Which Claims Are ‘Extraordinary’?

Ashok Rao is a very impressive young man.  He is originally from Chennai and is an 18-year old freshman at the University of Pennsylvia.  Handle has a few personal connections at Penn and occasionally manages to drag himself away from the endless tempting delights of the District Metro and into the all-Franklin all-the-time City of Brotherly Love, and so I’d be very happy to meet up with the man and share some pleasant conversation and even buy him some fine adult beverages; purely for ceremonial purposes, of course.

I think he’ll go far in life.  I fully expect him to make it into the upper quintile of the US income distribution despite having no idea how rich or poor his parents are (I suspect they do all right).  That’s because I can tell he’s extremely intelligent.

And my common-sense social science theory and model of how our world and economy works is that intelligence like his is both scarce and a highly marketable asset.  I also think the average marginal transformation of intelligence into income has exploded in recent years, due to advances in globalization (and thus scalability), and technology in general but especially information technology. Not to mention demand for higher education signalling credentials.

That is why almost all of Handle’s connections at Penn are smart people doing well financially.  Some of them met at UPenn and got married.  Or they found their spouses at the kind of places that UPenn-type people tend to end up.  Strangely, they also tended to have parents who were smart and did well financially and married each other.  This utter coincidence which I’ve observed repeatedly my entire life, except amongst the very oldest of my relatives and relation, presents quite the enigma.

And quite the policy challenge.  Or policy excuse, depending on your social theory and point of view.  This is an intolerably immoral social condition, as we all well know, and one that persists mysteriously despite the enlightened, anti-inequality opinion of most of the members of the UPenn community.

So, a little aside.  “What is Neoreaction?” asks the Anarchopapist, Bryce Laliberte.  I bought his book out of some combination of curiosity and solidarity (we should all write more, and we should all buy each others books to create a structure of incentives to encourage more activity).  I am about halfway through it, and I’ll review it here when I’m done, but I’ll tell you I think he goes after the question in a very roundabout way.  So allow me to give my own very brief answer to the question.

Man expands his knowledge about nature and humanity as well as he can through the scientific method, with due, but not dogmatic, respect given to logical argument, insight, introspection, experience, and tradition.  For various reasons, some of the truths we encounter are part of what Buckley called our society’s ‘structure of taboos’, and so there is tremendous social pressure to either deny or ignore these truths as a society collectively pursues its imperatives.

As it emerged from the Dark Ages and entered the Renaissance, Western society gradually experienced a growing revolution is scientific exploration and discovery that occasionally came into conflict with social taboos in the form of Church dogma.  Eventually the Church lost the upper hand amongst the intellectual class, and the respect for and excitement about the new truths and innovations of the sciences and technology culminated in a period we call ‘The Enlightenment’.  But taboo didn’t disappear, and we’ve got out own set today with which we must contend.

Sometimes these taboos are harmless, perhaps even benign.  Honesty is a virtue, but so are discretion, comity, and civility (the real kind, not the recent scam).  At other times these taboos can lead us to massive waste and human tragedy.  Of course, a lot of people will simply have to keep their mouths shut about what they genuinely believe to be the truth or face ‘social consequences’.  The severity of those personal consequences for the expression of one’s honest sentiments, and the magnitude of the negative societal ramifications of pursuing policies based in taboo-derived error, determine the scale of the problem.

And right now, in the West, we have a big problem with our taboos and error-based policies.  The set of truths that conflict with our contemporary taboos, as well as the social phenomenon of the set of people who believe in and explore the implication of those truths we call, “The Dark Enlightenment”.  Dark only because there is an intellectual aesthetic sense, but our reality is sometimes ugly, tragic, limiting and depressing and conflicts with the human thrill of hopeful optimism and dreams of building utopia.  Repulsive Ugly Truths vs. Seductive, Pretty Lies.

To give a specific instance, the Dark Enlightenment believes, in accordance with our common sense and regular observation (I’m being repetitive for a reason folks), that our current scientific knowledge of human genetics and the heritability of phenotypes makes a traveshamockery out of the progressive religion of hard egalitarianism which includes human neurological uniformity.  Not like they’ll change their minds in public about it anytime soon, but as confirmation data keeps flowing and strengthening, it’s going to become increasingly embarrassing to assert the old dogmas so unreservedly.  People will start calling them ‘deniers’ and such.

This, among other things, helps us to determine which social claims are ordinary and common-sensical, or extraordinary and counter-intuitive.

What is Neoreaction?  If Dark Enlightenment is a set of taboo knowledge, then Neoreaction is the taboo political technology based on the taboo implications of that taboo knowledge.  It is the effort to reject the pretty lies, embrace the ugly truths, and to discover how that should inform our theories of politics, culture, and social organization, inter alia.  If you believe what we believe, then you think most Western countries are very much on the wrong track.

Now let’s consider Ashok’s latest post where he takes a swipe or two at Scott Winship on the subject of inequality and social mobility.  I think the conversation can be reverse-engineered to extract some answers to Foseti’s question, “They believe in what?”  Perhaps more important than what they believe is that their confidence in their beliefs has risen to the point where an unreal ideology is now regarded by them as an obvious, common-sense social theory. Which it most definitely is not.

But Ashok is so confident of his implicit human model that he feels something like ‘the facts are so obvious they speak for themselves’ and thus warrants the powerful legal argumentative device of Res ipsa loquitor burden shifting.  Progressives should not have to prove that inequality hurts mobility, that’s common sense social theory, it’s conservatives that should have to prove it doesn’t!

Who to believe?  One can always try to make this switch-flipping claim, and claim it is based on reasonable social theory, but is it actually reasonable?  To address that question, we need to extract the implicit theory behind the charged words so we can evaluate its plausibility.

I know my readers are fully aware of the loaded lexicon behind these discussions, but for the sake of the uninitiated I’ll try to take a few machetes to the thicket, and I hope you’ll indulge me.

First there is the notion of ‘social mobility’.

The social ideal behind the notion is basic meritocracy / equal opportunity.  Call it ‘social justice lite’.  An individual’s opportunity to compete for and win various desirable positions in his society’s human organizations, for example in school or the labor market, should be based on their talent, character, and productivity at delivering what the arbiter demands.  It should not be based instead merely on wasta, that is, social clout, who you know, where you came from, and so on.  (I’ll use ‘productivity’ to stand for the abstract appeal or desirability of whatever the target decision-maker wants.  It could just as easily translate into ‘beauty’ in the sexual market, for example).

