How will it float on all the magma? The media are insistent that America bombed Saddam’s near paradise into a puddle of liquid rock where only militant war orphans eke out a bare existence around the edges while plotting revenge. I know Obama works miracles but the media would have told us if the situation in Iraq had improved so greatly under His Grace. So how will it float on the magma without burning?
This is a slightly edited, slightly longer version of an unfortunately long comment I posted on an article from the Ace of Spades HQ website, regarding the recent “#humanity is getting stupider” meme. I thought I would give it it’s own post here just for kicks.
I have seen this reported on quite widely and like all conclusions drawn from evolutionary theory, I am very skeptical about this but I can see why it would appeal to many of a pessimistic nature. While I have as negative a perception of human beings as almost anyone, the argument that they are getting worse has not yet persuaded me.
Starting with the idea of humans having been such geniuses in the past because of the needs of hunter gatherer life: dogs, apes, monkeys and raccoons, even birds can demonstrate some pretty amazing problem solving skills. Anyone possessing survival skills will know that knowledge and mental skills are vital to survival but it doesn’t necessarily require Einsteinian level cognition or photographic memory, especially when you have the ability to learn from parents or others in the group. I think the proponent of the idea overestimates the chances of death in a hunter-gatherer life style from mistakes. Simply mixing caution with curiosity can protect from many instances of ignorance of potential risks.
I also think there is an underestimation of the evolutionary pressure left on humans who are stupid. The example of a Wall Street banker (for some reason) is used by those proposing that humans are getting stupider, to show that major mistakes can be made now without fatal consequences but all human culture can be said to do that to some degree, even that which less advanced human ancestors used. That didn’t stop further advancement. Other mistakes, like feuding with violent neighbours or failing to heed warning alarms are still likely to preferentially kill off people with poor social or cognitive skills and it doesn’t take a huge death rate to maintain or spread a trait in a population or to slowly eradicate it.
The strongest part of the stupid human proposal is that stupid people are more likely to become or stay poor (not saying poor people are more stupid individually). The poor have more offspring (at least in rural agricultural cultures) so poor people have a selective advantage and rich people have a disadvantage. This has not historically been the case if you look at all the successful rulers who have translated the power and wealth they accumulated into many wives and many children, some of which are married off to the elite in far off lands. But even if it were a universal principal, the slow breeding elite are not cut off from spreading their genes to the poor classes IYKWIMAITYD.
Poor people have more kids but they also have more selective pressures due to high death rates. Many of these deaths are more likely to strike people who have poor social and cognitive skills. Any social mobility will, over time periods too long to easily notice, allow movement of smarter people up the social hierarchy where death is less omnipresent and so survival of prodigies is more likely.
In fact, the interaction between birth and death rate on one hand and intelligence and wealth/status on the other seems to provide a distillation of higher intelligence within populations rather than a stagnation of it. We just miss the process because we see on the short term that people who are stupid sometimes are given more power than they should or smart people are killed. Longer term changes show that genes have been changing faster than they would be from simple drift during the course of the last 10,000 years. That would suggest selective pressures of civilization are working and it would be far more likely that they were favouring smart people than stupid people.
Even the most violent and slow-witted people can almost always be taught to read, write and perform other tasks which might seem ingenious to paleolithic people. They are only stupid in reference to the rest of us. Moreover, much of the difference between more and less intelligent people is a mixture of environment and epi-genetic factors (regulatory elements which can be passed on like genes but changed back and forth more rapidly than genetic changes can be–like having switches and breakers instead of rewriting your house every few years). Making judgements about a person’s or a population’s innate (genotypic) intelligence based on displayed (phenotypic) intelligence is risky. Claiming to know what direction innate intelligence is headed over thousands of years is even riskier.
To sum up, paleolithic people were clever but have no right to claim super genius status. Take that Captain Caveman. And selective pressures favouring smart and sociable people are not absent in modern society or in any time in history. If anything, people seem dumber these days because we are asking them to make more complex decisions & evaluations and function in more complex environments than ever before under far less than ideal conditions while forces far greater than themselves try to supply them with “fake but accurate” information and prefabricated opinions. Are you are your best and brightest on Friday afternoon while surrounded by needy whiners? Being intelligent sometimes makes it easier to see when people’s actions and words are not well thought out. It can be easy to get the impression that intelligence is decreasing in society when people vote for fools and crooks more than they used to but are they or are politicians better able to display their nature to intelligent people than those of the past were because there are more opportunities for them to do so. Are we so sure that today’s bad movies wouldn’t play just as well to our grandparents’ generation with equal marketing? Along with all those classic movies were lots of stinkers that probably at least broke even.
