Tag Archives: religion

Inevitablism

In an earlier post, I discuss the criteria that constitute a religion:

Not sure if Gnon works as a religion, because religion is both prescriptive (such as the 10 Commandments) and descriptive (Book of Genesis), not just descriptive. Religion is deontological, meaning it prescribes a set of moral rules for its adherents, although such rules or motivation may not be grounded in realism.

For demonstrative purposes, consider a hypothetical religion I call ‘Inevitablism’.

First the ‘descriptive’. Some say the ‘only constant is change’. It’s actually the opposite: things seldom change, with the exception of a few blips here and there (such as 911, Trump’s win, and the 2008 financial crisis). Instead of surprises, everything seems inevitable and predictable. This is analogous to the theory of punctuated equilibrium in evolutionary biology, in which species undergo little evolutionary change until sudden cladogenesis. Major events such as the 2008 financial crisis, the First and Second World Wars, and 911 are analogous to ‘mass extinction events’, that create new epochs and species and terminate old, pre-established ones. The last mass extinction was 65 million years ago. Statistically speaking, we’re due for another one, but it may not happen. Likewise, there is no rule that say the post-2008 ‘epoch’ must end either.

As further evidence of how things tend to remain constant more often than not, the post-2009 bull market and economic expansion is the longest ever despite the endless predictions of recession and crisis. Same for failed predictions of hyperinflation and dollar collapse. Web 2.0 valuations still keep rising long after pundits in 2012 said it was a bubble. There’s still war and terror in the Middle East despite trillion of dollars thrown at the problem. Inevitability is the absence of surprise, because everything is deterministic based on pre-existing trends that are long-standing.

Inevitablism postulates things stay the same, except the big get bigger, much in the same way chaotic interstellar dust under certain circumstances congeals into orderly discrete masses such as planets, or entire solar systems. Much like our own solar system, these systems tend to be very stable. This explain why the post-2009 bull market and economic expansion is so enduring, why Microsoft, after many decades, is still dominant despite attempts by competitors to create alternatives to Microsoft products. Or how America remains a dominant economic and military force, is impervious (relative to other countries, like Greece, Brazil, Turkey, and Spain, that have more civil unrest and weaker economies), and is more important and influential than ever (the ‘post-America era’ many predicted as a consequence of the 2008 financial crisis never materialized, as America rebounded from the crisis stronger than ever, while Europe and other foreign economies remained weak). Or as described by Wait But Why:

Secondly, a bigger point: no one person has the power to RIP America, no matter what they do. America is bigger than you or me, and America is much, much bigger than Donald Trump. America is a 320-million-person melting pot, run by a government made up of thousands of people working within a twisty, convoluted set of branches, ruled by a 240-year-old instruction booklet that specifically makes it impossible for any one dick to ride a wave of populist anger into a position where he can RIP America. America is un-RIP-able, at least by the hands of any president.

Also, society and the economy is becoming more efficient, which means fewer opportunities, or at least for entrepreneurs who aren’t in web 2.0.

One can liken it to a pre-planned society and economy, where all we’re just going along for the ride strapped in. This is kinda like Stalin and Mao’s 5-year plans, but over much longer time frames, affecting both individuals and economies, and without the Communism. There is free will, but success is constrained by both economic and biological factors. In referencing the Atlantic article on free will, one may have ‘free will’ to try but to not succeed, which is related to compatibilism:

Although there are various impediments to exercising one’s choices, free will does not imply freedom of action. Freedom of choice (freedom to select one’s will) is logically separate from freedom to implement that choice (freedom to enact one’s will), although not all writers observe this distinction

…and a relevant quote by Arthur Schopenhauer:

Everyone believes himself, a priori, perfectly free – even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life. … But a posteriori, through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns…[126]

Now the ‘prescriptive’. To take advantage of America’s winner-take-all economy, invest in multinational companies that have market dominance and inertia, or to invest in a combination of a large cap indexes (such as the S&P 500), medium-duration treasury bonds, and medium-duration investment-grade corporate bonds. This also includes large cap tech such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, all of which have outperformed the broader market indicies. This is how ordinary people can piggyback off existing successes instead of wasting time money and effort trying to create their own.

Related: Post-2008 Capitalism: A Guide

Also related is self-improvement, which is more important than worrying about things outside of your control or that have little impact on your life, because Inevitablism implies the best predictor of tomorrow is today, so why be emotionally invested in things that are impervious to your hopes or desires and that have little possibility of changing. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going to throw you a lifeline. That you have to do on your own, such as by investing your income in stocks (related to the above paragraph) or real estate and being frugal. This means stop watching the news.

The final component is eschatology and salvation. The latter gives an incentive for adherents to follow the religion in the hope they will be saved. For Christianity, salvation means going to heaven for believing in Christ as your Lord and Savior. Christian eschatology describes Christ returning to earth, Final Judgement, to judge the living and the dead and rapture souls to Heaven to join his Kingdom, as described by the Nicene Creed “…he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. … We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” For Buddhism, salvation is the attainment of ‘Buddhahood’ by following the Noble Eightfold Path to become’enlightened’, achieve ‘nirvana’ and ‘liberation’, and end suffering (Dukkha, one of the Four Noble Truths). Jewish eschatology, according to the Hebrew Bible, foresees a Messiah, a king and savior to rule over the Jewish people during the ‘Messianic age’…”the Messiah will be descended from his father through the line of King David, and will gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, father a male heir, re-institute the Sanhedrin, and so on.”