The market should be fair, and not corrupt, or at the very least blind to such productivity or desirability-irrelevant characteristics.  Indeed, it would be inefficient for the market to decide otherwise.  If Ragged Dick has talent and determination and works hard, we want him to do as well as anybody else with similar ability and drive.  If the heir to the Dupont fortune is dimwitted and lazy, then we don’t want him taking up a slot at Yale or being given an unearned, undeserved but lucrative position in management where he will be characteristically ineffective.  He can still live comfortably off his family’s money, whatever, but he should make way for more capable people, wherever they happen to come from.

So far, so unobjectionable, as an ideal.  But we run into three problems right away.  The first is the question of whether, and if so when and how, we shall enforce this ideal through the government when individuals make decisions that depart from market perfection.  Or perhaps even what we hope would be market perfection, like one characterized by no disparate impact, or in other words, in a very different world from the real one we actually live in.

The second problem is having one of those common-sense social theories on where the productivity comes from.  Hopefully a theory that can be evaluated empirically and will be tested with as much rigorous scientific exploration as the nature of the inquiry permits.  The general idea is that human achievement is some combination of nature, nurture, and character, with different weightings for different people.  Is the average weighting (3,3,4) like ‘conservatives’ thing, or (1,8,1) like ‘liberals’ believe?  The debate is perpetual, not because it’s unresolvable, but because there’s a lot of politics at stake.

Maybe human productivity comes mainly from the ‘nurture’ things beyond both the individual’s nature and his control.  The market may still be productivity-irrelevant-blind, and thus fair in this limited sense, as far as it goes, but is an individual’s success or failure still entitled to be considered justly earned or deserved under such facts?  More on this in a bit.

And the third problem is one of metrics.  How shall we define ‘social mobility’ so that we can measure how well our society lives up to the ideal in a way that can be measured in a way that allows us to compare different time periods.  You can see how the third problem is intimately connected to the second.

For example, let’s say you were trying to measure ‘teacher effectiveness’.  You could theorize that any student’s test scores are 100% derived from the teacher’s pedagogic style.  You would then test all the students, take a class average, compare it to all the other class averages, and grade the teacher on where the result fits in the broader distribution.

Well, perhaps you find that theory absurd.  Just ask any teacher; they’ll confirm it’s absurd.  Now what?  Well, maybe you alter your theory and say that the teacher is only responsible for the improvement in the class average from the previous year.  You do the same as above and less unrealistic but still pretty absurd.  The teachers will still resist (in one way or another) if you try to evaluate them that way.

But lets say you test each student for their IQ and average test scores.  You could even measure all their social statistics.  You then put them into tracked, leveled classes according to both cognitive ability and prior knowledge, so that the teacher can teach in one way and use time more efficiently than if she had to deal with a large variation in ability and preparedness.  Then you come up with an ‘average expected value added’ tailored to each student given similar profiles around the country.

And then, finally, you grade the teacher relative to her peers on the basis of how much value she actually added to the students based on what we expected her to be able to achieve.  Now the teachers might relax the grip on their pitchforks and actually get on board your bandwagon.  That’s because you are now measuring something that they know aligns with the notion of ‘teacher effectiveness’ and accords with reality, and not concocted utopian fantasy.

In other words, your latest social theory is now tempered with a lot more common sense reality than when we started.  But, you know, it’s funny, we aren’t actually measuring teacher effectiveness or school quality in this realistic, common-sense way.  Why not?  That ‘structure of taboos’ thing, that’s why not.

Now, how should we measure how close we are to achieving our ideal of social mobility?  It’s some function of “where people end up vs. where they came from”, but it also inescapably demands a theory of where they should end up.  Social Scientists have decided to measure the ‘came from’ and ‘ended up’ in terms of an individual’s parents’ household income, and then their own income, relative respectively to the societies overall income distribution profile.

As a purely technical matter, measuring income is itself highly problematic, and not just in Scott Sumner’s sense.  Handle had his children when he was a student and earned no income.  Bottom quintile?  Maybe an average over the lifetime of the child?  But maybe some years, like early-development and college-prep, are more important than others.  A weighted average?  What if instead I earned a lot, but was a nasty scrooge and didn’t spend any on my kids so they didn’t feel my income?

Is this before or after taxes, because taxes are different in different states and cities, and the same income can leave someone with enough disposable income in one quintile in New York but another in Texas.  And what about local cost of living, because people get paid more in expensive locations, but can’t afford any more ‘lifestyle’ for their kids.  What makes you middle class in Kansas makes you poor in LA County.  What about welfare benefits?  I could go on forever.  It’s a tough nut to crack.  As usual, for the sake of convenient analysis in a language of common metrics, researchers just tend to avoid cracking it.

Suffice is to say that I think this is a horrible way to measure ‘social mobility’ as the tendency of the society to fulfill its meritocratic ideals, and I suspect it was chosen not for its meaningfulness but precisely because it generates the kind of results that assist with the sale of policy.  Alas, it’s what we’ve got.  But even if you pick some default income metrics, you’ve still got the problem of determining where people would be predicted to end up under ideal social mobility given their origins.

You could assume, for example, that God loves all his children and creates them, if not ‘equally’, then with an eye to group-statistical equal impact (quite the strange Divine Entity, that one; a very Progressive one) and that therefore the potential for high productivity in marketable traits is not heritable but instead randomly distributed to children in each quintile.  We start with an ordered deck of cards in terms of the parents’ household income, but in ideal social conditions, the kids’ deck would be perfectly shuffled, with 20% of the kids from each parent’s quintile going to each kids’ quintile.  You could interpret any deviation from this as social injustice per se, and warranting compensatory government intervention and economic redistribution.

And that would be a completely absurd theory.

Ok, maybe you don’t expect such perfect deck-shuffling.  Maybe there are aspects of biological reality that constrain ‘perfect’ social mobility to some lesser amount of churn.

Still, if we assume the people are more or less the same in every country and in any generation, then we can compare the churning across nations and through time to give us some idea of this ‘cap’ on social mobility, and also to tell us whether we are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than some other country, or ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than we used to be.

But those assumptions are also absurd.  In fact, the only people I know who believe them are the kind of people who have spent most of their life surrounded by other very intelligent people.  When you want to deny the unique circumstances of your social group you have to twist elaborate knots like Michael Chabon attempts here.  ‘Trained’ my ass.

It’s not exactly a ‘sheltered’ existence, but certainly segregated from sharing the experience of the bulk of humanity.  The self-created niche-bubble machine of the blogosphere just amplifies this intellectual isolation.  Every iPad an ivory tower.  That helps to enable a feeling of plausibility to otherwise faulty assumptions.  A kind of reality apartheid.  It’s only in that kind of rarefied social environment that extraordinary and false claims would seem ordinary and obvious.

