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ContraPoints on Free Speech   Leave a comment

The following video is by far the best defense of the left-wing position on free speech (namely, that “hate speech” should be banned) that I have ever encountered.

I know, from her other videos, that the speaker in the series has a masters degree in philosophy, and I think, given the arguments she makes, that she is very intelligent.

It is part II of a 2-part series. Part I was nowhere near as good. In it, she cited Christopher Hitchens as representing the “free speech” point of view, and showed him claiming that Nazi Holocaust deniers are deserving more protection of their speech than others, and then she claimed, by the same principle, that “victim” demographics deserve more protection than other groups and that “hate speech” should therefore be banned on college campuses. She also shows Hitchens, during Q&A, telling an idiot asking a stupid question to shut up and refusing to address his question (ostensibly, therefore, violating the questioner’s “right to free speech”).

I don’t think Hitchens speaks for all the right, and in addition there is a BIG difference between claiming that some people need “extra protection” (a dubious proposition to begin with) and claiming that ANYBODY has such a “right to not be offended” that we should start shutting other people up. Hitchens never said that, because Holocaust deniers, in his view, deserve “extra protection”, that no one should be allowed to offend them.

So here’s the second video, which is much better.

 

 

With the example of “Paddy’s Bar”, she does demonstrate that a complete absence of rules is rarely feasible if you want any good outcome.

So I agree with the video that a forum usually needs boundaries in order for the discussion to be productive and enlightening. But that is speech within one forum. That means that if you want to say something that is banned in other forums, you have the right to set up your own forum and set rules that you find acceptable. That is “free speech”. The left has been deliberately interfering with the ability of forums that they don’t like to exist, sometimes by rioting or pulling fire alarms, and that is “censorship” and it’s wrong.

She talks about the fact that there are few black philosophy majors.  And she talks about two micro aggressions that she knows of from her six years in college. In the first case, a black student dropped a class because the lecturer had used the term “negro”. In the second case, a black woman asked a white male philosophy lecturer why there weren’t more black philosophers, and in his answer he mentioned slavery in ancient Greece.

Now, I don’t think either of those events were very egregious. The word “negro” is old-fashioned, but it’s not a terribly hateful word. The micro aggression was certainly not enough to justify dropping a class over. And in the second case, what answer was the black woman expecting? When people discuss the history of oppression, they mention slavery all the time. I suspect that the speaker feels that any explanation the lecturer gave for the absence of black philosophers, other than injustice, would have been deemed an offense.

I had to think about it for awhile, and I think I realize what happened. And it demonstrates the flaw in the author’s position.

In the video, she says that philosophy departments all over the country have meetings now and then about “Why aren’t there more black philosophers?”. She doesn’t describe how the conversations go, but I figure that the speech restrictions that most of academia operates under prevent an accurate answer to the question.

Philosophy is a tough major. Graduating philosophy students have the second highest IQ of any major, outperformed only by physicists.

There is an overwhelming consensus of intelligence researchers, liberal and conservative, that the IQ of the average black American is 10 points lower than that of the average white American.  That’s a big difference. There is not a clear consensus about why this is. To minimize controversy, let’s adopt one of the least offensive theories, namely lead poisoning. Minority neighborhoods have more lead pollution than white neighborhoods, and it is well-established that lead poisoning lowers IQ.

So given that blacks have, on average, lower IQ, we would expect them to be under represented in high-IQ majors in general, not just philosophy, but also in, for example, STEM fields, and that is, in fact, what we observe. So that is probably why there are fewer black philosophers.

Now, to express the opinions in the preceding two paragraphs is MUCH more offensive than the micro aggressions against blacks that the video describes. I suspect that neither ContraPoints (the speaker in the video) and the rest of the philosophy are willing to entertain those notions for a microsecond. So it is impossible for them to reach an accurate conclusion.

What happens in the absence of being able to accurately answer this question, that philosophy majors are constantly asking themselves?

Their ideological blinders forbid any answer other than “injustice”. So the speaker in the video concludes that racism on campus must be to blame. The problem is that, in spite of having spent 6 years in college, she can’t remember observing much racism (in fact, of the two micro aggressions described, she only saw one, and the other was related to her second hand). So she blows these two teeny tiny moments of fleeting emotional discomfort up to monstrous proportions and concludes that massive censorship is likely to solve the lack of black philosophy majors.

When the black woman asked the question about why there weren’t more black philosophers, it might have been rude to start talking about racial differences in IQ. On the other hand, by bringing the subject up, wasn’t she opening the door to all possible explanations?

What the liberal rules of acceptable discourse do is impose a dogma that there is no explanation for a difference in outcomes between groups other than “injustice”. They then talk about group differences in outcomes all day long and conclude that injustice is rampant. And that’s wrong. And that wrong conclusion is reached because of censorship.