Regarding inevitability, and related to NRx and the Dark Enlightenment, eschatology has many possible forms, including the creation of a techno-commercialist state, economic and societal collapse or stagnation (both of which are unlikely, in my opinion), techno-secession, transhumanism and possibly even the creation of something resembling The Matrix. By ‘becoming worthy’, such as through self-improvement, reading, and investing, one can prepare themselves for the possibility of this new regime change. But if nothing happens, self-improvement and investing is worthwhile in and of itself, anyway. Even when prophecy fails, that doesn’t mean the teachings and parables, and how they are applied to everyday life, are for naught. David Hume, however, disagreed that religion is always a conduit for ‘good’, arguing it can also justify evil “The greatest crimes have been found, in many instances, to be compatible with a superstitious piety and devotion; Hence it is justly regarded as unsafe to draw any inference in favor of a man’s morals, from the fervor or strictness of his religious exercises, even though he himself believe them sincere.” Because the ‘religion’ or ‘zen’ of NRx is inherently pacifist and doesn’t seek to impose its will on others through force or coercion, this should not be problem.

Consider Protestantism

Although NRx is ostensibly Catholic and seeks another ‘Restoration’, as a minimalist I tend to identify more with the simple, plain ascetic of Protestantism than the ostentatiousness of Catholicism.

…But first a synopsis to understated the origins of the acrimony between Catholicism and Protestantism, in the context of NRx. The ‘beef’ with Protestantism dates back half a millennia, beginning with The Protestant Reformation – a schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther and continued by other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe – largely inspired by Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, a searing indictment of Catholicism. Oliver Cromwell, arch-nemesis of NRx, became a Puritan in the 1630s and was the ‘Lord Protector’ of the Commonwealth of England following the execution of King Charles I (in which he was signatory of Charles’ death warrant), until his death of natural causes in 1658. This is also related to the English Civil War (1642–1651), a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and Royalists (“Cavaliers”). The Royalists returned to power in 1660, and Cromwell’s corpse was exhumed and beheaded. The Restoration would prove short-lived. The Glorious Revolution, which overthrew King James II of England, ended the era of absolute monarchism once and for all in England. The Glorious Revolution of 1688, followed by the 1689 Bill of Rights and the 1701 Act of Settlement, resulted in a constitutional monarchy that restricted the power of the English monarchy. NRx, in it’s opposition democracy, seeks to restore an absolutist Catholic monarchy.

But even absolute monarchies need to have some flexibility, such as in the case when there is severe mental illness that impairs the ability of the monarch to function, a notable example being Charles VI of France. Charles’ loss of power lead to chaos and conflict in France, eventually leading to the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War, which lasted from 1407 until 1435, beyond Charles’ reign. This underscores the potential fragility of absolute monarchies, due to the lack of redundancy and difficulty of transfer of power.

But is it possible to have a secular-type monarch, or a monarchy with elements of Protestantism while at the same time rejecting 95% of democracy, save for a set of laws? In the history of Europe, Catholic monarchs outnumber Protestant monarchs by a 2-1 ratio. Past examples of Protestant monarchs include the kingdoms of Prussia, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Catholicism is the dominant religion of South Europe, which struggled with debt and recession since 2007. Same for South America. Russia, whose church is Eastern Orthodox, a denomination of Catholicism, like Brazil has fared poorly due to commodity dependence and falling energy prices. Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Italy – all predominantly Catholic countries – suffered severe financial distress during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, whereas the Nordic countries fared much better.

According to the Transparency International, Protestant Northern Europe ranks among the least corrupt. Catholic countries, such as East Europe and South America, rank higher.

From joeam.com DOES CATHOLICISM MAKE US MORE TOLERANT OF CORRUPTION?:

To gain some perspective, let’s look at it globally: an outfit called Transparency International tracks corruption and perceptions of it world-wide and ranks them according to a uniform standard. The latest survey of 2012 puts the Philippines in the bottom half, at no. 105. (out of 174 countries ranked)

Now here’s where it gets interesting: when I was doing research for this paper, I noticed that very few Catholic-dominated countries could claim to have low levels of corruption, as per this index. Only Switzerland is in the top 10, and one can argue that it is a very secular state with divorce and reproductive health laws in place. Italy hovers near the bottom of the first half, at no. 72. Spain though, fares better at no. 30. But for countries who shared the same trajectory as the Philippines – conversion through colonization – the results are dismal; South and Central American countries land in the bottom half. Is there a correlation here? Is there a pattern?

Also, the so-called ‘Protestant Worth Ethic’, as described by Max Weber, may have also played a role in the success of Protestant countries (United States, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland) relative to Catholic ones.

In spite of religion, a lot of these Catholic countries have signs of moral decay, which the church is powerless to control. Whereas in America pornography is still heavily regulated, and the media is heavily regulated by the FTC for ‘obscenity, indecency & profanity’, borderline-porn is not uncommon in Spain, Brazil and Italy, where it’s readily visible in newspapers and TV.

