. Given how much the post-2008 economy prizes intellectualism, intellectual wealth is almost tantamount to monetary wealth – if not more.

Careers have been built on simple stories, an example being Obama, whose memoir Dreams from My Father helped launched his political career. By mentioning Obama, I’m not denigrating stories and the people who tell them, but I’m amazed by the power of the medium. Many Medium authors have gone massively viral telling stories – the fat passenger on the plane, the article I linked to here, both which went hugely viral, and so on. I guess, the point is, if you want an inexpensive but not necessarily easy way to boost your social status, tell a good story – and or – write the next ‘great American article’. Knowledge really is power, more so than ever.

Apologia signaling – posts on social media (Tumblr, Facebook, LiveJoural, Medium, etc.) about being misunderstood and other types of introspection – can also count as intellectualism signaling through telling stories. This includes ‘naval gazing’, a label that is often used pejoratively, but includes articles about intellectual topics (coding, economics, start-ups, etc.) written from a first-person perspective, often with anecdotal evidence but also technical analysis, and a high caliber of writing ability. This style can be annoying in its tendency to overgeneralize or ‘lump’ people into simple, reductionist categories (rich vs. poor). An example of this type of signaling is Siderea’s long-winded article on class, which combines a personal narrative with fairly complicated, in-depth economic analysis of class structures in America. This signals intellectual competence to like-minded peers who also value intellectualism.

Virtue signaling involves narratives to convey sentimentalism, with facts and objectivity tending to be less important than promoting a social cause. Too many people lump all signalling with ‘virtue signalling’, even though virtue signaling is just one type of signalling. In recent years, with the post-2013 SJW-backlash and rise of centrism and rejection of ‘low information’, virtue signaling and pandering actually seems to have lost its effectiveness, and people who resort to it tend to be called-out, even by the peers the are trying to impress (examples being classically-minded liberals criticizing SJWs). Ideologically, this can both ways, with liberals promoting ‘social justice’ as signing progressiveness to like-minded liberals, and conservatives tending to promote the virtues of traditionalism to other conservatives. Virtue signaling may be the lowest form of ‘intellectualism signalling’, as it tends to require little intellectual rigor and is quite partisan in nature, and the writing ability is mediocre.

Related to the Wikipedia definition, although philosophy has few ‘real world’ applications, an advanced degree in philosophy signals to employers and peers an above-average ability to read and comprehend difficult texts as well as an above-average ability to make inferences from disparate pieces of information – skills that not confer status in an intellectualized cultural enthronement but are skills employers seek. A person who has a PHD in a STEM subject (which I include philosophy as ‘STEM’) has a high-IQ and thus can learn and retain difficult material quickly, so an employer will be able to quickly get him up to speed on any task, not just tasks pertaining to physics, philosophy, or math

Then you have ‘intellectualism-wealth signing’, which is is related synthesis of wealth and intellectualism, as embodied by the likes of Musk, Zuck, Gates, Buffett, Bezos, and Martin Shkreli. Wealth and displays of wealth as measured by bank statements and trading accounts, if obtained through intellectual means, is a valid form of intellectualism, in contrast to ostentatious materialism signaling (fancy cars, big home, Rolex, etc). Based on my own empirical observations on Reddit and elsewhere, many Millennials are rejecting ostentatious materialism in favor of intellectualism-wealth signing. For example, a bank statement showing wining stock trades is an example of intellectualism-wealth signing, because making a lot of money in the stock market, when most people fail, is a an intercultural endeavor, requiring a high-IQ. Founding a hugely successful web 2.0 company or making a lot of money as an Amazon self-publisher are other examples.

Last and probably not least, there is counter-signaling, which Wikipedia defines as showing off by not showing off, or by playing humble: for instance, the nouveau riche are known to flash their cash – expensive champagne and brand new sports cars – while those with old money are more understated, and may drive an old 1989 Volvo. Instead replace, ‘nouveau riche’ with ‘low-information rich’, in contract to ‘intellectualism-wealth’ that is more humble. Counter-signaling also ties into the rejection of ‘low information’ by intellectual circles. Signalling too strongly may be a sign of being too beholden to a belief, as if converted, so counter-signaling is a way of, incidentally, of signalling open-mindedness and other intellectual traits, than being too narrow-minded and and provincial. Pre-2013, for example, the vast majority of liberals online seemed to support social justice causes and then in 2013-2014 there was split, as some on the left realized they had taken their activism and virtue signaling ‘too far’, so ‘counter-signaling’ moves the pendulum closer to the middle as a way of promoting more intellectual honesty and less partisanship/tribal behavior. This lead to the rise of ‘rationalism’ and a return to centrism. Also in 2013-2014, we saw the rise of the ‘alt right’, which uses counter-signaling to question conservative orthodoxy on certain issues such as abortion, in questioning the ‘pro-life temptation’. The article generated a staggering 440 disqus comments, in contrast to the 20-40 comments of a typical Radix article, indicating considerable debate. The debate process itself, to always be questioning than just shutting up and being spoon-fed pablum, is a major part of what differentiates the ‘alt right’ from the ‘mainstream’.

