Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Monthly Archives: February 2017

Why do people go to class

Not to learn, certainly.

David Friedman says:

I have long been puzzled by why lecturers were not replaced by books shortly after the invention of printing made books cheap. Video is just the latest incarnation of that puzzle.

Well if you’ve been puzzled for long, why don’t you think about it? Come on, Mr. Friedman. You’re a smart guy. If you don’t understand something, just think a bit harder. Or better still: think outside the box.

Some guys out there put theories about humans being wired to pay attention to lecturers, more than to books or videos. I don’t know. Certainly didn’t work like that for me. A boring lecture is a boring lecture whether on video or in person. I’m not the most patient guy so your mileage may vary but I surely didn’t pay much attention myself to my professors unless they were particularly good.

The answer to the question is obvious. I mean, come on. People don’t go to college to learn. They go because it’s the official way of attaining high status. That’s what education is for. The guy who just wants to learn already reads the book and doesn’t bother with the lecture. The fact that we still have lectures and pay lecturers, as some guy said over there, “pay thousands of professors to give exactly the same Calculus lecture”, is not to satisfy the market of kids who want to learn. That’s not the market that high education caters for.

Robin Hanson made what I consider the best claim: education is about making friends with high prestige people. “Impressive people”, as he put it. He would know, as he’s quite impressive himself, and he appears to understand that a lot of people try to be friends with him even though they aren’t at all interested in what he has to say. So for any average kid, a math professor is a high prestige guy. He’s smart. He’s impressive. Being in the same room with the guy means you have something of the social standing of that guy. You may not be impressive yourself, but you’re good enough to be in the same room as an impressive guy.

You’ll notice that’s the same logic for why people follow celebrities all over the world. What’s the freaking point in going batshit crazy over some singer, paying thousands and thousands of dollars? Why do people ask for autographs? Why do teenage girls go insane when some famous guy looked at them? Why the hell does every TV celebrity have millions of followers on Twitter? Because interaction is status. I have some connection with a high-status guy. Means I’m high status too. Sorta. It used to work like that in 100,000 BC. Not so much today in social media. But evolution is what it is. Gnon is lazy.

Dunbar Feminism

I think I should stop selling “behaviorism”. By which I mean, I should stop calling what I sell “behaviorism”. I shall call it “immediatism”.

Basic points are: all politics are local. All cognition is local. Nothing is abstract. People behave so as to immediate conditions. Here’s an example. Sweden.

Let me quote:

Sweden has the first feminist government in the world. This means that gender equality is central to the Government’s priorities – in decision-making and resource allocation. A feminist government ensures that a gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front, both nationally and internationally. Women and men must have the same power to shape society and their own lives. This is a human right and a matter of democracy and justice. Gender equality is also part of the solution to society’s challenges and a matter of course in a modern welfare state – for justice and economic development. The Government’s most important tool for implementing feminist policy is gender mainstreaming, of which gender-responsive budgeting is an important component.

Feminism gender gender feminism power gender feminism. And first. You get the gist. They also had this sort of battle picture:


So you’d think these people will be very consistent feminists, and make a lot of policies to further the movement. And indeed, they are wreaking havoc in Sweden by doing retarded stuff like “feminist snow plowing”, collapsing the whole transport system in the process. But then these feminists do things like this:

And so people start howling: you can’t do this! What kind of feminist are you if put on a veil to pander to Muslims. Which is true of course, and this bunch of evil hags should be shamed as much as possible. But if you want to understand what is really going on, you gotta understand immediatism.

See, these Swedish middle aged women aren’t feminist in the abstract. They are feminist in their local environment. Which means that there are in a power struggle against their men. Not men in the abstract. But Swedish men. Their husbands, their brothers and their fathers. It is them who they want to spite. And to spite them they adopt “feminism”, i.e. they parrot feminist rhetoric, mostly imported from the USA. And the policies they adopt are tailored to fuck with Swedish men: like taking the snow out of the driveways that women walk, instead of the big roads that their men use to drive to work and transport stuff.

Iranian men just don’t compute in whatever drives these people’s behavior. Even the Muslim men who are slowly invading their country don’t count for much. For all they care they aren’t real people. They’re just some abstraction you read about. Only the people in your Dunbar circle are real. So their “feminism” is about fucking with the men in their Dunbar circle. Anything else isn’t actually there. It is often said that progressive rhetoric assumes that minorities don’t really have agency. Everything is the fault of white men. Same thing. Progressives are in a power struggle against fellow white people: nobody else matters. “Agency” only exists in so far as progressives find it useful in order to achieve more power for themselves against their Dunbar-rivals.

And so when a Swedish prime minister goes to Iran, she puts the veil. Not because she’s not a feminist: but because her feminism is an immediate concern, not an abstract principle. Far away from home, out of sight of her husbands, brothers and fathers who they want to spite, they can be themselves, and enjoy being in the company of real men who force them to behave like decent women. They actually enjoy this, obviously. But they will never admit so to their fellow men. There’s two reasons for that. Often people say that is because their fellow men are beta, feminism is a shit test, the local people don’t pass the shit test so women end up despising the men for it. But I don’t think that’s all the story. Point is, in the local environment, white women and men are rivals in a power struggle, and no quarter is given. No amount of alpha can solve that. Only alphas who are not part of the local power struggle can influence women. Of course the question is how to stop white women from being in a state of war against their men. But that isn’t as easy as it sounds: Asian women give plenty of shit to Asian men, and even Muslim women are a pain in the ass in their own way. I guess only Afghans got that solved for good.

