Red Brain, Blue Brain, Old Brain, New Brain : Part I

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I agree with @jack — this is a great article.  But alas –he got 3k replies basically calling him a “cuck” when he said it.  The article discusses partisan polarization on two axes, class and energy economics.

Energy.

America today faces a similar juncture around fundamentally incompatible energy systems. The red states held by the Republicans are deeply entrenched in carbon-based energy systems like coal and oil. They consequently deny the science of climate change, are trying to resuscitate the dying coal industry, and recently have begun to open up coastal waters to oil drilling.

The blue states held by the Democrats are increasingly shifting to clean energy like solar and installing policies that wean the energy system off carbon. In the era of climate change, with the mounting pressure of increased natural disasters, something must give. We can’t have one step forward, one step back every time an administration changes. One side or the other has to win.

Class. 

Another driver on the road to civil war is when two classes become fundamentally at odds. This usually takes some form of rich versus poor, the wealthy and the people, the 1 percent and the 99 percent. The system gets so skewed toward those at the top that the majority at the bottom rises up and power shifts.

Today’s conservative Republicans face the same risk. Since 1980, their policies have engorged the rich while flatlining the incomes of the majority of Americans, from the presidency of Ronald Reagan through to last December’s tax overhaul, which ultimately bestows 83 percent of the benefits over time to the top 1 percent. Make no mistake: A reckoning with not just Trump, but conservatism, is coming.

There is no way forward without collapse.  If we consider the IPD the Republicans have become the Player of AllD all the time.  This is obvious when evangelicals give Trump repeat mulligans on his grotesque sexual exploits, serial lies, flip-flops, hypocrisy, etc.  Republicans stand alongside neo-nazis and white supremacists and HBD political “scientists”.  Democratic norms have failed in congress.  Reciprocity has devolved into pure retaliation.

Trump or something like him was inevitable.  The minority demographic is clinging to power with dirty tricks, cheats, and exploits.  But the right has little choice.  I don’t know for sure what will happen– a gradual 15 year takeover like California, a sci-fi split into Jesusland and the Rim States, a “hot” civil war like 1860, a putsch by the minority sub-population.  But I can tell you what WON’T happen– a return to the 88% white demographics of Reagan’s time.

I was talking to a friend in Australia and he made this remark:

Just yesterday I was digesting the fact that in a lifetime, Australia went from very “Anglo-Celtic”, to a country with over 100 immigrant nationalities within it, and it helps me to grasp that a similar but bigger thing happened to America.

Heres my response:

i’ve been thinking about this too…both US and Oz still have continuing immigration and near zero emmigration, because they are superior places to live… Also the minority demographics have greater TFR than the white euro original stock. US is never going to return to 88% white, like Reagan times. white conservative-tendency forces are fighting trench warfare in the US. Social physics, demographic and cultural evolution, technology are shaping an environment much more favorable to diverse liberal-tendency brains.
its the destabilization of the CCP in a changing environment– now for a short span conservative-tendency (authoritarianism, rule following, lack of educational attainment and absence of intellectual curiousity, loyalty, etc) has achieved a fitness benefit, but that is not the sole cause of trumps election.
The good middle class jobs (capable of supporting a decent SES) of the 21st century will be coders and data scientists– the analogy of the manufacturing jobs in the mid 20th century.
the environment is changing faster– in Cochrans book The 10,000 Year Explosion the invention of agriculture changed the environment in the scale of thousands of years– the industrial revolution changed the environment in the scale of 100s of years– now the internet is changing the environment in the scale of 10s of years– and in this century we will still have to deal with the imminent cambrian explosions in robotics and machine learning, potential climate events, and emergent wars.
I think return to steady state becomes increasingly difficult (impossible) with time scale collapse.

Time dilation imposed by the internet is what I see as the greatest factor.  There is no time to gradually adjust to rapid change.  Leyden/Texeria also talk about two cultures.

Culture.

Two different political cultures already at odds through different political ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews can get trapped in a polarizing process that increasingly undermines compromise. They see the world through different lenses, consume different media, and literally live in different places. They start to misunderstand the other side, then start to misrepresent them, and eventually make them the enemy. The opportunity for compromise is then lost. This is where America is today.

Where Leyden/Texeira falter imho, is their assumption that red and blue cultures are somehow peer and static.  I disagree.  Culture doesn’t shape society as much as society shapes culture according to its needs.  In a country with a diverse population and citizen votes, culture evolves to mirror the population.  In the US, academe, hollywood, urbanites, tech giants, literature, popular music and youth voters are pretty much all painted blue.   Cultural evolution is constantly happening.  But conservative culture just isn’t cool anymore– you can’t get to cooltown on the conservative express.  A recent episode of Silicon Valley was built around the premise that christian is the only offensive identity in tech world.