But let’s talk about some societal changes that might make comparisons along a time series illegitimate.  For one thing, starting about half a century ago, baby boom women in the West starting going to college and entering the work force in large numbers.  They delayed childbirth, and tended to meet their mates at school.  It’s called assortative mating, and one sees it everyday.  For another, as I mentioned earlier, the economic returns to intelligence have exploded.  And finally, intelligence is strongly heritable genetically and varies amongst ethnic groups – expression of belief in which is a strong social taboo which will get you fired.  Note the pseudonymity of the still-employed.

Once upon a time, and before it really broke out in terms of marketability, intelligence really was more randomly distributed across wealth and income classes.  Plenty of those peasants and hicks down on the farm had plenty on the ball.  There were also plenty of ‘mixed-marriages’ with regards to cognitive-ability, which kept the churn and ‘regression to the mean’ phenomena going.   Gradually, that changed.

The educational system (in combination with the white collar labor market) is particularly sensitive and adept at finding individuals of talent and creaming them from their localities to our cognitive concentrator cities in a kind of intra-national brain-drain to complement the international one.  The selection, sorting, and mate-pairing mechanisms of higher education have been working on the American society for generations now, and we are witnessing the effects as we slowly but surely solidify into something like rigid castes.

And the US immigration system has its own effects, which themselves have changed over time.  In the past, the US accepted a lot of immigrants from European societies at a similar, pre-sorted-by-intelligence stage of development and which a similar intelligence mean and distribution.  And these immigrants were generally very poor.  This meant that, after a generation, the children of these immigrants, despite all originating in the bottom quintile, tended to have a cognitive potential distribution similar to the overall host society, and there was a lot of social mobility and integration.  On the other hand, this never happened for the involuntary immigrant blacks or for their descendants.

Nowadays things are quite different and there are two main immigrant streams.  The first stream is of millions of low-skill workers mainly from Mexico and Latin America that tend to have less cognitive potential than the American mean, on average.  The children of these individuals are, as you would expect, not catching up even after multiple generation in the country.  The second stream are of truly elite intellectuals from all around the world, but principally from Asia.  They are, on average, well above the American mean, and their kids are not regressing to that mean either.  Most of them are quite elite, if not prodigies like Ashok Rao.

The sponsorship system plays a role, where, for example, Brahmins, already disproportionately represented amongst the existing US South Asian population may prefer to bring over others of their group instead of random Indians.  And Visas for education and work (for certain companies with pull) tend to prefer the most competitive, brainiest types from East and South Asia, and it even helps if both spouses in a marriage have PhD’s which may be a top percent of the top percent kind of intellectual power-couple in the countries of their origin.

This is good for the US (mostly), good for the power couple, and probably a mixed bag for the country of origin.  But it also means the elite couples have elite kids who are not at all representative of the populations of those countries, tending to be at least two or three standard deviations above the mean.  That kind of brain power sure helps a lot with social mobility.  I’m betting Ashok Rao knows a thing or two about all this.  If he doesn’t he should walk around the quad a little.  Also take a stroll a little Northwest of 42nd street after dark, but be sure to check the local crime stats first.

There was once this guy called Charles Murray who wrote two unmentionable books on the subject chronicling the History of what happened, but who cares what that guy has to say, wasn’t he excommunicated or something?

So, no, we can’t do such naive comparisons and pretend the results mean anything.  So, just like in our teacher-evaluation example, what we really require is an empirical theory of individually-tailored expected social mobility.  Only then could we evaluate whether income inequality, by itself, causes statistically significant deviation from our expectation.

People using anything like the absurd assumptions of the social mobility theories I’ve mentioned above are indeed making extraordinary claims which defy the incessant data signal from our own lying eyes, and therefore require extraordinary evidence.  Evidence they do not have.  Social theories reliant on these taboo-derived-errors should not be presumed to be obvious or accord with ‘common sense’ by any means.

And they shouldn’t be afforded the advantage of shifting the burden of proof upon detractors of their advocacy for radical shifts in government policy.  Because, while they are definitely not Communists, of course not, that’s ridiculous, it’s just that they seem to really want to redistribute from those with ability to those with needs to make everyone economically and socially equal.  Which I must emphasize again is completely different from Communism.  Because Democracy, or something.

But I do respect Rao for owning up to the moral origins of his policy preferences, and even going so far as to explicitly acknowledge a possible trade-off between economic growth and the enactment of his morality-enforcing redistributionist policies.  Few writers are that honest, and instead tend to try and justify their preferences in terms of the means of achieving some other social good.

But why beat around the bush?  Ashok and I both know the game here.  Progressives wants redistribution, and they usually want it, I would argue, for its own sake, that is, for moral reasons.  But in a democracy they also need to sell it, and so they are trying to do so under the guise of providing innocent children the equal opportunity they deserve to reach their assumed equal potentials, but which they aren’t getting.  Because the 1%.  And evil hate.  Plenty of greed and evil hate.

That takes us back to the second problem I mentioned earlier – the theory of the origin of human performance and productivity.  The clearly extraordinary claim would be the perfect random distribution assumption.  But progressives have developed a savings clause for that, which is basically that potential is indeed equally and randomly distributed but that the pre-genius child needs just the right conditions to enable the expression of that potential.  This is a very pretty lie indeed, especially if you want a lot of redistribution.  It may be that God and Nature and the Market are all inherently unfair, but why should we go along with what those three dictate, especially when morality is at stake?

And here is where the definition of ‘inequality’ comes in.  Now, dear reader, I’ve perused many of these papers, essays, and publications, and, quite frankly, there’s a very pronounced tendency to slip and use ‘inequality’ to just mean ‘poverty‘ which is a completely different thing.  The former is a relative matter, while the latter is absolute (or so one might think).  Malnutrition, for example, is associated with poverty, and in a poor society, lots of quintiles could experience malnutrition, whereas in a rich society no one does.  If everyone got super-rich in reach terms, with the poorest quintile consuming 2013US$1M annually in real terms, but the top quintile getting $20M, then there is still a lot of ‘inequality’, but who cares?

The implication is that the famous ‘all we have to do’ is to take children from the lowest quintile and raise them exactly the same way children from the highest quintile are reared, and with all the same advantages, (and obviously this applies to quintiles 2 thru 4 as well) and, voila, fairness and equality will result in terms of actual performance.  Social Mobility!