The video says that Milo Yiannopolous should not be tolerated on campus, because most of what he does is bait and bully liberals (which I agree is most of what he does), and in fact, his presence undermines, rather than elevates, the quality of campus debate. I don’t agree with that. If Milo were barging into other forums and discussions on campus and disrupting them, I would agree with her. But that’s not the case. Milo wants to have a lecture in his own forum, and only those interested in listening to him will attend (and bear in mind that that is a TINY minority of the students). As long as he sticks to his own forum, I can’t see a compelling case against allowing him to speak, as long as his speech is legal, which it generally is. I disagree with most of what Milo says, but he has made a few good points. Milo likes to pick on transsexuals (which I don’t agree with), but I think the maker of the video is letting her status as trans and her resulting opposition to Milo’s speech cloud her judgment here.

She talks about “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”. She describes the origins of the concept in gay bars where anyone who expressed homophobic opinions was ejected so that the gays could relax and be themselves. But she utterly fails to address the news stories reporting campuses having rooms with play dough and movies of frolicking puppies, where students could retreat when overwhelmed, and the news stories reporting that students retreating there complaining of their “dearly held beliefs” being challenged outside.

It comes down to “forums” again. Yes, it is necessary for leaders of forums to be able to enforce rules, including evicting troublemakers. Some colleges have problems where any student organization that uses student facilities has to accept all students, meaning they can’t eject anybody. So when Christians try to hold a Bible study, Christian-hating gays show up and are deliberately rude and disruptive and make it impossible for the Bible study to happen. So you need a “safe space” for Christians, a forum where they can eject anybody they see as problematic.

But the “safe space”, whether it be for gays, Christians, or transsexuals, doesn’t have to be the whole damn campus. Any forum should be free to eject (or verbally bully) anyone who is deemed disruptive, according to the sole and final judgment of the organizer of the forum.

One thing that ContraPoints gets close to saying, while discussing safe spaces, without saying it directly, is that racist, sexist, and homophobic speech is so ubiquitous that it needs no protection — everybody is constantly bombarded with those points of view, so there is no need for them to be tolerated in an intellectual environment.  But that’s not true.  Jonathan Haidt’s book reports that research he did showed that conservatives understand liberals better than vice-versa.  I think part of the reason for that is that the liberals control the non-Fox mainstream media and Hollywood, and most public school teachers are liberals, so it is very, very hard for anyone to get through life without getting the liberal viewpoint.  An urban liberal, on the other hand, can very easily go through life without any exposure to conservatives other than straw men erected by liberal sources.  And this goes completely into very educated people.  In the September 2017 issue of Scientific American, there was an article about the dearth of black physics faculty in universities, and the article claimed that there was no observed IQ difference.  Now, even Ezra Klein, the editor of Vox, and vehement opponent of the book The Bell Curve, agrees that there’s 10 point difference.  But whoever wrote that article in Scientific American, and all the editors who approved the article, live in such a filtered liberal ideological bubble, that they are isolated from that basic and relevant fact.

One thing that never, ever, seems to cross ContraPoints’ mind is that defining “hate speech” is difficult, and that most contemporary definitions prohibit sane discussion of important topics.

  • We need to discuss affirmative action.  How much should there be?  Some would characterize any argument against increased affirmative action as “hate speech”. So if the conversation takes place on that basis, no company can hire any white males until every minority or female applicant has been hired.
  • We need to discuss immigration. Many would characterize any concept of an undesirable immigrant as “hate speech”, meaning that the only conclusion we can reach is completely open borders.
  • We need to discuss “Black Lives Matter”.  It’s obviously “hate speech” to claim that any blacks are criminals.  So the only conclusion that a “hate speech” free conversation can reach is that police must never arrest any black person no matter what they do.

Posted June 11, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

What’s the Problem With The Regressive Left?   Leave a comment

Allow me to describe the thinking of the regressive left (sometimes called the Social Justice Warriors) as I perceive it.


 

Identity

  • The most important characteristic of a person’s identity is their group membership by birth — their ethnicity (partly their race, but sometimes also meaning the religion of their parents), their gender, and their sexual preference. This membership is much more important than any choices that they have made or anything that they have achieved in their lives.
  • Individual rights are not very important. Group rights are essential.
  • Not all groups have equal rights. All groups range on a continuum from “victim” to “privileged”, where “privileged” groups have no rights at all.
  • The last two points often result in an analysis where, if there is a conflict between two individuals, what actually transpired between them is unimportant. All that matters is who is more “victim” and who is more “privileged”, determined by group membership, and from there, it follows that the “victim” party is completely unaccountable and anything the “privileged” party does or says is wrong.

The regressive left claims to be fighting for “equality”, but it’s a flat-out lie. They are aiming for a hierarchy with the “victims” on top and the “privileged” on the bottom.

