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.

Polarization, Charles Murray and the Evolutionary Theory of Games

I think the interwebs dont really understand what is happening with the anti-Charles Murray protests that are sweeping campuses across the country.

From this otherwise excellent article by PHarden–

 

 

“Is there any academic more widely reviled by mainstream social scientists than Murray?”

People have forgotten that Murray is a paid think-tank “scholar” and strictly speaking NOT an academic.  Nor is Murray a social scientist– he is a political scientist.  So actual social scientists certainly have the right to critique him.  And I think students have every right to exercise their free speech rights against him.

Universities are supposed to be bastions of freedom of speech and ideas.  To conservatives this presents as a deliberate banning of conservative ideology.  But it is actually darwinian selection for merit in academe coupled with rejection of outgroup memes.  Conservative ideology fails with liberals, because it simply doesnt appeal to them, and thus it has no scientific validity.  I have no problem with stating facts: academy is painted blue.  Why is this?  I think its largely because universities select for IQ which correlates with factors of blue brain biochemistry (exploration, SES, educational attainment of parents, etc).

AEI was deliberately constructed to present an alternative to perceived liberal academe, much as the Breitbart organization started out as Big Hollywood in 2009, an attempt to “take back” Hollywood from liberal “bias” .  It is not, and never will be, a university.

As increasing polarization in America divides americans into two camps we can observe increasing radicalization on both sides of the debate fueled by social media.  On twitter for example accusations of “Red Guards” or “Torquemadas” leveled against liberal university students and professors protesting Murray are becoming as common as accusations of “Nazi ” or “Brownshirt” against campus Republicans and the tiny cohort of conservative geneticists and political scientists.  If we simply consider US universities as Culturally Stable Strategies that evolved over hundreds of years by selection for IQ, EGT and Social Network Theory predict that conservative ideology will never penetrate.

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.

So according to John Maynard-Smith conservative ideology and conservative researchers, scientists, and professors cant make much headway in penetrating the CSS of liberal universities.

The big reveal post-election is the correlation of educational attainment and liberal voting patterns.  Much has been written about the supposed “liberal bias” of academe– very little has been said about the voting patterns of the election and how they project into the future.  The GOP is facing a double whammy of demographic doom– from the hispanic deathcross and from the correlation of liberal voting patterns with educational attainment.  How did we get here?

The Founders set up their version of a Nash equilibrium in the US constitutional republic– its really very clever.

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium is a solution concept of a non-cooperative game involving two or more players in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his or her own strategy.

But the US equilibrium system began to fail in 2008, with the election of Barack Obama, and the first ringing of the demographic timer.  In 2008 (for the first time) white kids under five became a minority.  Republicans began to play a two-person zero-sum game against democrats in congress– a profound change in strategy culminating in the refusal to honor Obama’s SCOTUS appointments in his final term.

But the US equilibrium system is not just challenged by demographic disparity, but also by economic disparity.  Jobs and SES in the 21st century are increasingly dependent on college educations.  Currently 70% of US pop has no college degree, but there are 20 million or so new college freshman every year.

So what happens to a large non-equilibrium system (or as my beloved John Von Neuman termed it, a “non-elephant”) ?  It becomes vulnerable to sandpile collapse, according to another hero of mine, Per Bak.  This is observably happening in MENA, and in the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, and in the French Revolution.  Indeed, in America Trump’s election is a sort of the Postman Always Rings Twice avalanche– the first avalanche being Sarah Palin’s insane popularity with the GOP base– a populist avalanche.

Again, there is no certainty that US will undergo full collapse– currently the Founders’ protections against an elected demogogue seem be holding– the constitution is WAI.  But is collapse such a bad thing?  Collapse brings emergence of new forms.  Collapse brings chaos and self-organizing criticality.  Collapse brings new scales of complexity.

I personally think liberal democracy is a Terrible Lie.

Maybe we can do better.