Algorithmic Optimization pt 2

 

There is nothing exceptional about the slowed-down Nancy Pelosi video, and nothing terribly exceptional in reporters saying uninformed things about subjects they aren’t well versed in.

The significance lies far more behind the scenes. From Marketwatch: Facebook Decided to Rethink Policies on Doctored Media two days Before Pelosi Video.

Wow, that is awfully coincidental that Facebook just happened to be thinking about changing these policies anyway right before a doctored video just happened to make it onto the news, prompting millions of people to pressure Facebook into doing exactly what Facebook already wanted to do.

Don’t be fooled: this isn’t spontaneous. Oh, sure, many of the people at the low end, like reporters, are just doing their job of reading the news they have been given into the camera, but there is plenty of active coordination going on behind the scenes by organizations like Facebook and the Democratic Party.

The Democrats realized sometime around 2016 that they have a meme problem. People on the internet thought Trump was funny and Democrats were boring sticks in the mud. People on the internet made videos about Hillary Clinton’s health, the European migration crisis, and other subjects the Dems didn’t approve of.

They don’t want this happening again.

So they are laying the groundwork now to re-write the policies and algorithms to strategically remove problematic conservative voices from the fray. Alex Jones has already been kicked off Youtube, Facebook, PayPal, etc. FB has taken a particularly hard line, threatening not just to delete Jones’s videos, but any account that posts them (excepting those that post them in order to criticize them).

Even Visa and Mastercard are getting in on the act, cutting off banking services to organizations whose political views they don’t like.

The ostensible reason for Alex Jones’s deplatforming is his supposed spread of conspiracy theories post-Sandy Hook (I say “supposedly” because I have not seen the clips in question,) but it is obvious that 1. these concerns surfaced years after Sandy Hook and 2. no one has deplatformed media outlets that pushed the “Iraq has WMDs” conspiracy theory that cost the US trillions of dollars and lead to the deaths of thousands (millions?) of people.

This has all been accompanied by a basic shift in how media platforms and infrastructure are viewed.

The traditional conception is that these are platforms, not publishers, and thus they merely provide something akin to infrastructure without much say over how you, the user, put it to use. For example, the electric company provides electricity to anyone who pays for it, and even if you use your electricity to warm the cages of your illegally gotten, exotic, endangered reptile collection, the electric company will generally keep providing you with electricity. The electric company does not have to approve of what you do with the electricity you buy, and if you break the law with their electricity, they see it as the state’s job to stop you.

A publisher and a platform, like Facebook, traditionally enjoyed different legal rights and safeguards. A publisher checks and decides to publish every single item they put out, and so is held to be responsible for anything they print. A platform merely provides a space where other people can publish their own works, without supervision. Platforms do not check posts before they go up, (as a practical matter, they can’t,) and thus are generally only held legally responsible for taking down material on their site if someone has notified them that it is in violation of some law.

EG, suppose someone posts something really illegal, child porn, on Facebook. If Facebook is a “publisher,” it is now publishing child porn and is in big legal trouble. But since Facebook is just a platform, it deletes the videos and is legally in the clear. (The poster may still go to prison, of course.)

The conceptual shift in recent years has been to portray platforms as “allowing” people to come in and use their platforms, and then ask why they are allowing such shitty people to use their platform. No one asks why the electric company allows you to use their electricity to raise your army of bio mutant squids, but they do ask why Facebook allows right-wingers to be on the platform at all.

This is treating platforms like publishers, and they are absolutely jumping into it with both feet.

Let’s skip forward a bit in the video to the lady in white to see this in action:

It’s been viewed millions of times on the internet, but it’s not real… This is really scary, and not going away, and I’m fearful this is going to be all over the 2020 election.

You know, that’s how I felt when libs kept bringing up Harry Potter in the context of the last election, but for some reason taking a children’s fantasy story about wizards is acceptable in political discourse but slowed-down videos aren’t.

And who is responsible for monitoring this stuff, taking it down? Facebook, Youtube took it down, but after how long?

Other commentator… At Facebook it’s still up because Facebook allows you to do a mock video…

The correct answer is that no one is responsible for monitoring all of Facebook and Youtube’s content, because that’s impossible to do and because Facebook isn’t your mommy. If you want Facebook to be your mom and monitor everything you consume, just stop talking and leave the adults alone.

CNN asks:

So Monika, in the wake of the 2016 election obviously Facebook has repeatedly told Congress and the American people that yo’re serious about fighting disinformation, fake news, and yet this doctored video which I think even your own fact checkers acknowledge is doctored of speaker Pelosi remains on your platform. Why?

Like the previous guy already said, because it’s not against Facebook’s TOS. Of course Anderson Cooper already knows this. He doesn’t need to get an actual Facebook representative on his show to find out that “funny reaction videos are allowed on Facebook.” And if Facebook were serious about maintaining its neutrality as a platform, not a publisher, it would not have bothered to send anyone to CNN–it would have just left matters at a blanket statement that the video does not violate the TOS.

The Facebook Lady (Monika,) then explains how Facebook uses its algorithms to demote and demonitize content the “experts” claim is false. They’re proud of this and want you to know about it.

So misinformation that doesn’t promote violence, but misinformation that portrays the third most powerful politician in the country as a drunk or as somehow impaired, that’s fine? 

Oh no, quick, someone save the third most powerful person in the country from people saying mean things about her on the internet! We can’t have those disgusting peasants being rude to their betters!

Anderson Cooper is infuriatingly moronic; does not “logically understand” why Facebook leaves up videos that don’t violate the TOS but suggests that Facebook should “get out of the news business” if it can’t do it well.

Facebook isn’t in the “news business” you moron, because Facebook is a platform, not a publisher. You’re in the news business, so you really ought to know the difference.

If you don’ know the difference between Facebook and a news organization, maybe you shouldn’t be in the news business.

That said, of course Anderson Cooper actually understands how Facebook works. This whole thing is a charade to give Facebook cover for changing its policies under the excuse of “there was public outrage, so we had to.” It’s an old scam.

So to summarize:

  1. The Dems want to change the algorithms to favor themselves, eg, Facebook decided to rethink policies on doctored media two days before Pelosi video, but don’t want to be so obvious about it the Republicans fight back
  2. Wait for a convenient excuse, like a slowed-down video, then go into overdrive to convince you that Democracy is Seriously Threatened by Slow Videos, eg, Doctored Videos show Facebook willing enables of the Russians; Doctored Pelosi video is leading tip in coming disinformation battle
  3. Convince Republican leadership to go along with it because, honestly, they’re morons: Congress investigating deepfakes after doctored Pelosi video, report says
  4. Deplatform their enemies
  5. Rinse and repeat: Vox Adpocalypse

 

One final note: even though I think there is coordinated activity at the top/behind the scenes at tech companies and the like, I don’t think the average talking head you see on TV is in on it. Conspiracies like that are too hard to pull off; rather, humans naturally cooperate and coordinate their behavior because they want to work together, signal high social status, keep their jobs, etc.

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Algorithmic Optimization has Begun

My first reaction to this video was to yell Head Like a Hole at the screen.

… Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
I’d rather die than give you control.
Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
I’d rather die than give you control.
Bow down before the one you serve.
You’re going to get what you deserve.
Bow down before the one you serve.
You’re going to get what you deserve. …

With that bit of catharsis, let’s take a deeper look at the first video.

A doctored video of Pelosi that surfaced this week has been viewed millions of times and some social media giants are refusing to take it down.

By the way, the “doctoring” in this video was just slowing it down, not some scary-sounding “deep fake” like the scene where Forrest Gump met JFK. (Good luck distinguishing between “slowed down” and your average humorous “reaction” video.)

Social media sites like Youtube and Facebook have traditionally taken the view that they basically let people post whatever they want, without supervision, and then take it down if 1. they receive a complaint and 2. it is illegal or otherwise violates their terms of service. Aside from a Youtube algorithm that catches pirated music, these sites rely on users’ reports because they have no way to scan and check the contents of 100% of posts.

So before a company takes down a video, you have make a credible argument to them that the video is in some way illegal or violating their TOS. If the copyright holder claimed violation, the video would probably be instantly gone, because social media sites are legally required to take down copyright violations.

