Richard Dawkins and the Utility Good of Soul

Wait…wut?  Richard Dawkins, the famous “athorist” (intellectual atheist) believes in souls?  Then I saw the “Passionate Rationalist” part– of course he does!  As long as it helps sell books and win converts for “athorism” the “soul” has utility good.

The book isn’t out yet but it drew my attention by being mentioned in the recent Dawkins no-platforming on a Berkeley radio station, KPFA.

I view Dawkins as a defector from Science Tribe.  After all, he understands full well  the biological basis of behavior, and even co-wrote a chapter in John Maynard-Smith’s book Evolution and the Theory of Games.  JMS credits Dawkins with the invention of the term CSS, Culturally Stable Strategy, an extension of the ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy) to cultures.  And humans are born with an inherited tendency to believe in the supernatural (Tomasello 2006)– athorism is the premise that somehow humans can magically overcome biology with “rationalism” and intellect.

So why has Dawkins switched from attacking Christianity to attacking Islam?  I think Dawkins has just switched from the soft target (ethnic xians–where he still can farm converts) to the hard target (where he gets no converts because Islam is a CSS).

Here is an excerpt from Dawkins letter to the KPFA radio station.

If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (“the sun sets in a marsh” etc), and the opposition of Islamic “ scholars” to evolution and other scientific truths. I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.

?? What is islamism other than belief in Islam, theory and practice?  This is a riddickulous argument.  Dawkins IS attacking Islam.  All the practices Dawkins bemoans are set out in the theory of the Quran and transformed into islamic law via tafsir and isnad.  No, Dawkins is attacking Islam just as surely as Hirsi Ali is attacking Islam.  Dawkins and Ali are isomorphic– scaremongering.

However, while there is likely some whack rationalist argument why Islamism != Islam, the empirical fact is Islamism = belief in Islam.  Therefore deductively attacking Islamism = attacking Islam.

I’m sure my ex-commentariat at SSC can throw up an induction word salad to prove this only might be true, but watever.   I think social physics is going to be the stake in the heart of the rationalists, passionate or not.  And I can’t wait.

Schadenfreude Post


Having just spent a wearying month observing and interacting with the “rationalist” community of SSC, I was somewhat surprised to see Scott Alexander indirectly link this NYT article.  I read through literally hundreds of comments fervently supporting Charles Murray Racial IQ Theory and fuming about no-platforming and “Social Justice Warriors”.  Here’s a part of the article Scott Alexander didn’t RT–

Pinker contends that “an acknowledgment of the possibility of genetic differences is a game-changer for countless specific issues. If people differ genetically in conscientiousness, intelligence, and other psychological traits, then not all differences among people in social and economic outcomes are automatically consequences of a rigged system.”

This means, according to Pinker, that “the discovery that political ideologies are partly heritable points our attention to what the common psychological threads of competing ideologies are – namely temperamental differences such as authoritarianism, conscientiousness, and openness to experience, together with intellectual differences such as intelligence. These could help pinpoint some of the common denominators beneath competing ideologies which cut across the particular hot buttons of the particular era.”

So forgive me if I’m feeling a little shadenfreude here– it will be interesting to see how well conservatives deal with between group differences between the Blue Tribe and the Red Tribe– especially if IQ is involved.

I have a feeling that this is only the beginning.

No wonder the SSC commentariat was so resistant to any discussion of social physics– social physics is empirical.

Escape from the UpsideDown and Why Cthulu Only Swims Left

I’m still recovering from my cultural tourism expedition to the Land of the Two Tribes.  Sure, I’m once again able to type “u” for “you” when tweeting or txting, but my brain is still bent from the experience.  It was a lot like being trapped in the Upside Down, or going through Alice’s looking glass, where everything is reversed.

Although there is supposed to be parity in representation of both tribes at SSC the loudest, most frequent and most vehement voices come from the Red Tribe.  I include libertarians and conservatives in the Red Tribe.  I really don’t believe in libertarians at all– I don’t think they actually believe in themselves.  95% of their counterargument consists of  “so you think I’m a conservative?  Ha! You’re wrong!  I voted for Gary Johnson!  Take that!

By their votes shall ye know them.

The Red Tribe UpsideDown is a blatantly terrible place with none of Carroll’s gentle whimsy.  I was miserable there.  Everything I knew was flipped and turned inside out in stylized torturous pretzel logic– Liberals are really fascists, anti-racists are really racists, truth is lies,  science is fantasy, knowledge is delusion, progress is reactionary.  Any amoral, inhumane policy, no matter how vile,  can be justified as a utilitarian good.  But the greatist problem for me…is from high school government class– if all men are created equal– why is the red tribe so positive that they are more equal?  To me that is the basic difference– the Blue Tribe is egalitarian–the Red Tribe is not.