The other objectionable thing about making group membership the core of everybody’s identity is that it moves us in exactly the opposite of the direction we need to go to transcend these differences.

One can wonder: “Why is it that so many of the ‘privileged’ go along with this framework which affords them no rights and blames them for everything wrong?”. There are a couple of severe penalties for non-compliance:

  1. There are real bigots in society, and most of them hail from humble origins, and are so uncouth and lacking in education and sophistication, that they are so profoundly repulsive that most others will pay any price to avoid being associated with them.
  2. If a person is in any position that involves hiring and firing people, they and their employer are potentially subject to catastrophic discrimination lawsuits. If your management detects any hint of dissent from the consensus of the regressive left from you, you may be fired, or at least, they will avoid putting you in any position of authority, to avoid putting the company in legal jeopardy.

 

Dogmas

  1. Nature / Nurture — the regressive left usually comes down heavily on the side of nurture, the one exception to this being sexual preference.
  2. Gender is a social construct. All observed behavioral differences between genders are learned.
    • And all observed behavioral differences between genders should be eliminated.
  3. Race is a social construct. There are no physical differences, and especially no behavioral or cognitive differences, between ethnic groups other than the purely cosmetic.
  4. Popular generalizations about ethnicities or genders are generally false.
  5. Any observed relative under performance of “victim” groups is generally due to either discrimination or historical injustice.

These dogmas have not been proven either way. If someone who is trying to disprove all of them faces a high burden of proof, it can’t be met. But someone trying to prove them true has no hope of meeting a much lower burden of proof.

I believe pretty strongly that if these assumptions are debated on the basis of a preponderance of evidence, they don’t stand up very well at all. The position of the regressive left, on the other hand, is that we have a moral obligation to pretend to believe these things, whether they’re true or not, because believing them will somehow make them more true.

If an assumption is not true, and we design our society to depend upon that assumption, then our social policies are apt to fail. So it’s important to be able to conduct an honest inquiry into the truth.

The other thing is, if we tell everybody well-intentioned lies in the pursuit of some goal, everybody’s not going to just believe them and all live happily ever after. Some people will question the lies, and the lies will have to be defended. This is where it gets ugly. When someone challenges these assumptions, the position of the progressive left is that they are some kind monster, to be viciously and personally smeared and marginalized from public debate through any means necessary, including dishonesty.

Thus, the regressive left is a constant source of censorship and lies.

Posted June 1, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

2018 O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference NYC   Leave a comment

I went to the O’Reilly AI conference this week.

I particularly went to sessions about finance. A very big problem with using machine learning for finance (and with machine learning in a lot of applications) is that, with the state of the art of machine learning, the reasoning isn’t very transparent. The point was made that transparency wasn’t just a problem for finance, it was a problem generally, for people trying to debug machine learning systems, too.

This is a big deal with using machine learning to evaluate applicants for loans. This process is heavily regulated, and when you deny a loan to someone, you are required by law to explain exactly why, to prove that you weren’t discriminating illegally. And if the reasoning is based on a neural net with thousands of interacting floating point values, that’s not human-readable.

One presentation was a guy who would try to coax an explanation out of the neural net by perturbing the inputs and seeing how that changes the result. He was reporting progress, but it still seemed to be on the drawing board and a long way from convincing the regulators it was ready for prime time.

Some applications, like fraud detection on credit card transactions, are lightly regulated, so neural nets can be applied. If you call someone on their cellphone to ask them if they really made a certain credit card charge, you don’t have to explain your reasoning or prove that illegal discrimination wasn’t a factor, so it’s really the wild west.

It turns out that when credit card transactions are flagged for fraud, only about 1% of them turn out to be really fraudulent, so they’re trying hard to reduce false positives. They found that by applying machine learning, they could reduce the number of false positives by a factor of two.

It turns out that machine learning can make huge mistakes. One case is “adversarial attacks”. They showed us two pictures, one of a school bus and one of a dog. Both were correctly identified by the machine learning, as a “school bus” and a “dog”. Then they modified a lot of the pixels very slightly, in a way known to confuse the machine learning, and showed us the pictures again, next to the original pictures. The change, even with the pictures side-by-side, was not noticeable to the human eye, but now machine learning identified both as an “ostrich”.

In a less malicious but more serious case, they showed us a machine learning that had been taught to distinguish stop signs from speed limit signs, and placing a yellow post-it pad on the stop sign (and not blocking any of the letters), confused the machine learning so that now it identified the stop sign as a speed limit sign.

Another application was for agriculture. The main way we apply herbicide is that we genetically engineer crops that can tolerate herbicide, and then douse the whole field with it. This one company was working on a rig that would be towed behind a tractor, and would optically be able to distinguish between crops and weeds, and squirt the herbice on only the weeds. They were working on being able to distinguish between different sorts of weeds, because some weeds, like “pigweed”, are resistant to most herbicides and would need application of special, more potent, herbicides that you really wouldn’t want to be applying indiscriminately.