But merely remixing someone else’s video, maybe adding some music or a laugh track or a bit of your own commentary, happens all the time and is usually allowed–sans a copyright claim, “this video has been edited” does not violate Youtube or Facebook’s terms of service.

So one sentence in, and already this reporter is showing a fundamental misunderstanding of how social media companies handle content complaints. They are not “refusing to take it down;” they are “not taking it down because they have not decided that it violates one of their policies.”

… I think what’s different now is the way that this kind of content can be weaponized. …

Sure, the Malleus Maleficarum, 1487, might have contributed to thousands of innocent people being tortured and burned to death during the European witch trials; Nazi propaganda might have contributed to the Holocaust; communist propaganda might have contributed to mass famines, Holodomor, the Great Leap Forward, etc., but now this kind of content can be weaponized!

… There are now websites out there where you can ask people for ten, twenty bucks to make deep fakes for you…

Deepfakes are legitimately interesting in their own right and we do need to have a real, sit-down think about the possibility of all video and photographs becoming unreliable, but this isn’t a deepfake. This is a video slowed down with ordinary video editing software like the one I use to make videos of the kids for grandma.

They’re trying to scare you with the ominous sounding “deepfake” because “slowed down a bit” doesn’t sound like nearly so big a threat to civilization.

Facebook’s actions drew strong criticism from media watchers, … so, what should viewers expect from Facebook and other social media sites when it comes to authenticating media on their platform?

Nothing. They should expect nothing because Facebook does not “authenticate” things on its platform, nor does it have the ability to.

Anyone who thinks, “I saw it on Facebook, therefore it must be true,” should not be allowed out of the house without supervision (nor should they be allowed on Facebook).

So, the video reflects this problem that we’re going to increasingly face, which is that we can’t trust our own eyes so it’s not that easy for the average citizen to make sense of what’s true and what’s false, what gets circulated or goes viral on Facebook, so they need to defer to people with expert opinions…

I think that popping sound was me turning into a Marxist.

Seriously, though, deferring political decisions to “experts” just leads to people competing over what “experts” believe. We discussed this back in my review of Tom Nichols’s The Death of Expertise:

Nichols ends with a plea that voters respect experts (and that experts, in turn, be humble and polite to voters.) After all, modern society is too complicated for any of us to be experts on everything. If we don’t pay attention to expert advice, he warns, modern society is bound to end in ignorant goo.

The logical inconsistency is that Nichols believes in democracy at all–he thinks democracy can be saved if ignorant people vote within a range of options as defined by experts like himself, eg, “What vaccine options are best?” rather than “Should we have vaccines at all?”

The problem, then, is that whoever controls the experts (or controls which expert opinions people hear) controls the limits of policy debates. This leads to people arguing over experts, which leads right back where we are today. As long as there are politics, “expertise” will be politicized, eg:

“Experts quoted in the piece.”

And where do these experts come from? I study these things; am I an expert? Do I get to decide which Youtube videos are Fake News?

What, someone’s complaining that I demonetized all of their pro-antifa videos? Too bad. I’m the expert, now.

“Experts” have brought us many valuable things, like heart surgery and airplanes. They have also had many mistakes. They once swore that witches were a serious problem, that the Earth stood still at the center of the universe, and that chemicals in the water were causing the frogs to change sex. Wait, that last one is true. Experts once claimed that homosexuality was a mental illness; today they proclaim that transsexual children should go on hormone blockers. Experts claimed that satanic ritual abuse was definitely a real thing and that there was an international conspiracy of Satanic preschools, resulting in real people actually going to prison.

The potential for the rich, powerful, and well-connected to hire their own experts and fund studies that coincidentally show they deserve to keep making lots of money and aren’t doing anything that could harm your health or well being (like the time gas companies paid for studies claiming leaded gas was harmless, or tobacco companies paid experts to claim cigarettes didn’t cause cancer.)

This is why courts let both sides bring their own experts to a case–because there are always experts on both sides.

Back to the video:

I think the republic begins to suffer if people are getting extremely bad information and the authorities, the elites, the gatekeepers, are basically throwing up their hands and just saying, “not my problem.”

Don’t worry about that popping sound.

The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. –Marx,  A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. –Marx, The German Ideology

Back to the guy in the video:

In the last election, we saw how outside actors came in and tried to manipulate the American electorate, spreading misinformation and Facebook was their primary platform for spreading misinformation.

The guy who just said that the Republic begins to suffer if people are getting misinformation just spread misinformation about “outside interference” in the 2016 election, and he thinks there exists some sort of politically disinterested “experts” who can determine which videos are true or not?

So what happens when those actors, when the Russians, or some bad political actors here, try to use manipulated video that does’t just change a snippet in a clip, but invents things wholecloth?

Like the time the New York Times ran a story attacking a student from Covington highschool based on deceptively edited video footage?

Or is it okay when the New York Times, the paper of record whom millions of people trust for their news does it, but bad when Alex Jones, the guy who thinks chemicals in the water are turning the frogs gay, does it?

I don’t see how, once that firehose [of fake videos] is unleashed, we have any choice but to have some authority step in and make those distinctions about what’s real and what’s not.

It’s amazing how quickly we went from “Hooray the internet is spreading the Arab Spring” to “Oh no the internet is threatening our hold on political power; shut it down!”

For the sake of both my need to sleep and everyone’s rage levels, let’s continue this in the next post.

On the rise of mental illness on college campuses

 

It’s not just at Middlebury. As Sailer notes in his review of Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind

A remarkable fraction of current articles in The New York Timesand The New Yorker include testimony that the author feels emotionally traumatized, which is stereotypically attributed to the malevolence of Donald Trump. But the evidence in The Coddling of the American Mind points to the second Obama administration as being the era when the national nervous breakdown began.

The authors cite alarming evidence of a recent increase in emotional problems. For example, the percentage of college students who said they suffered from a “psychological disorder” increased among males from 2.7 percent in 2012 to 6.1 percent by 2016 (a 126 percent increase). Over the same four years, the percentage of coeds who saw themselves as psychologically afflicted rose from 5.8 percent to 14.5 percent (150 percent growth).

Sailer blames the Obama administration, eg, the DOE releasing new definitions of “sexual harassment” that depend more on emotion than reason, but this is only playing kick the can, because why would the Obama DOE want to redefine sexual harassment in the first place? 

So I propose a slightly different origin for the current hysteria: 

If you incentivise lying, you get more lying. If you incentivise social signaling, you get more social signaling. The next thing you know, you get a social signaling spiral.

So people start lying because it gets them status points, but people are kind of bad at lying. Lying is cognitively taxing. The simplest way to make lying less taxing is to believe your own lies.

So the more people get involved in signaling spirals, the more they come to believe their own lies.

Meanwhile, everyone around them is engaged in the same signaling spiral, too. 

People get their view of “Reality” in part by checking it against what everyone else believes. If everyone in your village says the stream is to the east, even if you’ve gotten turned around and feel like it’s to the west, you’ll probably just follow everyone else and hope you get to water. If everyone around you is lying, there’s a good chance you’ll start to believe their lies.

(Let’s face it, most people are not that bright. Maybe a little bright. Not a lot. So they go along with society. Society says eat this, don’t eat that–they trust. Society is usually right about things like that, and the ones that aren’t die out. 

Trust is key. If you trust that someone has your back, you listen to them. You take advice from them. You might even try to make them proud. If you don’t trust someone, even if they’re right, you won’t listen to them. If you don’t trust them, you assume they want you dead and are trying to trick you. 

Since our system is now full of liars, trust is suffering.)

Eventually there’s just one sane person left in the room, wondering who’s gone insane: them, or everyone else.

In the case of the “mental health breakdown” on the left, it’s a combination of the left lying about its mental health and believing its own lies about things that are bothering it.

But what incentivised lying in the first place? 

Sailer dates the emergence of the insanity to 2012-13, but I remember the emergence of the current SJW-orthodoxy and its rabid consumption of what had formerly known as “liberalism” back in the Bush years, back around 2003. I was surprised at the time by the speed with which it went mainstream, spreading from “this thing my friends are arguing about” to “everyone on the internet knows this.” 

Facebook. 

It’s Facebook. 

