28 February 2013

They Don’t Want Help

I think I got into social work because I had this idea of it somehow “killing” my ego. It seems silly, but it felt very real at the time. There's a sadness to watching your idealism and convictions go to shit. Not to mention that working in such a thankless and fucked system will kill a sacred part of you. I feel tired. For the most part, people do not want help. They want money or they want drugs or they want death. [Emphasis added.]

The corollary to this would be that most people aren’t interested in the truth.  A lot of people don’t want help; a lot of people don’t want the truth.

A good rule of thumb to extrapolate from this would be to not help anyone unless they specifically ask you to, and to not tell anyone what you believe unless they ask you to.  This sounds heartless, but it is really the best policy because your help and honesty will simply be rebuffed and ignored by those who do not want it, and no amount of wishing, on your end, will change the fact that someone just doesn’t want your help.  Or your opinion.

The Ponzi Life

A Berlin family of three has been living on practically nothing but love and the goodwill of others for more than two years and counting—not as a victims of the rough economy, but as activists who are on a money strike to protest what they call our “excess-consumption society.”

I’m not a fan of the materialism of this modern age; it strikes me as a particularly pernicious form of idolatry.  However, the idea that one need not work to enjoy life is simply stupid and foolish, and in many ways reminds of the Tim Ferriss “Four Hour” lifestyle, of which I wrote the following around a year ago:*

J.W. Black had a post taking on Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week, which I now recall reading roughly eighteen months ago.  I also recall that my main impression of the book was that it was nothing more than hogwash, a Ponzi scheme of sorts.  The reason I concluded this was because a simple question:  What would happen if everyone followed this guy’s advice?  Answer:  everyone would be poor because no one would be producing anything.

It also calls to mind the recent dustup between Mike and Chuck, when Mike encouraged Chuck to find a way to earn money online.  The fundamental problem shared by the Berlin family, Tim Ferriss, and Mike is that none of them are producing anything.  The Berlin family is straight up living off of others’ excess productivity, and Mike is hustling others’ productivity (although his role as a marketer/connector is far more defensible, though), and most of what Ferriss produces can be classified as feel-good bullshit.  He sells a lifestyle that few can attain.

And the reason that few can attain this lifestyle is because production is necessary to economic success.  An economy fails when it stops producing tangible goods that people need (especially if those goods are related to food, shelter, and clothes).  Now, it is certainly true that an economy needs more than producers; distributors and marketers play a key role as well.  But the value of distributors and marketers, for example, are entirely contingent on the value of producers.  Without production, distributors and marketers are completely worthless, as they have no product.  Thus, the notion that all, most, or even a decent number of people can live without money, or make decent money online via an affiliates program, or whatever bullshit Ferriss peddles is simply not true because none of these can escape the very simple law of diminishing returns, and none of these can escape the fact that they are contingent on someone else’s productive capital.

The success fallacy is clear in these examples, for those who succeed believe that their success was inevitable (in the sense that it clearly happened) and is therefore replicable.  The simple fact of the matter is that one person’s ability to succeed is highly dependent on a magnitude of variables, the vast majority of which one simply does not have control over.  Time and chance does indeed happen to everyone.  Not only that, the laws of economics and markets win out in the end, and so all men are subject to diminishing marginal returns and market saturation.  There is thus no point in trying to perfectly imitate a man’s success because it is impossible.  Perhaps you could attain some degree of another’s success, but this is not guaranteed, and so it is wise to take another’s job/career/money advice with a grain or two of salt.

* From an unpublished blog post titled, “An Economy of Tim Ferrisses,” originally written January 17, 2012.

To Answer a Question

Two things I've heard a lot about today are the benefits of preschool for the parents of the kids enrolled, and the endless debate over Head Start. These turn out to be linked, however. That's because Head Start turns out to be lousy preschool, but pretty impressive child care.

It turns out, as I had initially suspected, that the answer is yes.  It looks like I’m right again.

Porn Queen

Miss Delaware Teen USA has resigned after allegations that a porn video of her has surfaced on the internet.
Though previously denying any such video existed, Melissa King, 18, officially gave up her crown today.
A spokesperson for the Miss Teen USA pageant released a statement saying: 'I would like to confirm the Miss Delaware Teen USA pageant has received a resignation letter from Miss King’s attorney.'
The video is believed to have been shot some time in June 2012. At the beginning of the video, a girl in a purple patterned dress who looks very like Melissa sits on a bed and answers questions from the man behind the camera.

It seems pretty clear that Melissa King is the girl in the porn video.  And I think it’s pretty clear that porn has gone about as mainstream as it can go.  Girls are now shooting porn simply to get some extra cash, and think nothing of putting their bodies on display for the rest of the world to see (though this should be expected from pageant participants).  What was once shamefully deviant transformed into “an alternative,” and will likely become a rite of passage.

In keeping with the above assertion, there is a fairly new type of porn genre that relates to college experiences.  The basic setup is that college students can earn cash if they film themselves having sex on camera.  By far the two most common subgenres are sorority hazing parties and coed college parties.  College kids think nothing of making orgiastic gonzo sex tapes and selling them to internet sites for viewing.  What’s intriguing is that the girls in these videos look like your average college girls, albeit on the prettier end of the spectrum (most of the girls performing on camera are in the 7-9 range, though there is the occasional 6; 5s and under, when they appear, have the good sense to remain clothed).