Anyway… We not stupid more gets!
I’m going to throw out a few thoughts about the automated election call scandal here in Canada. To recap, the last Canadian elections saw the use of automated telephone systems which were used to phone up voters in certain areas, pretending to be Elections Canada so as to give them false information to try and prevent them from voting.
Let me start by mentioning a few things which I really don’t consider relevant to this issue. True, the fascist/socialist media would not be giving 10 seconds of broadcast time to this if the perps had been allied with one of the leftist parties in this country (for the purposes of this post I am pretending that the Conservatives are not a leftist party since that is the universally accepted delusion we have all agreed to work under). In fact, this sort of thing goes on to a much larger degree on the left domestically and globally; rooting it out and shining a bright light on it would be a far more valuable use of time and energy (and wouldn’t involve telespam). Remember when those Black Panther thugs were stalking a few American poling stations for Obama? How much would it have cost to have their pictures printed on a few tens of thousands of T-shirts and handed out for free? They wouldn’t have needed a caption, just let the picture start some conversations.
Many of the robocall complaints are fake and others are dubious. This would be very relevant if ALL complaints were fake. But if that’s not the case, it’s not relevant. The results of the malfeasance weren’t that effective or influential. Not only is that not relevant but it is insulting to even see that brought up. People don’t do things like this if they don’t think they will influence outcomes. We are supposed to give them points for being overly ready to stoop to this crap when it wasn’t really needed or for being inefficient at their attempts? How about we all stuff that excuse right back up whatever orifice it fell out of and pretend it never happened?
Now let’s turn to what is relevant. Election fraud is nothing new. I have a relative who remembers that in the region he grew up in, $2 bills were viewed with disrespect since that was widely known as the going price for a vote. That or a bottle of cheap hooch. He recalls someone trying to cheat the candidate and being refused his reward. This prompted the individual to have a look at the ceiling of the building where the voting was held. Predictably, little holes were to be seen above where the voting booths were. The cat and mouse game has likely gone on since the earliest attempts at anonymous ballot voting. What is new, or at least is trending upwards in recent decades is that the number of ways in which democracy can be subverted is growing and the methods are becoming more effective.
There’s the Vladimir Putin/Hugo Chavez/all Western leftist media methods of absolute media control. There’s the method of controlling candidate eligibility. There’s voting machine manipulation; bribing/intimidating illegal immigrants into voting for your party; having henchmen in front of the polling station to intimidate potential opposition votes; passing false information (say, by automatic telephone systems) to suppress voter participation in key areas. Don’t be mislead by my mention of Putin and Chavez; this is mature Western democracies where this trend is taking off. Places like Russia and Venezuela are just ahead of the curve.
There are two paths that can be taken:
Make any attempt at election fraud an act of high treason–whether it’s selling or buying a vote, voting twice, spreading false polling info or anything else that might get added to the list–punishable by nothing less than death. Reread that last sentence please. But wait, you may say. Countries like Canada have banned capital punishment. True, and whether that is a positive or negative development is outside the scope of this post. The fact remains that the Ban on capital punishment is an act of a democratic (relatively) society. Election fraud is not only a rejection of that society, it is an act which places the perpetrator outside of the protection of that society.
Or take the other path. Consider a little election tampering to be unpleasant but no great attack on democracy. Let everyone “level the playing field” as best they can and use their common sense and public sentiment to tell them when they’ve gone too far. For a while anyway. Once voter participation falls below a reasonable level we can then just admit that the system is no longer credible and begin using private militias to help determine which warlord rules (and really, all a head of state is–and all it ever was is–a warlord who exists in a system requiring very little of the traditional duties of a warlord).