Weber traced the origins of the Protestant ethic to the Reformation, though he acknowledged some respect for secular everyday labor as early as the Middle Ages.[6]:28 The Roman Catholic Church assured salvation to individuals who accepted the church’s sacraments and submitted to the clerical authority. However, the Reformation had effectively removed such assurances. From a psychological viewpoint, the average person had difficulty adjusting to this new worldview, and only the most devout believers or “religious geniuses” within Protestantism, such as Martin Luther, were able to make this adjustment, according to Weber.

In the absence of such assurances from religious authority, Weber argued that Protestants began to look for other “signs” that they were saved. Calvin and his followers taught a doctrine of double predestination, in which from the beginning God chose some people for salvation and others for damnation. The inability to influence one’s own salvation presented a very difficult problem for Calvin’s followers. It became an absolute duty to believe that one was chosen for salvation, and to dispel any doubt about that: lack of self-confidence was evidence of insufficient faith and a sign of damnation. So, self-confidence took the place of priestly assurance of God’s grace.

Because Calvinism, unlike Catholicism, didn’t guarantee salvation for all, this created an incentive for people to find other ways to be ‘saved’, such such as by accumulating wealth. This could explain why the economies of Protestant countries tend to reward individualism, and why Protestant countries are more economically successful.

From Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, By Lawrence E. Harrison:

Part of the problem with Catholicism is the relative ease of absolving sins, which means that there is less accountability for malfeasance, whereas Protestantism is more punitive.

Brazil recently impeached former president Dilma Rousseff for corruption, but ironically anti-corruption minster Fabiano Silveira also resigned shortly after due to…corruption charges, and that seven of the new ministers have corruption charges on them. Not to single out Catholicism, Turkey, another low-IQ country like Brazil, is also a hotbed of graft and incompetence. In America, the Tea Pot Dome scandal and Watergate are still a big deal, to give you an idea of how rare corruption is compared to the everyday corruption in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Turkey, which fills volumes.

Additional sources:

Protestant v Catholic: which countries are more successful?
Why is Spain so corrupt?

The religion of bribes

There definitely is a corruption problem in Catholic countries that needs to be addressed.

Nihilism and the Black Pill

Brett and Malcolm discuss nihilism and the metaphor of the ‘black pill’ as an alternative to the usual ‘blue/red’ pill dichotomy.

The ‘blue pill’ advances liberalism, embraces it.

The ‘red pill’ actively resists liberalism.

The fist two colors involve some sort of activism, to bring about change either to the ‘left’ or to the ‘right’.

The ‘black pill’ acknowledges the dysfunction, but realizes change may be impossible or counterproductive. This approach spurns activism.

But ‘nihilism’ may be the wrong word, as I discuss here, with the ‘correct’ word being fatalism or determinism. A moral nihilist believes there is no concept of a moral superiority. An existential nihilist believes that life or existence has no purpose. A fatalist may have his own core set of values, but acknowledges that change may be impossible, whereas a nihilist may not have such values. This blog discuses biological determinism’ at length, the idea that free will and or economic advancement or mobility is curtailed by biology. Reactionaries (according to the slogan of the Hestia Society) however believe that ‘the only morality is civilization’, which is anti-nihilistic. NRx also seems to embrace Christianity, which according to Nietzsche cannot be nihilistic because Christianity assigns an intrinsic ‘value’ to people:

Nietzsche discusses Christianity, one of the major topics in his work, at length in the context of the problem of nihilism in his notebooks, in a chapter entitled “European Nihilism”.[30] Here he states that the Christian moral doctrine provides people with intrinsic value, belief in God (which justifies the evil in the world) and a basis for objective knowledge. In this sense, in constructing a world where objective knowledge is possible, Christianity is an antidote against a primal form of nihilism, against the despair of meaninglessness. However, it is exactly the element of truthfulness in Christian doctrine that is its undoing: in its drive towards truth, Christianity eventually finds itself to be a construct, which leads to its own dissolution. It is therefore that Nietzsche states that we have outgrown Christianity “not because we lived too far from it, rather because we lived too close”.[31] As such, the self-dissolution of Christianity constitutes yet another form of nihilism. Because Christianity was an interpretation that posited itself as the interpretation, Nietzsche states that this dissolution leads beyond skepticism to a distrust of all meaning.[32][33]

Although I’m not a nihilist, I reject that idea that humans have a high intrinsic value [1], that everyone is born ‘equal’ in the ‘eyes of god’, or that religion is effective for providing meaning to life (it may work for some, but probably not for many). I also disagree with Christianity (as well as most religions) in regard to salvation, in that religion has a ‘low’ barrier to salvation, as I have discussed a couple times, whereas salvation through intellect is harder and more selective, requiring quantifiable individual results, but is more satisfying and relevant as far the economy and society is concerned. Affirmations about being ‘a child of god’ or being ‘saved through Jesus’ won’t create a paycheck or make you an important, economically-productive person. Human value is through accomplishments and merit – not by merely existing.

Maybe nihilism is more about understanding the world, with a detached indifference, than actively trying to change it or having to fit in with a ‘tribe’.

[1] Maybe by virtue of of IQ, some are born ‘better’ than others, with smarter people having more intrinsic value due to the potential to create more economic value and advance society more so than less intelligent people.

