Bloody shovel

We shall drown, and nobody will save us

Self-Deceptive Status Filters

People call me cynical because I say ideology is crap. It’s just stuff people say to look good to their peers. Signaling, that is. And I support this claim by pointing out that people just don’t know shit. David Hume proved that. We don’t even “know” the laws of nature with any certainty. Yes, we’re used to some things happening after certain things. There’s chains of events that strongly hint at causality. But you can never know for sure.

Of course that kind of fuzzy knowledge is good enough for human purposes; people do get by in their lives, do things expecting consequences to occur, and they almost invariably do. But the strength of that knowledge depends on the frequency of their repetition. So people only really know what they’re very familiar with. Their job, generally. This maps to Conquest’s Second Law: everybody is conservative about what they know best. People are not conservative (i.e. they are leftist) on the things they don’t know. Why would they be? They don’t know much about it. And yet they have an opinion about it. They talk about it. Why would you talk about something you don’t know about? Signaling, of course.

Signaling doesn’t exactly equate leftism, but it kinda does. Signaling is about gaining status. That’s why you signal, that’s what living in society is about. If you were a tiger you’d be in the jungle eating animals and looking for females to rape; as it happens humans are social primates, and we need to get along with other humans. We want other humans to help us for the lower cost possible; getting what you want in society is the definition of having status. Of course everybody wants to get their way; everybody wants status, but it’s physically impossible for everyone to get what they want. Basically food and pretty women. You need people to help you out, to work for you, and there’s only so much work available. Status is scarce. So people compete for it. Compete all the time. Animals do all the time too; see all those deers and goats and bulls jousting for access to females. Humans do that all the time too, but human bands need common labor so they evolved ways to try to avoid ingroup violence. You can’t just beat and kill your status-rivals; you need them to grow crops with you. And humans can make weapons so there’s no obvious hierarchy of strength where the biggest dude gets to rule forever, as in lions.

So you gotta status-jock without violence. So you signal. I guess women started that; they can’t just beat up other women by sheer physical strength, and odds are the woman you wanna beat up is some dude’s bitch, and as a woman you don’t wanna cross him. Or maybe it’s sexual selection of men just not being into murderous women. At any rate, civilized society is about signaling. And it’s much better than constant jousting. Civilization is nice. Not having to kill or maim all your rivals for access to food and women is nice. But signaling has its own problems. For one you gotta make up stuff. You gotta get used to lying, having an opinion on no grounds, repeating high-status opinions like they were your own. Civilization requires constant bullshit on a massive scale.

Of course this implies that humans, or animals in general are wired up to accurately perceive reality. But that’s a pretty baseless assumption. Living beings evolve so that they can survive and reproduce. They are wired up to find food, avoid danger and mate as much as possible. That’s all there is to it. Their reality-perception abilities will only develop to the extent that they improve survival and reproduction, i.e. fitness. For solitary animals one would assume that they gotta be pretty accurate at analyzing their environment. They’re busy enough finding food and females to entertain bullshit. At most nature may favor some amount of baseless optimism so they don’t get discouraged. But social animals are different. You need to get along. You need to interact with others to get your way. A good way of getting your way is lying your way. Cheating your peers so that they give you stuff. Of course this creates incentives to avoid being cheated yourself. So you wanna be able to notice if someone’s lying to you. You need to find signals that your friends are lying. Tone of voice, twitching of the eye, posture. There’s always ways to tell. But this detection-race of course creates the ultimate incentive. Bullshit without lying. Believe your own bullshit so that you don’t produce any sign of cheating. That way you can’t be detected.

Some people may have noticed this is the argument of the great evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers in a series of papers on Self-Deception. Let me paste some quotes from his 2000 paper, The Elements of a Scientific Theory of Self-Deception. 

(…) the argument for self-deception is not so obvious. For a solitary organism, the prospects seem difficult, if not hopeless. In trying to deal effectively with a complex, changing world, where is the benefit in misrepresenting reality to oneself? Only in interactions with other organisms, especially con-specifics, would several benefits seem to arise. Because deception is easily selected between individuals, it may also generate self-deception, the better to hide ongoing deception from detection by others. In this view, the conscious mind is, in part, a social front, maintained to deceive others—who more readily attend to its manifestations than to those of the actor’s unconscious mind.

My bolding. This maps pretty well with Randall Collins’ theory of people’s behavior being formed by interactional rituals, where you learn what to say and do while watching your peers do it together. Note that speech is also a form of behavior. In the rationalist West we assume that speech this special power that reflects the content of the mind, but there’s no evidence for that, nor can there be. Speech is like gestures or grunts; things you do to communicate with others. There’s nothing magical about it.

there are also situations in which your dominant activity (say, lecturing) is honest, but a minor activity is deceitful (stealing the chalk). These can be thought of as directed by unconscious modules favored by selection so as to allow us to pursue surreptitiously strategies we would wish to deny to others. Naturally these will often remain unconscious to us.

I will shortly describe in detail a deceitful little module in my own life which I have discovered primarily because my pockets fill up with contraband: hard, concrete objects that others may soon miss. What is the chance that I perform numerous unconscious selfish modules whose social benefits do not pile up in one place, where I can notice them (and others confirm them), e.g., ploys of unconscious manipulation of others (including, of course, as an academic, expropriating their ideas)?

I have discovered over the years that I am an unconscious petty thief. I steal small, useful objects: pencils, pens, matches, lighters and other useful objects easy to pocket. I am completely unconscious of this activity while it is happening. I am, of course, now richly aware of it in retrospect, but after at least 40 years of performing the behavior I am still unconscious ahead of time, during the action, and immediately afterwards. Perhaps because the trait is so unconscious, it appears now to have a life of its own and often seems to act directly against even my narrow interests. For example, I steal chalk from myself while lecturing and am left with no chalk with which to lecture (nor do I have a blackboard at home). I steal pencils and pens from my office and, in turn, from my home, so if I download my pockets at either destination, as I commonly do, I risk being without writing implements at the other end. Recently I stole the complete set of keys of a Jamaican school principal off of his desk between us. And so on.