Zuckerberg launched “TheFacebook”, featuring photos of Harvard students, in 2004. From there it spread to other prestigious schools, and opened fully to the public in 2006. Because of its real name policy, FB has always incentivized people toward holiness spirals, and it began with an infusion of people who already believed the SJW memeplex that was hot at Harvard in 2004. 

At this point, it’s not necessarily Facebook itself that’s spreading things, and it was never just facebook. There are plenty of other social media sites, like MySpace, Reddit, and Twitter, that have also spread ideas. 

The lethality of disease is partially dependent on how difficult it is to spread. If a disease needs you to walk several miles to carry it to its next host, then it can’t go killing you before you get there. By contrast, if the disease only needs you to explode on the spot, it doesn’t need to keep you alive long enough to get anywhere. Where population are dense, sanitation is non-existent, and fleas are rampant, you get frequent plague outbreaks because disease has a trivial time jumping from person to person. Where populations are low and spread out, with good sanitation and few vermin, disease has a much harder time spreading and will tend to evolve to coexist with humans for at least as long as it takes to find a new host. 

For example, chicken pox has been infecting humans for so long that it is adapted to our ancestral tribal size (which is pretty small,) so it has developed the ability to go dormant for 20 or 40 years until a whole new generation of uninfected people is born. 

AIDS kills people, but because its method of transmission (mostly sex) is not as easy as jumping fleas or contaminated water, it takes a long time. People who’ve caught bubonic plague generally die within a week or so; untreated AIDS patients last an average of 11 years. 

The internet has allowed memes that used to stay put in colleges to spread like wildfire to the rest of the population. (Similarly, talk radio allowed conservative memes to spread back in the 80s and 90s, and the adoption of the printing press in Europe probably triggered the witch hunts and Protestantism.) 

Anyway, this whole SJW-system got perfected on social media, and strangely, much of it is dependent on this performative mental illness. Eg, in “Don’t call people with uteruses ‘women’ because that’s triggering to trans people,” the mental illness claim is that the word “women” is “triggering” to someone and therefore ought to be avoided. The word “triggered” means “to trigger a panic attack,” as in someone with PTSD.

The use of “triggered” in most of these cases is absolutely false, but people claim it because it gets them their way. 

And if people are lying a bunch about having mental illness, and surrounded by nasty, toxic people who are also lying about mental illness, and if lying is cognitively taxing, then the end result is a lot of stressed out people with mental issues. 

Death Memes, pt 2

This is part two: Why are there suicide memes? If you don’t know what a suicide meme is, please see part one: What are Suicide Memes?

Memes, as used on this blog, are units of ideas. A suicide meme happens when you adopt the memes of people who want you dead. To the gazelle, the lion is a monster; to the lion, the gazelle is lunch. It does not benefit a gazelle to adopt the lion’s idea that gazelles are tasty, nor does it benefit the lion to sympathize with the gazelle.

Concurrent with the suicide memes infecting the West is an increase in actual suicides, which carry over into an overall increase in death:

suiciderates
From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

2300_white_death_1_0323
Source: New research identifies a “Sea of Despair” among white, working-class Americans

Suicide memes aren’t exclusive to America. They pervade the West, from Britain to New Zealand. If you are inside the meme, you likely cannot see it–the world is simply operating in a rational way; once you are outside the meme, you cannot unsee it–the world is absurd.

The moment of fully understanding the suicide meme and realizing society is filled with them is, for many people, gut-wrenching. It is like having the ground suddenly pulled out from under you. Many people refer to it as “taking the red pill,” in homage to the scene in The Matrix in which Neo decides to wake up from delusion.

ETA: A friend linked me to this excellent account of the feeling: 

As I read the article about the photos, I felt a sense of disbelief. I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading was correct. … I spent the next few hours searching the subject online and found quite a bit more information, but no serious or credible refutation of the stories I’d just learned. The facts therein did not appear to be in much dispute. …

Then the strangest feeling came over me. …

The best description I can come up with is that it was a regret so intense it morphed seamlessly into guilt, as though I were responsible for something terrible, though I didn’t know exactly what. …

I sat in front of my computer and put my face down on the keyboard. I stayed in that position for a few minutes, energyless and drained. When I lifted my head I was surprised to find a few tears on my cheeks.

The experience was something akin to being married for thirty years, thinking your husband loving and faithful, and then by chance coming across evidence that he’d been living a double life all that time, with a wife and kids in another town. A sense of deep betrayal of a basic trust.

Waking up to the fact that you are surrounded by liars is not psychologically simple. How much of what you thought you knew is actually false? It is easy at this stage to feel like you are falling down a rabbit hole, to accept things as true simply because they go against popular narratives, to decide that reality must lie in some other, starkly different direction. Attempts to bring you back to reality are resisted because “reality” has already been proven to be a malicious lie bent on destroying you.

By coincidence, as I write this, Zero Hedge opines:

How to account for Americans being the most anxious, fearful, and stressed-out people among the supposedly advanced nations? Do we not live in the world’s greatest democratic utopia where dreams come true? 

What if the dreaming part is actually driving us insane? What if we have engineered a society in which fantasy has so grotesquely over-run reality that coping with daily life is nearly impossible. …

You end up in a virtual world of advertising and agit-prop where manipulation is the primary driver of human activity. That is, a world where the idea of personal liberty (including any act of free thought) becomes a philosophical sick joke, whether you believe in the possibility of free will or not. You get a land full of college kids trained to think that coercion of others is the highest-and-best use of their time on earth — and that it represents “inclusion.” You get a news industry that makes its own reality, churning out narratives (i.e. constructed psychodramas) to excite numbed minds.

When people realize they are surrounded by lies and suicide memes, they start looking for someone to blame. If there are death memes, then someone must be trying to kill them.

This is when people start blaming the Jews.

Explicit aside: I don’t.

A young man recently walked into a synagogue in Poway, California, and opened fire. His rampage was stopped by an off-duty border patrol agent who was also carrying a gun, otherwise it most likely would have been far worse; as it was, one person died.

Why a synagogue? The Poway shooter blamed the Jews for the “white genocide” he saw around him.

population_fig-2
Graph of change in population demographics by race of California from 1970 to 2015 from the Public Policy Institute of California

“But there is no white genocide,” you might be objecting. Remember that the shooter lived in California. In 1970, California was 77% non-Hispanic white. Today, it is 38% white. 27% of Californians are immigrants, born in other countries. Since the Hispanic population is growing much faster than the others, the population of Californian children is 51% Hispanic and only 27% white.

Whether you call that “genocide” or not, the shooter is in fact living through a time when he can observe his own ethnic group shrinking as a share of the population. Meanwhile, housing prices in California have become absurd and the middle class is being squeezed out, but any suggestion that maybe immigration levels should be curbed is met with charges of racism, fascism, or worst of all, being a closeted Donald Trump lover.

So this guy looks around, realizes something is not right, and concludes that someone must be doing it on purpose. Of course, the Jews:

To my family and friends. I can already hear your voices. “How could you throw your life away? You had everything!…” I understand why you would ask this. But I pose a question to you now. What value does my life have compared to the entirety of the European race? Is it worth it for me to live a comfortable life at the cost of international Jewry sealing the doom of my race? …

“How does killing Jews help the European race? The European race is doomed? What are you talking about? These Jews were innocent!” Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race.

So… he’s a bit off.

The real reason society has gone off the tracks is far less exciting than international conspiracies cackling in the night–the real reason is technology.

The internet is an interesting place. You have sites devoted to every possible interest, from coffee to AfroPop; you have communities at every level of reputation, from total anonymity to real names only. And it has long been observed that communities which allow anonymous posting swing more to the right, while communities where people use their real names swing to the left.

Reputation, at least in our society, is liberal.

There are several reasons for this, but the core, underlying one is probably mathematical: there are more people who aren’t you than are you. There are more people who aren’t white than are white. If you are talking to everyone (as social media platforms strive for) and you care about your reputation, then you want as many people as possible to like what you have to say.

“I love me and want to benefit myself at the expense of everyone else,” is not a message that is popular with everyone else.

“I love everyone else and want to benefit them at the expense of myself,” is a message that everyone else loves.

And that, right there, is how the suicide meme is born. The more time you spend on the internet in real-name, real-reputation circles, the more pressure you will feel to espouse leftist values, because these are high-status memes and because if you don’t, an angry mob might get you fired. See: James Damore.