In Search of Fulfillment

From raging Twitter debates between oversized personalities, to physics discoveries making headlines, to web 2.0 and tech visionaries being lauded for their genius, to wealth inequality widening to widths never before imagined, to Instagram selfie ‘culture’, more than ever we’re in an era of the celebration of the ‘self’, where individual differences are manifested acutely both economically and socially, where ‘meaning’ ‘purpose’ and ‘fulfillment’ is through individuality and not the ‘collective’.

But we’re also in an autopilot nation and economy, where everything is predictable or inevitable up until the moment it happens – just a continuum where the past and present adjoin in a loop.

Perhaps fulfillment is through ownership – ownership of wealth (financial independence), ideas (intellectualism), and maybe positive affirmations (social status), which is related to the former two. Post-scarcity doesn’t provide any of those. A hypothetical society where everyone has what they need, where food and entertainment are free and abundant, may not bring the purpose and fulfillment many seek. Consider the Kennedy Clan. No Kennedy will ever be forced to make ends meet and they have an abundance of leisure time, but no one ‘owns’ anything – rather they are a part of a ‘collective’. Considering the rise of entitlement spending and the shrinking labor pool, the future of America may (and already is) resembling this. Europe has already gone down that road, but the quality is not very good.

Some argue that religion brings salvation and purpose, but the problem is that the barriers to entry for salvation, unlike intellectualism and affirmation, are low and one only need to be a decent, moral person to be ‘saved’, not highly intelligent, popular, exceptional, or prescient. Organized religion is analogous to the rapidly fading factory or union job – good returns for being mediocre and just ‘showing up’, but because the barriers to entry are so low, I suspect religion does not bring fulfillment, as I describe in response to the epidemic of white males committing suicide:

My guess the root cause is fulfillment, emptiness. In the past, God filled that role, but the developed world is becoming more secular. Society demands a lot from white men – money and social status – things that are harder to obtain than just being a decent, moral person. Church is easy. You go every week and God gives you salvation, but attendance is falling, people realizing what atheists have suspected all along: it doesn’t work. This is not a knock on religion, but science is supplanting religion. No, salvation cannot be attained by believing in a deity. You have to make a lot of money and be well-known.

That definitely seems to be the case in our post-2008 hyper-competitive, winner-take-all society and economy where promotion is based on difficult to obtain quantifiable results and rarefied talent, not altruism, which could be considered our ‘new’ religion in America today where only smart people can be ‘saved’ and or are worthy of salvation. Post-2008 economic reality seems to conflict with the egalitarian nature of religion, making ‘old’ religion less relevant compared to this ‘new’ one. In the past, theology was used to explain reality when science couldn’t suffice, but we see in front of our eyes right now that society is rewarding (in terms of higher wages and prestige) people who produce results and create economic value, not those who are ‘people-pleasers’, and hence in putting two and two together, we ‘learn’ the path to salvation is to emulate these successful people. Also, religion played a much bigger role in social status hundreds of years ago wheres today it’s wealth, intellectualism, or social media followers, which tend to be harder to obtain.

Wealth inequality is a bigger discussion point than ever, as manifested through headlines – and parents, who see these headlines about wealth inequality and how the ‘middle class’ is shrinking, are spending thousands of dollars on various educational programs to give their kids an edge in today’s competitive economic environment. Instead of Sunday School, it’s Summer enrichment programs and elite schools.

Social status is another pathway to fulfillment. Scott’s landmark, groundbreaking article I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup, posted on September 30, 2014, put him on the map, making him an overnight esoteric celebrity (if he wasn’t already) as expert on internet subcultures, and in the processes generating a tsunami of traffic to his website as the article went viral, getting over 10,000 Facebook shares and hundreds of comments. The lengthy article, divided into twelve sub-sections each chocked-full of anecdotes and detail, was probably one of the most important ‘sub culture’ articles of the year, blowing everyone’s minds away. Maybe it would even qualify as the ‘Great American Article‘ by capturing the polarized, contentious political state of America (particularly online) at the time, the war between feuding ideological ‘clans’ and ‘tribes’. That’s how ‘epic’ is was and still is. I could go on about the significance of the article, and it would still be an understatement.

This passage stood out:

When a friend of mine heard Eich got fired, she didn’t see anything wrong with it. “I can tolerate anything except intolerance,” she said.

“Intolerance” is starting to look like another one of those words like “white” and “American”.

“I can tolerate anything except the outgroup.” Doesn’t sound quite so noble now, does it?

Unfortunately writing tends to not pay well relative to the skill and talent involved, which for Outgroup was immense – at most, probably only the top 1-.5% of population is capable of composing such a galvanizing essay. Scott has a donation button on his site and some links to various advertisements that generate an undisclosed income. Upon the article going viral, I estimate he saw a bump in those figures – hard to know, but I imagine not much, since the esoteric subject matter isn’t one that readily converts into sales, unlike, say, golf clubs or investment plans. So why bother if the pay isn’t great. 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 is 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.

In The Writer and The Coder, the writer aims for social status, which is worth some sort of monetary value, whereas the coder, whose skills are also rare relative to the general population, derives a more direct, quantifiable monetary return but also a boost in social status, too. Writing a personal polemic about your student loan debt or about being homeless likely won’t make the debt go away or immediately put a roof over your head, but it will boost your social status should the article go viral as others empathize with your problem. As explained above, there is a value to this even if it isn’t pecuniary.