One lecture was about a Stanford project to use machine learning to replace some datastructures, and he was claiming that a neural net could outperform a binary tree in some cases (since a binary tree would depend on performing log n ‘if’s that can’t be performed simultaneously, while the machine learning can be based on many simultaneous multiplies). It wasn’t just binary trees, that was just the main example he talked about, he felt that many of the data structures we are familiar with could be addressed, but in a lot of cases you would want to mix the machine learning with familiar, traditional datastructures.

Google had an interesting project. Machine learning experts are in very short supply, and there are different strategies for machine learning that have been published. Google has a project where they will trying several different machine learning strategies at once, see which ones are working best, and try those again, and iterate in a loop. The strategy consumes absolutely huge amounts of compute resources, but you get results comparable to if you had inaccessible machine learning experts.

One German was talking about the GDPR. His whole view was very European, and it was about these rules the European Union has adopted related to privacy and the responsibility of programmers and companies to uphold liberal democratic values. He talked about the 2016 US election as if no one would have voted for Trump except that Cambridge Analytica performed some sort of mass hypnosys on half the US population (I voted against Trump, but I have relatives who voted for him, I understand why they did, and Cambridge Analytica had NOTHING to do with it). I asked if implementing the GDPR would be constitutional in the US because a “right to be forgotten” would conflict with freedom of speech. He said Europe has freedom of speech (which I find preposterous) and gave arguments that the right to be forgotten was a good thing (which is plausible) without explaining how forcing websites to remove accurate statements did not in fact conflict with free speech. I didn’t argue with him any more because it would have been hogging the floor.

The most exciting presentation was by http://ctrl-labs.com, a company working on an enhanced brain-machine interface. Reading electrical signals directly from the brain is very difficult. Even if you put electrodes on the scalp, the signals in the brain are still the thickness of the skull away, and very weak, and the nerves on the scalp are much stronger and closer, so the noise to signal is just horrendous. To really get anywhere, you have to drill through the skull, which is not a terribly popular idea.

This company just has a bracelet that you wear on your wrist that detects signals in the nerves leading to your hand, and can read what you’re doing with your hand. The signals from the bracelet go to a neural net to figure out which nerve is which, and they can then figure out with a very high degree of accuracy what you’re telling your hand to do. They had a demo where the founder was wearing the bracelet, and there was a monitor with a picture of a hand in it, and as he moved his hand around, the hand cartoon in the monitor mimicked his actions. Then a friend grabbed his hand and held it in in fist, and the monitor continued to display what he was telling his hand to do, even though his hand was forced to be in a fist.

Then they had a very cool demo of an iPhone playing the video game “Asteroids”, which only had a few degrees of freedom, and someone had learned to play the game by moving one hand, but with training, they were able to send subtle signals well enough to play the game, while in fact their hand was completely motionless.

I asked how much CPU power was involved — if in fact there were 1000 GPU-assisted CPU’s in the cloud facilitating these demos. They said No. I asked if there was enough CPU power in a smartphone to do the demo. One guy said Yes, the other guy said there was enough CPU power in the average digital watch to do the demo. He said there were only 16 values read by the bracelet, it wasn’t that much data.

They claimed they could read the equivalent of a six-fingered hand, and a user could learn to manipulate a robot arm with more degrees of freedom than a human arm with this bracelet.

Another application was amputees. If you lose a hand in an accident, they’re pretty good at transplanting hands, but a problem is that since the nerves that control the hand are unused while you’re waiting for a hand to transplant, the nerves atrophy, making it difficult to learn to use the new hand once you have it. If you wear the bracelet and do things with it while you’re waiting for the new hand, the nerves won’t atrophy so much.

They’re going to start shipping bracelets in 2018, you can register on the website I gave above to be put on their waitlist.

 

Posted May 3, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

Sam Harris & Charles Murray vs Vox   Leave a comment

In about 1993, two Harvard-educated intellectuals, Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, published The Bell Curve, which described, among other things, racial differences in IQ and the social policy implications.

Less than 10% of the book is about race. I haven’t read the rest, as I understand it, they have a lot of Libertarian social policy prescriptions that liberals naturally hate.

The liberals threw a hysterical shit storm over the book and vilified the authors as “white supremacists”, which was strange, given that the book reported that Asians have, on average, a higher IQ than whites, not something one would normally expect from a “white supremacist”.

Herrnstein passed away, and Murray became a pariah to the left. He works for some right-wing think tank. In about 2011 he wrote a book “Coming Apart”, which I read and is quite good. In that book he bends over backward to avoid discussing race — he makes no mention of anyone other than white people, and the focus of the book was on the growing cultural divide between lower-class and upper-class whites. It is a very useful book to read if you are an upper-class intellectual having difficulty fathoming the mindset of the Trump voter.