Frankly, I’m good with either path. The first path ends up devolving into the second path anyway but lengthens the timeframe a bit. Any long-term solution involves defeating human nature (viciously and without pity or mercy) and removing it from sovereignty over intelligence but that’s for another post.
In the midst of the Climategate 2.0 discoveries which are still being made I am struck by something. You take the most prestigious minds in a field of inquiry (which you seem to be able to count on one hand) and you can find the following:
The big cheese of climatology is described by one of his allies in an e-mail to another star of the field as “vindictive”, “a bad enemy” and as having gone a little “crazy” at a paper which he perceived as an attack because it supported the existence of an historically proven period of time on earth, the medieval warm period.
One of these leading lights doesn’t know how to use the software that he does some of his data “analysis” on. That software is Excel.
The big cheese of the field told one of his main critics that “numerous (unnamed) persons” had proven his criticisms “simply wrong” (using unreferenced proofs) and asked the critic if he had the integrity to withdraw his criticism.
Big-Cheese and “science” bloggers defenders then demonstrate a shocking inability to understand the criticisms they claim to be debunking; equating the rejection of the claimed ability to measure global temperature (the planet is incredibly far from thermodynamic equilibrium) and the rejection of the concept of temperature itself–say, of a bucket of water.
I want to restate that last bit because I don’t read climate “science” advocacy very much anymore and so when I’m confronted by something like this it’s like jumping into cold water. No matter how much you expect it you are not ready for the shock. People who consider themselves men of science are unable to comprehend a simple and simply stated criticism. Yet they think it has been “proven” “simply wrong” by “numerous persons” and that this proclamation should be enough to invoke conversion of critics.
These are the people who ARE the field of climatology and the theory of a human driven climate crisis. These are the people whom we are called anti-science for not believing. This is a disgrace.
Here’s an idea. Fire all these loons and bring in people who know Excel, who understand statistics, who can follow a simple statement far enough to reply intelligently and who can understand that when a computer model diverges from observations of the system being modeled it is not reality that is malfunctioning. Let them publish works where the peer review process is open and transparent. If these new *qualified* (and identified) persons come to the same conclusions as the Hockey Team and are able to address criticisms, then I will give some consideration to their warnings. Otherwise, certain vindictive persons can be invited to place their hockey sticks in the appropriate places.
I went back in time yesterday to the year 1996. I was trying to sell a short story in the science fiction genre by writing about 2011. I thought I would look like a genius by describing events that would later come true. Unfortunately, no one would publish it.
I was told that the idea of Marxist ideologues even trying to take over public and private spaces, let alone being allowed to, was ludicrous given the massive collapse of the Soviet system. The suggestion that America would be ruled by a class of people–journalists and politicians–who not only support these encampments but who think exponential increases in debt, spending and taxes is a good idea, was ridiculed. They told me that “There is no way that people would accept a political party which labeled all who disagree with them as racists and or violent. That’s just stupid.”
Oh, and what about the idea that many Americans and other Westerners would witness a massive terrorist attack on American soil, hear a well-funded group that had a history of such terrorism claim responsibility for it and yet be convinced that their own government was the actual perpetrator? The publishers of 1996 told me that coming up with such an idea demonstrated a profound inability to comprehend human nature.
When they read my assertion about scientific peer review becoming so corrupted that one psychologist could fake an entire career and other “experts” could be found to have monopolized and manipulated an entire field of study for the purpose of advancing a program of “wealth redistribution”, most of them read no further.
These publishers asked me why I thought that people in a mere decade and a half would suddenly be such complete morons at such a large scale. I couldn’t really answer that without saying that maybe people had always been that stupid and they would only become conspicuous about it in years to come. So they rejected my sci-fi story.
No royalties; no status of prophet/psychic for me. Stupid worthless time machine.
Now, I don’t want to paint everyone at Veterans’ Affairs Canada with the same brush. Like most government agencies, there are, no doubt, many long-suffering and hard working people working there. And given the nature of the service they are providing it likely attracts a lot of people who want to do their best for Canada’s former soldiers. That said, it is a government agency.