The Daily View: In a Loop, MGTOW, and The Elite

From Amerika.org Which way, dissident Right?

Currently the dissident Right is caught in a loop of rehashing its criticisms of the Left but it is unable to make the step toward the difficult stage of demanding actual change because this conflicts with Crowdist elements in its audience. We have lots of blogs rehashing ideas that myself and others covered 20 years ago, and while that is great, it has become preaching to the choir. We either take the next step or vanish in irrelevance.

It would seem like certain aspects of the alt right are in a loop, going in circles. Malcolm Pollock expresses similar sentiments, in which he tires of repeating the same stuff over an over. The problem is with any organization, be it a corporation, non-profit, or a movement, promotion is by espousing an opinion that closest aligns with everyone else (sorta like a linear regression model), but then others also do this, too, and it becomes self-reinforcing as the outward plots move towards the line, and then the line is re-drawn again, ad infinitum. From a game-theory standpoint, this is the optimal strategy (if promotion is what one seeks), but it tends to result in repetition due to others copying the strategy.

The American Elite Hates America

They shouldn’t wish to associate with us (ordinary Americans). We’re good for consumer spending and little else. The elite are only acting in their best interests, and secondly, NRx should not be populist. I would much prefer right-wing elitists over left-wing ones, but neither are egalitarian. An NRx monarchy, or any monarchy, by definition, would be ‘elite’. Due to the recent rise of populism and general cynicism over American government, the word ‘elite’ has negative connotations, it doesn’t have to be that way. The ‘elite’ should be those who are the most competent to rule, as under a technocracy or meritocracy. Right now we have situation where, by in large, the unqualified are the in change and are the ‘elite’.

Most of academia hates America. If you told them that in fifty years America will possess a world culture and that those with European ancestry will be an oppressed minority, a huge celebration would take place in universities throughout the country

With the exception of STEM, this is true.

Most feminists, social justice warriors, liberals, and even conservatives hate America. The entire range of the political spectrum have been infiltrated and corrupted by those who want to give an unholy death to traditional American values. Consumerism, nihilism, and Islamic and Mexican interests will take over instead.

But these are not the elite; they are lackeys. The elite, interestingly, are not the most radicalized. The elite tend to be centrist (think Bill & Hillary Clinton), neoliberal, or pragmatic. Upending the status quo would cause them (the elite) to lose money and influence, and while they may seek reform, their approach is incrementalist. SJWs, on the other hand, are low-information and seek crisis so the economy fails and Marxism can be phased in. The elite have the most to lose should there be crisis and upheaval, and hence seek self-preservation.

Nihilism, like Postmodernism, is a word that is thrown around a lot (sorta as a catch-all for all that is bad in the world) but not really understood that well. As I discuss, instead of nihilism, it’s more like fatalism or predestination. The latter are compatible with some of the more HBD-variants of the ‘alt right’ who believe that genes, which are predetermined, affect socioeconomic outcomes.

Most Silicon Valley technologists hate America. They create apps and devices that are tearing apart the social fabric of family and tribe while hurting the middle class. Then they use their newfound billions in wealth to agitate for gay marriage, transsexual rights, and open borders.

Hmm..seems like Roosh is parroting the anti-technology left, albeit from the ‘right’ instead of the ‘left’. How does Uber ‘tear apart’ families? Thousands of people are making a living with gig jobs on Task Rabbit or Fiverr, and although these jobs may not pay well, they provide income opportunities for people who may otherwise be destitute. The middle class and the “American dream’, for better or worse, is being redefined. It means traditional jobs are being replaced by temporary work, where people are paid for the economic value they produce – not for merely ‘showing up’ – and are personally accountable for whether they succeed or fail, instead of a big, nameless company being accountable.