In summary, noteworthy features of this module are that: (1) it is little changed over the course of my life; (2) increasing consciousness of the behavior after the behavior has done little or nothing to increase consciousness during or in advance of the behavior; and (3) the behavior seems increasingly to misfire, that is, to fail to steal useful objects.

What is the benefit of keeping this petty thievery unconscious? On the one hand, if challenged, I can act surprised and be confident in my assertion that nothing like this was ever my conscious intention (see below). On the other hand, unconsciousness ensures that my thievery will not interfere with ongoing behavior, while the piece of brain devoted to stealing can concentrate on the problem at hand, i.e., snatching the desired item undetected. Part of its consciousness has to be devoted to studying my own behavior since integrating its thievery into my other behavior will presumably make this harder to detect by others, including myself.

Lol. This guy’s a piece of work. But hey, insight comes from the unconventional. Anyway, I digress.

3. Self-deception as self-promotion. Another major source of self-deception has to do with self-promotion, self-exaggeration on the positive side, denial on the negative, all in the name of producing an image that we are “beneffective,” to use Anthony Greenwald’s apt term, toward others. That is, we benefit others and are effective when we do it. If you ask high school seniors in the United States to rank themselves on leadership ability, fully 80% say they have better than average abilities, but for true feats of self-deception you can hardly beat the academic profession. When you ask professors to rate themselves, an almost unanimous 94% say they are in the top half of the profession!

This is a good example. Somebody asks you where are you in a ranking in your profession. But how the hell would you know? Have you met all of your fellows? Do you even know yourself that well? Of course not. When asked a question like that people aren’t processing information stored in their brains. What they do is look very well at the interviewer, figure out that they have a chance to gain some status by signaling their awesomeness, and they do so. Of course they do. Incidentally in Japan, where humility is traditionally seen as high-status, people would answer the other way around. Oh, I’m a very bad leader. I’m just some guy. Of course that’s changing thanks to MBA culture exported by the US.

4. The construction of biased social theory. We all have social theories. We have a theory of our marriages. Husband and wife, for example, may agree that one party is a long-suffering altruist, while the other is hopelessly selfish, but they may disagree over which is which. We each tend to have a theory regarding our employment. Are we an exploited worker, underpaid and underappreciated for value given (and fully justified in minimizing output and stealing company property)? We usually have a theory regarding our larger society as well. Are the wealthy unfairly increasing their own re- sources at the expense of the rest of us? Does democracy permit us to reassert our power at regular intervals? Is the judicial system systematically b ased against our kind of people (African-Americans for example)? The capacity for these kinds of theories presumably evolved in part to detect cheating in our relationships and in the larger system of reciprocal altruism.

Social theory is easily expected to be biased in favor of the speaker. Social theory inevitably embraces a complex array of facts and these may be very partially remembered and very poorly organized, the better to construct a consistent self-serving body of social theory.

Social theory being a nice sounding name for ideology. You gotta give it to Trivers that he was an honest and insightful guy. He personally was best friends with the Black Panthers and spent decades as an activist for black power in America. And yet look at him: here he is confessing it’s all bullshit he made up, biased in favor of him and his friends.

Alexander was, I think, the first person to point out that group selection thinking—the mistaken belief that natural selection favors things that are good for the group or the species—is just the kind of social theory you would expect to be promulgated in a group-living species whose members are concerned to increase each other’s group orientation.

Touché, group selectionists. What else is there to say? Just look at E.O. Wilson and tell me he doesn’t look like a Puritan pastor.

5. Fictitious narratives of intention. Just as we can misremember the past in a self-serving way, so we can be unconscious of ongoing motivation, instead experiencing a conscious stream of thoughts which may act, in part, as rationalizations for what we are doing, all of which is immediately available verbally should we be challenged by others: “But I wasn’t thinking that at all, I was thinking such-and-such.” A common form in myself is that I wish to go to point C, but can not justify the expense and time. I leap, however, at a chance to go to point B, which brings me close enough to point C so that, when there, I can easily justify the extra distance to C, but I do not think of C until I reach B. We may have much deeper patterns of motivation which may remain unconscious, or nearly so, for much longer periods of time, unconscious patterns of motivation in relationships, for example.

This is a similar argument to Scott Alexander’s “Schelling fences on slippery slopes” post. If Less Wrongers wanted to really understand cognitive biases they could just read Trivers work, which is shorter and to the point. But of course what they really wanted is to follow Shlomo and make money scamming the government through their institute while enjoying in easy sex. But I digress.

In summary, the hallmark of self-deception in the service of deceit is the denial of deception, the unconscious running of selfish and deceitful ploys, the creation of a public persona as an altruist and a person beneffective in the lives of others, the creation of self-serving social theories and biased internal narratives of ongoing behavior which hide true intention. The symptom is a biased system of information flow, with the conscious mind devoted, in part, to constructing a false image and at the same time being unaware of contravening behavior and evidence. The general cost of self- deception, then, is misapprehension of reality, especially social, and an in- efficient, fragmented mental system. For a deeper view of these processes we must remember that the mind is not divided into conscious and unconscious, but into differing degrees of consciousness. We can deny reality and then deny the denial, and so on, ad infinitum. Consciousness comes in many, many degrees and forms. We can feel anxious and not know why. We can be aware that someone in a group means us no good, but not know who. We can know who, but not why, and so on.

We can also know things and not know quite how to put them into language. You get hunches. That happens because language is a tool to make up excuses with your friends. Practice breeds mastery; if something happens which you understand but it doesn’t serve as an excuse for anything you most likely won’t even know how to talk about it. Because you never have.

Prayer and meditation are two widespread examples of people wrestling with their phenotypes, some of which may have been favored by selection to suppress negative phenotypic traits, including the negative phenotypic trait of self-deception! Many famous passages from the world’s great religions, as well as rituals of prayer and meditation, are directed against self- deception, as in this loose translation of Matthew 7:1–5 in the New Testament of the Bible: “Judge not that ye be not judged, for you are projecting your faults onto others; get rid of your own self-deception first, then you will have a chance of seeing others objectively.”


Might be why I’ve never been into meditation.