All of this points to something I wrote a while ago:

The girls who go into porn today do so basically because they enjoy sex and want to get paid for it.
 Or, to state it another way, porn used to be for women with serious psych problems. Now it’s for sluts.
 And really, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that seemingly normal girls go into porn these days. Between birth control, feminism, and the increasing sexualization of society, porn has evolved from a last chance for extremely damaged women into a semi-legitimate career path. And so, as porn becomes normalized within the culture, expect “normal” girls to become more prevalent in the industry.

As much as I hate to say it, it looks like I’m right.

27 February 2013

Bad Science?

More research is necessary, but this has the smell of being worthless:

But new research, published yesterday in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests what mom and dad think isn’t the endgame when it comes to shaping a person’s political identity. Ideological differences between partisans may reflect distinct neural processes, and they can predict who’s right and who’s left of center with 82.9 percent accuracy, outperforming the “your parents pick your party” model. It also out-predicts another neural model based on differences in brain structure, which distinguishes liberals from conservatives with 71.6 percent accuracy.
The study matched publicly available party registration records with the names of 82 American participants whose risk-taking behavior during a gambling experiment was monitored by brain scans. The researchers found that liberals and conservatives don’t differ in the risks they do or don’t take, but their brain activity does vary while they’re making decisions.

First off, this is a very small sample size, and the rate of accuracy relative to sample size is not particularly comforting, nor is it necessarily indicative of scalable replicability.

Second, the claims of the study are tautological, in that left-right beliefs are assumed to have perfect correlation with party affiliation.  This may or may not be the case.  Anyway, this would make the data useless, as the conclusion is inherently tautological, especially if the definition of left and right is redefined to make the model more reliable.  This would make the “research” essentially masturbatory.

Finally, trying to make a practical distinction between a conservative and a liberal is pointless anyways since they are both statists, and both want to increase federal power.  Thus, at best this research will only be able to tell what sort of big government someone wants based on neural structure.  But if both liberals and conservatives want bigger government, than I can’t say that I see the point in distinguishing between the two.

I note that they didn’t identify any libertarians in this study.  I bet it’s because they didn’t get Aspies.

The Last Breaths of a Dying Hamster

The poor hamsters are just about to die from exhaustion:

Santa Marino professor of sociology Maxine Wielding believes that society has taught men that only young and skinny women are attractive.  This discourages them from mingling with women in their 30s and 40s.  “Men have been trained not to recognize the beauty that more mature women offer,” she said.  “Take Jennifer Aniston who remains a beautiful woman inside and out.”

Yeah, it’s not society that teaches men that young and skinny women are attractive.  It’s called biology, and the lessons start shortly after birth.

Also, citing Jennifer Aniston as a beautiful older woman is dumb because most women on dating sites for cougars aren’t as hot as Jennifer Aniston.  For crying out loud, most women in general are not as hot as Jennifer Aniston.

If you talk to most local women, however, you find that most are at their best.  “I am way hotter than I was when I was 25 because I am so much more confident,” said Jenn Beckerman, 36.  “I'm in better shape than when I was 21 because I do yoga everyday,” said Fawn Calloway, 42.

Here’s the thing:  confidence is not actual as helpful to childbirth as, say, youth and health, which is why men are more likely to find youth and markers of health (like thinness) to be more attractive than confidence.  Of course, “confidence” really means “treating people like shit,” which women find attractive in men, but men don’t find attractive in women, unless they have some freaky fetishes.

Of course, yoga (and the attendant pants) may actually help a woman be hotter at 42 than at 21, but only if the woman was fatter and just didn’t care about herself when she was younger.  This could be true in this one instance, but most women who tell themselves this are lying.

Wielding hopes that Match.com and other dating websites will begin using their profits to educate men that older women can be beautiful, too.  “Men need a guiding hand so that they can see that all of these wonderful women in their 30s and 40s have life experience as well as beauty,” she said.  One solution that Wielding supports: federal legislation to require matching-making websites to devote a percentage of revenues to dating education for male participants.  “The internet gives us a rich and cost-effective palette to reach the minds of single men,” she said.

Let me translate this: “Men need a guiding hand lobotomy and/or brain-washing so that they can see that all of these wonderful old, carousel-riding women in their 30s and 40s have (lots and lots of) life sexual experience as well as beauty plastic surgery.”  That’s better.

My favorite part, though, is the assertion that the federal government needs to pay for reeducation camps to brainwash men into popping a boner for this instead of this. The federal government is powerful, but it’s not that powerful.

Capitalism in Action

Keep in mind that “capitalism” is defined as, “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.”

And then read this story:

Small as it might sound, 0.8 percentage point makes a big difference. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.
The top five banks -- JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. - - account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits (see tables for data on individual banks). In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry -- with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy -- would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.
Neither bank executives nor shareholders have much incentive to change the situation. On the contrary, the financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy. The result is a bloated financial sector and recurring credit gluts. Left unchecked, the superbanks could ultimately require bailouts that exceed the government’s resources. Picture a meltdown in which the Treasury is helpless to step in as it did in 2008 and 2009.