I was in the presence of a veteran today who had served in combat and taken fire for this country. He was studying for a new career and mentioned that he was unable to drive because of the condition of his leg. A specially outfitted car with hand controls is too expensive for him and while he has medical documents showing that the condition of his leg is a result of his service, VAC claims it isn’t so they won’t help him. So he is now in conflict with them. Or with us I should say, as it is our society which gives higher priority to trivial expenditures than to helping an extremely employable former serviceman achieve the mobility he needs. We would rather pay him welfare and unemployment for years while bureaucrats push him to take crappy but locally available jobs just to get him out of their jurisdiction for a few months.
Helping him get the car would be the moral thing to do (he is a veteran), the ethical thing to do (he has the medical documentation) and the financially reasonable thing to do, as it would save on other expenses that would not get racked up. Since it would be moral, ethical and reasonable/fiscally responsible, it’s not something government will do without a fight.
Even where you actually have good, intelligent and caring people in a branch of government it will never be able to act sensibly or compassionately. Like corporations, governments are simple collective organisms like slime molds or biofilms. Unlike corporations, government departments have nothing to measure success by and can only seek to expand not improve.
The title refers to an old Canadian joke about Robin Hood brand flour. One calls–or tells of someone who calls–a store asking if they have Robin Hood by the bag. When they reply with a yes, the caller says “Well, you’d better let him go; I can hear him screaming.” It’s not gut-bustingly funny and everyone knows the punch line but it never gets old (well it gets old fast but it stays amusing in a sense)
I think of this old joke because I noticed today that seemingly every utility pole in my neighborhood has a poster for “Occupy Fredericton” using an image of Robin Hood as the symbol of their… umm… ’cause’.
It’s ironically appropriate (or appropriately ironic?) that they chose Robin Hood. During his time, productive peasants in farm areas were highly taxed and Mr. H. diverted that tax money, some to go back to the peasants and some to go to other poor people who lived in forested area; those who lived off crown-land game and stealing from travelers, producing little for society.
But since the original taxing was done by a different agency (the Sheriff of Nottingham), poor people didn’t notice that Mr. Hood was buying political power from them with their own money. And since forest dwelling muggers were getting a large share of the wealth generated by productive peasants that would have been stolen by the Sheriff, the government kept jacking up taxes to cover the losses.
Robin Hood was a thief. He was working hand in glove with his supposed enemies, whether either side knew it or not. He justified being a thief by ideology and brought higher poverty to his society, making both himself and the sheriff more powerful and rich (they were the primary controllers of wealth in an increasingly poor society). He paid the ‘Occupy Sherwood Forest’ people to be economically unproductive, squat on public land and be loyal to him while he pulled the wool over the eyes of productive peasants. Somebody should have gotten Robin Hood by the bag and he is the perfect idol for occupiers.
Demographics is much like economics in that everyone thinks they understand it and almost no one does. (Schools of economics are again/still teaching Keynesian clap trap which is little better than if the field of political science was teaching that Stalinism and National Socialism were the most effective sort of political system.) A few people do actual research while everyone else engages in wish-fulfillment. And I don’t necessarily mean describing what they wish were the case but wishing that what they are studying supported their world view–pessimistic or optimistic. La Raca in North America and the Muslim Brotherhood both share a gleeful view of masses of immigrants flooding north to completely transform the society they encounter there. Many in Europe and North America and share their view of where demographic trends are headed but with pessimism about it’s results. So all demographic information is evaluated, interpreted, accepted or rejected based on how well it conforms to the narrative that they have accepted as common sense.
Demographic transitions to lower fertility rates are seen as proof of Western decadence, failures of capitalism or the evils of secularism. The observation that changes in total fertility rates are artificially magnified by demographic conditions like rising ages for marriage and child bearing is not well received by either pessimistic northerners or optimistic southern ideologues (or northern ones in the case of India).
Assimilation is a forbidden concept for all. Pessimists don’t believe it can happen; optimistic imperialists see it as a racist counter offensive that can easily be stopped via piety and purity of ideology. Somehow they will convince other immigrants to remain as supposedly pure of ideology as they are even in the face of many benefits to assimilation. History shows that unless an incoming wave of migrants quickly establishes military control over the host society, it is impossible for them to assimilate that culture and will themselves be assimilated, even if they arrive in huge numbers. They may contribute to the culture they join but they won’t supplant it.