4. Positive illusions? Another important possibility is that self-deception has intrinsic benefit for the organism performing it, quite independent of any improved ability to fool others. In the past twenty years an important literature has grown up which appears to demonstrate that there are intrinsic benefits to having a higher perceived ability to affect an outcome, a higher self-perception, and a more optimistic view of the future than facts would seem to justify. It has been known for some time that depressed individuals tend not to go in for the routine kinds of self-inflation that we have described above. This is sometimes interpreted to mean that we would all be depressed if we viewed reality accurately, while it seems more likely that the depressed state may be a time of personal re-evaluation, where self- inflation would serve no useful purpose. While considering alternative actions, people evaluate them more rationally than when they have settled on one option, at which time they practice a mild form of self-deception in which they rationalize their choice as the best possible, imagine themselves to have more control over future events than they do, and see more positive outcomes than seem justified. What seems clear is that they gain direct benefits of functioning from these actions. Life is intrinsically future-oriented and mental operations that keep a positive future orientation at the forefront result in better future outcomes (though perhaps not as good as those projected). The existence of the placebo effect is another example of this principle (though it requires the cooperation of another person os- tensibly dispensing medicine). It would be very valuable to integrate our understanding of this kind of positive self-deception into the larger frame- work of self-deception we have been describing.

Irrational confidence works. Ask Roissy about it. Fake it till you make it. You never know, right? So if all knowledge is uncertain, might as well make it look like you are capable of anything. You’re awesome, you can get anything done. I mean you could potentially get it done. The possibility might be small but it’s still possible. You might always get lucky. So why be negative? And of course people are attracted to conmen of this sort. What if it’s true? Might as well be his friend. Might as well sleep with this guy.

I also like this theory of depression. If you can’t shit-talk your way into anything, if you’re certain of that; well might as well take a break.

Self-deception appears to be a universal human trait which touches our lives at all levels—from our innermost thoughts to the chance that we will be annihilated together in warfare. It affects the relative development of intellectual disciplines (the more social the content, the less developed the discipline: contrast physics and sociology) as well as the relative degree of consciousness of individuals (generally, more self-deceived, less conscious). An evolutionary analysis suggests that the root cause is social, including selection to deceive others, selection on others to manipulate and deceive oneself, and selection on competing sections of one’s own genotype.

So to summarize: consciousness is just a social front, a social-facing program you make up so you can manipulate your peers to do your bidding. I’ll add that language is just the main (though not only) tool of this social front, and its purpose is of course to manipulate others to do your bidding. It’s nothing else; it’s not what your thoughts are made of. Is something you use to interact with others.

As such the output of this program we call consciousness is not necessarily the truth. That’s just not part of the program. The program is designed to get you status. If a careful and accurate analysis of reality gets you status; well we’ll use that. If parroting slogans about Global Warming or Black Lives Matter or Transexual Pronouns gets you status; well just parrot that shit.

Again don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying everybody is a filthy liar. The definition of a lie is a misrepresentation of facts done with the conscious intend of deceiving someone. But that’s not the argument here. The argument is that brains aren’t built to represent facts accurately anyway. Animals gotta survive. They gotta reproduce. Slowly, generation by generation, they found ways to do that. In social species getting along with your friends and having them help you find food and mates is most important. So of course being able to manipulate your friends is more important than being able to accurately perceive reality. And self-deception is a pretty good strategy to achieve that.

Of course self-deception isn’t a very accurate naming. Deception implies intend to deceive. And this stuff is unconscious. It’s more like a status-filter. Your brain only processes the information that is good for you. That is useful for social life. For fitness. And again, that goes down to a basic epistemological problem. You can never be certain of things. Natural laws appear to exist, and high frequency makes you fairly comfortable of them. The way that brains work is that high frequency creates habits so that the behavior in reaction to that becomes increasingly fast and automatic. So there’s that. But that’s not certainty; that’s habit. Who’s to say that God isn’t going to come down and cut the Red Sea in half? You never know. Remember that Al Ghazali basically killed Islamic science by saying that fire doesn’t burn cotton; it’s Allah who comes down and makes the cotton turn hot and black. Which implies some day he may not do so.

You could be pretty damn certain of things if you lived by yourself with nobody to challenge your memory; but living in society people are talking all kinds of bullshit all the time, which also distorts your perception. What if they’re right? At any rate you gotta get along with them, else they might get pissed and sacrifice you to the Frog totem. So the evolutionary sound strategy for a social species isn’t caring for the truth. Not even close.

To finish up, and for no good reason, here’s a video of Chechens dancing.

60 responses to “Self-Deceptive Status Filters

  1. Pingback: Self-Deceptive Status Filters | Aus-Alt-Right

  2. Old Ez December 21, 2016 at 20:22

    An “ideology” is just the story we tell ourselves about how the universe ultimately is. It is not possible to not have an “ideology”, i.e. a world-view. You have a definite form & identity, therefore you have a definite stand point and therefore a world-view (even if it changes throughout life). All human beings have one or more “ideologies” and those who deny that have one are just ignorant of what their ideology actually is. The idea that one can interpret the world in an ideologically-neutral fashion is a chimera. We can decide, ad hoc, to call a certain state “ideologically-neutral”, but that just means we have agreed at the outset to not examine the ideological frame in which the debate (or whatever) is taking place. All humans necessarily approach experience through their own understanding as mediated by concepts. The totality of those mediating concepts is your “ideology” or world-view.

  3. B December 21, 2016 at 21:33

    It’s fascinating that this whole post, which proposes that everything that people profess is self-serving blather, is itself basically self-serving blather.

    > Who’s to say that God isn’t going to come down and cut the Red Sea in half? You never know. Remember that Al Ghazali basically killed Islamic science by saying that fire doesn’t burn cotton; it’s Allah who comes down and makes the cotton turn hot and black.

    Strangely, other cultures which had prominent philosophers who denied causality did not seem to be crippled in similar ways. For instance, Nahmanides’ assertion that causality does not exist, that everything is a willful act of G-d, did not stop Gersonides and other Jewish scholars from engaging in scientific exploration. Neither did Kant’s assertion that causality did not exist cripple Western scientific thought.

    >Irrational confidence works. Ask Roissy about it.