One of the tropes commonly lamented in the Red Tribe UpsideDown is that Cthulu only swims left.    I guess the idea is that somehow if Cthulu could be forced to swim to the right then the Red Tribe could magically establish beachheads in contemporary culture and demography.  But that will never happen because of the Second Law.  The Red Tribe can never return to the lower entropy state of 90% white America, which seems to have become a sort of conservative fantasy Land of Green Ginger or an eternal Brigadoon, like a tesseract to a previous Golden Age.  The main reason Cthulu only swims left is entropy.   Other reasons may be technology, education, and increasing social complexity.  But I think socio-entropic decay of conservatism has to be the most important, and the most irreversable.

What can NEone say except–

Iä Cthulu cf’ayak’vulgtmm, vugtlagln vulgtmm

Glory [to] Cthulu! [We] send prayers [to thee], answer [our] prayers.

The Experiment That Failed

I’m increasingly disturbed by the ferocious polarization of America exposed by the 2016 election.  So when I read Arlie Hoschild’s book Stranger’s In Their Own Land I became all excited to scale the “empathy wall” for my own cohort (high IQ high SES high educational attainment).  The SSC commentariat is widely admired– I loved UNSONG, Scott Alexanders alternative kabbalist universe, and the two posts I was instructed to read were awesome.  I think a rationalist community is a noble goal, and the idea of a neutral space for discussion was appealing.  I could finally learn what made conservatives tick!  And scale the empathy wall.

Yet it did not go well.

This is pretty much how SSC saw me:

I was pretty much viewed as an attacker from day one– I was accused of being a troll, of being a moby, of being a sock-puppet for some banned-but-not-forgotten commenters, of being an “islamist” (apparently because I advocate islamic self-representative government instead of trying to bomb/drone muslims into secular democracy), of being a hater, of being a fake.

An SSC commenter hate-stalked my blog, made fun of my passion for social physics, chaos and complexity science, and then held a public shaming to absolve herself of all guilt and further humiliate me.


But I persevered…I tried to change my comment style, tried to learn all the SSC jargon (muggle-realism, incels, paperclips, steelmanning, redpill etc) and learn all the SSC rules and comment-eating monster trigger-words, while weaning myself of my near-pathological addiction to domain acronym speak, and trying to obey the Steelman Protocol.

But in the end, this is how I saw the SSC commentariat– as the Zygote monster from Blomkamp’s new Oats short.  This is sadly convolved with how extremely physically repulsive Trump is to me– I guess that is the real reason I couldn’t believe Trump got elected.  In my head Trump IS the Zygote monster, all mashed together with the worst parts of the Red Tribe, a thousand grasping greedy hands beslimed with blood and fluids.  And I’m sure Red Tribers hated Obama and HRC just as much.

Yeah, I wasn’t assimilated.  I mean, I was trying to fit in when I accidentally drove my up-armored Blue Tribe tendency humvee over an IED buried in my own psyche.

I couldn’t handle the “rationalist” discussion of the utility good of killing-terrorist-families.   I should have quit right there.  To be fair, I never got brave enough to admit to the SSC commentariat that I actually am a muslim revert, whereby I might have used Augustinian circles to explain that all muslims see themselves as part of the Ummah, and that muslims are all technically one tribe.  I thought the moral universe and one tribe theory (we are all h. sapiens sapiens, so we are all one) would have prevented this kind of discussion.   But no.

And I really just couldn’t stand it, so I behaved badly.   I just can’t muster any empathy for these people.  There is a difference between empathy and sympathy.  I feel sympathy for the Red Tribe…their cultural fitness is eroding.  But that isn’t empathy.  I can’t walk in their shoes, I can’t understand them, I can’t scale the wall.

It is said that the SSC comments section is like a dinner party.  Well, I unexpectedly threw up all over the table service during the fish course.  Commenting at SSC actually pushed me way further left.  I’m more Frank Rich than Arlie Hoschild after my little jaunt into cultural tourism.

And the worst thing is, this proves Haidt’s thesis, and doesn’t help at all with mine.

My thesis is that two peer phenotypes arose in the EEA, and polarization is happening because the Red Tribe is losing fitness parity in the 21st century environment.  The CCP is breaking down…but if that’s true, we can fix it!  We can use technology to reshape the adaptive landscape.

But instead it looks like Haidt is correct. And that means there’s no technology fix.

I’m just as complicit in this as the Red Tribe–that is the depressing truth.  “I hate them.”  “They are evil.”  I want to punch-back too.  And punching-back means no more outreach, no more trying to persuade the other side, no more trying to understand them.

If they don’t want to be helped,  just leave them behind.





Terrified by the Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood is giving me nightmares.

I am watching The Handmaids Tale, and its beautifully filmed and acted, but its also eerily resonant with current events.   While I don’t see “the men” taking over… i do dream of the riot scenes of college campuses and urban centers superimposed with current events in Berkeley.