Now, none of that is actually true, but let’s assume it is arguendo. We might then ask, “Why all this focus on quintiles and relative positioning?  Wouldn’t we really start with a theory of expected economic achievement given absolute starting conditions, one’s place in the overall ranking order merely being a function of that?  What does one’s ex ante ‘rank’, have to do with human achievement?  Isn’t it more reasonable to attribute performance to absolute conditions like essential nutrition, family structure, or number of books in the home, or something more absolute and concrete instead of relative?

If the number of books contributes to ‘achievement’, then what matters more, how many books in the home, or how many books you have relative to the number of books everyone else tends to have?  I’d guess the former, because the latter yields some very absurd logical results.  50 Books a generation ago were enough to help you score high on an IQ test, but today that would make you score lower because most people have more, but your score would improve again if I dropped you in a social setting with different conditions?  That’s crazy.  Or, at the very least, it’s an extraordinary claim that defies common sense.

My common sense tells me that if you deny a child the basics you will stunt his development, but that as you begin to provide him more and better conditions you reach the point of diminishing returns.  If in one generation diminishing returns hit at the third quantile, then as everybody gets richer you would see the point descend to the second, then first, then be an almost universally available minimum standard of living.  We all know stories, usually in our own families, of very smart and successful people who made it big with much less.

The tragedy is that the things the government can influence easily are the factors that hit diminishing returns the earliest.  The government can’t improve your kid’s genes.  And the government isn’t doing a very good job at making sure as many kids as possible are being raised by both of their married, biological parents, or in cultures that emphasize hard work, determination, a love of learning, etc.

But we demand that the government do something about the inequality, and so we keep dumping more and more resources into the ‘actionable’ domains of diminishing returns, where kids can’t or wont absorb any more educational effort.  That means we never, ever, make any progressive progress towards ‘closing the gap’ while allocating scarce resources away from our brightest and most gifted children who could actually benefit from the expenditure.

Which is extraordinarily absurd.  And we never learn from our failures or mistakes, and just keep redoubling our efforts, and hunting for the evil hateful witches which must be cursing and sabotaging out attempts, because, really, how else can you possible explain repeated failure and still appeal for more resources?  The good news, for progressives, is that there is literally no limiting principle to the nature of the argument unless and until childhood conditions of the lowest and highest quintile children are made absolutely equivalent in every respect.  Only after perfect equalization is achieved would anyone have to admit that it doesn’t perform as promised.

To some of us around these parts, however, our common sense social theories lead us to believe that the promise of equal performance remains an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof.  Ashok Rao is a brilliant guy with a long, bright future ahead of him, and he shouldn’t get off the hook so easily.  And when he makes the effort to prove the progressives’ main ‘common sense’ social theories instead of asking they be let off the hook, he may discover how un-common-sensical they really are.

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26 Responses to Which Claims Are ‘Extraordinary’?

  1. Pingback: This Week in Reaction | The Reactivity Place

  2. To summarize

    1) What people consider ordinary or extraordinary depends on background assumptions.
    2) For progressives in our time, the background assumptions, which are dubious at best, and readily demonstrably false at worst, have become calcified into dogma due to the taboo around questioning them.
    3) In the inequality-hurts-social-mobility debate, none of the variables are being measured properly with assumptions made explicit. There is no baseline of expectations being considered.
    4) In this social climate, taking progressive ‘social theory’ as common sense is terrible and insane.

    • Handle says:

      A good TL;DR version, thanks.

      And if Vladimir is out there, this is another reason I prefer to evaluate claims expressed symbolically instead of verbally. The bait-and-switch tactic of using politically high-valence words and phrases, and asserting empirical relationships between them, but then assigning them nonsensical, if not outright fraudulent, metrics especially designed to deliver those relationships, is a common sleazy tactic.

      But far too much ‘into the weeds’ or ‘behind the curtain’ for most people to care; they’ll just repeat, “Respected, Nobel-Prize-Winning Economists say it’s true! Who are you to disagree!” The problem is I can’t disagree with their results, just their association with political concepts expressed in language and understood by most listeners in a completely different way.

      Also, note that even under their own definitions, contemporary immigration patterns decrease ‘social mobility’, because the E’s have brainy kids and the M’s have less-brainy kids, and tend to be endogamous within their class.

      Finally, the ‘poster child’ or Hollywood narrative-version of Horatio Alger-like social mobility, is the poor kid of meager origins with a lot of talent and drive from the urban jungle or the rural sticks, who gets ‘noticed’ and earns a slot amongst the elites. However, between discrimination against urban Asians and rural Whites, it kinda seems like elite universities aren’t all that interested in actual ‘social mobility’. They’re interested in something else entirely.

    • James says:

      Talking of background assumptions, one of the worst around is that social problems should and can only be resolved by informal discussion and consensus (with carefully monitored participants and optional recourse to “activism”). When some uber-smart eighteen-year-old, or indeed an economist blogger like Bryan Caplan, throws out an opinion, he correctly senses that he is (at least in potential) an important part of the political process. Recognition that, whatever the moral and practical issues at stake, change ought to occur only within a carefully guarded framework of law and political procedure (yes, voting too) is scarily absent.

      In this connection, I find Anil Dash and his blog (“A Blog About Making Culture”), which I had noticed before the Pax Dickinson controversy, interesting. He is pure prog, and “making culture” is a fascinatingly candid tagline.

      • Handle says:

        For the last half century at least, the left has always had the luxury of being almost entirely candid and forthright without fear of ‘social consequences’, with maybe a few outrageous exceptions here and there. Candidness is a signal of confidence in one’s power and security in one’s position. They don’t need pseudonyms to stay employed.

  3. James says:

    I find this a little simplistic. Worldly progressives only believe that they believe that the gaps can be closed; but by striving for such an ideal, they distract themselves* from nihilism and lead what they really do believe is a virtuous life. Similarly, Milton was probably an atheist, but this doesn’t mean that he wanted to or could dispense with the vital concept of God. These types of belief seem to be canalised from a number of ingrained human traits.

    Given the tired old egalitarian-administrative formula that no-one can confront head on, what interests me more are the subtle aspects of progressive influence that few would notice. Take this logo that I spotted the other day. It bugged me, but I wasn’t immediately sure why. I think it’s because “ScotRail” speaks for itself; I could make a mental note that ScotRail is “Scotland’s Railway”, or perhaps not. The subtitle is a gratuitous frame that prevents me from interpreting the environment in my own way, and of course there is no such inevitable relationship between rail services and territorial jurisdictions. The cumulative effect of saturated influences like this, which are more or less a new phenomenon in history, is very large.