    Ask him what? How to spend one’s youth chasing DC sluts and end up a childless, bitter middle aged homo (who happens to prefer women)? Irrational confidence works when you have a monkey cage environment. If you’re a man in the real world, what works is humility, hard work and perseverance in the face of difficulty and failure.

    > Part of its consciousness has to be devoted to studying my own behavior since integrating its thievery into my other behavior will presumably make this harder to detect by others, including myself.

    “Honorary Dindu Professor’s kleptomania paves way to new theory of mind.” This guy’s theory that our entire consciousness is self-serving bullshit is itself self-serving bullshit, as it absolves him of any individual agency or responsibility. How can an epiphenomenon be held responsible for anything?

    >In this view, the conscious mind is, in part, a social front, maintained to deceive others—who more readily attend to its manifestations than to those of the actor’s unconscious mind.

    This is like those fruity French postmodernist professors who explained all of history by ascribing latent or actual homosexuality to every historical figure. Yeah, okay. Honest inquiry does not exist, integrity does not exist, honor does not exist, nobility does not exist, everyone is just a queer fantasizing about sword swallowing. Sure, Francois.

    > Living beings evolve so that they can survive and reproduce. They are wired up to find food, avoid danger and mate as much as possible. That’s all there is to it. Their reality-perception abilities will only develop to the extent that they improve survival and reproduction, i.e. fitness.

    Oh, very deep. This doesn’t explain anything about how living beings managed to develop literature and science, cross the oceans, land on the moon, etc., but it’s a great just-so story. “It’s all just evolution, man! I can’t possibly be held accountable for my words and actions, I’m just a meat machine designed to eat and mate!”

    I’d like to recommend an essay and a video.

    The essay is Darwinian Fairy Tales by Stove, who points out that observed human behavior does not much support asribed evolutionary explanations:,%20Errors%20Of%20Heredity,%20And%20Other%20Fables%20Of%20Evolution.pdf

    The video is Dr. Sapolski talking about the unique behaviors of humans, which may be built on an evolved foundation but are unique and completely different on a fundamental level from that of animalsL

    • spandrell December 21, 2016 at 21:50

      Yawn. You know I wouldn’t have to do this if I could move to a settlement to gun down Arabs myself. I have to make sense of liberal idiocy without mentioning demons and ghosts.

      • B December 22, 2016 at 06:17

        That’s the problem with you people.

        First you stopped believing in demons and ghosts. Then you stopped believing in G-d. Eventually, you stopped believing in your own existence (because if consciousness itself is a self-serving epiphenomenon, in what sense do you exist?) Then you actually stop existing (

        As for settlements and Arabs-I assume you come from some group of people, or at least could find some community that would accept you which wouldn’t involve being an anonymous particle in some giant Asian anthill.

        • spandrell December 22, 2016 at 16:06

          Lol. You’ve been to Europe?

        • A C D C Rock January 8, 2017 at 04:40

          “First you stopped believing in demons and ghosts. Then you stopped believing in G-d. Eventually, you stopped believing in your own existence (because if consciousness itself is a self-serving epiphenomenon, in what sense do you exist?) Then you actually stop existing”

          Indeed, it surprised me to see the blog owner (has got so bad at healthy self-deception that he) admits “there is no freedom”, no free will.

          If you have a neurotic enough mind that starts applying the no free will thing consistently, life may become quite tough.
          You’ll start feeling an actor (acting before yourself, too) whenever you say or think “I”.
          What is that “I”?
          Who or what is that which thinks that “I”?

          I believe that on a still subconscious way it’s these thoughts/realizations what is drowning the West (and why more intelligent people don’t want to have offspring: they hare reality and life, because they feel reality and life have cheated them hard). You don’t want to produce something that makes no sense; if life makes no sense, why produce offspring?

          Better to conserve a modicum of self-deception, for the lucky who can.

    • Jefferson December 22, 2016 at 18:30

      A few counterpoints here.

      Sandrell has pointed out on numerous occasions that his insights are entirely self-serving.

      Nachmanides was signalling the hardest that any Jew can signal on this issue, which is probably why he did it, and why it did not retard Jewish science.

      Roissy’s chose death, but has been very effective in that choice due to his irrational confidence. That’s a pretty strong argument in favor of irrational confidence (imagine its efficacy if he’d chosen to do good in this world).

      I don’t want to speak for Spandrell, but I do not think he is absolving himself of responsibility. He’s gone to the ends of the earth to try to find a place and way to raise a family without the toxic memetic intervention of our pozzed west. Toxic memes that were generated through generations of signalling status spirals, which he has identified more clearly than anyone else that I am aware of (though I’m not as well read as many).

      B is, in my estimation, correct with regards to the conscious mind as a social front. While it is certain that nearly all humans utilize their conscious mind to rationalize their selfish behaviors, it is clear that increased humility diminishes this effect.

      “This doesn’t explain anything about how living beings managed to develop literature and science, cross the oceans, land on the moon, etc.” I pulled this quote because this is the issue on which you two start landing on different pages. If, as in the essay linked, evolution is simply the competition for resources in a Malthusian environment, then the quoted text is certainly true, but that isn’t how evolution works. In reality, there is often a trade-off between traits that increase an organism’s capacity for reproduction versus capacity for resource generation. Agriculture effectively ended the resource generation competition for most humans, which allowed all the tools we had developed previously to evolve along other lines (like literature, science [which is really just warmaking technology for most of our history], etc.).

      • B December 23, 2016 at 00:04

        It’s a disservice to Nachmanides to ascribe disingenuity and signalling to him. In fact, that whole line of argument isn’t far from the socialist concept of “false consciousness.”

        There is no more or less effective when it comes to death. Dead is dead. Of course, if he was selling used cars, irrational confidence would also be quite useful.

        I’m not saying Spandrell is absolving himself personally of responsibility. I’m saying that in the system of thought he espouses, personal responsibility is a meaningless concept.

        Malthus and Darwin are full of shit when it comes to human beings. Malthus in particular was no different than global warming pseudoscientists. As for Darwin, I recommend you take a look on what he had to say about the Irish, and then look at some actual Irish people.

