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.

Erdogan’s Game

Billboards the day after the failed Turkish coup– “rule by the people” has been changed to “rule by Allah”.

Its astonishing to me the amount of study lavished on failed western attempts to interpret the Mysterious East (yes, I’m studying Said’s Orientalism).  But a lot of Said’s carefully crafted analysis is wholly applicable to 21st century problems.  For example– the West was gobsmacked to find out the Arab Spring wasn’t really about embracing secular democracy, but more of a muslim revolution embracing representative theocracy.  So I guess I should have been expecting all the Erdogan hatred boiling up across the web– another rejection lol!

Does anyone actually think Erdogan’s plan was to nurture secular democracy in the wake of an assassination attempt and a failed coup?  Secular democracy doesn’t even work well in the richest country in the world.   I am going to offer a simpler and more straight forward explanation of Erdogan’s actions– using game theory and evolutionary theory of culture.  Erdogan’s strategy here is devoted to a single goal– avoiding the Morsi treatment– where a democratically elected president was overthrown by a military dictator who was subsequently unconditionally embraced by all western “pro-democratic” leaders.

In a parliamentary system its quite difficult to degrade the Nash equilibrium into a two-person zerosum game.  But surely Erdogan has been watching the US closely, where the elegant Nash equilibrium the Founders set up has devolved into Sinner v Sinner Tit for Tat, because the republicans began playing 2person-zerosum when Obama was elected.  The advantage to Erdogan of switching to a presidential system is not just consolidating power– a presidential system forces a two party system.  This is what fundamentalists do (Boyer 2001)– burn the middle ground and force moderates to choose a camp.  In Turkey Erdogan’s AKIP will become one of the two–  the secular kemalists will be forced to ally with kurdish separatists and PKK linked “terrorists”.   The turkish military and police have been trained to view the PKK as the major cause of disruption of order– Erdogan is sticking the separatist kurds onto the kemalists.  (Erdogan didnt fight ISIS until he was forced to. ) And Erdogan has been stoking the fires of nationalism and patriotism in a campaign very similiar to Trumps MAGA– using historical references and past glories.

Currently AKIP is larger than the kemalist and kurdish parties combined.  Turkey is 99.3 % muslim– citizens become registered muslims at birth.  The failed coup empowered Erdogan to purge gulenists from executive branch, military, judiciary, and academe.  And then there’s the 2 million syrian (mostly sunni) refugee problem.  Dont look for Erdogan to lose power anytime soon.

I wish Edward Said and Scott Atran could have had long discussions instead of Said and Hitchens.  Surely science is a much better way to get around Orientalism.  And we need to figure it out pretty quickly– muslims are about to be one quarter of the global population.  Its not possible to destroy an idea with bombs, and majority muslim states will inevitably have some form of representative islamic government.  Like Dr. Atran says here:

So which do you prefer?  Erdogan or Baghdadi?

Clash of Civilizations

No, not between Huntington-style Western Civilization and dar ul Islam— this is a story about the clash of sub-populations in the US– about red/blue brain biochemistry hypothesis and political polarization, about emergent systems and artificial systems, about social physics and identity and complex adaptive games.

The current assault by the alt-right on college campuses really isnt about free speech or science (ie Charles Murray Racial IQ Hypothesis).  It is about the continuing impenetrability of academe to conservative ideology, and red/blue neurotype/phenotype hypothesis.  You see, Dear Reader…the coming demographic doom of the GOP isnt the hispanic death cross– its education.

No one is talking about this but it is the most salient point coming out of the 2016 electionsthe correlation of educational attainment with liberal voting patterns.  Shockingly (or maybe not) education seems to be able to affect red/blue hereditary patterns (ie children inherit their parents ideology thru symbolic and behavioral pathways).

So having seized the presidency the right is incapable of understanding why conservative ideology still cant penetrate academe to propagate conservative ideas.  And this is partly why–

Call this divergence, polarization or psuedo-speciation, it all means the same thing.  There is no “common ground” or space for compromise.  The elegant Nash equilibrium the Founders set up has failed, and both sides are playing Sinner v Sinner TFT now.  So we will see more university campuses erupt in violent confrontation going forward.  The conflict isnt about actually about science or free speech– its about trying to seize the controls.