Whatever this is, it’s not the free market, and it’s not capitalism.  It might be a form of soft socialism, or fascism.  Personally, it appears to be nothing more than a somewhat abstract form of feudalism. At any rate, it’s not capitalism.

This may seem like stating the obvious, but sometimes it helpful to make this point to OWS types, assuming they still exist.  I have still heard from some people in RL that the current economic collapse is a consequence of capitalism.  There are still some leftist economists spewing this nonsense (Thoma and Krugman come to mind, in addition to your average Marxist), so it seems to me that it’s useful to point out that the unholy alliance between state corruption and corporate interests is not, by the standard definition of the word, capitalism.

It’s just not.

Tax Flight

The notion of tax flight “is almost entirely bogus — it’s a myth,” said Jon Shure, director of state fiscal studies at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research group in Washington. “The anecdotal coverage makes it seem like people are leaving in droves because of high taxes. They’re not. There are a lot of low-tax states, and you don’t see millionaires flocking there.”

And yet, increasing nominal tax rates doesn’t always lead to revenue increases, and often leads to decreases.  So maybe the lesson to be learned is that “tax flight” doesn’t refer to people leaving, but to capital leaving.  Or maybe the official statistics are just lies propagated by conservatives and libertarians who, as we all know, control the federal government and mainstream media.

A Sterile Culture

No one has died from drinking raw milk in the United States in 50 years. Go ahead, Google it. And then Google the Swiss study of 16,000 children (Gabriela study) that revealed that children who drink raw milk are 48% less likely to have problems with allergies and asthma than those who are raised without it. Think about those numbers. How much would American mothers pay for a pill that reduced the chances of their children having these serious health problems by 50%? The drug companies would kill to have a drug like that.
There are 7 billion people on the planet, most of them raised on raw milk, yet the article quoted someone as saying, "Raw milk is one of the most dangerous foods in existence." Oh, come on. The CDC reported three years ago that 3% of all the people in the U.S. drink raw milk at least once a month. That would be about 10 million people. The CDC says only 200 people per year are made ill by raw milk.
If CDC researchers have time on their hands to publish reports, why don't they explain how we developed an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and asthma in the past 20 years while they were carefully watching over us? And tell us where all this gluten intolerance is coming from? And what happens to the 24 million pounds of antibiotics Big Ag puts into our food supply every year? And why are we now spending 18% of our entire economy on health care?

The American culture has become increasingly sterile.  Seemingly few people eat raw fruits and vegetables, or even cook with them.  The average supermarket dedicates far more space to highly processed frankenfood that has been zapped of its nutritional content (only to have nutrition chemically readmitted) than to real, fresh food.

Hand sanitizer—used to kill of bacteria, natch—is a popular accessory, and everyone and their mom has OCD about washing their hands every time they might possibly come into contact with the slightest hint of a germ.  Kids are discouraged from playing in the dirt and mud, and instead have super-clean indoor play rooms where they can play in a sterile* environment.

The crusade against raw milk continues in the grand tradition of assuming that nature is out to kill you.  You can’t simply cook and eat meat directly, you must first pasteurize it and process it.  You shouldn’t eat fresh fruits and veggies for they are covered in dirt, bugs, and even germs.  Don’t play in the sun because it will give you cancer.  Despite the fact that humans have lived on the earth for thousands (or, if you prefer, millions) of years, many people seem to believe that untreated natural things are the deadliest things ever, and therefore you should avoid fresh food, untreated milk, and direct sunlight.  How did our ancestors ever survive nature?

This push for sterility manifests itself in a lot of ways, but it would that the most obvious manifestation of sterility is the fact that Americans are literally becoming sterile.  Or are at least having fewer children.  When a nation accepts the sterile, antiseptic tenets of modernity, it cannot help but die off.  And truly, there is a no more fitting end.

* Of course, being cooped up indoor actually puts you at more risk for illness because it’s actually more difficult to escape aerial bacteria and viruses since they can’t disperse. But I digress.

The Sickness of Equality

Given all the money we’re spending on truancy officers, online credit recovery, counselors [sic] to spot missing transcripts just to push kids through to a diploma, we might just want to consider teaching low ability kids less at a slower pace and stop pretending that they have a “deficit” that can be addressed by college level work and high expectations. We could create a hell of a curriculum for high school kids using nothing more than 8th grade math and vocabulary.
But we won’t do that for the same reason we won’t track, and for the same reason that adminstrators [sic] are spending a fortune coaxing kids back to school: namely, the racial distribution would make everyone wince.

It is observably true that people are not equal in any materialist sense.  We each have different skills, interests, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.  We care about different things, to differing degrees.  We have different limitations.  The sick conceit of equality is that this observable reality is but a lie that the privileged tell the lower class to keep them in their place.

The truth, though, is that we are all different.  We all have different abilities.  Acting like all people would end up the same if they just had the same opportunities (which they never well, no matter how hard anyone tries) is simply evil.  For, by acting like everyone has the exact same abilities and limits, egalitarians push those who are less talented to go beyond their limits.  In so doing, those who are less talented end up squandering what little talent they have.