        Agriculture made resources MORE scarce, not less, as evidenced by the immediate damage to height, health, leisure that agriculturists suffer when taking up the lifestyle. In any case, there is no conceivable evolutionary reason that animals which find themselves with a surplus of food would turn around and start developing literature, architecture, science, etc. And certainly the drastic drop in the quality of literature, architecture, science etc. in the last 100 years, which coincided with a surplus of riches which was historically unprecedented, suggests that there’s no direct relationship between the two.

        You can say “they did all that stuff to impress chicks.” That’s wrong on two levels. First, a guy in a position to build a ziggurat does not need to build a ziggurat to impress chicks. Second, there is no conceivable evolutionary reason that women would evolve to be impressed by ziggurats, and they are certainly not typically impressed by literature, science, and so on. You might say that they’re impressed by the fame that the recognition in those fields brings, but very few of those who really achieved things in those fields were motivated by fame.

        • Jefferson December 23, 2016 at 22:20

          The Ramchal covers your objections, but one needs to be able to understand in order to understand it (this is both tautological and the way in which Maimonedes addressed this same issue). The inability to understand Spandrell’s point is a huge boost to fitness, since understanding it leads most people to nihilism.

        • Cavalier December 27, 2016 at 05:57

          “Darwin, the Irish”

          It wasn’t just Darwin. Damned near everyone thought that the Irish were basically the Australian Aborigines of Europe, the lowest of the low. This is obviously not true—they were never quite that low—nothing is, but nevertheless…there must have been something to it if it was observed so universally. Hell, just 40 years ago intelligence tests showed the Irish to be not much smarter than the American negro; now they show little difference between Ireland and England, that green and pleasant land.

          “Agriculture, civilization”

          Agriculture made resources much more abundant. This is quite clear from the immediate explosion in population density thereafter. More resources = more people, more people = more men of fighting age, more men of fighting age = farmers beating the crap out of hunter-gatherers, farmers beating the crap out of hunter-gatherers = hunter-gatherers converting to farming in order to compete, or dying out. Sure, it probably started with goats, or whatever, but crops soon followed.

          Damage to height and health was a result of humans being exquisitely adapted to hunter-gathering (millions of years of adaptation; every pre-human hominid going back to chimp-like creatures) to farming (zero adaptation). Agriculturalists’ diets often lack certain key nutrients abundant in the diets of hunter-gatherers, such as iodine. (This may explain a big chunk of the Irish question, by the way.) The other big chunk of health is disease load, which is entirely unrelated to resources but rather population density, population density which increases with every technological improvement, including and notably agriculture.

          The big change that agriculture brought is that it subjected women to men. Men came to own their women as they owned their lands and their herds of goats. This is fundamentally a function of calorie distribution: if women control the calories (or money, as is the case today) they have the power and the “ability to choose” “what they do with their body”, hence why independent women are so easy. Agriculture is men collecting the calories in the fields and women taking care of the household, and there is a natural superior/inferior relationship there, a just and proper subjection. The birth of patriarchy, you might say.

          Which explains your inexplicable monuments, too. They aren’t to impress women—women are impressed by big muscles and a big, swinging dong on the chaddiest cad around—they’re to impress other men. Men with daughters. Men who might marry (or sell, a crass word but necessary to route around our degraded language) their daughters to them. Or men who might want to marry their daughters.

          That’s basically what monument-building is: a penis-measuring contest. If you’re wondering why America…erected…his highest skyscraper in 1973, it’s because that’s about when America’s patriarchy died.

          And of course there’s also J. D. Unwin’s Sex and Culture for why only lifelong monogamy can produce White men produce Western civilization and White women, but this is dragging on too long.

          • BaruchK December 27, 2016 at 10:59

            >It wasn’t just Darwin. Damned near everyone thought that the Irish were basically the Australian Aborigines of Europe, the lowest of the low. This is obviously not true—they were never quite that low—nothing is, but nevertheless…there must have been something to it if it was observed so universally. Hell, just 40 years ago intelligence tests showed the Irish to be not much smarter than the American negro; now they show little difference between Ireland and England, that green and pleasant land.

            That tells you something about the paradigm is screwed. Either intelligence tests are not testing what we think they are, or what they’re testing is not immutable, or both.

            This is important. Very much of the modern alt-right/NRx cosmology is built on the central pillar of intelligence as a heritable trait which is measurable by tests and determines the fate of the bearer. This is itself an extension of the ancient myth of the Fates weaving the thread of one’s life before one is born. But this pillar is shaky.

            Note that I am not arguing for no significant inherent differences between populations and individuals. I am arguing that IQ reductionism misses very essential aspects of human existence. It’s no accident that the second that American society started focusing on this aspect as the determining one, creativity (as expressed by patents and discoveries per capita) and intellectual freedom (as expressed by literacy, active and passive) began to tank.

            >Agriculture made resources much more abundant.

            For the adapting societies as a whole, but not for the vast majority of their members.

            >Sure, it probably started with goats, or whatever, but crops soon followed.

            Do not conflate agriculture with herding/transhumance. The two are more different than either one is from hunting and gathering. Cain and Abel.

            >They aren’t to impress women—women are impressed by big muscles and a big, swinging dong on the chaddiest cad around—they’re to impress other men.

            Women are not particularly impressed by those things, inherently. Big muscles and a big swinging dong are things men get to impress other men. Surprise, I know. Also, harems of women are a thing men get to impress other men.

            >That’s basically what monument-building is: a penis-measuring contest.

            Reducing things to dicks, power, money, etc. loses the essence of human existence.

            • spandrell December 27, 2016 at 11:44

              Dude, you should know what IQ-worship is all about. It doesn’t mean people suddenly like nerds. IQ is important because it explains why blacks are so screwed up. That is *very* important, especially for Americans. Which is why the idea has spread. Of course IQ isn’t everything. Of course there’s more to intelligence. But all of that is inheritable too.

              By denouncing “IQ reductionism” you are just making the old progressive argument used to move more blacks into your suburban school.

              • BaruchK December 27, 2016 at 11:54

                This is a very prog argument, because it presupposes that the only alternative to IQ reductionism is prog equalism.

                Among other things, it relies on a model where the only two kinds of entities are men and the government which acts upon them. Carroll Quigley, among others, pointed out that this is a common fallacy.