If a corporatocracy involving, say, the biggest Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon ran the country, it would probably be very efficient but possibly dehumanizing. It would be like Dubai but instead of oil, the economy would be run by apps, websites, and intellectual property. There would probably be a lot of social justice – or less, with discrimination suits no longer an issue now that the companies control the courts and the rest of the government.

For example, have you noticed that men’s rights activists are constantly attacked while the men going their own way group (MGTOW) is not, and even discussed sympathetically? It’s because the latter group promotes social isolation and reproductive sterility, which matches the establishment’s depopulation agenda. On the other hand, white nationalists are being roundly attacked through the proxy of Donald Trump. Therefore the latter group must have at least some ideas which strengthen America.

The rise of MGTOW is in response to recent social changes and to a more cut-throat, expensive economy where rent vast exceeds inflation, where jobs are increasingly scarce, and stable relationship are not only nearly impossible, but too expensive. It’s easier for men to live alone, embracing minimalism, than to trying to emulate their baby boomer parents’ expensive lifestyles. Millennials are more interested in intellectual wealth (math, coding, physics, philosophy, etc), not ostentatious materialism (big house, flashy car, Rolex, etc).

There are seven billion people in the world, so I don’t think the natalists have to worry about losing to the anti-natalists anytime soon. Instead of more humans, we need higher-quality ones.

Pop Psychology Charlatans

How to act less stupid, according to psychologists

“The stupidest thing someone can do is overestimate themselves,” he said. “What that tells us is that you don’t have to have a low IQ, in people’s eyes, to act stupidly. You just have to misperceive your abilities.”

In other words poseurs, who overestimate their abilities, come across as the most stupid, which is not surprising. This ties into earlier posts about millennials, the culture of authenticity, and how HBD-based science and post-2008 economic reality is making liberalism obsolete. In the workforce throughout the 90′s and 2000′s, all these ‘poseurs’ were getting by on social skills and connections, and then 2008 came along and then these overpaid, semi-competent employees that were just ‘coasting by’ lost their jobs. And those jobs, especially clerical jobs in the finance sector, will never come back.

Take the work of Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton University who, using arithmetic questions, has found that intelligence can make simple answers harder to find.

He hasn’t figured out why, but hypothesizes that intelligent people might be less capable of evaluating themselves, making them more vulnerable. When given a math problem, for instance, an intelligent person might assume they aren’t capable of the same thinking errors that their peers are, which, in turn, makes them more prone to commit them.

Just another example of how the left uses bogus behavioral ‘science’ to try to turn high-IQ into a handicap. Let’s see…if I were going to wager on who con solve a complicated math problem, my money would be on the high-IQ math PHD, not a less intelligent person with ‘street smarts’. Daniel Kahneman and the rest of his social pseudoscience ilk are promoting ‘leveling’ – the idea that smart people are not much better than anyone else, as part of the liberal war on individual cognitive exceptionalism. Smart people solve problems and create technologies, and if smart people sometimes act stupid, how do stupid people act? Part of the problem is confirmation bias – our awareness of mistakes made by smart people is heightened, but we ignore the fact that less intelligent people tend to make more mistakes overall. Many people, understandably so, are uncomfortable with the reality that some are individuals are intrinsically better than others, so we look for any excuse however small to knock these exceptional people down to size.

Diederik Alexander Stapel, a former professor of social psychology at Tilburg University, was suspended in 2011 for fabricating data to give politically correct results.

Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility tests, which should tell you how useless this field is.

Kahneman, Taleb, Dan Ariely, and Gladwell rose to preeminence, along with the empty suit Obama, before and after the financial crisis as millions of people who felt ‘wronged’ by the financial and cognitive elite took comfort in the leftist message that ‘smart people are no better than everyone else’, which is pretty much the synopsis of every book written by the aforementioned authors. Gladwell, the embodiment of the pseudo-intellectual hipster, is possibly the worst of all of pop-psychology charlatans, the 10,000 hour rule he helped popularize in 2008 thoroughly debunked.

Even though I’m on the ‘right’, there is a serious epidemic of parents who think their otherwise dull kids are special. Due to inflated expectations and easily hurt feelings, the learning process is hindered because of the mismanagement of resources – both time and money – in trying to bring slow kids up to speed and neglecting the needs of exceptional children.

Related:

Nature Beats Nurture
How Liberalism Distorts Perception of IQ
Liberal Denial of Individual Congenital Cognitive Exceptionalism
The Uselessness of Pop Social Psychology