The fact that the supposedly threatening societies from the south are undergoing the same demographic transition as the north has, and faster, or that immigration is only high when there are jobs to attract immigrants (Mexican immigration, both legal and illegal is now at about net zero or lower), have little space in the discussion of demographic trends. But then the discussion of demographics rarely moves beyond the phrase “if this trend continues…”. Pity, that.
Occasionally a school principal or university president will make the news for banning Wi-Fi from their jurisdictions. It is always claimed to be out of health concerns for students and not because of efforts to save money on I.T. expenses. Let’s take them at their word for the purpose of limiting the scope of this post.
Now the academic field has accepted an insular and incestuous group of ideologues as the voice of climate science and accused skeptics as being “anti-science”. Yet the widely held (dare I say, consensus) opinion in medicine, that the non-ionizing radiation of cellphones and Wi-Fi signals (not to mention fields given off by electricity infrastructure) does not cause the health effects ascribed to them, is rejected out of hand.
The reason that Wi-Fi, cellphones, electricity and such are not believed to be harmful (especially in regards to cancers) is that:
A) The theory of electromagnetism does not currently support such effects.
B) The suggested effects can not be seen in proper, statistically sound research and rely on science’s dirty secret, meta-analysis–a methodology which can prove contradictory claims depending on “legitimate” choices made by the analysts.
So while these folk can easily dismiss skeptics of what passes for climatology in our culture as being “anti-science”, the scientific view on electromagnetism is denied by many without them being labeled as “anti-science”.
So let’s ignore science and try simple reasoning. Across this planet there have been rollouts of cellphones, Wi-Fi, electricity infrastructures and the like at varying orders and rates with some areas getting cell service long before electricity or other potential health hazards like industrial pollutants and such. More over, many of these technologies have gone from being virtually non-existent to being radiating beside our beds, next to our heads and across our yards in a very short time. Shouldn’t we expect the health effects of these technologies to have risen at such a rate and in such a clear distribution that the jiggery-pokery of meta-analysis would not be needed to demonstrate it? Even if the effects take years to manifest, shouldn’t the early adopters have seen a small but measurable spike in such health problems which does not require statistical manipulation to expose?
Deniers. Anti-science. Anti-intellectual. Who gets to sew these labels on people and views? Our cultural elite? The same people for whom Stalinism, antisemitism and Keynesianism are ideas worth one more try? Those guys? They should only be sewing counterfeit handbags in sweat shops so the kids there now could train for the jobs our elite now hold.
Psst. Hey bud.
Yah wanna be protected from your enemies and have all your needs provided for? You need a left-wing society man!!! All it takes is for you to belong to us. Everyone likes to feel they belong, right? Just follow our directions on what to say and do, let us claim to represent you. If your interests differ a bit from ours, keep it to yourself. If we find it advantageous we will turn on you with a ferocity that even our enemies don’t usually see. And they see a lot of our ferocity, let me tell you. But if you’re really playing on our team we won’t need to turn on you; you will belong to us.
What do you need to do to belong to us? The beauty of it is that you may already belong. Are you a woman? Black? Hispanic, Muslim, gay, a student, a worker (unionized, preferably)? Congratulations, you’re already ours. We’ll use information channels like schools, colleges, the news media and the entertainment industry to instruct you on what to think and say and do to better serve those to whom you belong. If you’re not one of the afore mentioned groups you can still get in and receive blanket immunity from charges of racism, misogyny and intolerance of all forms.
And remember, you get taken care of and provided for for life. The money to do this will come from those who unfairly sought to become more wealthy than the rest of the world by creating wealth and greedily keeping it for themselves. We’ll soon bring them back down by redistributing their wealth. And since people always want to create wealth, even if they don’t get to benefit from it, there will never be a lack of plunder. Once they are suitably humbled and brought down to a level playing field, we’ll continue on via credit from wealth foreigners. Soon all nations will follow our lead.
Things like education healthcare and food are fundamental rights which means they can only be provided by the state. Many cool societies have come close to implementing these ideas and have only been prevented from succeeding because of famine and because a few bad apples kept acting in their owns interests rather than that of their societies. Traitors! (spit)
So what do you say, wanna belong to the winning team? Don’t make us send the goons you racist, homophobic war-mongering fat cat.