                And so, if the government can’t sort men by an easily measurable parameter like IQ, it must lump them all together, and thus Thugquarious will learn in my suburban school.

                The reality is that aside from men and government, there are other entities which exist, including communities, religious and ethnic, associations, religious organizations, professional guild, etc. Only in a situation like the present, where the government has progressively destroyed all of the above and usurped their powers and functions, is equalism the alternative to IQ reductionism.

              • spandrell December 27, 2016 at 11:56

                Well we happen to live in the present. Who knew, huh.

              • B December 28, 2016 at 07:52

                You might live in “the present,” but from my perspective, that present is already dead and a new thing is being born.

                BTW, my kid has a couple of little Ethiopian Jews in his kindergarten. I have no problem with them. Nice, well behaved kids from religious families. It’s possible that they will not grow up to be programmers, which does not particularly worry me either.

                On the other hand, you never know-I know an Ethiopian dude from the next settlement over who codes, and apparently pretty well.

              • spandrell December 28, 2016 at 08:33

                Oh give me a break. Go signal to your temple please.

              • BaruchK December 28, 2016 at 12:26

                Temples are a Reform thing, not an Orthodox one.

                I should probably point out that I live in a place where people do not lock their cars and doors (but everyone is armed.)

                Your problem is that you think in two dimensions. There’s what the Cathedral says and its opposite. Since you know the Cathedral lies, you think its opposite is the truth. The reality is that the truth lives in a third dimension which exists outside of this system.

              • ProgPill Blue Red January 8, 2017 at 04:49

                Rather than black people’s underachievement (which is a very white-centric view: you don’t find it surprising that it’s the people who jump at you if you say white history has been superior to black history in any way the people who, subconsciously, believe blacks inferiors of whites more than anybody else, do you? I don’t. Black people’s achievement is black people’s achievement. To say it is too little means putting whites at the center of everything), he was focussing on why our white culture is so shallow compared to 1 or 2 centuries ago.

                Something that is not reason has gone missing, and no rationalism, not even yours, will bring it back.

                This is what I surmise he may have meant.

            • Cavalier December 28, 2016 at 06:45

              “IQ paradigm, screwed”

              Not really. Ireland is an exceptional case which shows us the significance of exceptional environmental deficiency, most importantly iodine, in explaining dysfunctional behavior. The Irish were once the ghetto scum of American inner-cities, but now are more or less indistinguishable from normal white people both in America and their homeland. Nevertheless, the Irish were never at the civilizational level of the nigger.

              Creativity-relates stuffness tanked because “merit”-based education is explicitly weaponized religious/ideological indoctrination. Its purpose is to assimilate, Borg-like, the best talent into the collective to further the Borg-square’s aims. The alternative is a bunch of unharnessed (in the most literal sense of the word) intelligent white men running around and making trouble, like us.

              “Not abundant resources”

              Genotypical average stature hasn’t changed very much in a very, very long time. The difference between us and most African primitives, for instance, is not that much. Our immediate ancestors were shorter than us because of pre-WWII nutritional deficiencies, not calorie deficiencies. And they were adapting to it; the first farmers lost a lot of height because they were profoundly unadapted to their new diet, but over the last several thousand years grew steadily taller.

              “Women don’t like big muscles and big dicks”


              The essence of human existence is selection of the fittest. We are mammals, animals, bony fishes, risen killer apes, subject to Darwin as every living being is subject to Darwin. If you believe that man, the risen killer ape, is a special snowflake, you should know that this belief is vestigial, leftover from the belief in souls, the supernatural, the fall from heaven/Eden, and other artifacts of Cuckstainity. If you’re a self-recognized Cuckstain, I can’t help you.

              • BaruchK December 28, 2016 at 08:09

                >Nevertheless, the Irish were never at the civilizational level of the nigger.

                Carlyle, Darwin etc. beg to differ.

                Agreed re: education. Consider that, when it comes to one’s human potential, modern Western education is designed to constrain it in all aspects. Not just creativity, btw. If you’ve ever dealt with African (Nigerian/Ghanaian) immigrants vs. their American cousins (who supposedly have a higher average IQ) it should be obvious that the former, who benefited from their community educating them as best it could, are morally superior. Meaning, they are more responsible, entrepreneurial, intellectually curious, etc.

                >The essence of human existence is selection of the fittest.

                When you look at what “the fittest” actually means, it turns out to be a tautology.

                “The fittest” might mean “the most domesticable,” “the most able to live in filthy medieval cities with raw sewage and livestock everywhere,” “the most able to live in pestilential Subsaharan Africa,” etc.

                Darwin thought that his “lower races” would be gone in a few generations, being “less fit.” He was not particularly happy about this. The reality is that apparently the Europeans and Asians are not very “fit” when it comes to surviving in the world they created.

                Reducing human existence to evolution loses most of the essentials. There is one curious thing that looking at ourselves from an evolutionary perspective, though. Religious monotheists (the real, crazy kind like Mormons, Amish, etc.) are far more “fit” than the rest, when you define fitness as the recursive ability to have children and raise them to the age of reproduction. From the evolutionary perspective, atheists and agnostics have a crippling defect, similar to being born with malformed gonads.

                I am not a Christian, by the way-I am an Orthodox Jew.

            • Cavalier December 28, 2016 at 21:38

              In Africa, a vast expanse of land equal in area to all other habitable continents combined, inhabited by humans and proto-humans longer than anywhere else, there are no ruins; no two rocks stand atop one another, and before the white man came, its inhabitants did not invent, produce, or acquire steel, iron, bronze, copper, tin, or any other metal, the wheel, the written word, woven cloth, art, money, ships, the city, or empire, and did not ride or use or domesticate any animals, besides the dog, which essentially domesticated itself, though Africa abounds in suitable creatures for such, as when the white man discovered the zebra he discovered it trivial to ride and much the same as the domesticated horse.

              Unlike as with wetbacks, we seem to get the cream of the crop of Africans. I would name government gibs as the primary cause of the social dysfunction of the blacks developed since 1960 or so, though I’m sure the school system contributes.