When we come right down to it, most people are greedier than they want to appear. We’d all like to look like angels while not exactly acting like angels, and we’d like our neighbors to actually act like angels. There’s a lot of social pressure on people to behave like angels, and on the internet, where words are all that we see, the pressure to behave and desire to seem get blended into one enormous holiness spiral.

By contrast, in anonymous circles, things you say have much less impact on your reputation. It’s hard to holiness spiral if your words have no connection to you.

But let’s back up a minute, before the creation of WEIRD societies. HbdNrx on Twitter has a thread that perfectly sums up what I want to say, so this is a quote with some expansions: 

homicide_in_europe_1200_2000“For the first few million years of our existence, humanity consisted of hunter-gatherer tribes who constantly conquered and raped and pillaged each other. Even chimpanzees fight wars over territory, killing and cannibalizing other chimps in the process. Violence was ubiquitous.

“The development of agriculture allowed larger settlements to form. Civilization began, first in the Middle East. Of course, people used their new-found technology and organization to firmly conquer and pacify their neighbors, in an orgy of violence followed by peace; we can still see the results in studies of Y-chromosomal diversity–it plummeted.

“Broadly speaking, in most areas suitable for agriculture, tribal disputes gave way to larger wars with armies. Cooperation was needed to compete. The spread of Christianity and the Catholic Church through the Roman Empire resulted in the break-up of tribal affiliations and reduced cousin marriage, especially within the Hajnal Line. IQ and cooperation were selected for during the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance was the eventual result.

“The printing press and base-ten numbers were imported and literacy exploded. We can probably blame Protestantism directly on the press, as with literacy and book ownership came the idea that ordinary people could read the Bible and form their own relationship with God. The power of the Church weakens, feudalism begins to fade, and parliaments are strengthened. Ideas like equal rights under the law are established during the Enlightenment.

“Slavery had been around since the tribal era, but now even slaves could read and write. For example, In 1789, Olaudah Equiano, an Igbo who had been kidnapped, enslaved, and then earned his freedom, published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah EquianoThe book (plus the actions of other members of abolitionist societies) soon convinced the British to abandon slavery.

“Pretty soon whites across the literate world were saying, in essence, “Hey, those slaves are people too, why don’t they have rights?” Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1807; in 1794 and again in 1848 in France; throughout much of Latin America around 1826; Canada in 1833; the US fought a war that ended slavery in 1865. (By contrast, Mauritania didn’t abolish slavery until 1981, and Amnesty International estimates that 43,000 people are still enslaved in Mauritania. Slavery is also still a problem in Libya, and of course the territory controlled by ISIS.)

“So ideas about equality and cooperation were extended further and further, from slavery to voting to the Civil Rights Act. Whites, being fair-minded people who deeply believe in equality, listened to complaints from nonwhites of oppression and tried to make things better–so we got busing, school integration, affirmative action, and now, cities just straight up not prosecuting crimes.

“The point here is that there’s a trend from the very beginnings of civilization toward expanding circles of equality–from tribe to nation/empire to the inclusion of other racial groups (and animals, especially among vegetarians), and white people have been selected more for this than any other people on the planet.

“The trend is a natural result of technological changes, from literacy to the internet, and the need for broader cooperation in order to compete in the new tech environment–it takes a lot of trustworthy people working together to build a nuke or a railroad. Fast boat and air travel enabled mass immigration, and radio, TV, and the internet allowed us to hear the voices of those who might formerly have been called savages. The current “anti-racism” ideas are an extension of this trend, into the new memevironment of social media.

“A substantial portion of whites would never have been able to resist pleas for equal rights nor open borders. These whites look at the apparent unfairness of borders or seemingly arbitrary rules like apartheid and they naturally sacrifice to increase fairness. At least 20% of whites in the US are fundamentally hippie libs like this. Much of the ideological problem is that these people look at disparate outcomes and assume that there must be something unfair causing this inequality (completely ignoring biology and culture).

“Then you have the cuckservative types–the people with no ideological defense to the liberal accusations who just go along with it, and the people who actively promote cheap labor because it’s in their immediate interests. Most of them see themselves as “conservatives” simply because they believe in the liberalism of 30 years ago, rather than today. That’s most of the mainstream Republican party, >30% of whites.

“So we have at least half of whites basically opposed to doing anything to stop this trend, and we have nearly all the nonwhites advocating for their own interests. If you’re looking for people to blame, there it is–a majority of the population.

“Of course, we can also blame individuals like LBJ and other politicians at the time who pushed the civil rights act and the immigration act, and we can blame some of the acceleration of identity politics on postmodernist academics and the Frankfurt school. But by and large the trends are bigger than all of them, especially now that we have social media accelerating everything.

“These values of equality and cooperation are deathwish values in the global context, as we can see by the declining white % globally. So, the trend toward increasing equality and cooperation won’t go on forever because its strongest proponents are being selected against.”

In other words:

Technological and economic progress have expanded people’s social circles from their immediate tribes to cities and nations. These changes promote the spread of universalist memes. Many of these ideas were probably adaptive when they first arose, when people were just dealing with other people in their immediate communities, but are no longer adaptive due to our rapidly increasing ability to travel and communicate.

Horizontal (viral) memes have proliferated and adapted in the new environment of the internet, with nonwhites, especially, advocating for their own interests with the language of fairness/oppression.

Meanwhile, in academia, postmodernism–the idea that we should analyze why someone wrote what they wrote and how their background identity influences their opinions, rather than analyze what they actually wrote–has kicked objective reality out the window. See, for example, this list:characteristics of white supremacy

In general, suicide memes are a natural development of social and technological activity, although some groups are more into them than others. High-IQ, high-class people tend to favor suicide memes because they want to signal to potential partners their willingness to cooperate, not defect. Most of these people are well-meaning.

To summarize:

First, new technology makes communication easier, giving us suicide memes.

Second, people notice suicide memes and conclude that someone is trying to kill them.

Third, they decide that the Jews (who are disproportionately represented in academia and the real-name parts of the internet due to social status,) are trying to kill them.

Fourth, they strike back.

If you’re Jewish, this is a good time to realize that this trend is not working in your favor. (Please see my Open Letter on this subject.)

So how do I know the Jews aren’t secretly conniving in backrooms to fling open the borders and offer Affirmative Action to all?

Because the Lutherans are just as bad. Ever since the Biafran Airlift:

The Biafran Airlift was an international humanitarian relief effort that transported food and medicine to Biafra during the 1967-70 secession war from Nigeria (Nigerian Civil War). It was the largest civilian airlift, and after the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, the largest non-combatant airlift of any kind ever carried out. The airlift was largely a series of joint efforts by Protestant and Catholic church groups, and other non-governmental organizations (NGO)s, operating civilian and military aircraft with volunteer (mostly) civilian crews and support personnel. Several national governments also supported the effort, mostly behind the scenes. This sustained joint effort, which lasted one and a half times as long as its Berlin predecessor, is estimated to have saved more than a million lives.[1]

–or perhaps before–Christian churches in the US have played a significant role in both aid to Africa and resettling refugees in the US. The Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Catholic Charities, and Arrive Ministries are responsible for resettling at least 10,000 Somalis in Minnesota–a coincidentally very profitable business.

Remember this?

We Are the World” is a charity single originally recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of fewer than 30 retail singles to have sold at least 10 million copies worldwide. …

Before the writing of “We Are the World”, American entertainer and social activist Harry Belafonte had thought for some time to have a song recorded by the most famous artists in the music industry at the time. He planned to have the proceeds donated to a new organization called United Support of Artists for Africa (USA for Africa). The non-profit foundation would then feed and relieve starving people in Africa, specifically Ethiopia, where around one million people died during the country’s 1983–1985 famine.[1][2]

There are a lot more Christians trying to resettle refugees in the US than Jews.

Moreover, undermining Western Civilization doesn’t benefit the Jews. America is the least anti-Semitic country in the world. Antisemitism is much higher in Latin America than the US. It’s much higher in Africa and China. It’s a little higher in most of Europe. It’s way higher in Islamic countries. So outside of a couple other WEIRD countries in northwest Europe, immigration from pretty much any other country on Earth is bad for the Jews.