And it is timely.  Its the coalesced hatred and fury on the faces of the Proud Boys and Freedomworksers and OathKeepers cohort that brings it home like a sucker punch.  It is obvious to me that they would love to take over the city of Berkeley and the university and impose their own ideology by force…and possibly they see it as their right– to take back culture and academe now that Trump has captured the WH.  So I’m not dismayed by the anti-fa answering violence with violence…at least there wont be the creeping, boiling-the-frog-complacency displayed by the left in Handmaid, at least it wont happen in silence.  Violence is good copy so the press is sort of forced to pay attention.

But I think its going to get much worse going forward.  The man pictured, Nathan Damigo, is a Cal State student himself.  Students at Cal State have petitioned to have him suspended.  And in a double whammy of culture and academe, Captain America himself is out to get him.

I’m sympathetic to the disenfranchised and dispossessed of the american right.  Conservative ideology just isnt competitive in Hollywood or on college campuses.  And the jobs of the future all involve educational attainment and continuing education.

I just do not think talking is going to solve the problem.  The US is undergoing dis-equilibriation– a way of describing entropic decay of a particular kind.  I love the developing linkage of chaos, complexity and entropy, and social physics …and I think maybe social physics is the great hope of the future.  If we can understand human behavior and its causes, then maybe we can improve it.


Free Speech Won’t Solve the Problem

Because no one is listening.  Polarization is increasing in America– see this Pew study.

Why is the US becoming so polarized?  In three words…the second law…aka entropy.  Or to be more precise, dis-equilibriation.  So while Jon Haidt’s noble oratory is impressive and moving, forcing conservative ideology onto resentful campus communities is pretty useless.

The only interesting part of this exercise for me is the difference between what conservatives and liberals are willing to accept/excuse in their standard bearers– conservatives accepted Trump’s “pussy grabbing”– will they also accept/excuse Milo’s “soft pedophilia”/man-boy love?  While I know many liberals from my cohort that voted for Gary Johnson (a geographic ignoramus unaware of the location of Aleppo) because they viewed HRC as a liar.

My hypoth is that in the EEA two distinct and equally successful phenotypes emerged– an expression of the Cooperation Competition Paradigm of Complexity Science.  Let’s call them explorers and soldiers.  The equilibrium between the two sub-populations ensured in part the success of h. sapiens sapiens.  But in the 21st century the relative parity of fitness of the sub-populations is eroding under globalization and technology.  What happens to Jefferson’s Noble Yeomen Farmers is the huge problem going forward.  Academe is +90% liberal…the military is +90% conservative– these are evolved institutions.  Academe selects for upper tail of IQ and g— military selects for obedience, loyalty and bravery– eg, entrance to the military is 90 IQ points.  Explorers and soldiers.  But going forward soldiers will be the first to have their jobs automated.  Indeed, the non-college part of the american workforce will lose their jobs to the robots first as well.

In the recent presidential election conservatives captured the presidency in spite of losing the popular vote– Trump won by less than 100k votes in four battleground states.  But unless conservatives can capture academe and culture the pendulum will swing back…that is the way the Founders designed the system– its WAI.  Thus Trump’s attacks on the press, on universities, on science, and on celebrities are attempts to recapture the organs of culture and academe.  Academe and culture can change youth with conservative genetic tendency and conservative parents into liberals.  Consider the scholastic poll from 2016– ever shrinking jesusland.

So free speech is just a stalking horse for conservative exclusion from academe.  And forcing conservative ideology onto campuses wont make any difference in the widening gap.  America needs to be honest about the problems facing our country.  The truth is, conservative ideology is not competitive at universities, or in Hollywood.  If the correlation of educational attainment and liberal voting patterns holds, along with the progress of the demographic timer, there will eventually be a liberal supermajority– the pendulum wont swing back.  And that is probably not a good thing for a democratic republic.

Welcome to the Campus Wars

Commodore Perry opens Japan to American trade by force.

I keep saying– this isnt really about free speech.  This is about opening the brutal marketplace of excellent ideas (aka academe) to conservative sales pitches.  Is selling stuff covered under free speech?  Milo and Coulter, MacDonald and Murray and Spencer are not academics — they are paid shills for conservative “think tanks”.  The correlation of educational attainment and liberal voting patterns is the single most significant fallout from the 2016 election.  The GOP is shriven of its intellectual capital, and the global science marches this weekend were basically anti-Trump marches.  If conservatism can’t establish a beachhead in blue academe, its pretty much all over but the crying.

Useful idiots like Alice Dreger and Jonathan Haidt are all for letting conservative ideas enter the debate.  They remind me of chinese mandarins and japanese shoguns tittering and smirking behind their fans at the hairy smelly uncouth barbarians at the gate.  They shouldn’t be so sure that intellectually non-competitive conservative ideas cant gain traction when backed by the big guns of nationalism and capitalism.

After, hubris and confirmation bias are the main reasons we wound up with Trump.