According to my knowledge of JMS/EGT maths (Evolution and the Theory of Games) …the attempt will likely fail.

An evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) is a strategy which, if adopted by a population in a given environment, cannot be invaded by any alternative strategy that is initially rare.

The one thing about the Nash game the Founders built …is the pendulum swings back.  It is likely there will be a dem wave in 2018 and/or 2020.  But what happens when the pendulum sticks, doesn’t swing back?  Thats when we will know the Founders system is truly broken…and my biggest worry for the future.

How I Learned to Love Trump: Aspects of the Trickster God

I am learning to love Donald Trump, his Foreign Policy at least.  And this is why.

In mythology, I love the Hero-Trickster the best.

Coyote (Maii’) is the most contradictory of the Navajo pantheon. He is a shadowy figure that can be funny or fearsome. Coyote is greedy, vain, foolish, cunning and also occasionally displays a degree of power. “In common with Tricksters generally, he serves to test the bounds of possibilities and order”.

Loki of Norse mythology has the same traits.  Generalized malice, chaotic behavior, and doing good works only by accident.

Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes behaves in a malicious manner towards them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, a mare, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman named Þökk (Old Norse ‘thanks’). Loki’s positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr and Loki is eventually bound by Váli with the entrails of one of his sons.

IOW, servants of chaos, disruptors of order…like DJT.

I worked very hard on Obama’s 2012 campaign.  On Obama’s election night someone told me that the victory was “magic in a bottle”– but it turns out to have been poison in a bottle for the rest of the world.  Over the years I watched in horror as Obama amped up droning and bombing and increased weapons sales to tyrants and dictators and military aid to juntas and Israel.  Something I never could understand was his Syria policy– until I read this Tablet Magazine article.  Obama is the servant of order– he tried to re-establish the equilibrium system broken by the Bush’s Folly (OIF) and the Arab Spring uprisings.  Obama’s plan was containment: to turn the Middle East into a giant steel cage death match with all the players locked in a forever conflict, but with Israel and the US watching complacently from the sidelines as weapons brokers.  How delightful to watch all their enemies rip each other to shreds: Assad, Putin, Iran, ISIS, al-Q, other islamic insurgencies, Turkey, Kurds, KSA and the Gulf States, Alawhites, Shia and Sunni, etc.  Too bad about the half million dead civilians and the 12 million syrian refugees though.

America’s settled policy of standing by while half a million Syrians have been killed, millions have become refugees, and large swaths of their country have been reduced to rubble is not a simple “mistake,” as critics like Nicholas D. Kristof and Roger Cohen have lately claimed. Nor is it the product of any deeper-seated American impotence or of Vladimir Putin’s more recent aggressions. Rather, it is a byproduct of America’s overriding desire to clinch a nuclear deal with Iran, which was meant to allow America to permanently remove itself from a war footing with that country and to shed its old allies and entanglements in the Middle East, which might also draw us into war. By allowing Iran and its allies to kill Syrians with impunity, America could demonstrate the corresponding firmness of its resolve to let Iran protect what President Barack Obama called its “equities” in Syria, which are every bit as important to Iran as pallets of cash.

America’s Syria policy can, therefore, be best understood not in the terms most familiar to Mideast analysts, such as “getting Assad to step aside” or “supporting the moderate opposition” or “paving the way to a peaceful transition and elections.” Rather, it is a strategic-communications campaign tightly run from the White House, whose purpose was and is to serve as a smokescreen for an entirely coherent and purposeful policy that comes directly from the president himself, but which he and his aides did not wish to publicly own. The goal of the president and his closest aides is to convince the Iranians that we would meet our commitments to them while confusing and obscuring the real reasons behind the president’s set decision of nonintervention in Syria from American legislators and the public alike.