In the case of being homeless, the vox.com article I linked to went massively viral. FDR sums it up eloquently:

Whether or not people people pursue intellectual feats for status is debatable – maybe they also do it for enjoyment, as a hobby, or for knowledge and understanding, with status as icing on the cake.

Richard Feynman opined, ‘What Do You Care What Other People Think?’ People apparently care a lot about what others think, and for good reason, if ‘good’ opinions means more status and hence more happiness. All to often we’re told to ‘be yourself’, but what if ‘yourself’ isn’t that good?
But, ultimately, I think we – as people – we all want to be a ‘part’ of the system; a participant or ‘player’ rather than observer; an ‘owner’ or stakeholder rather than a renter. This cannot be solved with economic solutions.

NRx and Christianity

I know there are some people in the NRx-sphere who are practicing Christians, notably Nick B. Steves, as evidenced by the picture of Sancta Maria on his blog, and Vox Day, by his numerous writings – in particular his book The Irrational Atheist, but Vox in 2014 renounced the NRx label, although he’s still lumped in with the ideology.

It occurred to me awhile ago that Christianity (or any of the Abrahamic religions) may not be compatible with my interpretation of RNx (yours may differ), particularly in regard to economics, the concept of salvation and redemption, and HBD.

From my own experience attending Catholic Church, the message preached, with perhaps the exception of some social issues like reproduction and marriage, is a liberal one – particularity, about the concept of the ‘ownership society’, which the Church seems to reject. For example, these passages that implores Jesus’ disciples to forfeit their possessions, from (Matt. 19:16-26):

…And behold, one came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking upon them Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:16-26).

So to be ‘saved’ you must, essentially, live in penury. I know there also an abstract interpretation of this, too.

Second, the existence of the Holy Trinity cannot be falsified. As a rationalist who cares about empirical evidence, the belief in an omnipotent deity or spirit may may not be rational. With the exception of certain theoretical physics concepts, modern science does a good enough job explaining all natural phenomena, whereas in ancient times people used religion and creation myths to explain things (that we now take for granted) that they didn’t otherwise understand. But I also understand that many practicing Christians are well-versed in sciences, so the condescending leftist caricature of the ‘ignorant Christian’ is wrong, and, understandably, deeply insulting.

Third – from my own experience going to Church – there is no mention of anyone being intrinsically ‘better’ than anyone else; no mention of HBD-type concepts. Yet as evidenced by growing income inequality and how IQ, which is a biological trait, is becoming becoming more important than ever in influencing socioeconomic outcomes, this inescapable pull of biological and economic reality perhaps renders a lot of the teachings of the Church obsolete, or at least atavistic. I disagree with the ‘low barrier to entry’ version of salvation of modern Christianity, arguing that salvation, especially in our competitive post-2008 world, is not through belief, which is easy, but by quantifiable accomplishments. Although predestination is mentioned in the Bible in that some will be saved, that’s already happening today – in that the people today who are ‘saved’ are those with good genes, while those with genes unpropitious to success fall between the cracks, often dependent on charity, like the welfare state, paid for by productive people. That’s why I’m a Darwinian Conservative, because social interpretation of Darwinism is more perhaps more applicable to modern society than the Bible, which ties into my ‘reality-based’ approach as mentioned above, with the ‘hierarchy’ and ‘social order’ aspect of Conservatism being a biological and economic one.

The Daily View: Good Tweets, Socialism, The White Male Die-Off

IQ facts:

High-IQ wins again as Facebook’s valuation crosses $300 billion. But I thought Facebook was supposed to be a bubble and a fad, said the left in 2012.

Over on XenoSystems, a commenter writes:

What concerns me is that post-industrial capitalism seems frustratingly demotic. Even with a fully realized patchwork, if the majority of wealth is held by a minority that favors socialism (or mercantalism, etc.) what prevents them from crushing markets elsewhere. Our major publicly traded companies are prioritizing social justice over profit, and are going to melt whole sectors of the economy as they implode. A majority that values piety over profit and controls the vast majority of the wealth can distort/destroy any market. Heck, look how much damage Soros has done…

Normally I would just reply to the original comment, but this is amusing enough to warrant its inclusion into a blog post.

I guess it depends how you define ‘social justice’. True…too fend off the social justice lawyers, most companies have an employee conduct code that rivals that of Hammurabi, and violators are dismissed with prejudice. But that doesn’t stop the left from complaining about: low wages, outsourcing, profits being too high, taxes…you name it.

Starbucks: wages, fair trade

Facebook: privacy concerns, taxes

Amazon: taxes (dodging state taxes, especially), employee working conditions at warehouses

Apple: wages, taxes (avoiding cash repatriation), working conditions in China, outsourcing

Walmart: wages, displacing ‘mom and pop’ stores

Google: taxes, privacy concerns

Uber: busting cab cartel, not paying drivers enough

Snapchat: fostering narcissistic behavior, valuation is too high according to the left, privacy concerns

Behind any successful company are liberals who have some reason to complain.