Penis Envy

I’ve meant for a long while to write a post about iconoclasm. The Byzantine Empire had been suffering defeats to Muslims for centuries. They lost 2/3rds of the Empire, and almost lost the whole of it too. It’s no wonder that some emperors thought that maybe Muslims were doing something right. They certainly seemed to have God’s favor.

The conclusion they reached was that God liked the Muslims because they did not have human figures in their mosques. Byzantine churches being full of icons, paintings, mosaics of Jesus and the myriad saints. Most of them pretty lame, too. Byzantine icons tend to be plain, dull, and often just badly drawn. It probably was the work of an endogamic caste of icon-painters who promoted each other for personal reasons unrelated to skill at painting, and flayed at any criticism by laypeople. How dare you criticize our holy art? You are just ignorant of God’s taste in painting. Kinda like the argument that progressive academics use when called out on their nonsensical “research”.

Anyway, Iconoclasm was attempted. The Byzantine state burned every human figure from their churches, which became as bare as mosques. It didn’t do much to help out in the war against the Muslims. What it did was provoke a century-long civil war. The icon-painter guild was *very* stubborn. And the Byzantine state was a mess who couldn’t impose it’s authority. So the change did more harm than good. Rhomania kept declining and rising again and then declining for good. And that was that. I guess there’s a parable here about cultural continuity.

Still, whatever the real world results of Iconoclasm, I couldn’t help feeling for Leo III when reading this piece of news. Man, these guys are doing something right.


Who is this lonely looking woman? It’s the premier of the Canadian province of Ontario. She went to visit a mosque. See? All my multicultural subjects are my dear subjects citizens, I go around and they all worship me equally. That’s an actual line by Yongzheng emperor when been asked by a Chinese minister about Muslim misbehavior, by the way. But I digress. The premier of Ontario goes to visit a mosque as part of her show of holiness, and what happens? The Imam tells her that the guys are praying, so she gotta wait. And out of the way, please. We guys are busy. Serious stuff. Oh, yeah, go sit over there in the corner. But don’t you dare take off your veil. That’s right, good girl. Now where were we guys? Allaaaaaahu akbar.

The funny thing is that the Ontario premier is a lesbian. “First openly gay blabla”. A lesbian. A woman who wants to be a man. She probably wants to be there with the boys, praying to Allah. Dressing like a bro. But Allah won’t have her. Look at that face again. Poor thing. All the power of her office is nothing against the rock-solid frame of the Imam. Damn, that must have felt good.

Cost Disease

Cost disease. Why is everything so expensive?

This is the asexual take. This is the sexual take.

Not much to add myself. Just a small observation. Look at the graph:


I wonder what the graph of “female participation” looks like. That would include teachers, administrators, lobbyists, women with influence in the school district, etc.

Methinks that graph would look rather similar to the blue one. Perhaps with some time lag.

This also should apply to the other stuff: healthcare, subway construction, etc. It would be nice to look at the data.


Maybe you can think of a different caption.

Behaviorism in Context

Let me explain what I mean when I call myself a Behaviorist. No, it’s not about blank slatism, or being able to completely manipulate anyone at will. It’s about not taking what people say at face value.

See this tweet:

No, no. Just, no. Please, somebody just close all the psychology faculties. Or close the whole universities while they’re at it. But this is completely wrong. Nonsensical, really. “People believe that…” doesn’t make sense. Look at this closely. It assumes that people have stuff inside their heads (“ideas”) and that that stuff inside their heads has some causative effect in how they behave. This is an utterly wrong way of thinking about this.

I mean, you don’t know what’s going on inside people’s heads. You just don’t. Look at this study in particular. They ask people about their own eating behavior and that of others. The answer to that question is not the “ideas” in the people’s heads. I mean, just look at the setting closely. You have:

1. Some college students
Being asked some question by:
2. A professor or grad student
About their own behavior.

And surprise, surprise, they make themselves look good and make others look not so good. Why would they do that? Well… maybe they want to make themselves look good. Because they want to appear high-status because that’s what people do.

Imagine this other setting: you are in Berkeley, and leftist thugs are running a Maoist style struggle session. They grab unpopular kid, who they think might be a Trump supporter, and they ask her what she thinks about heir own and the leftist eating habits.

What do you think she’s going to say? If she doesn’t want to get beat up with bats until she’s unconscious and gets half her rib broken, she’ll say her eating habits suck and that those of others are awesome. Why? Because she wants to survive. That’s also something that people do.

If you want to know what drives people’s behavior, you have to look at… people’s behavior. What they actually do. Not just ask them questions. Questions are social behavior which follows social rules. It’s all about context.

Modern social science still works on the rationalist paradigm, that people have “ideas” and that they “reason” about them. That is just a descendant of the Christian emphasis on “faith”, i.e. that some people have “faith” in their “hearts”, which makes them better people. Of course that was just a subterfuge to run a loyalty assessment on people. Making a good show of the “faith” in your “heart” was a very good costly signal to show your loyalty to the Christian team. Politics runs on this sort of misleading rituals. They work very well. I’ll loudly proclaim my loyalty to Kek and prostrate in front of its image whenever needed. The more people think it’s stupid the better a signal it will be.

But science should be about how things actually work. And the way things work is that you must look at what people do, not what they say. Or more accurately, you should understand what people “say” as a kind of “do”. If all those “scientists” got out of their parochial WEIRD world they’d actually understand that.