Music Sales and IP

The record business might actually be on a bit of an upswing, if two new studies are any indication. According to the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, global music revenues rose .3 percent last year, to about $16.5 billion. That change might seem kind of piddling, but it's the first genuine upward movement since 1999. The same study also says that subscription service use is up, with about 20 million people (Out of 7 billion, but who’s counting?) paying regularly to stream music online.

A couple of thoughts jump out.  First, the uptick in music sales might be due to streaming subscriptions.  The report was poorly laid out and not particularly informative.

Second, there might not even be an uptick at all.  A lot of data is necessary for precision when dealing with numbers this large, and a 0.3% uptick could just be noise (no pun intended).

Third, such a minor uptick isn’t really much to brag about.  Perhaps copyright enforcement is helping, but I tend to doubt it.  My guess is that streaming is more responsible.

Also, I wonder how much of the uptick in sales is simply due to a larger supply of music.  The number of music artists seems to increase year over year, so perhaps this minor uptick in sales simply represents a massive increase in music supply.  If there was a massive increase in music supply, then the subsequent minute increase in sales should indicate that the market is reaching saturation.

In another study released this week, the NPD Group (whatever that is) found that music file sharing declined “significantly” in the past year, with only 11 percent of Internet users above the age of 13 seeking out music illegally online. That’s down from 13 percent in 2011 and a peak of 20 percent in 2006. The amount of music that's actually available for illegal download also declined by about 26 percent, thanks in part to the shutdown of services like MegaUpload and the industry’s crackdown on sites like Mediafire.

This seems to be where IP enforcement, for better or worse, is making a difference.  I don’t know if I would accept the narrative that copyright enforcement is mostly responsible for the decline in piracy.  For starters, there are alternative ways to pirate music.  One need not rely on the main sites, especially since Google tends to be helpful in finding alternatives torrent channels.

Additionally, the increasing amount of internet bandwidth makes it easier to stream music on YouTube instead of pirating to store on your local drive.  Some might pirate less music simply because it’s easy to find on free streaming sites like YouTube.  Since YouTube offers playlist capabilities, one need not even have a local media player.

Also, the music market is likely approaching saturation.  Not all pirated music is relatively new (i.e. produced in the last ten years or so).  As such, you would expect a lot of popular old stuff, like the Beatles or Bowie, to have diminishing piracy returns as people don’t feel compelled to download them over and over again. If you download “Space Oddity” in 2007, you don’t really need to keep doing so each year after that.

Plus, there are ways to pirate music without going online (flash drives, CDs, other similar media), and ways of file sharing that don’t require a web browser, so maybe an increasing amount file sharing is not being reflected in the general statistics.

My point is not that copyright enforcement doesn’t make a difference, or that streaming isn’t making a difference.  My point is that reality is more complicated than a couple of reports make it appear.  Thus, there is not necessarily any reason to, say, dump a bunch of money into investing in streaming services.  Nor would there necessarily be any reason to view IP enforcement as an effective policy.  We need to know more before can say whether the current state of affairs is meaningful, and whether streaming and copyright enforcement are really making that big a difference in music sales.

On Scientism, Data, and Scientists


Steve Sailer discussed priming a couple of weeks ago, and linked to an article that noted some of the problems facing the science of psychology:

At the same time, psychology has been beset with scandal and doubt. Formerly high-flying researchers like Diederik Stapel, Marc Hauser, and Dirk Smeesters saw their careers implode after allegations that they had cooked their results and managed to slip them past the supposedly watchful eyes of peer reviewers. Psychology isn't the only field with fakers, but it has its share. Plus there's the so-called file-drawer problem, that is, the tendency for researchers to publish their singular successes and ignore their multiple failures, making a fluke look like a breakthrough. Fairly or not, social psychologists are perceived to be less rigorous in their methods, generally not replicating their own or one another's work, instead pressing on toward the next headline-making outcome. [Emphasis added.]

Some scientific disciplines are certainly more reliable than others (eg. physics vs. psychology), and some disciplines can’t even be considered reliable at all because they cannot falsified (eg. evolutionary psychology or “theoretical” anything).  In light of this, it’s incredibly helpful to view any claim that, “science shows X to be true” with a suspicious eye.

In the first place, a lot of press releases made by scientists don’t actually follow the scientific method (archaeology seems to be especially guilty of this, because discovering an artifact is not anywhere close to being the same as forming and testing a hypothesis); they simply post a theory (not the same as a hypothesis, by the way), and don’t bother to test it.

In the second place, a lot of scientists don’t bother to replicate their tests.  This seems prevalent in psychology, but in the health and medicine field as well (particularly in regards to the health benefits of certain foods and supplements).

This isn’t to say that scientists never test and replicate their theories, only that there are a decent number of occasions when they do not.  The lack of rigor, though, makes Scientism is a foolish belief system, because not all scientific disciplines, or even scientists, are equal, and it is therefore ludicrous to place the complete trust in all the various scientific disciplines.  It is even ludicrous to place as much trust in psychology as in neurology, or as much trust in biology as in physics.