Sam Harris is one of the 4 most famous Atheists in the world, he was dubbed one of the “4 Horsemen” of the New Atheists. As an atheist, his job is to criticize religion, and he feels that Islam is one of the most dysfunctional and destructive religions around. 10 years ago, he belonged firmly to the political left, but since then, the left has decided that no one should criticize Islam for any reason, and he’s gotten a lot of flak.

When the Bell Curve came out and the liberal shit storm happened, Harris thought “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. That must be a terrible, maliciously racist book.”. But when he came under criticism from the left, he started seeing parallels between the left’s treatment of Murray and their treatment of himself. He read The Bell Curve for himself, and invited the author, Charles Murray, onto his pod cast and introduced him as “The most misunderstood and unfairly treated intellectual of our time.”.

Vox published an article critical of Harris’s interview. The authors of the article were Eric Turkheimer and Richard E. Nisbett, who are both authorities on the subject of intelligence and particularly the relative influence of genes and environment. They are both very extreme on the environment side, while Murray is very extreme on the genes side.

I have read Nisbett’s book “Intelligence and How to Get It”. I thought it was disingenuous in that it mentioned many ways that environment can influence IQ, but never, ever, brought up a very important point — studies have found that when a child born to dumb parents is adopted and raised by smarter parents (something that happens a lot), when the kid is about 12 years old, the high IQ of the parents rubs off on the kid in a pretty significant way, but as the kid approaches adulthood, their IQ converges on the IQ of the biological parents. So it’s important to distinguish between short-term and long-term effects, which the whole book never even touches on.

I have also read some of Turkheimer’s published papers (he has them all on the web). Prior to him, adoption studies were generally finding that there was very little difference in IQ between kids adopted into homes of different incomes. The problem with this research is that there are very few really bad adoptive homes. Adoptive homes are rarely poverty stricken — they range from solid lower middle-class to upper class, and many researchers found that the difference between the two makes little difference to the kid. Turkheimer’s work establishes that a god awful home can really negatively effect the kid’s IQ. But his papers were dishonest in that they showed a lot of graphs that weren’t plots of experimental data, but rather artist’s depictions showing IQ raising steadily as income raised across the spectrum from poor to rich, which conflicts with everybody’s else’s research on the subject and which Turkheimer’s research did not establish.

Murray, on the other hand, is extremely on the “genes rule the day, environment has little impact” end of things.

So after these two wrote the article critical of Harris’s pod cast, labeling The Bell Curve as “Junk Science” and “pseudo science”. Harris felt that this was extremely unfair, and had an email exchange with Ezra Klein, the editor of Vox about it.

Calling something “Junk Science” and “pseudo science” is very extreme, and I think Harris had a good point. The racial differences described by “The Bell Curve” are facts. While Murray’s position that these differences are genetic in nature is on the extreme side, he is not far from the consensus of psychologists in the field of intelligence testing in this regard. Few rule the possibility out.

So Harris and Klein had an argument over email, and eventually Harris got so annoyed that he put the whole email conversation on the web, which I and a lot of other people felt was not good form.

So now, a year after the Harris/Murray podcast, Harris had Klein on his podcast, which was over 2 hours.

Harris felt that race and IQ was something that people should be able to talk about and have honest disagreements without either side getting vilified. He felt that the search for truth was paramount.

Klein felt that a perception that blacks had lower IQ’s and that the cause of this was genetic is so harmful, and has enormous potential to justify injustice, that it was a pernicious belief and that was the dominant concern. He also felt it was objectionable for privileged whites to be passing judgment on the lack of talent of vulnerable people. And he felt that a scientific discussion of race and IQ should include a lot of discussion of the history of racial injustice.

Harris replied that the history of injustice and the potentially harmful social policies that a perception of genetic racial differences in IQ are irrelevant. To him, the discussion was about science, and he felt that people should be allowed to focus on getting to the truth of the matter.

The claim that discussion of race & IQ should spend a lot of time on history reminds me of when I read Steven Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, which claims to debunk the assertion that IQ varies with race.  Gould spent half the book quoting 19th century white male non-scientists saying racist things, which I felt was totally irrelevant, and I was frustrated that Gould got through the whole book without giving any biological reason why populations that had been isolated long enough to develop obvious genetic cosmetic differences could not also have evolved genetic cognitive differences.

Harris also said that it was counter-intellectual to say that the race of the speaker had any bearing on the truth of a statement.

Klein made several arguments to the effect that The Bell Curve was wrong, but he never denied that truth was not his top priority.

One point Harris made was that the article said that The Bell Curve said blacks were “inferior“, and he objected to that use of the word. Harris pointed out that there was almost no doubt that he personally had a lower IQ than John Von Neuman, one of the brightest minds of the twentieth century. He asked Klein if it was therefore fair to say that Harris was “inferior” to John Von Neuman. Klein really didn’t answer that question.