And Leyden/Texeira didn’t even begin to explore the biology of culture and political affiliation.  Afterall, Culture is Biology.

Apolos.  This has gotten far too long, and I haven’t even begun to address Red/Blue Brain Biochemistry Hypothesis, machine learning, complexity, the CCP, population genetics, Cultural Brain Hypothesis and social physics.

To be Continued.

 

Conor Friedersdorf Is No One’s Friend

Looks harmless doesn’t he?

Over the weekend Conor Friedersdorf wrote this extremely verbose long form piece (which thankfully will only be read by perhaps 1% of America) on why the Atlantic was wrong to fire Kevin Williamson, the “Hang ’em High” messiah of anti-abortion RW fanatics.

I really have to quit Ken White @popehat– he keeps exposing me to horrific crapology like this.   Friedersdorf is the perfect examplar of what is wrong with the right.  Just because Allahpundit, Patterico, Iowahawk, Frum, Will, Douthat, etc have run from Trump like scalded cats doesn’t absolve them from partial responsibility for Trump’s election.  Neither does it make them your friends.  In its purest form this kind of “tolerance” of RW eumemes leads to what I call the Ann Coulter argument: that abortion doctors get murdered because liberals have left anti-abortionists with no other recourse than murder.  This also the core argument (although much diluted with the “milk of human kindness”) of Alice Dreger, NA Christakis, Jon Haidt, Scott Alexander and David Brooks.

For years the rightist intelligentsia has been pandering to the GOP base– whispering sweet nothings into their ears like, you are entitled to your own beliefs, and all ideas are created equal while all facts are not.  Friedersdorf proposes the new mantra of the soi-disant moderates– even if RW ideology is pure unmitigated and dangerous crap, it deserves respect.  What we are seeing, in congress at least as a microcosm, is the breakdown of normative democracy.   I wrote about it here, Constitutional Hardball and the Calculus of Selfishness.  The last time socio-cultural norms broke down in this country we had a civil war.

Now I do not know what will happen– perhaps a civil war, perhaps a putsch by the minority party, or even a scifi separation into Jesusland and the Rim States— but I can tell you what will never happen– a return to a 90% white electorate.  There are a lot of reasons for this including cultural evolution and demographic evolution and social physics and advancing technology.  But the rightist intellectuals have simply never had the nads to explain this inexorable and intransigent fact to their base.  IPOF, they are stone-cowards terrified of the very humans they claim to represent.  I think it shows a profound lack of respect for their base.  Or maybe just deep pragmatism– that Red/Blue Brain Hypothesis is true and redbrains are just less intelligent.

Much Like Julian Assange, Roseanne Barr is Not Your Friend

So I still read witty lawyer Ken White ( @popehat ) in spite of his unfortunate tendency to RT the oldskool conservative soi-disant “intelligentsia” like @Allahpundit (who once gleefully RTd “gorilla arms” tweets about Michelle Obama).  Personally I don’t see any big diff between Allahpundit and Gatewaypundit but I guess Allahpundit gets a pass from Ken because of professional courtesy– he’s a lawyer.

I wrote about Julian Assange here— but I do not get why Ken would ponder about Roseanne’s loon aspect being exposed– she really did vote Trump IRL– she is an Israeli-nazi.  Roseanne won’t talk about Greater Israel on her sitcom– she will talk about jobs and the economy.  Ever since Roseanne has had a twitter account she has been passionately pro-Israel.

Roseanne is just as stealthy as Ricky Vaughn or Spotted Toad— she isn’t going to tell you her real reason for secretly supporting Trump– it’s because Trump whole-heartedly supports the ethnic cleansing of muslim/Palestinians in Israeli claimed territory.  Huffpo on Vaughn:

But his desire ― or need ― to be all things to all racists no longer worked. The opportunism that gave him mass appeal when the far-right was unified during the Trump campaign and for several months after the election also spelled his doom after last summer’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The deadly rally was a disaster for the alt-right. The infighting began soon after. And Ricky Vaughn was a target.

“That same strategy of one foot in the mainstream camp and one foot in the white nationalist camp didn’t hold up after Charlottesville,” Hankes from the SPLC said. “You saw him getting attacked pretty viciously by the hard right in the post-Charlottesville moment where a large part of the alt-right was black-pilled (i.e. soured) on Trump. That mainstream strategy kind of crumbled and ruined his credibility.”

He was too soft, many other white nationalists said. Too much of a sellout. Many denounced him. But Ricky Vaughn kept fighting for relevance. A month ago, in the debut of his own “Ricky Vaughncast” podcast, he described his new approach, which was softer even still. He felt the alt-right should move away from trying to publicly convert people to white nationalism with brute-force propaganda and instead seduce them secretly in private.

lol– caveat emptor.