    As far as dissent is concerned, progressives seem to listen well as long as the author isn’t so jejune as to present his ideas in a way that would affect the battleground of mass politics.

    *In the sense that Woody Allen candidly describes here.

    • Handle says:

      Welcome James. Which ‘this’ did you find simplistic? The whole thing or one part in particular?

      As for the logo, most companies go to branding consultancies, and ‘subtitling’ is the new black (just look at nonfiction book titles), especially for a new design in a marketing campaign. Once the conditioned association response is solidified in the minds of the target audience then the subtitle can be dispensed with. Not all companies get rid of it, mostly out of inertia.

      • James says:

        I find it naïve when people treat progressive beliefs about equality as though these were identical to their beliefs about the weather.

        The “ScotRail” logo derives from government, not capitalists–weak stuff, but just an example. I think that propaganda and conditioning that derives from the ideological center is often mistaken for purely capitalist marketing, and (whether the provenance is evident or not) this ideological stuff is always poisonous.

        The meaning of “making culture”: it is hardly plausible that by creating customers like Drucker would expect, and even pandering to medicore tastes, capitalism carried us all the way from inoffensive tat like Marlene Dietrich to hideous and depraved, androgynous freaks who croak lyrics about “we who own the night”.

        Here is a heavily progressive clip from the BBC–but there is little moral or factual content about equality and liberation. Factual claims are not, in fact, the most important difference between this and, say, Kenneth Clark’s presentation. At 7:00, and we are told:

        “This town didn’t let anything, not even a mountain range, stand in its way.”

        So, a totally abstract description of an economic process of growth, which was enacted by individuals without the supervision of an administrative elite.

        At 8:20, the latest progressive buzzword: adapt. At 8:40, included…who were the first investors in the Huddersfield brand?

        The music, and the presenter’s voice, are simultaneously numbing, edgy and overbearing. To accept all of these little quirks and neutering nudges as a normal part of the environment, within one’s personal life or the institutions one might create, is I expect to be ever an accomplice of progressivism’s worst excesses.

  4. The immigration of high-g East and Sub-continental Asians is on my list of Things Which In Retrospect Will Have Been A Very Bad Idea.

    They have none, zero, understanding of Anglo-European thinking and institutions. The policy arguments of Rao and his kin are motivated by the desire to 1) get as far away from their lower-caste countrymen as possible, and 2) replace the existing American elite with themselves.

    They are in fact a lot like Jews, and there’s more of them.

    • Handle says:

      I understand your perspective, but I have to disagree. Most of the high-g immigrants and their children I know are just ambitious and talented and want to be successful, something they can best achieve in a rich, developed country where there is more, and more lucrative, opportunity. They want their children to join the elite, no one is consciously out to ‘replace it’. Yes, for every winner there’s a loser, but it’s really just like Sports, and people are just trying to win and not motivated by some negative animus towards the reigning champions.

      As far as understanding Anglo-European institutions, I think the issue is more of an ‘enlightened respect and reinforced reverence’ than ‘understanding’. The native elites in all those countries lost that respect a long time ago, and you can hardly blame immigrants’ ignorance, apathy, or even antipathy for that.

  5. Ashok Rao says:

    Thanks for the kind words – much appreciated (though I am more doubtful myself…)

    Been a very busy weekend, I just had time to read the whole thing. When I talk about social mobility, I find “bottom fifth to top fifth” a very useful proxy but it is flawed for the reasons you mentioned (though I am less convinced about the “exploding” returns to intelligence and heritability thereof).

    But there are plenty of signs high-potential low-income students are not succeeding for no other reason than their social status. Take this Brookings report from Hoxby and Avery (http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/projects/bpea/spring%202013/2013a_hoxby.pdf) which gives a particularly vivid image of the inequality myself and other liberals claim exists but conservatives (as epitomized by a certain paper from Greg Mankiw) reject outright. Yes, the Indians who have selected themselves out of a country and flown over an ocean to get here are smarter than Mexicans who’ve walked across the border – but there are plenty in the latter group that are being denied at a chance.

    And here’s why I feel this is an important issue beyond morality. The two decades after the American Revolution underwent the most rapid growth in entrepreneurial spirit and productivity in general. This was before the Industrial Revolution really took over the country, and there were no technological or other “supply side” changes to speak. Class – institutional aristocracy – went away with the flick of 56 fingers. Just like that.

    Suddenly the “vulgar” classes realized that hard work (not just brute hard work, but creative stuff, things that analogized to the 21st century may even be considered “intelligent”!) could pay off. That they were no longer shackled by their parents’ station in life.

    Around this time British leaders were encouraging their kids to study the Classics or Philosophy at Oxford and Cambridge. The country had only two schools until the mid-19th century. They were once the most powerful empire – and the rest is history.

    This Brookings report cannot make an argument and liberals have plenty of things yet to be proven. Morality, as opposed to fake platitudes, still must (to have an honest debate) play a role. However, I’d be surprised to hear it if no one else felt there is a connection between the two.

    I would note that I never said that Scott Winship ought to prove that inequality does not hurt immobility. As far as I know this would be impossible. I said that until they can significantly show that inequality *helps* mobility (haha!) we should assume that it hurts, and have a debate on the economic consequences of redistribution, rather than the strength of Progressive evidence.

    I don’t know about other liberals, but I personally have never wanted redistribution for its own sake. Here’s something I wrote a few months ago (excerpted from a larger post):

    “Here are the principles from which I derive a system:

    –Income inequality is bad only to the extent it a) asphyxiates potential growth, b) engenders a despondence among the lower classes, or c) decreases social mobility
    –A competitive market is one which favors small businesses but also one which favors new businesses.
    –Markets are good.
    –Taxes are (usually) evil.
    –Inequality of land ownership is even more evil.”

    This does not sound like progressive dogma to me! By the way, something else you might want to read on this topic (http://ashokarao.com/2013/07/01/socioeconomic-noiselessness/). There’s an argument to be made that social immobility is bad – *especially if hereditary factors are important and intelligence returns are booming* – because it encourages despondence among the rich (or affluent or whatever).

    • Handle says:

      1. Willkommen Ashok. You may pick your (ceremonial) poison at will at Handle’s (reasonable) expense. Brew or Spirit? Whiskey or Gin? Maybe you’re a Tequila man? I haven’t been in the past – I’m usually a Scotch man – but a colleague gave me a gift of some Don Eduardo Añejo and I’ve got to say I was very pleasantly surprised.