A couple of times, Harris made the point that he had spoken to well-known, well-respected intelligence researchers who told him, off the record, that they agreed with Murray, but they weren’t willing to say so publicly because they didn’t want to be treated the way Murray had. Klein didn’t have a response to that, and I think that he probably felt that this level of intimidation was a good thing.

Harris made an excellent case that the Vox article was intellectually dishonest, and Klein was pretty clearly of the opinion that the potentially pernicious policy implications of the truth was of more importance than intellectual honesty as an ideal.

There were some points that neither of them mentioned:

    • The dogma that there are no cognitive or behavioral differences between ethnic groups could itself be pernicious, particularly if it is inaccurate. Social policies based on science that is wrong are not going to work very well.
    • Even if there are no genetic differences in IQ between ethnic groups (which I feel is a possibility, but not a strong one), everyone agrees that significant differences currently exist.  And if the cause of the differences is not genetic, we really aren’t sure what it is.  If we can honestly discuss race and IQ, we might be able to identify the cause and fix it.  If we can’t have that discussion, we’ll never identify the cause, and the tactics we employ to fix inequality of outcomes will be the wrong ones and those differences will persist.
    • Even if the causes of the observed differences in IQ are entirely environmental, these differences should have a profound impact on how we should interpret observed differences in outcomes.  Liberals have a habit of citing unequal outcomes as proof of discrimination, but it is well established that differences in talent do exist, regardless of their causes.  Given that differences in talent do exist, perhaps egalitarian efforts would be better invested in eradicating the causes of the talent gap, rather than constantly vilifying whites for discrimination that is not really the driver of differences in outcomes.  This is extremely relevant to charges of discrimination made against STEM fields, which are very meritocratic and where a high IQ is a key ingredient of success.
    • Do the liberals really believe that they can conceal the intelligence gap from everybody? A lot of American students are in integrated schools, and they can tell who is contributing intelligently to class discussion, and they see who is in honors classes and who is in the remedial classes, and they can see whether observed group differences are because of any great injustices being imposed by the school faculty. Isn’t the liberal policy of telling everybody that they are terrible people if they believe their own eyes and ears going to backfire at some point? Isn’t the current state of American politics, where much of the public has become anti-intellectual and revolted against the intellectual leadership of the highly educated, due to the fact that liberals have been indulging in obvious lies?
    • Liberals have been saying, very loudly, that discrimination and historical injustices perpetrated by the whites are responsible for all the suffering of blacks. This is not only an excuse for the poor performance of blacks, it’s also an accusation against the whites. And isn’t the right of the accused to speak in self defense and offer alternative explanations, even in the form of insults, a fundamental human right?

Posted March 29, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

New TV Show ‘American Sloth’   Leave a comment

There’s a popular TV show out, “American Greed”, usually about people who commit crimes to make a lot of money, and all the harm they do.

I propose a new show “American Sloth”, about the millions of lazy Americans who are dragging society down.  Featuring:

  • The teenager who has to repeat 10th grade because she’s on Facebook on her phone for 60 hours a week and completely neglects the rest of her life.
  • The 35 year old man who lives in the attic over his mother’s garage.  He can’t afford to move out, because he’s working part time at a crummy minimum-wage job.  He never gets around to looking for  a better job because he’s watching ESPN for 10 hours a day.
  • The 55 year old man who told his doctor he has “back pain”.  The doctor can’t prove whether he does or doesn’t, but it’s enough to qualify for social security disability insurance and food stamps.  It pays much less than honest work, but it’s enough to survive on and buy weed.  And internet porn is free.
  • The mom who lives with the father of her child and deliberately doesn’t marry him so that she’s technically a “single mom” and, as such, qualifies for welfare.  She works a little, but makes sure she keeps her working hours low enough that it doesn’t jeopardize her benefits.
  • The 27 year old man who’s living in his parent’s basement where he’s been since graduating from college in the liberal arts 5 years ago.  He feels he’s qualified to be a philosopher king, but unfortunately for him, there are very few job openings for philosopher kings in constitutional democracies.  And to tell the truth, with the grades he got, especially in economics, he would suck at it.  He’s achieved the highest rating at World of Warcraft.
  • The wife of a middle class working husband who means to get around to looking for a job someday, once she’s figured out what she wants to do and has caught up on binge-watching all the awesome TV shows on HBO, Netflix, and Showtime.

Posted March 20, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

The Internet is not the Problem   Leave a comment

There is a narrative, particularly among Democrats, that much of American society has been driven insane by the Internet and social media, and particularly, base instincts have been unleashed by the Trump campaign. I think this narrative misses out on how the rise of the alt-right and Trump’s victory represents a backlash against injustices that were previously being perpetrated in the marketplace of ideas.

