Icky

So my disastrous (and short-lived) tenure at SSC wasn’t ALL their fault– I charged in there brimming with enthusiasm for my attempt to replicate Arlie Hoschild’s experiment in empathy.  I really should have studied the rationalist community first, I had terrible sampling error and bias.

But my biggest fail is that I wasn’t honest with them.  Consider this exchange.

At this point I was trying to reform my comment style to conform to community standards, so I tried to steelman the argument that O’Keefe was not a trusted source or a journo, but a propagandist.  What I really should have said is, “yes, James O’Keefe IS icky”.  And Donald Trump is icky, Ann Coulter is icky, Charles Murray is icky, Richard Spencer is icky, Heather MacDonald is icky, Milo Yianoppoulis is icky, Kid Rock is icky and Steve Sailor is icky.  These guys are all icky.

What I mean by icky is I have a visceral reaction of revulsion, based on the combined e-history and visuals of these individuals.  I think there has to be a biological component to cause such a strong emotional reaction.   I wonder, do the right rationalists have a comparable visceral reaction to feminists, LGBT, antifa, Obama, Katy Perry, Hillary Clinton, SJWs?  Why are Red Tribe standard bearers so physically unattactive (old, creepy, gross, slimy)?  Does their lack of physical appeal sort incels and channers into the Red Tribe?  Why are all the valorized standard-bearers of the Red Tribe so physically and ideologically unappealing?

I learned a lot at SSC, and I understand myself a lot better.  I get that rationalism, BURGT (Bayesian Utility Rationalist Game Theory) and pure utility theory allow the construction of defenses of any possible human ideology/actions.  But I now think that rationalism is useless without moral theory.  I think philosophy is useless without the public sphere (Arendt).  The perfect exemplar of this would be Donald Trump’s behavior over Charlottesville.  It is rational, given the make-up of his base, but it is amoral, given the make-up of the country.

Nazis are icky.  White supremacists are icky.  And given the amount of SSC comments mirroring Trump’s “both sides do it equally–antifa is even worse” eumeme, there is a lot of support in the rationalist community for Trump’s position.  So this is what Scott Alexander has built– a coven for rational witches.  I heard a lot of argument about the Blue Tribe having equal representation at SSC, but its not equal in volume– liberal tendency commenters pretty much get shouted down– this is what we should expect given conservative tendency traits.

This is a really perceptive article, The Eternal Struggle.  It is one of the two things I read that made me excited about commenting at SSC, the other being UNSONG.  In Struggle Alexander speaks to the cultural evolution that has stranded the Red Tribe outside of traditional institutions and normative standards, and the formation of alternative media bubbles and the burgeoning Red Tribe hatred of academic communities.

Scott Alexander:

“Look. I read Twitter. I know the sorts of complaints people have about this blog. I’m some kind of crypto-conservative, I’m a traitor to liberalism, I’m too quick to sell out under the guise of “compromise”. And I understand the sentiment. I write a lot about how we shouldn’t get our enemies fired lest they try to fire us, how we shouldn’t get our enemies’ campus speakers disinvited lest they try to disinvite ours, how we shouldn’t use deceit and hyperbole to push our policies lest our enemies try to push theirs the same way. And people very reasonably ask – hey, I notice my side kind of controls all of this stuff, the situation is actually asymmetrical, they have no way of retaliating, maybe we should just grind our enemies beneath our boots this one time.”

But what Scott Alexander has done with SSC is just to form another coven.  Its pandering, and I hate pandering. Its disrespectful.  The answer to the disequilibriation of the conservative/liberal Cooperation/Competition Paradigm isn’t to pretend it isnt happening– it is to acknowledge WHY and seek solutions.   Liberals aren’t grinding conservatives beneath our boots– cultural evolution and technological progress are.  When one tribe is gaining reps (replications) and the other isn’t the eventual outcome is pretty certain.

I get the intent of SSC– a place for rational discussion between the two tribes.  But the tribes are no longer persuadable.  SSC has just devolved into rationalizing non-competitive Red Tribe ideology and giving cover to Trump.  The two tribes are diverging– and one side, the demographically and culturally endangered tribe, is moving farther and faster right.  Is the Blue Tribe supposed to move right now?  Because I doubt that will happen.

I tried to talk about asymmetrical polarization at SSC and was pretty much mocked.  I tried to talk about social physics and complexity science and was unsuccessful.  I think Cthulu swims left because of the Second Law.  But SSC commenters would rather not engage with those ideas.  Not sure that plugging your ears with rationalism is an adaptive evolutionary strategy, but watevs.

I wonder if Scott Alexander will say anything about Trump now… not holding my breath.

 

 

 

 

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.