Jews don’t want to die, and they bleed just like anyone else. I’ve met Jews who’ve fled South Africa, Detroit, New York, and LA. Always because of violence (sanitized as “crime”).

Here’s Bret Weinstein, formerly of Evergreen College, on the death memes that drove him out:

There’s an excellent three-part documentary on Youtube about how the (mostly) black students at Evergreen rioted, hunted Bret down with bats and tazers, and eventually drove him out of the university for the literal crime of teaching on campus while white.

Bret’s Jewish, in case you missed that. As far as non-whites are concerned, Jews are white and are treated accordingly. It’s in the Jewish interest for America and Britain to be nice, civilized, non-antisemitic countries that support Israel; not for them to degenerate into crime-ridden, antisemitic shitholes where Jewish wealth is taxed to fund welfare programs for non-whites.

If you’re looking for someone to blame, maybe blame the guys hunting down white academics with bats and tazers.

Of course, even if they aren’t trying to destroy civilization to benefit themselves, Jews could just be accidentally doing it because they’re stupid. This wouldn’t be a conspiracy, but people do actually do stupid things rather often. Jews are, in fact, disproportionately left-wing in the US (but not in other Western countries–in Britain, for example, they vote for the Tories).

But there is very little functional difference between liberal Jews and liberal non-Jews. Unitarian Christians and Reform Jews are practically the same (and many Reform Jews attend Unitarian churches). Orthodox Jews are conservative, keep to themselves, and basically avoid American politics; they certainly aren’t encouraging people to crossdress or get abortions, and most of them voted for Trump (54%–which is identical to the percent of whites who voted for Trump.)

Okay, so we know we have a problem: suicide memes, and we have a second problem: people who are getting violent about suicide memes.

What are the solutions? Getting violent isn’t a solution. Violence only works if you have the support of society behind you, and society supports people with high-class reputations. Society supports death memes; society does not support fighting back against death memes. Right-wing violence does not work because reputation is leftist. Making things worse is not a solution, but getting around the reputation problem could be.

The next bright idea I’ve seen people advocate is trying to convince everyone that humans races don’t exist.

This is a lie, and lying to people who are already onto the fact that you are lying to them is not going to work. They will just conclude that you are lying because you want to kill them. Remember that one of the indicators that genocide is likely to happen–as articulated by Genocide Watch–is “Systematic official denial of the existence of particular distinct groups.” By claiming that races don’t exist, you are walking straight into the paranoia of people convinced that you are trying to genocide them.

The truth of the “human races share 99.9% of their DNA in common” statement lies in the fact that the changes to our DNA that make genes do different things are, in fact, very small. The lie is that the size of the changes matters at all.

Mike came in the house, put away the groceries, cooked dinner, set the table, and said, “Let’s eat, kids!”

Mike came in the house, put away the groceries, cooked dinner, set the table, and said, “Let’s eat kids!”

These sentences are over 99% identical. What’s the big problem?

And besides, humans managed to slaughter their neighbors for millions of years before we discovered genetics; we’ll certainly be able to keep slaughtering each other even if we forget about genetics.

The best solution I can think of to suicide memes is to become aware of them,  stop spreading them, and point out when others spread them.

 

By the way, if you haven’t read my previous work on memes or aren’t very familiar with meme theory, here are a few relevant posts: Dangerous Memes, Mitochondrial Memes, and more memes. 

Death Memes Pt 1

The West is infected with a suicide meme. If you are inside the meme, you likely cannot see it; once you are outside the meme, you cannot unsee it.

This post will be broken into two parts:

  1. What are suicide memes?
  2. Why are there suicide memes?

Part One: What are Suicide Memes?

Memes, as used on this blog, are units of ideas. A memeplex is a set of ideas that usually come together. A god who dies and is reborn is a meme–the idea shows up in many religions. Christianity is a memeplex–a whole set of ideas about god, morality, religion, and history that normally travel together.

A suicide meme happens when you adopt the memes of people who want you dead. To the gazelle, the lion is a monster; to the lion, the gazelle is lunch. It does not benefit a gazelle to adopt the lion’s idea that gazelles are tasty, nor does it benefit the lion to sympathize with the gazelle.

Here are some suicide memes in action:

America:

So there’s a second thing in that black box: an unrelenting string of immigration. Non-stop. Non-stop. Folks like me who are Caucasian of European descent, for the first time, in 2017, will be an absolute minority in the United States of America. Absolute minority. Fewer than 50% of the people in America will be, from then on, of white, European stock. That’s not a bad thing–that’s a source of our strength.

“Look, to be totally honest, if things are so bad as you say with the white working class, don’t you want to get new Americans in?”

Grand Rapids, Michigan, wants to make it harder to call the police on black people

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, it may soon no longer be just unfair to call the police on people of color who have done nothing wrong. It may be downright illegal. The City Commission held a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed human rights ordinance that would make it a criminal misdemeanor to “racially profile people of color for participating in their lives,” the city said in a statement. The charge could result in up to a $500 fine, according to CNN affiliate WOOD.

Note: it is already illegal to call in fake police reports.

Dallas has decided that instead of punishing whites who call the police, they’re just not going to prosecute crime anymore

Dallas County District Attorney John Cruezot announced earlier this month he no longer plans to prosecute low-level crimes, including theft cases involving personal items less than $750 in value in many instances.

Canada: Experts recommend having fewer kids to combat climate change:

Seth Wynes, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, researches the personal choices that have the highest impact on climate change. … 

His study found that the four biggest ways individuals can help cut down on emissions are:

  • Have a smaller family
  • Eat a plant-based diet
  • Avoid air travel
  • Live car-free

Here’s a graph from the article:

11-things

Note that the CBC is a “Canadian federal Crown corporation;” Crown corporations are state-owned enterprises owned by the Sovereign of Canada. The CBC receives funding from a variety of sources, including taxes. 

What makes babies so bad for the environment? Well, they’re people, and people use resources. 

Of course, immigrants are also people, and moving from a low-carbon footprint country to a high-footprint country like Canada also has an impact on global warming. 

Meanwhile

In 2016, Canada admitted 296,346 permanent residents, compared to 271,845 the previous year – the highest admissions levels since 2010.[1] …

According to data from the 2016 census by Statistics Canada, 21.9% of the Canadian population reported they were or had ever been a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada …

The three main official reasons given for the level of immigration are: 

  • The social component – Canada facilitates family reunification
  • The humanitarian component – Relating to refugees. 
  • The economic component – Attracting immigrants who will contribute economically and fill labour market needs.

Well, gee, Canadian government, couldn’t you just fill your labour market needs by having more children instead of using your own people’s tax dollars to tell them not to have children and then importing people to fill the jobs left vacant by those missing citizens?

Australia:

From Wikipedia: 

Since 2008, a welcome to country has been incorporated into the ceremonial opening of the Parliament of Australia, an event which occurs after each federal election. The welcome includes a speech as well as traditional music and dance. Given that Parliament sits in Canberra, traditionally part of Ngambri country, a Ngambri elder officiates.[8] …

If a local elder is not available, the host of an event can offer an acknowledgement of country in place of a welcome (though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably). The following form of words, published by the Victorian Government, is typical:[12]

“I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land [or country] on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today.”

I have a very functional idea of ownership. You own something if you can use it and can stop others from using it. Rights of use and access are fundamental to property; the modern Australians own “Australia” because they exert military control over the continent. Stop paying your taxes in Canberra, and the guy who shows up to put you in prison will be a representative of the Australian government, not the Ngambri–proving that this is Australian land, not Ngambri. 

What is the point of lying to children about who owns the land they’re sitting on? 

Back to Canada:

According to the description of the video, provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corp, they do this every day.

These students are being prepared for their own slaughter. 

TeenVogue, which has gone from “fashion magazine” to “Tumblr insanity” and is thus a window into what teenage girls are thinking and why you should never allow your children on the internet, has an article on why Indigenous Land Acknowledgements are important:

By now, many know that the colonization myth we learned in school doesn’t tell the whole story of how the Americas were settled. In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but what he discovered was not a “New World” — it was one inhabited by millions of indigenous people. …

I apparently hate life enough to click on the “colonization myth” link and it’s full of garbage like “[The Taino] had a highly evolved and complex culture.” No. The Taino had no steel and no plows. They still used stone tools and practiced a combination of horticulture and hunter-gathering. They had neither writing nor math, and lacked the ability to navigate to nearby Africa or Europe. Their society had only two major social classes, commoners and nobles. The Taino might be the nicest people on earth, but calling their culture highly evolved is an outright lie. 