There is also a tendency among some to throw words like ‘socialism’ around flippantly. Also ‘socialism’ and ‘multinationalism’ are not interchangeable. While multinational companies do get government contracts, so do many smaller companies, and this in and of itself is not socialism. Socialism means the government has complete control and ownership, which includes ownership of profits, dividends, and equity. That also means socialism is NOT the same as a grant or a loan. The government helping to fund companies like Tesla is not socialism unless they own Tesla, which they obviously don’t. Musk is worth billions, which is his to keep. When the US government took a 75% stake in AIG in 2008, I guess that could technically be called socialism since the government and, to some degree, the tax payers ‘own’ AIG; the common shareholders lost almost everything, but the stock was already close to worthless by then. Same for Freddie Mac and Fannie May, which too were bailed-out, but by then the stock was close to worthless. The US government gets all of Fannie’s and Freddie’s profits, which is why activist shareholders are trying to ‘liberate’ Freddie and Fannie, and I support their efforts being that I am also long some Freddie and Fannie stock in the hope the conservatorship will be relinquished. That is socialism, but this is extremely rare, and maybe only a dozen companies out of tens of thousands were bailed out in such a manner in 2008 and would meet the definition of ‘socialism’. The vast majority of companies on the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones would not qualify as ‘socialist’ ownership. Just tired of all this whining about the slippery slope to socialism when there is very little actual socialism.

This story has been covered to death in the past 24 hours, but It sucks to be a middle-aged white person

My guess the root cause is fulfillment, emptiness. In the past, God filled that role, but the developed world is becoming more secular. Society demands a lot from white men – money and social status – things that are harder to obtain than just being a decent, moral person. Church is easy. You go every week and God gives you salvation, but attendance is falling, people realizing what atheists have suspected all along: it doesn’t work. This is not a knock on religion, but science is supplanting religion. No, salvation cannot be attained by believing in a deity. You have to make a lot of money and be well-known.

And it looks like Roisey has a new Twitter account after the SWJs banned his old one https://twitter.com/ChateauEmissary

Neo Masculinity and Christianity, Darwinian Conservatism, Free Will, Biological Reality

An interesting post from Return of Kings:

Why Christianity Is Not An Enemy Of Neomasculinity

I’m not sure who ever said it was. Atheists within the neo-masculinity movement, in contrast to the smug atheists who watch Colbert and Daily Show, don’t have enmity towards Christians. They may not agree with Christianity, but this disagreement is never acrimonious. The author is raising an issue that doesn’t really exist.

But the topic of Christianity and ‘alt right’ politics is interesting. The alt-right movement encompasses a wide variety or mishmash of ideologies and beliefs, with a universal rejection of egalitarianism and liberalism. You can reject religion and still oppose egalitarianism and the welfare state, as in the case of Ayn Ran or Murray Rothbard, for example.

Atheist Conservatism and Libertarianism is one of the fastest growing movements. Contrary to popular belief, Darwinism and Conservatism are compatible because the social order of things often follows from the biological/genetic one, in that social castes and socioeconomic issues (wealth inequity, rich vs. poor, etc) often stem from the biological differences between individuals (race, IQ, etc), meaning that some people by virtue of ‘good’ genes are more likely to succeed, while those with inauspicious genes are likely to find themselves in a lower caste. In agreement with Conservative/Libertarian thought, individuals do have free will – but only within their biological limitations.

You have the free will to try to become a successful physicist or writer, but if your IQ isn’t high enough you won’t get much millage for your efforts. So biology is the ultimate sorting mechanism for man and his role or place in society, and even if the concept of biological determinism is unsettling to many – that millions of individuals are preordained at birth to a life of failure or mediocrity – wishful thinking, vacuous ‘pull yourself up’ platitudes, and political correctness won’t change this. Many atheists understand that evoking a ambiguous higher ‘power’ to try to undo a physical or autonomous process is futile.

These posts may seem negative and pessimistic, but they are in agreement with an empirical reality that is also a biological reality. It’s better to swallow the bitter pill of reality than to live in fantasy. But this should not be confused with a pessimistic view of human nature, as expounded by Hobbes. In the spirit of Locke, I am optimistic about the human condition, as well as the economy, but not for most individual humans – in that while society will continue to advance and prosper in terms of technology and other metrics, and the stock market will keep going up, at the individual level things won’t feel so great, with ennui, anxiety, and emptiness the dominant human condition for the vast majority who are not smart enough to attain ‘enlightenment’. John Locke’s optimism was rooted in his faith, for man to full fill his ‘god given’ potential to create, in contrast to the atheist Hobbes who equates man to animals. There is a middle ground, in that we are in an ‘enlightenment’ for those who are smart and successful enough to participate in it , but a Hobbesian ‘dark age’ for everyone else. The capacity to create does not come from god or some creator, but from genes, which is how Darwinism can be reconciled with the more optimistic, future-oriented worldview of the Enlightenment.

Also many Enlightenment thinkers, from Voltaire to Kant, expressed interest in biological matters such as race, with opinions that would be considered politically incorrect today and an affront to ‘blank slate’ Christianity. Voltaire, for example, rejected Monogenism, which contends that all races have a single origin, while polygenism is the idea that each race has a separate origin. Instead of all people coming from a single origin or creator, some came elsewhere, although it wasn’t until later with the research of Darwin and Galton, and much latter With Murray, Jensen, Rushton, and Lynn, did speculation about race, intelligence, and individual biological differences become burnished with scientific rigour.