Prior to the 2016 election, there was a consensus within the more liberal media about what could be said and what could not. This had been worked out over a long time. An ethic had emerged where violating the rules laid down was a sign of low origins and lack of education. So most educated people adhered to these rules, in order to avoid compromising their social standing.

The consensus was designed by leaders in the mainstream media, otherwise known as journalists, who lean left, and academics, who lean strongly left. As a result, the bounds of acceptable discourse favored the left.

Since the early 1990’s, to an ever-increasing extent, the far left has embraced identity politics, a world view where the central core of a person’s being is defined by their group membership by birth, their actual deeds and accomplishments coming second to that. Groups were on a spectrum ranging from “victim” to “privileged”.

“Victim” groups were generally above criticism. This suited the left, because the left wants to see poverty and indeed any indignity to be the consequence of luck, rather than being caused by anything under the control of the individual. So dysfunctional behavior of “victims” could not be discussed. Furthermore, not even dysfunctional behavior of the “privileged” could be discussed, because the speaker would then be accused of “coded racism” or “dog whistle politics”, and really talking about “victims” while only claiming to be talking about the “privileged”.

While “victim” groups were thus above criticism, “privileged” groups were beneath self-defense. Any attempt by a member of a “privileged” group to defend their identity against slander was deemed “white supremacy” or “sexism”, terrible sins. This made it open season for all the “victim” groups to blame all their problems on discrimination by the “privileged”, without any fear of cross-examination.

In the meantime, dysfunction was rampant. The social revolution of the 1960’s/1970’s tore down a lot of social structures that had had positive effects on society. The sexual revolution resulted in widespread incurable STD’s and a rash of out-of-wedlock births. Widespread marijuana use resulted in many people lacking ambition and performing far below their potential, if not leaving the workforce altogether. A lot of lower class people looked to movie actors and rock stars for leadership, those groups often making an art form out of setting the worst possible example.

Thus public debate within the bounds of acceptable discourse, including all debate in the mainstream media and in the academy, strayed further and further from reality, and became more and more abusive to those deemed “privileged”. People were hearing things from the mainstream media and from the academic elites that insulted their intelligence, not to mention that insulted them personally if they were among the “privileged”. Eventually the mainstream media and the universities lost credibility with American whites from the lower classes, who gravitated to the newer right-wing media on cable TV and the Internet.

The biggest miscalculation the left made was that they thought they had the “privileged” outnumbered, so that the “privileged” could be safely outvoted in elections. But it turned out that more white women identified more strongly with “white”, and therefore “privileged”, than as “women”, and therefore “victim”. As one female white Trump voter told me “I don’t think I’ve suffered for being female. I think I’ve gained more than lost from being a woman. And there were other things at stake in 2016.”. So the left had deliberately abused the crap out of the biggest voting block in the country. Not a smart campaign strategy.

The American right is in a mess. The right-wing media they have created are generally very new, and have yet to mature and develop high journalistic standards. The right is following Trump, but he lies so frequently that he’s hard to keep up with. Many right-wing intellectuals went on record as being vehemently opposed to Trump during the primaries and therefore can’t work in his administration.

The left is in worse shape. Prone to interpret anything that violates their cherished and skewed bounds of acceptable discourse as “bigotry”, they seem to feel that the solution to the problem is to somehow re-enforce those bounds, by physical violence in the streets if need be. Most of them have not even accepted that they rightfully lost the election in 2016 or that a very large fraction of the population has legitimate grounds to disagree with them. They jealously guard their space, vigorously censoring debate everywhere within their reach, keeping out the new ideas that they so desperately need if they are to regain touch with reality.

Posted February 19, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

Can we Restore the Pre-Trump Boundaries of Discourse?   Leave a comment

The consensus on the left is that Trump got himself elected by appealing to the basest instincts of white people. He totally violated what had previously been the boundaries of acceptable discourse, and the left argues that the fact that he was elected by majorities of every white sub-demographic shows that American whites are much more bigoted than had been previously believed.

The solution to this, according to the left, is to somehow re-establish the pre-Trump boundaries of acceptable discourse, to put a lid on all of that seething racism. Some on the very far left feel that the solution is to “punch Nazis”, that is, re-establish and enforce the pre-Trump boundaries by rioting any time someone violates them. One problem with “punching Nazis” is that the people who want to do it are so far left that they can’t tell a ‘Nazi’ from the average Romney voter.

The NRA is ready for leftist rioting:

If the left wants violence in the streets, the right is ready for them. The right has more guns, and they know how to use them. “Punching Nazis” is a fast track to fascist Christian theocracy.