Criticizing Teen Vogue for being stupid is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it provides a lesson in the lies young people are being told. In sentence two, the author pretends not to understand how language works to take a dig at Europeans, those stupid people who thought they’d discovered a whole “New World” even though–get this–there were already people living there. Never mind that no one ever meant “New World” as signifying, “Wow, a new continent just rose out of the ocean!” Europeans knew the “New World” had people in it because Columbus brought Tainos back to Europe on his very first voyage. They knew Cuba was “old” to the people living there. They called it “new” because it was new to them, which is pretty obvious if you’ve ever talked to another human being in your entire life:

“Hi! Do you like my new dress?”

“What? You got that at Goodwill, so it’s your old dress, because it’s not new anymore to its original owner,” said no human, ever.

Back to Teen Vogue:

Living in villages, bands, and confederacies, their traditional territories spanned the entire continent. Indigenous people still live among us, yet how many of us could name the specific tribe or nation whose land we live on?

Unless you live on a reservation, you live on the land of the country you live in. For example, I live in the US. This is American land, because my ancestors conquered it. That makes it my tribe’s land. The Delaware Indians might have owned this land 400 years ago, but they do not own it today. If you are in Canada, you live on Canadian land. Teen Vogue–and the Canadian government–are trying to pull a conceptual bait-and-switch where they replace current land ownership with ancient land ownership in order to delegitimize the land’s current owners.

In Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, it’s harder and harder to not be aware. That’s because school days and meetings — and even hockey games — often begin with a “land acknowledgment,” a formal statement that pays tribute to the original inhabitants of the land. Indigenous peoples have acknowledged one another’s lands for centuries, but in the past decade, some Western governments have begun to promote the practice. 

No human, anywhere on earth, is the “original inhabitant” of the land; we did not spring fully formed from the dirt. Humans moved. They fought. They conquered. They moved some more. Every single inch of territory outside of Antarctica has been conquered and re-conquered over and over throughout human history (and before.) Even chimps, lions, and wolves have territory that they conquer and defend from others.

700cs_80622n_skulltower
Literal Aztec Skull tower unearthed by archaeologists, from “Feeding the Gods: [Thousands] of Skulls Reveal Scale of Sacrifice in Mexico City

The claim that Indigenous peoples “have acknowledged one another’s lands for centuries” is a bald-faced lie. (Incredibly, the New York Times also repeats this obvious fiction.) “Indigenous peoples” conquered their neighbors and defended their own tribal territories from invasion just like all other humans. I guarantee you the Aztecs didn’t stand up at the beginning of their ceremonies and announce that “This city was built on traditional Huastec land, and by the way, they are delicious with a nice mole. Okay, let’s get someone up here for a nice, indigenous heart-ripping out sacrifice.”

Land acknowledgments are, on the surface, stupid. If you care about native peoples, go do something nice for them. Donate to a college scholarship fund, help build houses, or be a friend and invite someone over for dinner. Sticking a modified version of “Hey, we conquered you,” at the beginning of speeches isn’t helping anyone.

But from the point of view of convincing people they don’t have a right to their own land, they seem effective. For children, having all of the adult authority figures in their lives telling them every day that they have no legitimate right to the land they live on and that it was “stolen” from others is bound to have an effect.

bq-5be99ab2cec78

No one else in the world does this. Turks do not start every school day with an announcement that they are living on land stolen from the Anatolian and Byzantine peoples. Taiwanese schools don’t start the day by acknowledging the Aboriginal Taiwanese; Pakistanis don’t apologize to the Indus Valley People.

In fact, it was from a Pakistani acquaintance that I first heard an articulate defense of loving one’s own nation that helped snap me out of my own SJW-induced-self-loathing fugue. The conversation, roughly paraphrased, went like this: I criticized Pakistan for being, in many ways, not very good. He responded defensively. I responded by criticizing him for not criticizing Pakistan. He responded that he was perfectly aware of his country’s many defects, for goodness’ sake, he lives there, but it remains his country, and like his family, he loves it. Our parents aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, but we still love them. So, too, do we love our countries.

This is a healthy attitude.

Do you think genocide simply begins without warning?

Did the Hutus just wake up with a bad case of the Mondays and decide to go kill 70% of the Tutsis?

Of course not. Anti-Tutsi sentiment had been brewing since at least WWII. Hutus had been importing large numbers of machetes and training bands of children in their use for chopping up humans for years. Propaganda had been featured in Rwandan newspapers and radios for years. The killing of nearly a million people in 100 days took much longer to prepare.

The Tutsis had the misfortune of being a market-dominant minority–always a dangerous position. (I don’t think I need to educate anyone on the history of Nazi propaganda about the Jews.)

The difference between a religion and a cult is that a cult asks you to sacrifice everything for the cult. Incidentally, so does Nike

In South Africa, the popular buzz-phrase is “expropriation without compensation.”

 

You might think that explicitly calling it “expropriation without compensation” is oddly honest for anything done by a government, since governments usually try to hide their harmful actions, but when a policy of destroying a minority is clearly desired by the majority, there’s no reason not to advertise it. 

“We’ve not called for the killing of white people–at least for now. I can’t guarantee the future.”–Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters of South Africa

Of course, they tried this in Zimbabwe, which lead to the total collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy. 

South Africa is a modern, industrial country whose economy is not agrarian–though of course people still need to eat–and thus land redistribution would only reduce the amount of food being produced without actually getting people the kind of jobs they need to be doing, like running electrical power plants. South Africa has plenty of farmers already; like all industrialized nations, they need more people in industry, medicine, education, and technology. 

South Africa’s approach to “justice” is vengeance, not uplift: All of the Charts Show that South Africa’s Inequality is Only Getting Worse

Today, the disparity in education, skill, and income continues. Two recently released World Bank reports further show that the gap is not only widening, it is intergenerational. … 

The middle class has particularly suffered from South African economy’s inability to create new jobs. To achieve a significant reduction in the country’s unemployment rate, the World Bank estimates 600,000 jobs would need to be created every year. The economy is producing half that number. Most of the new jobs are in the services sector, while low-skill agriculture and manufacturing jobs are on the decline.  …

Post-apartheid economic policies have been unable to find a balance between job creation and economic growth. During the Mandela years, the country tried the Reconstruction and Development Program, which focused on social security but the program was costly and was not able to broaden the tax base. Then there was Growth, Employment and Redistribution, which tried to stimulate growth and reduce inflation and the deficit, but failed to create many jobs. It unsuccessfully depended on a trickle-down effect to grow the middle class. … 

These policy decisions have created a so-called “missing middle” in various sectors of society which is becoming increasingly dissatisfied. It is glaring in South Africa’s higher education. Categorized as households who earn less than 600,000 rand per year ($47,800), the students who make up the missing middle don’t qualify for national assistance, but they simply can’t afford to pay tuition.

They made up the thousands of young people who created the #FeesMustFall movement, and they are overwhelmingly black. Only 5% of black students are likely to graduate, compared to 15% in 1975. 

And now: South Africa’s Decline Worst among Nations not-at-war:

South Africa’s performance on a range of social, economic and governance measures deteriorated more in the past 12 years than any other nation not at war, according to Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd.

The decline is likely to continue as the country wrestles with the consequences of nine years of worsening corruption and policy paralysis under former President Jacob Zuma, the Johannesburg-based political-risk advisory company said. The fragility of the economy may also limit the tenure of his successor Cyril Ramaphosa, who faces his first national election on May 8, it said.

From the Irish times: Primary Teachers Disproportionately White, Irish, and Catholic:

The majority of trainee primary school teachers are white, Irish and Catholic and do not reflect our diverse population, new research has found. …

The study calls for further discussion of measures that can be taken to attract and recruit more individuals from minority groups into the teaching profession.

Ireland has too many Irish teachers! The solution is to fire the Irish teachers and hire non-Irish teachers.  