      2. ‘useful proxy’ – I disagree. Upon what basis do you found this assertion? How do we know it’s a good proxy? The question remains a proxy for what? What are we trying to measure, which apparently we can’t do directly, for which the indirect measure of bottom-top churn is expected to correlate well? Is it what is expected in a perfect social mobility environment? Then what should we expect?

      My problem with the bottom-to-top measure is the same as with a uniform ‘failing school’ / ‘bad teacher’ measure. A teacher with a bunch of elite students does not ‘deserve credit’ when they all score high on their SATs, and mutatis mutandis for less capable students.

      Ideally, what we would have is a good model that tells us something statistically significant (and causal) that links individual origins, natural talent, expenditure of resources, etc. with later social achievement. When we have that model, it is then that we can perform such ‘social injustice’ evaluations. My contention is clear, that intelligence, income, and rat-race child-related expenditures (probably mostly wasteful, but that’s the nature of zero-sum games) are highly correlated. Unless you disaggregate their relative impacts, it’s easy to create spurious relationships. My contention, again, is that intelligence is a highly explanatory variable, and when removed from the regression, you get awfully close to Kling and Caplan’s ‘null hypothesis of education’. If you say, ‘It’s also all that social networking’, then I won’t disagree, but then again, is the idea to intervene to neutralize social networking somehow, or create a social network of 100% of the population, or what?

      3. ‘Exploding Returns’ – I’ll see if I can address your reasonable skepticism with some data, but I’ll defer that to another day. Handle has quite a busy life! You can help me allocate my time more efficiently by telling me what kind of presentation of evidence would be required for you to switch your presumption away from skepticism and towards belief.

      4. Heritability of Intelligence – Suffice is to say we disagree very much on this score. You are in good company, and I hang around with a mostly pseudonymous crowd because we like to keep our jobs. Hooray for you; boo for me. Do you think it’s not heritable at all, or maybe just at the 0.1 level or something? if it’s heritable at all, that should still inform our social mobility discussion, neh? I tend to think it’s more of a 0.7 thing. Hey, do you think that whole career progression-preservation thing might have any impact on what research gets performed and published on the subject? Just asking.

      Nevertheless, La Wik mentions, “A 2004 meta-analysis of reports in Current Directions in Psychological Science gave an overall estimate of around .85 for 18-year-olds and older.” That’s as good as the heritability of height, to which I can only hope you maintain no similar skepticism. But, like my inquiry above, it’s useless to discuss the topic unless I have that automobile salesman’s answer to “What’s it gonna take to get you into a new car today?” What would it take to convince you of the significant heritability of intelligence? Like I said, not only does that help me allocate my time efficiently, but at the very least it can tell me whether it’s a waste of time, because of closed mindedness.

      Like I also said about ‘stunting development’, I am open minded about Turkheimer et al’s claims about lower heritability in lower SES groups, and even claims that the trend of amelioration of that condition over time may be the basis of observed Flynn effects.

      But the bottom line is that if income is correlated to intelligence, and intelligence is heritable and unequally distributed amongst income quintiles (indeed, if the distribution has changed over time to be increasingly unequally distributed, as I maintain) then that tells us quite a bit about how useful or awful bottom-to-top churning is as a proxy for social mobility. I think it’s not a useful proxy for exactly these reasons.

      Hoxby, for example, says the high achievers by income quartile are found percentage-wise, as follows: (34,27,22,17). You can look at that and tell a ‘productivity-relevant resources expenditure’ story, or you can tell an intelligence-heritability gradually-caste-forming society plus immigration of many poor-but-brilliant immigrants picking up the stats in the bottom two quartiles story. My model’s prediction is that, in another generation, and if you remove the immigrant effect, it’ll look more like (50,35,10,5), even if overall consumption rises in every quartile. I guess we’ll see. The point is that I don’t expect (25,25,25,25), and I am open minded but presumptively skeptical of any model that does.

      5. I’m familiar with the Hoxby paper (I linked to Sailer’s take on it in my response to contemplationist). I don’t know about you, but I realy wish they would put the figures, charts, and tables up front. I was pretty disappointed that they didn’t keep most of their analysis focused on the LIHA’s, I mean, I don’t care about ‘achievement typical’ and ‘income typical’ as much in a study like this. I’ll mention that Hoxby’s puzzle of why these kids are ‘not choosing to apply to selective colleges’ does not at all imply ‘denied a chance’. I assume that’s not what you meant, but it’s an odd place to position the phrase.

      Some numbers. Notice over 85% of high achievers have parents with BA’s or higher. Only 13% of LIHAs are Black or Hispanic, whereas fully 15% are Asian. That’s funny because, you know, in the college-age from the bottom quintile, Asians are about 5% of the cohort whereas Blacks and Hispanics are 40%, so, compared to them, Asians are overrepresented by nearly a factor of ten despite the income equivalence.

      The question to you is how do we account for such an enormous difference despite similar household incomes without inheritable intelligence. The usual progressive answer is ‘a lack of education-focused culture and societal racism’. Well, fine, but those are unfalsifiable ‘dark forces’ unless we can measure them (in a non-circular way, that is, not just judging by outcomes). How should we measure them? Also, we could, for example, correct for IQ scores first before dropping this pan-explanatory charge. Suggestions?

  6. asdf says:

    The ultimate question when it comes to merit is, why?

    I think the original merit question was mostly related to the military. If you have a better general you won’t die and the other guy will. Awesome. In the modern world that gets extended to my doctor being a better surgeon and my civil engineer designing a bridge that doesn’t fall down.

    However, in our modern economy how many people actually make real stuff/services? I’ve made a career in some very large sectors of the economy full of meritocrats that are highly paid. Yet everything I’ve ever worked on I would characterize as a scam of one degree or another. It’s not clear to me that merit alone is a good thing if its aim is to be really good at some zero sum (or negative sum) game.

    Moreover, the question of inequality is tied up in that issue. When you eliminate the middle class you create among meritocrats a certain kind of incentive structure. Get rich or die trying. I’ve met plenty of people running scams in finance/insurance that justified it by saying that since there won’t be any middle class in twenty years they need to get rich while they still can.

    It seems to me that inequality and unguided meritocracy simply results in a shark pit with blood in the water.

    • Handle says:

      You say: “It seems to me that inequality and unguided meritocracy simply results in a shark pit with blood in the water.”

      It’s important to split up the term ‘inequality’.

      The progressives are mostly concerned about inequality of wealth and income, which is something they both can and wish to do something about through confiscation, taxation, and redistribution.

      But there is also ‘natural’ inequality of individual endowments (or ‘gifts’ you might say). We have intelligence, beauty, stature, charisma, energy, character, personality, and so on.