Roseanne is going to feed Trump’s base the same MAGA/jobs/BS that Trump fed them…but her covert agenda is Greater Israel.

I guess its true, we always become what we most despise.  Roseanne has become a nazi.

 

Still Looking for Mr. Goodbar

“A New Prophet” lol– posing for the part.

I just don’t get why Scott Alexander is so ummm… “respected” by the twitterati… the guy seems profoundly clueless and incredibly dense.  eg, if you make a safe space for racist and/or misogynist and/or homophobic and/or xenophobic speech obviously the racists, misogynists, homophobes and xenophobes will only become MOAR openly phobic and entrenched in their views.  Alexander is basically removing the social capital penalty for those kinds of anti-social behaviors enforced by the cultural evolution of US society.  So Alexander (much like his fellow traveler David Brooks) is not offering any kind of solution to our current socio-cultural woes.  “Respecting” the redtribe won’t increase their permeability to reason and science.  This seems like such a failure to grasp basic social physics and biology of belief research that I find it difficult to believe Alexander is as credentialed as he claims to be.  I too wanted to understand the schism between red and blue so I made a doomed effort to comment at the Cult of SSC for a couple of months.  My conclusion is that the red/grey tribe is neither understandable or persuadable– we are simply not the same.

So that’s why I find Alexander’s latest enraptured embrace of Jordan Petersen so hilarious, in a comedie noir semi-tragic fashion, of course.   Petersen reminds me of a slick scientology proselytizer more than anything ( without the Xenu), but Alexander is apparently head over heels about him, comparing him favorably to CS Lewis.

Twelve Rules isn’t another such thinkpiece. The thinkpieces are people pointing out a gap. Twelve Rules is an attempt to fill it. This isn’t unprecedented – there are always a handful of cult leaders and ideologues making vague promises. But if you join the cult leaders you become a cultist, and if you join the ideologues you become the kind of person Eric Hoffer warned you about. Twelve Rules is something that could, in theory, work for intact human beings. It’s really impressive.

And so learning that Jordan Peterson, who in his off-hours injects pharmaceutical-grade meaning into thousands of disillusioned young people men (ed. correction– there is no indication that Peterson appeals to young women in any sort of numbers)– learning that even he doesn’t have much he can do except listen and try to help people organize their narrative – is really calming and helpful.

I agree with Nathan Robinson here.

Jordan Peterson’s popularity is the sign of a deeply impoverished political and intellectual landscape… if you want to appear very profound and convince people to take you seriously, but have nothing of value to say, there is a tried and tested method. First, take some extremely obvious platitude or truism. Make sure it actually does contain some insight, though it can be rather vague. Something like “if you’re too conciliatory, you will sometimes get taken advantage of” or “many moral values are similar across human societies.” Then, try to restate your platitude using as many words as possible, as unintelligibly as possible, while never repeating yourself exactly. Use highly technical language drawn from many different academic disciplines, so that no one person will ever have adequate training to fully evaluate your work. Construct elaborate theories with many parts. Draw diagrams. Use italics liberally to indicate that you are using words in a highly specific and idiosyncratic sense. Never say anything too specific, and if you do, qualify it heavily so that you can always insist you meant the opposite. Then evangelize: speak as confidently as possible, as if you are sharing God’s own truth. Accept no criticisms: insist that any skeptic has either misinterpreted you or has actually already admitted that you are correct. Talk as much as possible and listen as little as possible. Follow these steps, and your success will be assured. (It does help if you are male and Caucasian.)

I wrote about this here when someone suggested Ann Coulter as an exemplar of a new public intellectual of the red/grey tribe– the right is engaged in a desperate search for appealing spokesmen and leadership– the old guard of conservative intellectuals have all left the building.

Alexander is still metaphorically looking for Mr. Goodbar.  Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a 20th century novel–  a psychological thriller about a young woman’s obsessive search for the agent of her own death.  Now I’m not saying embracing Petersen as a champion of the red/grey axis would cause Scott Alexander’s actual death…just the metaphorical death of the GOP.  And I would argue that the GOP has already found its Mr. Goodbar in Donald Trump, the overwhelming choice of the base.  I just cant wait for the slasher finale, where Trump grinds the red tribe /grey tribe coalition into lamb patties.  I don’t think Petersen’s infinite series of platitudes and cliches is going to hold much value in the post-Trump apocalyptic landscape of the future.

Scott Alexander and Murderism

I must admit I’m feeling a little shadenfruedish over the SSC/Critical Affairs dust-up.  I was a commenter at SSC when Alexander wrote Against Murderism— and I completely didn’t understand it.  It made no sense.  It was explained to me by another commenter as “Scott trying to make the blue tribe be nicer to the red tribe.”  I think that’s accurrate.   So seeing Alexander revealed as a delicate snowflake pleading for a return to his previous relative obscurity is just delicious poetic justice.