Furthermore, bad science can be quite profitable.  When a science release uses lots of scary imagery to sell its findings, or when a scientific press release seems to have findings convenient to the needs of a political advocacy group, or if a scientific press release sounds suspiciously similar to a marketing campaign, you can be pretty sure that whatever research was conducted was done so for profit, and not necessarily the pursuit of truth or better understanding the world in which we leave.  Like religion, science has its own cult of believers and adherents.  And, like religion, science has its share of phonies and fakes whose only interest in science is exploiting the naiveté and ignorance of believers for personal gain.


Perhaps the reason why adherents to scientism are so susceptible to being duped by disingenuous researchers masquerading as scientists is because most adherents are likely a) disingenuous as well and b) not as intelligent as they would like to think.

Regarding the former, it’s intriguing to note that, in the US especially, there are a large number of scientists and, tellingly, research institutes.  These cost money.  Most scientists and RIs have to justify their existence and need for funds, and so every last one of them must come up with cutting-edge or novel research to justify further funding.  As such, science by press release becomes almost a necessity since RIs need people to be aware of their existence and necessity.  Thus, research can be rushed or not double-checked (or theoretical), and thus a lot of bad science goes mainstream because a lot of scientists would rather have cushy jobs at a research institute instead of teach school, work at a pharmacy, or other more menial, degrading labor.

Regarding the latter, there seems to be an over-supply of scientists, as evidenced by their high unemployment rate.  This would suggest, as Vox points out, that most scientists don’t have a basic grasp of the very simple economic law of supply and demand.  If they can’t figure this out, then perhaps it would be a bit much to expect them to be able to tell whether a press release from a research institute is bullshit or not.

At any rate, most scientists do not appear to be as intelligent as they perhaps believe themselves to be.  In fact, adherents to scientism are likely quite stupid because their simplistic faith in science, which in turns causes them to be quite arrogant, is indicative of a foolish and ignorant mind.  Those who have ever bothered to deeply study a specific scientific discipline, or even epistemology, are inclined to acknowledge their ignorance far more than their knowledge.  It is the truly knowledgeable who are most aware of their ignorance and the limits of their knowledge, and only fools place their faith in knowledge.


The fundamental matter of science is data.  Where adherents of scientism go wrong is believing that data is somehow objective and intrinsically meaningful.  It is not.

In the first place, while the content of data may be objective, its selection and definition is inherently arbitrary (see here, here, and here for more).  Or, as mathbabe put it:  “Don’t be fooled by the mathematical imprimatur: behind every model and every data set is a political process that chose that data and built that model and defined success for that model.”

In the second place, there are limits to data.  As David Brooks noted, data struggles with social, it struggles with context, creates bigger haystacks, can’t handle big problems well, has a tendency to favor the memetic, and obscures values.  It also has a hard time handling small problems (especially when the data appears to have no pattern to it). Further, data cannot provide a value judgment since value judgments are intrinsically subjective.

When all is said and done, data is not nearly as useful or as meaningful as most science fetishists imagine.  It appears that data is sometimes used to rationalize predetermined policies or, worse yet, obscure reality.  Sometimes it’s just irrelevant (like CPI) to its intended use.  Trusting in science because it relies on objective data is shallow and misguided, and, frankly, false.

In Conclusion

Science, as a method of acquiring knowledge, is a wonderful tool for understanding the world.  The knowledge that the scientific method provides is often useful and certain.  However, most of what is passed off as science is actually just “science.”  There are many charlatans who pay lip service to the scientific method, and then pass their decidedly less-than-rigorous research off as science, leaving science fetishists, many of whom are shallow and foolish, to believe press releases that are often later proven to be false, misleading, irrelevant, or highly contextual.

As a result, many people have rightly come to distrust that which is passed off as science, while others have doubled-down in their beliefs.  This has caused quite a divide, and prevents people from see the world as it is.  When science is completely riddled with lies and irrelevancies, real science gets lumped in with and likewise tuned out.  Alternatively, those who are dedicated to the cause of science get duped into believing nonsense spouted by charlatans, feeding into a tribalist mentality.  The result is that you have one group of people ignoring legitimate science because they view all science as bullshit, while another group of people constantly mocks and belittles the doubters while not realizing that most (not all) of that which is proclaimed in the name of science is actually bullshit.

Truth be told, though, scientists have only themselves to blame.  Scientists were supposed to be the gatekeepers of knowledge, but they were corrupted by power and money.  This is why anthropogenic global warming still has credence in a lot places while theories of gene-based human biodiversity remains ignored (and studying the latter would likely have more measurable benefits, particularly in the field of health and medicine).  Because of the corruption of scientists, Science now has a bad name, and fetishists are busy having a pissing match with agnostics.

The irony in all of this how that which is passed off as science has become increasingly useless while its fetishists have become more bold and shrill in proclaiming science’s near-universal ubiquity.  Consequently, this means that science was far more useful when everyone understood its limits.  By trying to make science explain everything, it is no longer capable of explaining anything.  In order for science to be useful again, its adherents need to accept and understand its limits.  Once that happens, agnostics will trust science more, and the debates over science will become more meaningful and less rancorous.  In the meantime, though, the self-abasement of scientists and fetishists remains amusing.  Too bad it won’t end well.