I would add concealing his purpose from our NATO allies as well, who will suffer enormously from the burgeoning Islamic Diaspora.

In a recent interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon revealed that in 2013, Iran told President Obama that if he were to strike the regime of Bashar Assad following the latter’s chemical-weapons attack, the Iranians would collapse the talks over their nuclear program. Obama canceled the strike, of course, and later reassured Iran that the United States would not touch Assad. Solomon’s reporting confirms a critical fact about Obama’s Iran and Syria policies: They are one and the same. Or, stated differently, Syria is part of the price for the president’s deal with Iran.

For five-and-a-half years, Obama has maintained an unwavering position against intervention on the side of Assad’s enemies in order to set the stage for a U.S. realignment in the Middle East. To shield this ambition from view, and therefore from criticism, the White House launched an elaborate spin campaign whose purpose was to deflect and manage domestic and allied criticism while the president pursued his objective. In partnership with Russia, Obama has directly shaped the course of the Syrian war while single-mindedly working to actualize his vision of a new American alliance with Russia and Iran that will allow America to take a permanent vacation from the Middle East. While the end result of this effort may not be what Obama and his closest advisers hope, his actions are clear, and their consequences now appear to be locked in, no matter who comes after him in the White House.

But because of Trump, I think the policy may no longer be “locked in”.  The generals may ally with Trump– because the ones hes surrounded himself with believe US military power can solve any problem.  And Trump will be able to exploit bombing “ISIS” to raise his dismal popularity polling.  A popular misconception is that Putin wanted Trump to be elected– like everyone, Putin didn’t think Trump could be elected.  Putin wanted to deligitimize US democracy…and Trumps advisors were venal and inexperienced enough to fall into Putins web.  Putin and Obama both viewed Trump as a buffoon.  But he may not be…Trump may be an avatar of the Trickster God, a servant of chaos and a disruptor of order.  Like Nadim Shehadi said– deterrence by uncertainty.  I study complexity, especially non-equilibrium systems, what John Von Neuman called non-elephants…and I love chaos unconditionally.

See the resemblance?

 

Why Heather MacDonald Should Not Speak on Campus

It seems we are having a fresh wave of conservative “scholars” trying to break the Blue Wall of acadame.  Perhaps they see the writing on that wall, lol.  This piece on HeatherMacDonald’s abortive attempt to speak at Claremont is emblematic.

Mac Donald spoke via live-stream to a mostly empty room, as protesters banged on the windows and shouted; police cut the talk short and escorted her out of the building.

Here is a rather whiny piece by MacDonald herself, excoriating faculty members for not forcing her on reluctant students.

Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberty of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.

Sorry, Heather.  You don’t have tenure and never will.  You don’t have tenure because you are not a scientist, and not a professor, and not an academic.  You are a paid shill for a conservative “thinktank”.  But the reason Heather should give up on trying to wedge crackpot conservative ideologies into universities is the internet is forever, as Razib Khan found out.

So anyone that cares to can research the Secular Right blog, where Khan and MacDonald blogged alongside John “Sun People/ Ice People” Derbyshire, and can sample her writings.  Or just google her old postings.  Probably the craziest imho is Heather’s defense of anti-same sex marriage laws because “foo-foo gay weddings caused unmarried black fathers in the ghetto to flee marriage”.  No data, no science, no support for Heather’s wack-a-doodle hypothesis…which is observably both racist and homophobic.

Heather doesnt have a free speech right on campuses that circumscribes the students’ free speech rights to protest her, or the faculty’s tenured right to ignore her.  She can hire an auditorium off campus and sell tickets, pay for her own security and venue.  The reason conservative ideology is rare on campus is its mostly crap.  Conspiracy theory, grievance and victimhood wrapped in a free speech cloak.  University campuses are a place for the excellence of ideas and competitive fitness selection, not conservative propaganda.

So conservatives, here’s my advice.  Get some better ideas, and data and research to back them up– and if you want to be treated like a public intellectual and a social scientist– get a phd in social science instead of political “science”.

You’re welcome.