      The first we can undue with Communism, but unless reasonably limited (which doesn’t get rid of the inequality), has not had the best track record. The second is a fact of nature which no amount of effort or brainwashing can equalize.

      So, we’re left with ‘guiding’ or ‘channeling’ the meritocracy. We’re led towards solutions that set up structures of incentives such that meritorious individuals, without having to be angels, can, by pursuing their own interests, contribute to the welfare of society instead of predating upon their less savvy fellows.

      • asdf says:

        I think that when the stakes are high enough people find ways to cheat around any system of guidance or channeling you put up. There are certain things people find essential to life: basic economic security, medical care when they are sick, the ability to attract a mate, affordable family formation, and the means to give their kids a decent shot in life (education, etc). If that is only attainable for a narrow segment of society then people will fight tooth and nail to join that segment, including doing evil stuff they don’t particularly want to do but feel they need to.

        That’s why gross inequalities of various kinds are dangerous. They create a sink or swim culture that brings out the worst in people. Traditional society attempts to limit these inequalities in various ways, not all of them government. Monogamy and Christian marriage are, for instance, a kind of sexual socialism. Get rid of it and next thing you know you’ve got a completely dysfunctional mating market. A “free market” in sex hasn’t led to good outcomes.

        No system can eliminate human desire to sin, but some systems make it easier for people then others. It’s not obvious to me that free markets or wildly unequal outcomes are always the best systems. Sometimes its good that most everyone can have certain pivotal things in life if they play by the rules, it makes playing by the rules a lot easier.

        It’s also important to stress that asking people to sacrifice solely out of fear (I deserve X but I’ll give away Y < X to my lessors only because I'm afraid of revolt) isn't a sustainable policy. Motivated by pride, fear, and hate that person will always be looking for ways to avoid whatever guidance or channeling is provided. Only positive motivations such as empathy and love for your fellow man can bring about genuine compliance. People don't have to be angels or the system be perfect, but they do need to have a framework in which to try and build up that charity and make it a part of themselves rather then some obligation put upon them by other people. In the absence of such a framework even the mildest stick or most paltry carrot is enough to turn people to the dark side. In the presence of such a framework people can still do the right thing even when the sticks are heavy and the carrots non-existent. Better incentive structures are a good thing, but it can't be a complete substitute for moral integrity. Any incentive structure that makes the absence of virtue its lynchpin will soon find many participants with no virtue.

        • Handle says:

          ‘Sexual Socialism’ is pure gold. Of course, there is always some market competitive element. Not everyone can be equally beautiful, and high status can’t be redistributed by definition. True Sexual Socialism would be state-arranged marriage by lottery, but in today’s climate, the state can’t be hetero-normative, so you might just have to accept the gender you get. But absent that, so long as there is choice and variation, there will always be inequality. Which is why libertarianism is racist.

          But ‘tolerable inequality’ where everybody is guaranteed a (difficult to define) ‘minimally decent standard of living if you play by the rules’ is of course exactly what the Rawlsians and Progressives and Bleeding Hearts claim they want. Furthermore, they maintain that the ‘market for charity will not clear’, that is, whatever is to blame for its scarcity, there is not enough voluntary charitable virtue to guarantee this desired result. This, plus the free-rider problem means that only a redistributive central coordinator – the government – can repair the market failure.

          Of course, how you go about enforcing sexual socialism, or ‘minimally decent standard of living if you play by the rules’ is the question. The progressives wont do the first, but how would you do it? Theocracy?

          The progressives will do the second except for the ‘play by the rules’ part. There’s the opportunity space in my opinion.

          • asdf says:

            In a monogamous situation the prettiest people tend to end up with the prettiest mates, but they only get one. It’s a compromise, and its a compromise that works. Often it even works best for people who think they would benefit under some other more liberal system (but almost never do). After all, how many people who thought they would be winners in the sexual revolution ended up being losers, probably the vast majority of society from both genders.

            “tolerable inequality”

            Deciding what kinds of inequality are ok/good and which are harmful may be a difficult task, but its certainly not an impossible task. It’s also a necessary task, it’s not something you get to opt out of. Obviously its my belief that ideas that would generally be considered conservative are best and the conservative approach to this problem (humble attitude, Christian charity versus the callous altruism liberal kind, and caution) are the best. It helps that we have actual working conservative historical and current examples to use as guides, something the progressives do not.

            Lapsing into universals (“all people must be exactly equal” or “inequality is always and everywhere the best option”) is particularly lazy sperginess that is easily refuted. It’s what people do when they don’t want to think critically about hard problems.

            “This, plus the free-rider problem means that only a redistributive central coordinator – the government – can repair the market failure.”

            The church and other societal institutions large and small were able to influence social norms without the need for a government jackboot. You are limiting yourself if you think this is the only, or even best, way to do things. Often its a negative.

            Take marriage. The governments involvement (extorting men unfairly when it comes to custody and alimony, welfare for single mothers) is a negative. However, even if this was eliminated I don’t think the problem of divorce, low TFR, and dysfunctional dating culture would go away completely. There has been a cultural shift, not just an economic/legal incentive shift, and there is little the government can do to fix the culture. That requires something very different. It requires a change in peoples souls, and there are various ways of helping to bring that along but no way to force it.

  7. Ross says:

    Excellent stuff, thanks for this post. Statisticians (and other ‘damn liars’) use averages to (incompletely but conveniently) characterize populations. Similarly, policy wonks use semantic aggregates (‘social mobility’) to simplify..with similar benefits and dangers.

  8. Al Fin says:

    The problem you describe is real, and many of the comments above illustrate how difficult it can be to alter a dominant paradigm.

    Personally, I don’t expect internet discussions to alter society’s momentum, but younger minds should always be given unconventional ideas to mull over, along with the skills to decide what is worth keeping.

    I suspect that the logjam will only be broken favorably by multiple technological breakthroughs that force abandonment of multiple dominant paradigms by rendering the devotees of such paradigms redundant and unnecessary. The old regime will not fade quietly, of course.

    • Handle says:

      Willkommen Al Fin.

      It all depends which logjam we’re talking about. In a way, I regard the whole game-o-sphere phenomenon as a kind of combination of model and canary in the coalmine, and it didn’t require any major technological breakthroughs. Search engines and blogs were already there.

      It was the delusional and anti-reality ideology of extremist-feminism leading men into error and deep frustration with regard to satisfying their core human interests.