08 February 2013

Reaping the Whirlwind

The “intimate partner violence” category is a new addition to the Yale lexicon; the framework did not appear in Spangler’s February 2012 report. The Yale website defines the allegation as “the actual or threatened physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse of an individual by someone with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship.  Often, that relationship is sexual, but not always–IPV can take place between roommates, for example.” That Yale is now conflating sexual assault–probably the most serious violent crime other than murder or attempted murder–with “threatened . . . economic abuse” of a roommate (what, exactly, is “economic abuse”?) shows just how far off the rails the Yale procedure has gone.

So why is this new framework necessary?  Here’s a clue:

There is clearly a radical sexual agenda at work at Yale today. Professors and administrators who came of age during the sexual revolution are busily indoctrinating students into a culture of promiscuity. In fact, hosting of a campus “Sex Week”—a festival of sleaze, porn, and debauchery, dressed up as sex education. I encountered this tawdry tradition as an undergrad, and my book documents the events of Sex Week, including the screening in classrooms of hard-core pornography and the giving of permission to sex toy manufacturers and porn production companies to market their products to students.
In one classroom, a porn star stripped down to bare breasts, attached pinching and binding devices to herself as a lesson in sadomasochism, and led a student around the room in handcuffs. On other occasions, female students competed in a porn star look-alike contest judged by a male porn producer, and a porn film showing a woman bound and beaten was screened in the context of “instruction” on how students might engage in relationships of their own.
And again, these things happened with the full knowledge and approval of Yale’s senior administrators.

There’s a reason why a lot of cultures have tended to put the kibosh on orgiastic sexual excess, especially among young people:  it’s fucking disastrous.  Apparently the wisdom of the ancients wasn’t enough for modern American intellectuals at Yale, and so they encouraged their students to engage in as many debauched, depraved, animalistic expressions of sexual desire they could think of.  And now they find that this has made life more difficult for young people, and made relationships more complex, less secure, and more subject to abuse, which they are now trying to rectify by changing their school code to rein in the excesses and abuses that naturally result from encouraging such sexual promiscuity and license.  It is profoundly ironic that those who have promoted such sexual license are now resorting to such draconian measures of control.  Licentiousness yields to totalitarianism, and students, having now acquired a taste for unrestrained hedonism, will not readily submit to constraints.  Pandora’s box, once opened, cannot be shut again.

Too Clever By Half

Continuing in my theme that economists are both autistic and stupid:

Assume that a restaurant has N dishes on its menu that are rated from worst to best, 1 to N (according to your personal preferences). You, however, don't know the ratings of the dishes, and when you try a new dish, all you learn is whether it is the best (highest rated) dish you have tried so far, or not. Each time you eat a meal at the restaurant you either order a new dish or you order the best dish you have tried so far. Your goal is to maximize the average total ratings of the dishes you eat in M meals (where M is less than or equal to N).
The average total ratings in a sequence of meals that includes n "new" dishes and b "best so far" dishes can be no higher than the average total ratings in the sequence having all n "new" dishes followed by all b "best so far" dishes. Thus a successful strategy requires you to order some number of new dishes and thereafter only order the best dish so far. The problem then reduces to the following:
Given N (dishes on the menu) and M <= N (meals to be eaten at the restaurant), how many new dishes D should you try before switching to ordering the best of them for all the remaining (M–D) meals, in order to maximize the average total ratings of the dishes consumed?

Now, I realize that this problem exists more as a form of intellectual masturbation than as a serious question, but it is nonetheless indicative of the fundamental problems of the modern form of economic analysis.  In the first place, it assumes that human preferences are fixed and unchanging.  In the second place, it assumes that the end result is the only thing that has value.

For example, no dish is the “best” dish, for “best” is merely a term of value, and is only indicative of a subjective value preference.  Furthermore, subjective value preferences are fluid and subject to change.  What dish is the best on one occasion may not be the best on a different occasion, simply because what you want changes over time.  If you go into a restaurant on Monday and order their best burger, and go back Wednesday and order a chicken sandwich, you may find that you prefer the chicken to the burger on Wednesday simply because you were tired of burgers.  The idea that one food option is always and forever is the best thing to eat is patently ludicrous.  It’s almost as if these guys forget about the law of diminishing returns, which is literally a freshman concept.  And yet their model is predicated on a false assumption that is not reflected in either the real world, or even the academic world.

Additionally, this analysis ignores alternative forms of value.  When someone goes to a restaurant, one is not merely purchasing a meal, but service an atmosphere as well.  One could also desire a little variety to their meals.  As such, evaluating simply the content of the meal to find the best is short-sighted simply because it ignores that one component of every restaurant meal is the service, which varies by shift, not by dish. Also, those who desire variety will find that no one meal is the best simply because, as noted before, appetites and subjective values change.

At any rate, it’s no wonder that a lot of economists seem like over-educated morons.  In their attempts to dazzle one another with their mathematical brilliance and technical proficiency, they often end up with mathematical models that do not reflect the real word and are often coldly inhuman.  Now wonder their theories are worthless: they’re based on a world that (thankfully) doesn’t exist.