But the problem with mainstream/contemporary Christianity (and my own experience going to Church) is that it tends to espouse the ‘bank slate’ pseudoscience that all people are born ‘equal’ under god and that redemption is through belief, when economic reality throws cold water on those delusions. In reality, some people by virtue of IQ and other genetic factors are born ‘better’ than others, and redemption is not as easy as just believing in a spirit, but by quantifiable accomplishments, social status, and the creation of economic value, which I outline in the ‘salvation quadrant’ here. Maybe that’s why the NRx movement argues that progressivism is an offshoot of Puritanism, although this theory is contested by some in the NRx community.

A common rebuttal is that IQ isn’t everything, and it isn’t, but it’s damn important. In the competitive post-2008 economy and recent trend towards automation and the winner-take-all nature of the economy, brains seem to be more important than brawn. The data on wealth vs. IQ is hard to dispute – smarter people tend to earn more more money, while less intelligent people fall into poverty. Smart people also create technologies that improve living standards. Yes, smart people occasionally make stupid decisions, but what kind of decisions do stupid people make? It’s tempting to just cherry-pick a few examples of smart people acting stupidly or unethically to paint all smart people with the same brush. The ‘evil genius’ trope is so ingrained in popular culture that we tend to ignore or overlook all the good that smart people create. Yes, there is evil on the right side of the Bell Curve, but also plenty of evil on the let, too. Gary Ridgway, the most prolific American serial killer, has an IQ of 80. Evil on both sides of the Bell Curve. Even ‘effort’ and ‘hard work’, which the left says is more important than IQ, may also be biological, making it hard to escape the pull of HBD in all facets of society.

I guess we need systems in place to minimize the potential harm caused by morally compromised people. The rule of law is a deterrent, but it can’t undo the past, nor will it effective against those who ignore it.

And although there is evidence smarter people are liberal – wealthy, smart liberals tend to be of the pragmatic/classical/neoliberal variety, with examples being Larry Summers, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Steven Levitt, Steven Pinker and Bryan Caplan, in contrast to the less intelligent welfare liberals. Classical liberals are more inclined to subscribe to Social Darwinism than welfare liberals, and are less hostile to free markets, the rule of law, and private property.

Atheist Liberals’ Pastor Jon Stewart Final Taping

I am not the most religious person, but when the left attacks religion for being conformist, they should at least look in the mirror first. The similarities are uncanny:

And finally, if the left is as smart as they pretend to be, why does Jon Stewart, who mocked Palin for using a teleprompter, needs one himself…even for the introduction that he has repeated 1000′s of times, ‘Welcome to the Daily Show…’

Free Will – Welfare Liberals vs. Neo Liberals and HBD Conservatives

From Sam Harris’ “Free Will” says liberals understand role of luck

It’s pleasing to my progressive self when modern science confirms one of the foundations of Democratic/liberal political philosophy. Such as, that we humans don’t have free will. It’s an illusion.

Such is the message of Sam Harris’ captivating new book, the pleasingly short (66 readable pages) “Free Will.” Harris is a neuroscientist whose first book was “The End of Faith,” which brought him a lot of well-deserved attention.

I hope “Free Will” reaches even more people. On my other blog I’ve talked about the dizzying joy of being freed from a belief in free will, and how free will is a limiting, destructive belief.

The ‘left’ generally assumes that we have less free will, that individuals are victims of factors out of their control – bad genes, ‘greedy’ rich people, ‘structural racism’ – and it’s the role of the state through wealth redistribution and entitlement spending to create more equatable outcomes. Those on the right, especially the mainstream right, tend to believe in the pulling-ones-self-up mentality that with tenacity and grit, instead of a handout, anyone can improve and overcome adversity.

So how can one believe in biological determinism without being a liberal?

Brilliant quote by Daniel Dennett, and it’s why Aethist conservatism is becoming so popular, because it makes sense – that we all have free will, the ability to thrive and succeed – but within our biological limits. That’s how you reconcile free will with Darwinism. A person with an IQ of 90 has the ‘free will’ to become a Walmart door greeter or possibly a barista, but not a physicist or a coder, for example. He has the free will to possibly attain a modest, at best, standard of living – but no more. A person with a much higher IQ has more options (a higher promotion in the Darwinian scheme) and can pursue many avenues of employment, some of which pay very well and bring great prestige and recognition, such as being a coder, a quant, a stock trader, and so on. Yes, the person with an IQ of 90 has the free will to attempt to be a coder – just as a quadriplegic can attempt to be a rock climber – it’s just that he will likely fail because of biological limitations.

The Christian Right tends to believe that people should serve God, that individuals are to be subservient before a higher power; thus free will tends to be proscribed except in believing in god and being virtuous as means to salvation, as opposed to the Mainstream Right, who tend to be to be more open to the concept of free will less in the sense of religion, but more as a way of overcoming adversity, ignoring the role of biology, which is a criticism I have with the mainstream right.