      This created the kind of Marxist ‘heightened contradictions’ moment, and when enough men, in confused desperation, type enough of the right keywords into google, then they will find … a home. ‘ein Haus‘ A place where they are welcome, where they belong, where they can come to realize the world of lies and blue pills into which they’ve been born, and to learn the red pill truth about how to achieve real success from a mentor. The ‘slow but viral breakout’ social-transmission mechanism, and even generational transmission, is inevitable and just a matter of time.

      The point of the internet discussions is not to change social momentum directly. It’s to keep the candles burning in the windows of all the red-pill houses, so that when the weary traveler is lost, he may find his shelter. If he likes it, he will only be too happy to share it with his friends. Perhaps one day, one grand manor can act as a master gateway to all the red pills, and the entire Dark Englightenment as a complete antithesis to the blue pill matrix in which most people are raised and never escape. If I had about 50x more time, I would attempt it, but alas, I cannot. Yet.

      Still, one grosse haus makes a schelling point, but also a giant target. Decentralization is harder to silence. Also, there are many paths to the DEC, and each ‘first step’ needs its own beacon to call those sensitive that particular pill.

  9. asdf says:

    I don’t regard “game” as a particularly good innovation. Game hasn’t changed the condition of the sexual market, if anything it may amplify many of the problems. If you’ve used game and seen success with it you’ve no doubt realized the ephemeral, useless, and damaging nature of this success. I’ve used game to get laid quite a bit, and I don’t consider myself better off for it. If anything its culmination in becoming an accidental home wrecker really brought the whole issue home to me. Game is one of those things that looks like a solution but isn’t really, not for the kind of things that really matter.

    Oz Conservative did a great piece on Love & Dependence where he rejects the idea that what we really need is some sexual free market. Rather we need a system that actually helps people achieve healthy and lasting goals.


    “What the older generation owes to the younger is to uphold the conditions in which it’s possible to marry successfully, rather than to leave it to millions of competing wills to negotiate a relationship in a climate of self-serving individualism.

    It’s not plastic, open or unique relationships that young people need, but stable, secure and workable ones, in which some measure of independence can be sacrificed to a healthy and natural interdependence.”

    Embracing game generally does little to support the kind of outcomes reactionaries really want, especially at the societal level. That’s true even if your trying to aim it towards LTRs like I did. Game, as a biological reality, is true and knowledge can help. However, that doesn’t mean that we just give into our worst natural instincts like animals and make that our guiding principal in life. There are many realities of our nature that we don’t make ourselves slaves to.

    • Handle says:

      In general, knowledge is good. Truth is better than lies. I understand what you’re saying, and I agree a great deal. I would prefer a society more biased in favor of sexual discretion and the traditional family.

      That being said, game has benefits that can be applied in perfectly moral ways. Doesn’t game inform a man both how to preserve the spark of allure in his marriage, and also of the wisdom embedded in the traditional social structure?

      I occasionally use game as an example because it’s the red pill subspace that is the most active and most fully developed, and so it is the part of the DEC from which we can draw the most lessons. And perhaps from which we may also draw the most awakeners to the broader Dark Enlightenment. Political, Social, Economic, Biological knowledge – the scale is too large and abstract to deliver that personal experience of success with new truth To see the results with one’s own eyes. What other part of the DE can provide such individualized proof from results? None better, in my judgment. The experience of a chump learning game creates the mental experiences that enables the necessary openness of mind and skepticism towards the official narrative. The taste of truth, experienced directly in the form of success, generates the insatiable hunger for more. We should be ready to feed the hungry from all our fruits when they arrive at our door.

      Game is a popular name for the set of tactics, techniques, and procedures (practice) that utilize the ugly truth about female sexuality (theory) instead of the pretty lies of either modern feminism (women are just the same as men and should be treated as such) or medieval chivalry (women are angels which should be placed on pedestals). So the term is really synonymous with that taboo knowledge upon which it is based. Many words in English take on this dualistic combination of both ‘Theory and Practice’. For example, ‘Artillery’ is both how to practically adjust the settings on your canon to aim at your target, but also the physics of ballistics.

      All knowledge is a double-edged sword. I would prefer that the theory behind game be used for noble purposes in practice. But the availability of the correct theory is something valuable in itself.

      The Cathedral thinks it triumphed against obsolete, superstitious, oppressive morality when they liberated everyone and unleashed sexual chaos, but perhaps they also sowed the seeds of their own undoing when they toyed with the most primal of human drives. Those who are ill-served by the social fallout will search for their way out. The more seekers the better. Let them find us. Let us resolve to make ourselves ready, and, more importantly, worthy.

  10. Abelard Lindsey says:

    I see a lot of internet discussion about a “dark enlightenment” in recent years. Does not the recognition of the dark enlightenment suggest the desirability or necessity of some form of eugenics as corollary?

    • Handle says:

      What a horrible Nazi topic! Which deserves it’s own large discussion, so I’ll delay the answer until some later date. I’ll just notice two things here.

      1. The logic of ‘Idiocracy’ is sound, yet no one really likes that vision of the future.
      2. Most people would prefer to have more potential and ‘quality’ than they have. They would like to be a little bit taller, smarter, stronger, and so on, a whole list of desirable phenotypes. They also want that for their mates, and for their own children. They also want that for their ‘side’ or ‘team’ are are willing to compromise other values to get it (e.g. Notre Dame and football team member selection).

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        If the traits underlying competence such as intelligence and executive function are indeed mostly genetically determined, it seems to me the only way forward (e.g. improvement of human society and human capital) requires some kind of eugenics in the future. Perhaps the purpose of the promulgation of the dark enlightenment is not to seek such improvement. If so, what would be its purpose?

        In any case, the competent seek autonomy from the less competent if they have no need for them. The decentralization of technology coupled with the self-empowerment of small organizations to rival that of large organization will make such autonomy more likely. If the dark enlightenment world-view is not intended to foster this process, perhaps it is actually intended to imped this process. If so, people like myself are not likely to regard it of any value and want to have anything to do with it.

        • Handle says:

          The Dark Enlightenment is not a person with a will not an organization with a purpose. It is a society that tends to agree on truths that the makers of public opinion deny and make taboo. A body of knowledge has no intention. Neither to encourage nor impede. It does inform us how best to accomplish our priorities, and which policies to pursue to accomplish our objectives. If the improvement of aggregate social averages is your goal, then you could believe as the progressives do, that the best way to accomplish it is with more expenditure in social programs like public education, or you can believe what the DEC believes, that we have hit the point of diminishing returns and if one wants more improvement one must look to hereditary matters. You should be satisfied with that.

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