Maybe I’m Right After All

A while ago I theorized that:

The Laffer curve suggests that there is a revenue-optimal tax rate between 0% and 100%. Where this specific point is for federal revenue is unknown, but history suggests that revenue will not generally exceed 20% of GDP, and that optimal tax rates generally tend to be below 50%. My personal opinion is that, assuming a highly simplified tax code (one or two collection points and few to zero loopholes), the optimal tax rate will be in the low to mid twenty percent range.

When Congress was considering raising the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 28 percent in 1986, the Congressional Budget Office advised Congress that this would increase the revenue received from that tax. But the Congressional Budget Office was wrong, not simply about the amount of the tax revenue increase, but about the fact that the capital gains tax revenue actually fell.

So, when a tax rate was raised from 20% to 28%, revenue from that tax decreased.  This moderate upward adjustment in rate led to a revenue decline, and serves as anecdotal evidence that my theory that the optimal tax rate is in the low to mid twenty percent range is probably correct.  Of course, standard caveats apply:  this is just one example; this example may not be indicative of other taxes;  more proof is needed.

Still, if this anecdotal is proof of anything, it is interesting to note that tax cuts may actually do double duty, in that it makes economic recovery more feasible by reducing people’s tax burdens while also reducing the budget deficit.  Given the dual benefits of decreasing nominal tax rates, I fully expect congress to raise taxes even higher.

Recession Medicine

A Louisiana supermarket was forced to yank its low-cost milk special after state auditors objected to the price.
Fresh Markets in Perkins Rowe was selling milk for $2.99 a gallon as part of a weekly promotion deal, but Louisiana requires that retailer markups be at least 6 percent above invoice and shipping costs, The Advocate reports.

Higher milk prices are good for combatting a recessions because, if nothing else, they ensure that workers will have higher aggregate wages, which will enable them to purchase higher-priced milk.

A Response to Dalrock

I’ve apparently been called out by Dalrock.  Since he was one of the first Manospherians I started reading (in addition to Vox, Roissy, and Hawaiian Libertarian), though I’ve since stopped, I thought it would be fitting to at least respond to his criticism of my writing.

It isn’t clear who or what he is referring to here, but that is the point.  All I can tell is he is referring to Christian married (or divorced) men in the manosphere.  In a baffling denial of the modern feminist movement, Simon places the bulk of the blame for the rebellion of women on the common man:

I mention no one by name precisely because I checked out of that corner of the manosphere about eighteen or so months ago.  The general impression I was left with was that there is a strong tendency for that segment of men to blame women for every problem the world has ever seen.  This is slightly hyperbolic, of course, but a good-faith reading of what I wrote should indicate as such.  As the esteemed proprietor of this blog (note: this phraseology is tongue-in-cheek), I certainly have the license to use non-literal language in writing, and readers have the license to misunderstand me.

I also freely admit that my impression about that particular corner of the manosphere could be completely wrong.  But then, that merely begs the question of why Dalrock thought I was talking about him when I was describing a group as nominally Christian MRAs who complain a lot.  Which of those shoes does he think fits him?  And if the answer is none, why does he feel the need to defend himself?  He’s not under attack, at least by his own admission.  (And if those shoes don’t fit anybody, then why mount any defense at all?  No one is being attacked, and all that’s happening is a crazy guy is tilting at proverbial windmills.  Note: this is also a possibility in this instance.)

As Cane Caldo points out in his excellent post Advocates Under Authority, the OT similarly only offers enhanced moral protection for women who are under submission to a man.  The idea that the mass of modern women in feminist rebellion are in submission to either a father or husband is truly laughable.

Here’s another alternative mode of thought that may or may not be correct.  (I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of months, but have not yet come to a solid conclusion.  Apologies in advance if this seems incomplete or hare-brained.)

While I certainly agree that feminism, as a macro-sociological movement encompassing a large number of men and women alike in Western society is certainly rebellious, at least in the sense of striving against God’s created order, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all members of the movement are likewise rebellious.  It could be that some members of the feminist movement are merely gullible.

An argument can be made that this was the case with Eve’s original sin.  When God asked Eve why she ate of the fruit, she replied, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  If her intent was to show Adam that she was independent woman who need him telling her what to do, her response would have been along the lines of, “Adam’s stupid, and I thought I didn’t need to obey his stupid rules.”  Of course, this argument assumes that Eve was being honest in her response to God, and that she also truly understood her motivation for her behavior.  Either implicit assumption could be wrong, and the bible is not definitive either way, so my theological argument remains strictly a matter of opinion, and could be wrong, and is certainly subject to revision.

Another point worth making is that a woman who is not in submission to a father or husband (a sad state indeed) is not necessarily in rebellion to male authority.  It may be that a woman’s submissive desires are being improperly channeled.  This would generally be the case with girls who have “daddy issues.”  While some girls with daddy issues act out of rebellion, a good number of girls with daddy issues (at least in my experience) act like sluts because they are seeking a substitute father.  In this case, women are seeking to fulfill their desire to submit, but are going about it wrong-headedly.  The reasons for this are legion, and would require a post unto itself to list.  Nonetheless, this is an observable phenomenon, and perhaps worthy of further consideration.