Oh, sorry, the solution isn’t firing them. That would be too obvious. It’s just not hiring them anymore. Official discrimination against the Irish in Ireland. Because having Irish people working in their own country is a problem.

Dr Heinz said it is important we take notice of the widening diversity gap and identify potential barriers for individuals from underrepresented groups.

“For many students who are refugees, have certain learning difficulties, or have come from abroad and did not speak English when they enrolled in school, the door to primary teaching is closed early as they can be granted an exemption from the otherwise obligatory Irish instruction at school, where Irish, English and Maths are essential subjects for applicants to primary teacher education programmes in Ireland, a barrier to non-Irish nationals who weren’t educated in Ireland,” said Dr Heinz.

The Irish language might matter to the Irish, but looks like we’ll have to get rid of it accommodate newcomers who can’t be bothered to learn it. Slán!

Also from Ireland: 

Meanwhile, at UCLA (America): 

Mathematicians who want tenure at UCLA have to do more than show a facility with numbers. They also have to pledge in writing a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

In fact, all professors applying for a tenure-track position at UCLA must write a statement on their commitment to diversity, showing, for example, their “record of success advising women and minority graduate students,” according to the UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. …

The University of California system is especially active – UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, and UC Berkeley all require such statements. UC Santa Cruz requires them for candidates for faculty Senate positions. …

No one knows how many schools require such diversity statements, but the practice appears to be in vogue. Vassar College, for example, requires tenure-track job candidates to write about their contributions to social justice. Both Vanderbilt University and the University of Pennsylvania provide guides on how to write an effective diversity statement.

 Never mind whether a teacher is good at teaching; you have to write an essay about how committed you are to the quest for fewer white men doing your job. 

These are just a few examples of death memes, picked from different countries. Death memes have become so pervasive that they roll off the tongue; in the UK, a white woman comments on a painting of students who died in WWI:

“Mark my words- we’re taking down the mural of white men in the uni Senate Room, even if I have to paint over it myself”.

I doubt she even knew at the time what it was. People just signal their hatred of white males reflexively.

The death meme is simultaneously telling people to have fewer children for the environment and that we need more immigrants to fill jobs. It’s telling people that all cultures are good–but yours is bad. It’s saying that we should not blame a whole culture for the actions of one person when someone attacks you, but the whole culture is responsible when the attacker hails from your culture. It’s tearing down people’s statues and painting over their murals, attacking their history and telling them their heroes were evil. 

The effects of death memes are, unfortunately, death:

2300_white_death_1_0323
source

 

Part two: Why are there suicide memes? will continue in the next post. 

What is “Society”?

In Sociobiology, E. O. Wilson defines a “population” as a group that (more or less) inter-breeds freely, while a “society” is a group that communicates. Out in nature, the borders of a society and a population are usually the same, but not always.

Modern communication has created a new, interesting human phenomenon–our “societies” no longer match our “populations.”

Two hundred years ago, news traveled only as fast as a horse (or a ship,) cameras didn’t exist, and newspapers/books were expensive. By necessity, people got most of their information from the other people around them. One hundred yeas ago, the telegraph had sped up communication, but photography was expensive, movies had barely been invented, and information still traveled slowly. News from the front lines during WWI arrived home well after the battles occurred–probably contributing significantly to the delay in realizing that military strategies were failing horrifically.

Today, the internet/TV/cheap printing/movies/etc are knitting nations into conversational blocks limited only by language (and even that is a small barrier, given the automation of pretty effective translation), but still separated by national borders. It’s fairly normal now to converse daily with people from three or four different countries, but never actually meet them. 

This is really new, really different, and kind of weird.

Since we can all talk to each other, people are increasingly, it seems, treating each other as one big society, despite the fact that we hail from different cultures and live under different governments. What happens in one country or to one group of people reverberates across the world. An American comforts a friend in Malaysia who is sick to her stomach because of a shooting in New Zealand. Both agree that the shooting actually had nothing to do with a popular Swedish YouTuber, despite the shooter enjoining his viewers (while livestreaming the event) to “subscribe to Pewdiepie.” Everything is, somehow, the fault of the American president, or maybe we should go back further, and blame the British colonists.

It’s been a rough day for a lot of people.

Such big “societies” are unwieldy. Many of us dislike each other. We certainly can’t control each other (not without extreme tactics), and no one likes feeling blamed for someone else’s actions. Yet we all want each other to behave better, to improve. How to improve is a tough question.

We also want to be treated well by each other, but how often do we encounter people who are simply awful?

The same forces that knit us together also split us apart–and what it means to be a society but not a population remains to be seen.

Tribalism, for good or ill (mostly ill)

esquire

The difficulty with modern politics is that it is stupid. Stupid, cultish, and insane.

Let’s use a recent example: Esquire ran a cover article about a white male teen entitled “American Boy,” and and at least a handful of people reacted with the kind of vitriol that makes alt-right conspiracy theorists point and yell “See? See? We told you so!”

For example:

Capture

Since when has “the cover of Esquire” been a “we”?

Just a few of the responses to Jemele’s Tweet, which has over 48 thousand likes:

So let me get this right, @esquire can’t put any other color person on their cover during the ENTIRE month of #BlackHistoryMonth  !?!?

All during black history month. They know what they’re doing. All press is Good press

I can’t even believe that! Especially during Black History Month? I mean it’s not right to begin with but it’s completely ridiculous this month! The least they could have done was cover me! I’m the biggest black sheep there ever was ask anyone! So kidding…Sry,I know, NOT FUNNY!

During Black History Month no less. Just don’t get it at all.

What the hell?!!!! Was there some type of urgency? Some clamoring from the masses, a cultural void that needed to be filled that warranted the commissioning of this article?! WtF

Seriously?!? Just the title of this article made me throw up in my mouth a little

Okay, new rule: You’re not allowed to talk about single people on Valentine’s Day, colon cancer in October, food during Ramadan, or jam during the entire month of March, because March is National Celery Month.  Also, the second week of July is Nude Recreation Week, so consider yourselves forewarned.

By the way, this is the March issue of Esquire, not February. (As far as I can tell, the last time Esquire published a February issue in the US, it featured a black man–Pharrel–on the cover.)

Ironically, I agree, strongly, with the folks who say we need to teach non-white history–the history of Africa, Asia, Oceana, and the rest of the world.

It’s not a pretty history. It involves cannibals. If they’re right that those who fail to learn about history are destined to repeat it, then we’re in for a lot of trouble.

Humans are fundamentally tribal creatures, even when they pretend to themselves that they aren’t. It’s part of our psychology; it’s part of how we understand the world and process threats. Human history is largely the history of one tribe of hairless apes bashing another tribe of hairless apes with increasingly advanced rocks. When we understand history, we realize that our current travails are more of the same old, same old, just fought with new technology.

Tribalism makes sense if you rewind the clock a hundred years or so to before the invention of the car, plane, and television. When most of your dealings were with members of your own community, and your own community was small enough that you knew a good portion of the people in it, “tribalism” was just regular life.

The tie that divides: Cross‐national evidence of the primacy of partyism:

Using evidence from Great Britain, the United States, Belgium and Spain, it is demonstrated in this article that in integrated and divided nations alike, citizens are more strongly attached to political parties than to the social groups that the parties represent. In all four nations, partisans discriminate against their opponents to a degree that exceeds discrimination against members of religious, linguistic, ethnic or regional out‐groups. This pattern holds even when social cleavages are intense and the basis for prolonged political conflict. Partisan animus is conditioned by ideological proximity; partisans are more distrusting of parties furthest from them in the ideological space. The effects of partisanship on trust are eroded when partisan and social ties collide. In closing, the article considers the reasons that give rise to the strength of ‘partyism’ in modern democracies.

In practice, partyism is mostly racialism. 90% of blacks vote Democratic; the majority of whites vote Republican. 

The problem is that these days, we don’t live in communities of a few hundred people. We don’t just interact with members of our own tribe.

bq-5c65baff8d5a5The Esquire controversy is old-fashioned tribalism dressed up in modern language–really, all SJW politics is just tribalism dressed up in new words. There is nothing “social” or “justicey” about disliking an interview with a teenager; Jamele and the thousands of people agreeing with her aren’t objecting to the quality of the article nor the lad’s personality, but expressing a very simple emotion: You aren’t part of my tribe, therefore I don’t like you. 