              Fitness is relative to environment, of course. Europeans were fittest in preindustrial Europe and Asians were fittest in preindustrial Asia. Darwin recognized that the creation of industry by the European was essentially him forming his environment around him, him fully taking control of the environment and the world. Today we drive in cars and live in conditioned air and manipulate symbols on supercomputers in our pockets invisibly and instantaneously connected to a world-spanning central nervous system. All invented and sustained by the efforts of the white man, though the Chinese seem to have gotten on the bandwagon in the last decade or two. In another decade or two, we will manipulate our own genomes, and then all bets are off.

              One of our essential realizations is that Africans and other Third World parasites exist only because of the largesse of the white man, and only multiply because we send them food and medicine and technology. We hold the whip hand. If we stop sending them food, they will decrease in number until they are in balance with environment again. If we stop sending them medicine, they will be subject to nature as they were subject to nature and should be subject to nature again. If we stop sending them cell phones, they will have no cell phones; if metal, they will have no metal; if woven cloth, no woven cloth.

              There is no external force preventing us from making Mexico, Central America, South America, South East Asia, India, Africa, and the Middle East great the way that England once made America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand great.

              Another essential realization is that religion is a universal constant in modern-human life. There is always a religion, though sometimes it pretends not to be a religion. Atheists and agnostics are not in fact areligious, but animated by a false religion, a religion made false and unnatural by the way it suppresses its adherents’ fertility through egalitarianism and feminism.

              I like Orthodox Judaism, but unfortunately it isn’t all that different from Christianity in the ways that really matter. This comes as no great surprise, given that Christianity is its parent religion. I hope you guys escape the Cathedral singularity.

              • BaruchK December 28, 2016 at 23:37

                If genome manipulation happens, it will be tech in the hands of those Western elites who are two and three SDs above the average. Assuming they believe what current elites believe (which is similar to what they believed 100 years ago,) why do you assume that they will use it to the benefit of the average European? Out of kindness? Historically, they have not been very kind to that average European, and have not seemed to feel much kinship with him.

                If you think that genome manipulation will be used to raise the intelligence of the average European, you might as well assume that it will be used to raise the intelligence of the average African.

                The reason that your elite subsidizes the Africans is the same reason that it bombs the Syrians and imports their refugee youths. This serves their purposes. When you say “we”, as though these people thought of you as something other than mildly dangerous livestock, you are serving their purposes as well.

                We don’t have a parent religion. Thanks for your well-wishes. I think we are escaping the singularity and in fact will help the other nations of the world escape it as well, through Noahide laws.

            • Cavalier December 29, 2016 at 05:02

              I am 2-3SD above the mean; it isn’t that special.

              The reason we subsidize the proliferation of the inferior is because our state religion is fully mad—mad with runaway slave-morality. If I were to go around openly heretical, I would not be regarded as a mildly dangerous livestock, but as a class-traitorous heretical racistfascistmisogynistbigoted Nazi worthy of a nice witch-burning. Fortunately, we’re not yet at the point of actual witch-burning, merely the point of regarding people as worthy of witch-burning. In any case, I say we because I grew up saying we.

              Genetic engineering is going to be available to everyone and their grandmother. In fact, it’s going to be SO easy and SO available that we face a very real problem that anyone or their grandmother will be able to rustle up a Black Death in their garage. I exaggerate, but only slightly; CRISPR is going to be push-button in under two decades.

              My fear is that you are not, in fact, escaping the singularity. There are gay parades in Israel, man.

              • BaruchK December 30, 2016 at 12:56

                2-3 SD above the mean is the top 1-5%.

                Most people in that range do not have very much in common with the average person in terms of worldview or interests, unless they work at it, like Feynman, or come from an average family.

                Add to that the effect of living in a bubble of wealth and intellect, and you get something like the Bloomsbury Group.

                If the elite has changed its tactics, and no longer wishes to exterminate the Morlocks, but rather to use them to destroy its potential competitors while doing all it can to destroy them morally, that does not mean it has suddenly fallen in love with them.

                Promises of mass genetic engineering…I’ll believe it when I see it. I grew up reading 1950s and 60s sci fi. Very few of its promises have materialized.

                There are, indeed, gay pride parades here. They are not attended by the religious, and the religious are increasing both as a percentage of society and as a percentage of its educated classes, security apparatus, etc.

              • Sam J. December 31, 2016 at 09:00

                “…CRISPR is going to be push-button in under two decades…”

                May even be sooner. Chinese starting CRISPR trials on humans.


              • Candide III December 31, 2016 at 11:09

                Unlikely that CRISPR will be usable for genetic engineering as you two imagine it in “a couple of decades”, without even considering the progressive degradation of scientific processes. I wrote the other day:

                Editing a few thousand sites would be trivial in a computer file, but biological tools don’t work like that. There is always a bit of hit or miss because of thermodynamic constraints, and the effort required increases exponentially with the hit/miss ratio. Even though gene-editing tools are improving from the older versions used by those Chinese biologists who made waves last year trying to fix beta-thalassemia in human embryos with CRISPR, they are probably a decade from practical application, and even then involving only a few edits. Similar engineering difficulties afflict de novo genome synthesis. Living cells have the immense advantage of being able to limit themselves to copying an intact genome and are extremely efficient at this, so the engineering difficulties are not in principle insuperable, but they are nevertheless very great. In one respect, genome proofreading or editing for highly polygenic traits is easier on technical requirements compared to therapeutic applications, because you don’t particularly care about any single one of the thousands of sites you’re targeting. This means you don’t need a hit rate that close to 100%. On the other hand, even a fraction of a percent failure rate per site – whether from off-site damage, incorrect DNA repair or the sheer volume of foreign proteins and RNA dumped into the germ cell – will mean that an overall success rate per embryo will be very low, and the lower the higher traits you shoot for.

  4. spandrell December 21, 2016 at 22:11

    And please, can people stop recommending books? I’m not Tyler Cowen, I can’t read 30 books every couple of hours. I’ve enough books piled up that I should be reading. If you’ve read the book be a nice person and make the argument in short so you can make your point in a way that I can understand it.

    • B December 22, 2016 at 06:20

      If I thought the book could be summarized to a few sentences without losing essential stuff, I would have done so. You want me to start linking you to Buzzfeed articles?