At any rate, it would be important to remember that what motivates a group member is not necessarily the same thing that motivates a group leader.  Thus, it is possible that feminism can be a rebellious movement while some of its members do not share in its rebellious spirit.

Nevertheless, Simon has doubled down on this idea that God holds men primarily accountable for the rebellion of women in his second post in the series, I Will Not Punish Your Daughters When They Commit Harlotry.

This assertion is simply the by-product of poor reading comprehension.  The first assertion of that particular post was that, in the days of Hosea, God allowed the women of Israel were able to play the harlot with relative impunity because the men were unfaithful to God in that they worshipped false idols (let me know if my interpretation of Hosea 4 is incorrect).  This is not even remotely the same as asserting that God was generically punishing men because women disobeyed God.  How Dalrock managed to confuse the two is beyond me, and is indicative of sloppy thinking and poor reading skills.

My second assertion was that 21st America resembles the days of Hosea in that women generally act like sluts and don’t appear to suffer negative consequences, relatively speaking.  This seems fairly self-evident, since women are the recipients of lots of government protections, guarantees, legislation, funds, etc. that all promise women that if worse comes to worse, Uncle Sam will pay their bills and make sure that no ex-husband can take their children away from them.  The worst thing that happens to modern sluts tend to be STDs and turning into cat ladies.  Since, historically, the more common consequences of slutting it up tended to be social ostracism, abandonment, or even death, a treatable disease and spending a couple decades with cats instead of a man seems rather pleasant.  Again, relatively speaking.  Thus, my second assertion is generally valid, in that a comparison can be made, and that it is approximately similar.

Here was my conclusion, “I would suggest that, as in the days of Hosea, the reason why women are essentially getting away with being whores is due to men being unfaithful to God.”  Astute readers will note the phrase, “I would suggest…”  This phrase was not accidental; it was intentional.  I did not assert that my argument was conclusive; it was merely a suggestion.  People can certainly disagree with my analysis, and I won’t blame them if they do.  This was simply a suggestion, and possibly a useful suggestion at that.

Nowhere do I claim that it is definitively the case that women today get away with being sluts because men are too busy worshiping idols to be faithful to God.  I merely suggested that this may be the case, and presented an argument in its favor.  Paul, in Romans 15, stated, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning.”  We should consider Old Testament examples and see if there is anything we can learn from them. Perhaps the message of Hosea is applicable to us today; perhaps it is not.  But let’s at least consider the possibility.

Simon also discovered a scriptural defense of Man up and marry those sluts!

While my aside was tongue-in-cheek (“I note, not without some degree of amusement…” should have been a tip off), Dalrock’s rejoinder is simply hand-waving.  God told Hosea to marry a prostitute.  Ergo, there is at least one occasion in which God expected a man to do his God-given duty and marry whore.  This would kind of indicate that the assertion that God would never expect a man to marry a whore is false.  It would be more correct to assert that God does not generally require men to marry whores, but on occasion he does.

Given this logic I can only assume that we should look forward to a future post by Simon Grey explaining to pro lifers that “God does occasionally instruct parents to kill their children“.

Well, God did command Abraham to kill Isaac.  He also commanded King Saul to kill infants.  It is theologically flippant to act as if God would never require an action that we might personally find distasteful or counter to our own notions of morality.  God is the creator and we are the created. We must obey his rules, whatever they are, even if we don’t understand why he gives the command.  If God commands someone to marry a prostitute, he had better do it.  If God commands a man to offer his only son as a sacrifice, he had better do it.  If God commands a king to kill a bunch of infants, he had better do it.  God’s game, God’s rules.  If you don’t like God’s rules, tough shit.

(For clarification, not every rule that God has laid down exist for everyone in perpetuity.  The commands given to Hosea, Saul, and Abraham have clearly limited scope, and therefore do not apply to us generally.  However, it is both ignorant and arrogant to act is if our current understanding of God-given morality is always and forever the proper understanding of God-given morality, and that God is bound by our conception and understanding of his will.)

If men like Simon Grey and Samson’s Jawbone have insight to share with other married Christian men, I call on them to share it and stop the passive aggressive sniping.

A word of clarification is in order.  This is my blog, and I fill it with the content I see fit.  I am under no obligation to anybody, not even Dalrock.  I don’t have to share anything with anyone.  I write what I want, publish it when I want, and do so for my own reasons.  I am not obligated in any way to my audience, such as it is.

If you read my blog and find what I have to say to be helpful to you, then more power to you.  If you read my blog and don’t find what I have to say to be helpful, then more power to you as well; you can always refrain from reading it.  And if my thoughts, as written down on my blog, appear to be nothing more than metaphorical steaming piles of excrement coming from the deranged mind of a high-functioning lunatic, well, then, that’s not really my problem.

There is a mass of human suffering out there and pompous claims of “I’m better than those other Christian husbands” won’t do anyone any good, men, women, or children.

If I’ve made the claim that, “I’m better than those other Christian husbands,” let me know and I’ll retract it.  Elsewise, take down your straw man and kindly refrain from mischaracterizing my words.