3. Nobody is under any obligation to comply with this, but if you want to encourage this blog to continue to exist, I request not to be cited in major national newspapers. I realize it’s meant well, and I appreciate the honor, but I’ve gotten a few more real-life threats than I’m entirely comfortable with, and I would prefer decreased publicity for now.

Of course the twitterati are going are to point and laugh when Scott defends Ann Coulter followers while confessing he has never actually read Ann Coulter.

I have lived a sufficiently blessed life never to have actually heard or read Ann Coulter.

Really.  Perhaps Scott should read some Coulter.  It has been suggested to me that since conservative public intellectuals have left the party over Trump, that Coulter is one of the new “intellectuals”  leading conservative thought.  And then Scott aligns himself with David Brooks , one of the biggest punchlines in contemporary punditry.

The biggest problem I have with Alexander and his tribe of soi-disant “rationalists” is that they arent.  Are not rational, that is. They are rationalizers, like Dr. Church says in this Edge interview.

I don’t know if you’ve read The Righteous Mind, but Jon Haidt makes the point that even people who consider themselves very rational are not using a rational argument when making decisions. They’re making decisions and then using the rational argument to rationalize. A lot of what he says sounds obvious once you restate it, but I found the way he says it and backs it up with social science research very illuminating, if not compelling.

The elephant, as he refers to it, the thing that’s making your decisions in your life, is deciding that this person is telling you that you’re responsible for something you don’t feel responsible for. It’s telling you that you have to sacrifice many things that you don’t want to sacrifice. From your viewpoint, that person is inconvenient, incorrect, and you’re going to ignore them. The more they insult you and your way of life, the less you’re going to listen to them, and then you’re going to make a bunch of rationalizations about that. This is why we have problems.

I have a good friend who is a self-declared conservative, he’s a brilliant guy, respected in his field and community.  But when I asked him what he wanted from liberals, he said (and I quote), “We want you to respect us, even when we are wrong.”  I pointed out that I cannot respect someone that denies science and reality– because that is how we get fake news.

I do not think “respecting” the red tribe is going to solve school shootings or racism.  It isnt solving anything in Congress.  Racism is a pushback against cultural and demographic evolution in the contemporary US, and rejecting racism is part of the destruction of the norms and taboos that glue our society together.  “Respecting” racists won’t solve any problems– its just rejecting the norm that racism is Bad.

The Gone World

So, I read it in five hours– it reads like a screenplay and I literally couldn’t put it down. Its fantastic.  I totally forgave the artist’s liberties taken with q-physics– the application of closed-form timecurves and quantum foam are radically different from anything I learned in class.  But here’s the Goodreads synopsis.

I have to admit one of the things I’m most excited about is the eventual movie and the fact that Neil Blomkamp is in charge.   Usually the movie can never be better than the book.  I mean, I love Stranger Things (there is no book) but the unassailable fact that Netflix brutally butchered Altered Carbon initially filled me with trepidation, when I first read about the Netflix/Fox involvement.

I truly can’t wait to see Esperance modelled in the Unity engine.  Maybe we are entering a new era when the theatrical production can actually be better than the book?  And the crowd-funded effort for Firebase — Vietnam era scifi is as timely and relevent as District 9 was to apartheid South Africa.

Not everything is horrible.  I know I sound like that some of the time– but Blomkamp and Oates Studio are a wonderful beautiful shaping event in cultural and technological evolution– the leading edge of the waveform.

 

A Clapback at Christopher LeBron and Boston Review

I loved LeBron’s classy clapback at Laura Ingraham and FOX.  Hashtag “WeWillNotShutUpandDribble”.  So when one of my mentors used this Boston Review hit piece to validate his reluctance to see Marvel’s Black Panther movie, which I view as a shaping event in cultural evolution, I thought I’d write a small clapback of my own on why the BP film is so important.  To begin with, the title– “Black Panther is Not the Movie We Deserve”– lol, what entitlement– “We” don’t “deserve” anything.

the Boston Review piece–

The change that the movie supposedly heralds is black empowerment to effectively challenge racist narratives.

???? WTH? where is that coming from?  Maybe I’m compromised because I have read and cherished the comix from the Ta-Nehisi Coates reboot, but one of the (many) major themes is terrorism.  Killmonger is a terrorist.  Chris Lebron moaning about how Killmonger isnt Loki is just spectacularly irrelevant.

From 2016: TNC’s own words about the reboot.

WIRED: What’s your take on the politics of Wakanda?

TNC: Wakanda is the most advanced nation on earth—in certain renditions of Black Panther, these guys came up with a cure for cancer—and yet it has the most primitive form of governance on the planet: absolute monarchy. The one case an absolute monarch can make is “I keep the people safe.” What happens in a country where that’s no longer true? How do the people feel about that? That’s the story we’re telling.