A lot of attention was given to a video that went viral a couple of months ago of 100 men marching with tiki torches and chanting Nazi slogans.  This, the left said, was proof the time for free speech was over, and we need to somehow clamp down on all this “rampant white bigotry”.  Bear in mind that 100 men is one out of every 3.3 million Americans.  A phenomenon of the internet is that pretty much any kind of nut cases can find each other, organize, form societies, and demonstrate, as evidenced by the fact that the flat earth society is alive and well when everyone has been seeing photos of the earth from space for 50 years.  Naziism is an utterly discredited philosophy that should not be taken seriously.

What the left completely fails to understand is how unreasonable the pre-Trump boundaries of acceptable discourse were.  The way it was run, the far left had monopoly power to designate any group it desired to be “victim” or “privileged”.  All groups were placed on a spectrum ranging from “victim” to “privileged”, and your place on that spectrum determined your speech rights.  In any conversation about identity politics (and the left dragged identity politics into every imaginable topic), the “victim” was entitled to say anything they wanted, however insulting to the “privileged”, and the “privileged” was allowed to say nothing other than how sorry they were.

“Victim” groups were all to be seen as innocent little angels, no matter  what they did, and none of their problems were to be seen as there own fault — as a matter of fact, all of their problems were to be blamed on the “privileged”.

While all “victim” groups were encouraged to wallow in ethnic pride, the “privileged” were strictly forbidden to like their own ethnicity in any way.  Any attempt by the “privileged” to refute the wanton slander their ethnicity was receiving from the “victims” was interpreted as “white supremacy” and a severe crime.

And our immigration policy was disastrous for low-skilled citizens.  The intellectual elite told them “Unskilled immigrants take only jobs like picking fruit that you don’t want, and anyone who says or thinks otherwise is a stupid ‘bigot'”.  And poorly educated citizens looked around them and saw jobs in construction, landscaping, cooking, waiting tables, and delivering food, jobs those citizens wanted, being filled by Hispanics who were obviously foreign born.  “Don’t believe your lying eyes” the intellectual elite were telling them “and if you do believe your lying eyes, you’re a terrible person“.

Webster’s defines “stereotype” as basically a false rule of thumb about human beings based upon group identity.  So it is impossible for a “stereotype” to be true.  Let’s redefine “stereotype”, for a minute, as something that might or might not be true. Research shows that, for the most part, stereotypes don’t persist unless there is some truth to them. The validity of most stereotypes is in fact upheld by census data, crime statistics, and the like.  But the intellectual elite, through great effort, managed to make themselves vehemently believe that stereotypes were all false, leading to a really, really distorted view of reality.

It got to the point where really intelligent, highly educated people were saying incredibly stupid things whenever they talked about identity politics.  And they linked identity politics to everything, so they were constantly saying incredibly stupid things, about everything.

The intellectual elite thus basically forfeited credibility with about half the US population.  Because of the internet, that half of the US population were able to form a myriad variety of their own news sources, most of them pretty unreliable, but not crazy the same obvious way that those outlets controlled by the intellectual elite were (those outlets being the traditional mainstream non-Fox news media, the entertainment industry, and most of the teaching profession).

Because the left controls so much of the flow of information, everyone, to the left or right, has heard the left’s take on identity politics, over and over and over again.  Everyone understands it.  But half the population rejects it.  The left interprets this, as it interprets all criticism of its view of identity politics, as “bigotry”, which just reinforces the vehemence with which they cling to their paranoid fantasy view of reality.

The pre-Trump boundaries of acceptable discourse were not working for about 100 million voters.  It will be completely politically infeasible, not to mention unconstitutional, to re-impose them.

For the left to regain their credibility, they have to do a combination of two things:

  • Not be so obsessed about identity politics.
  • Allow a 2-sided debate about identity politics, questioning cherished dogmas, and with speech rights based upon two assumptions: firstly, no one should be above criticism, and secondly (and especially) no one should be  beneath self-defense.  That means a sentence that begins with “Excuse me, I’d like to say a few words in defense of the white race …” should be allowed to be completed.

The left is currently in such a state of hysteria about a supposed “wave of hate” sweeping the country, that they are extremely unlikely to consider either of these recommendations.

I am very concerned about global warming.  I think the intellectual elite is right about global warming, but they lack the credibility needed to get the whole population signed up for the needed sacrifices.

The right is in a mess.  Their consensus hasn’t matured, they haven’t really figured out who among them are the smart and reliable people to listen to.  There are some pretty intelligent right-wing news sources, like National Review magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and some right-wing think tanks, but most of the right isn’t tuned in to those sources.

Trump was elected on the basis of a very large set of promises that he has no hope of delivering.  He might not even get the border wall, his number one promise, completed.  He takes dishonesty to a level that is unprecedented in the oval office in living memory.  He is intellectually and temperamentally unfit for the office, and especially unfit to be in charge of nukes.  If we make it to January 2021 without any major cities on the globe being nuked, I’ll be relieved.

Posted December 3, 2017 by xyquarx in Uncategorized