      A very rough summary is that Sapolski points out all kinds of ways in which humans build on animal nature in such a way that their behaviors and abilities are completely different from those of the animals.

      Stove points out that when we look at actual human behavior, it does not much resemble the evolutionarily-driven behavior of cod and pine trees.

  5. Giovanni Dannato December 21, 2016 at 22:26

    Ideology as you say is seldom coherent, but all the bullshitting is a sly veneer over almost robotically rational socio-sexual strategies. The trouble lies in the conflict between individuals’ interests and that of the entire group.
    When everyone’s energy is consumed by internal competition or a few hyper-parastitic elites dominate, this makes the group very vulnerable to competing societies.
    Also, herd imitation behaviors are a useful survival heuristic in objective reality, but sometimes the whole herd runs off a cliff.

    Part of the task of conscious intelligence is to get the balance of cooperation and defection right. To be able to parrot the bullshit while being able to stop at the cliff’s edge and profit from everyone else’s folly.
    So all the pageantry of belief is necessary in human society, but it can get out of control and bring down civilizations when instinctive behaviors become too far removed from their intended purpose in the objective reality.
    We can think of moths programmed to navigate by the light of the moon drawn to waste their energy and perhaps even die flying into man-made lights. Humans are much the same in any advanced civilization, especially cities of the post industrial revolution that are too far different from ancestral selective pressures.

  6. spandrell December 21, 2016 at 22:29

    Part of the task of conscious intelligence is to get the balance of cooperation and defection right. To be able to parrot the bullshit while being able to stop at the cliff’s edge and profit from everyone else’s folly

    Well that’s why evolution kept our phenotypes around. Contrarians exist for a reason.

  7. Pingback: Self-Deceptive Status Filters | Reaction Times

  8. Nikolai Vladivostok December 22, 2016 at 02:06

    Autists might be a window to the truth. At least, the ones who have no sense of decorum. Also children.

  9. James James December 22, 2016 at 12:40

    “This guy’s a piece of work.”
    True. He’s a great biologist but foolish. He joined the Black Panthers and was friends with Huey Newton, who was a great talker and pathologically dishonest. Even Trivers’ experiences in Jamaica didn’t make him see the error of his ways.

  10. Affl Guy January 8, 2017 at 04:05

    “We can also know things and not know quite how to put them into language. You get hunches. That happens because language is a tool to make up excuses with your friends. Practice breeds mastery; if something happens which you understand but it doesn’t serve as an excuse for anything you most likely won’t even know how to talk about it. Because you never have.”

    I know my note is not relevant to the post, but this can happen for other reasons.
    You may be wiser (where in the brain is wisdom? For sure it has some kind of correlation with intelligence. For sure, too the correlation isn’t that big) than you are intelligent.

    You may be more intuitively intelligent (right side of the brain) than rationally intelligent.

    You may have a sharper perception/sensitivity/emotional intelligence (see? I just find it hard to name it, lol) and see things that you wouldn’t know how to put in words (even because you KNOW them without UNDERSTANDING them).

    I’ll try to find a decent example. Let’s try with two.

    1) Works of art. Have me watch 10 art-movies, or read 10 classical works of literature.
    Unlike the overwhelming majority of even very high-IQ people, I’m gonna enjoy them and rank them in an order equal or close to how the most secluded, augustly serious critic puts them.

    But I have no knowledge or understanding of critical theory, and all the complicate stuff people “in the know” write and argue.
    I rank art by my 6th sense, which surely resides in the brain but nobody seems to be talking about.
    And I notice nearly an enormous amount of subtleties and subtexts.

    But if I had to write a review? I couldn’t.
    Because I don’t analytically understand much of what I feel (yes, I am an art type of guy: people just look at me for 5 seconds and, unlike they say of anybody else, they’ll say “what do you do? You must be an artist, right?).

    Same for, say, they let 1000 observers watch 10 couples during conversation, each for ten minutes, and they have to find out in which couples the woman is interested in the man’s money (or social status), and where she really likes him.
    On this kind of test, I’d do much better than on an IQ test.

    I suck at self-deception (for example, I know most if not all the people who comment here have higher IQs than mine, and I know it immediately. I think perceiving this clearly isn’t normal.
    I have met thousands of normies and they never realize when whom they are talking with outsmarts them no matter how clear that is.

    I don’t know if you’ll draw anything useful from this comment. Hopefully it will lead to something else, or something more than “nonsense/retarded/fuck off”.

    The human brain is unbelievably more nuanced and complex than we know, currently and in the near future.

    • Affl Guy January 8, 2017 at 04:22

      “Positive illusions? Another important possibility is that self-deception has intrinsic benefit for the organism performing it, quite independent of any improved ability to fool others. In the past twenty years an important literature has grown up which appears to demonstrate that there are intrinsic benefits to”

      I can’t quite apprehend why science is trying to rediscover what a Shakespeare SAW centuries ago, and I saw as soon as I had had enough experience with human relations.

      I mean, POSSIBILITY?
      And we need an important body of scientific literature to think it may be the case?

      Heck, what does it take to see that (a little example) girls who aren’t beautiful and end up securing the marriage contract with a beta who embodies all what they dislike (and despise) in a man are the more obsessive in displaying “happiness” (that is to spread social media posts about “oh! we are so happy! I love him!”, while in private they never tell him even once “I love you”, lol)?

      And what it takes to see that nearly all of them, consciously, believe their charade?
      They tell themselves “I love him I love him I love him” obsessively to make themselves feel better, aside from social needs. (The obsessiveness is what makes you sure it’s not the normal expression of a real feeling, but something compulsive, which finds explanations only in that the need it tries to satisfy is very pressing).

      What it takes to realize that believing its own charade will allow the brain to save up a lot of energy?

      Nihilism can be seen as the loss of self-deception, and we see where it is leading the West, don’t we?
      And it’s still, for many people, rather subconscious nihilism.
      Think if it became a more conscious thing (but it IS becoming a more conscious thing, even in the mind of the masses. Nobody really believes they’ll live in the afterworld after dying here.)

      So, no, that is not “a possibility”, it is most clear, and we ain’t need science to know it.
      Science can be needed to analyze it.

      (If 5% of this is not “retarded” I’ll consider it a success, mind you!)

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