The pragmatic/HBD right, on the other hand, tends to believe that IQ, which is largely biological, is a new caste system that ‘sorts’ people, having the effect of limiting free will as far as intellectual endeavors and economic upward mobility is concerned. James Altucher blogs about ‘choosing yourself’ instead of being ‘chosen’ (chosen by a boss, a client, etc), but in our winner-take-all, average-is-over hyper-competitive economy, we have much less free will to ‘choose’ our future as we may want to believe. Due to recent economic trends, which is reflected in the data of IQ vs. income, people who are not in the top quartile as measured by IQ have relatively few choices, and upward mobility is harder and harder to come by given how competitive and cutthroat everything has become, especially since 2008. It’s more like the American Idol economy of supply (contestants) vastly exceeding demand (winners). As I explain in my article, Bryan Caplan: Anti-Democracy Pioneer, in what is Social Darwinism 2.0, people are falling behind because of low IQs in an economy that increasingly rewards intellect.

Unlike the religious and mainstream right, for the HBD/rationalists redemption is through recognition, intellectual accomplishments, and wealth – things that are typically hard to attain, as opposed to ‘easy’ like going to church and being a moral person.

The Welfare Left behaves like religious fundamentalists in their zeal that the state, instead of the church, can ‘save’ people, where everyone is a ‘blank slate’ that can be programmed by the state (instead of the church) to achieve some sort of egalitarian endgame. The left also has to perform mental gymnastics in choosing explanations for societal problems (wealth inequality, crime, and poor academic performance among some groups of people) that doesn’t conflict with their blank slate viewpoint, so instead of attributing these problems to biological factors like low IQs, they blame environmental factors – greedy rich people, capitalism, not enough education spending, globalization or – in the case of Gladwell – luck, practice, family connections, or some other ‘unfair’ environmental advantage. So in the case of Sam Harris, Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, to be a liberal and believe in biological explanations superseding environment kinda makes you a pariah among today’s mainstream left. That’s why pragmatic/neo liberals, such as Larry Summers and Steven Levitt, who believe in biology in shaping socioeconomic outcomes, especially if the biological reality offends a protected group (women, non-Asian minorities), have been targets of the welfare left, with consequences such as loss of employment, shaming, and blacklisting, as in the example of Larry Summers and recently Tim Hunt.

Pertaining to free will, the schism between welfare and classical liberals, as well other other ideologies, is delineated by this table:

Christian Conservative Welfare/Mainstream Liberal Neo/Classical/Pragmatic Liberal Mainstream Conservative HBD/Rationalist Conservative
Free Will Varies. Generally, people do have free will to choose whether or not to sin (The biblical ground for free will lies in the ”Fall” into sin by Adam and Eve that occurred in their “willfully chosen” disobedience to God). From Wikipedia: For Calvin, humanity possesses “free will,”[86] but it is in bondage to sin,[81] unless it is “transformed.”[87] Less free will, due to environmental factors such as racism, not enough education spending, income inequality, cronyism, …etc Less free will, due to biological factors such as IQ and innate differences between individuals and groups (sexes, races) Strong free will, pull-yourself-up mentality. A view also shared by most libertarians. Less free will, due to biology

Related:

Steven Levitt is Right, Not All Life is Sacred
The Left’s Problem With Science

Peter Singer Conservatives

Peter Singer, Austrailian moral philosopher, recently did a Reddit AmA.

The most pertinent quote about Peter Singer’s views, from Wikipedia:

Ethical conduct is justifiable by reasons that go beyond prudence to “something bigger than the individual,” addressing a larger audience. Singer thinks this going-beyond identifies moral reasons as “somehow universal”, specifically in the injunction to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’, interpreted by him as demanding that one give the same weight to the interests of others as one gives to one’s own interests. This universalising step, which Singer traces from Kant to Hare,[21] is crucial and sets him apart from those moral theorists, from Hobbes to David Gauthier, who tie morality to prudence. Universalisation leads directly to utilitarianism, Singer argues, on the strength of the thought that one’s own interests cannot count for more than the interests of others. Taking these into account, one must weigh them up and adopt the course of action that is most likely to maximize the interests of those affected; utilitarianism has been arrived at.

Even though I’m a libertarian/conservative, I find myself agreeing with Singer’s views on utilitarianism, which bears a similarity to consequentialism. Neoconservatives, of all the subsets of conservatism, seem the most aligned with this view, as evidenced with the post 911 response, war in Iraq, and 2008 bank bailouts. The Christian Right, Palo Right, and Jeffersonian Republicans tended to be more skeptical of all or some of these initiatives, believing that policy should be based on subjective, unscientific concepts such as ‘morality’ or ‘sanctity of life’, not the quantifiable data & risk/reward analysis preferred by the pragmatic right.

I never got on board the whole ‘sanctity of life’ thing shared by some on the right. There are people who are intrinsically better and worse than others; just look at the empirical evidence. I agree with the part about intervention against terror, low regulation and low taxes – but not that. Some people are born to be good at high-IQ stuff like STEM; they have the potential create technologies that advance civilization. Those who are less intelligent are born to do manual labor and less theoretical stuff – jobs that are important to some degree – but doesn’t advance civilization. Some people become murderers, and that whole sanctity of life concept flies out the window when we put some of them to death. So even if some on the right preach ‘sanctity of life’ or ‘equal under God’, policy and evidence doesn’t support it. To want to believe that a person with an IQ of 70 is as valuable as one with an IQ of 130 is a delusion and no different than being a liberal who thinks raising taxes on the most productive of sciety will grow the economy.

Related:
Atheist Conservatism and the Dark Enlightenment
Religion is Becoming Irrelevant