But who cares about any of this? 40,000 likes is a lot of likes, but then, there are >300 million people in this country. 40k isn’t even 1% of them.

Yet I think it is important. For starters, this low-level sniping is pervasive. Whether you’re on the internet or just watch TV, people who don’t like you are everywhere.

20 years ago, I wouldn’t have had any idea whether Jemele liked Esquire’s latest cover article or not–and I wouldn’t have cared, because I don’t know her. She doesn’t live near me, doesn’t work with me, doesn’t run in any of my social circles. She could hang out with her friends, talking about how much they hate this dumb Esquire cover, and I could hang out with my friends, talking about squids and Aztec sacrifice, and never the twain would meet.

Now we do.

Every group has memes about how awesome the group is and how much other groups suck. (If they didn’t, well, they’d stop existing pretty quickly.) Jocks insult nerds; nerds talk shit about jocks. But normally we keep our opinions within our own groups, where they function to increase group cohesion and punish deviators.

This is your brain on tribalism.

Insane tribalism.

Contrary to what some sociologists claim, bringing people into contact with people whom they don’t like seems to increase conflict, not decrease it. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Being constantly exposed to other people’s ideas about how awful you are seems to have two effects on people: either they agree (become infected–pozzed, if you will) that they are awful and start trying to help the people who hate them (this might be a kind of Stockholm Syndrome); or they react negatively, become immune, and hate back.

The former I refer to as the “suicide meme.” More on this later, but in short, the suicide meme happens when you absorb the memes of people who want you dead.

To the gazelle, the lion is a monster; to the lion, the gazelle is lunch. Neither of them benefits from adopting the other’s ideas.

To the grass, of course, the gazelle is a torturer and the lion a perfect gentleman.

There is something ironic about getting lectured to about treatment of Latinos by someone who is literally named “Cortez,” (Hernando Cortes was the Spanish conquistador who conquered Mexico and destroyed the Aztec empire; he apparently also created a lot of children in the process.)

Quoting Cortez (the modern one):

We must have respect for… human rights and respect for the right of human mobility. Because it is a right. [Applause] Because we are standing on native land. And Latino people are descendants of native people. And we cannot be told, and criminalized, simply because for our identity or our status. Period.

There are multiple lies in this statement. “Human mobility” isn’t a right. Not across national borders. If you think it is, go try it on the North Korea border and report back on how it works. There is no country in the world that recognizes the right of non-citizens to traipse across its borders whenever they please.

Second, we are not standing on native land. This was filmed at the US capitol. This is AMERICAN land. It is American land because Americans killed the people who used to live here.

Every single piece of land in the entire world belongs to the person who actually has the ability to physically enforce their claim to that land. China is a country today and Tibet isn’t because the PRC has physical control over Tibet and Tibet does’t. Italy is a country because no other country has the ability to take control of Italy’s land. Bhutan is a country because it controls the borders of Bhutan.

Third, while Latinos are descended from “native” peoples, they aren’t descended from Native Americans. They’re descended from natives from other countries that are not America. White people are also “native” peoples by this logic; they are descended from the native peoples of Europe. Asians are descended from the native peoples of Asia. Blacks are descended from the native peoples of Africa. Etc. Just because Latinos are descended from people from the North and South American continents is not meaningful–Germans and Poles are both native to Europe, but that doesn’t mean Germans have some inherent right to invade Poland.

Fourth, you certainly can be criminalized for your “status” (as illegal immigrants.) In fact, immigration status is exactly what is being criminalized.

There are many other issues with this speech–like the part where AOC blames ICE for the death of a little girl they actually were trying to save (despite the fact that our border patrol has no moral obligation to spend American taxpayers’ money to save the lives of non-Americans) and her promotion of the idea that non-citizens deserve “Constitutional protections” (fact: they already have constitutional protections, under the constitutions of the countries they are citizens of. They don’t have constitutional protections in countries they are not citizens of,)–but the most troubling thing about this speech is the fact that Ocasio-Cortez is an actual member of Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments would make sense over on the Mexican side of the border–a Mexican advocating for things that benefit Mexicans is perfectly reasonable.

But for a member of the American government to advocate that Americans have no right to control their own borders and assert that the territory of America actually belongs to someone else–including non-citizens–is straight up treason.

Invasive Memes

 

220px-Smallpox_virus_virions_TEM_PHIL_1849
Smallpox virus

Do people eventually grow ideologically resistant to dangerous local memes, but remain susceptible to foreign memes, allowing them to spread like invasive species?

And if so, can we find some way to memetically vaccinate ourselves against deadly ideas?

***

Memetics is the study of how ideas (“memes”) spread and evolve, using evolutionary theory and epidemiology as models. A “viral meme” is one that spreads swiftly through society, “infecting” minds as it goes.

Of course, most memes are fairly innocent (e.g. fashion trends) or even beneficial (“wash your hands before eating to prevent disease transmission”), but some ideas, like communism, kill people.

Ideologies consist of a big set of related ideas rather than a single one, so let’s call them memeplexes.

Almost all ideological memeplexes (and religions) sound great on paper–they have to, because that’s how they spread–but they are much more variable in actual practice.

Any idea that causes its believers to suffer is unlikely to persist–at the very least, because its believers die off.

Over time, in places where people have been exposed to ideological memeplexes, their worst aspects become known and people may learn to avoid them; the memeplexes themselves can evolve to be less harmful.

Over in epidemiology, diseases humans have been exposed to for a long time become less virulent as humans become adapted to them. Chickenpox, for example, is a fairly mild disease that kills few people because the virus has been infecting people for as long as people have been around (the ancestral Varicella-Zoster virus evolved approximately 65 million years ago and has been infecting animals ever since). Rather than kill you, chickenpox prefers to enter your nerves and go dormant for decades, reemerging later as shingles, ready to infect new people.

By contrast, smallpox (Variola major and Variola minor) probably evolved from a rodent-infecting virus about 16,000 to 68,000 years ago. That’s a big range, but either way, it’s much more recent than chickenpox. Smallpox made its first major impact on the historical record around the third century BC, Egypt, and thereafter became a recurring plague in Africa and Eurasia. Note that unlike chickenpox, which is old enough to have spread throughout the world with humanity, smallpox emerged long after major population splits occurred–like part of the Asian clade splitting off and heading into the Americas.

By 1400, Europeans had developed some immunity to smallpox (due to those who didn’t have any immunity dying), but when Columbus landed in the New World, folks here had had never seen the disease before–and thus had no immunity. Diseases like smallpox and measles ripped through native communities, killing approximately 90% of the New World population.

If we extend this metaphor back to ideas–if people have been exposed to an ideology for a long time, they are more likely to have developed immunity to it or the ideology to have adapted to be relatively less harmful than it initially was. For example, the Protestant Reformation and subsequent Catholic counter-reformation triggered a series of European wars that killed 10 million people, but today Catholics and Protestants manage to live in the same countries without killing each other. New religions are much more likely to lead all of their followers in a mass suicide than old, established religions; countries that have just undergone a political revolution are much more likely to kill off large numbers of their citizens than ones that haven’t.

This is not to say that old ideas are perfect and never harmful–chickenpox still kills people and is not a fun disease–but that any bad aspects are likely to become more mild over time as people wise up to bad ideas, (certain caveats applying).

But this process only works for ideas that have been around for a long time. What about new ideas?

You can’t stop new ideas. Technology is always changing. The world is changing, and it requires new ideas to operate. When these new ideas arrive, even terrible ones can spread like wildfire because people have no memetic antibodies to resist them. New memes, in short, are like invasive memetic species.

In the late 1960s, 15 million people still caught smallpox every year. In 1980, it was declared officially eradicated–not one case had been seen since 1977, due to a massive, world-wide vaccination campaign.

Humans can acquire immunity to disease in two main ways. The slow way is everyone who isn’t immune dying; everyone left alive happens to have adaptations that let them not die, which they can pass on to their children. As with chickenpox, over generations, the disease becomes less severe because humans become successively more adapted to it.

The fast way is to catch a disease, produce antibodies that recognize and can fight it off, and thereafter enjoy immunity. This, of course, assumes that you survive the disease.

Vaccination works by teaching body’s immune system to recognize a disease without infecting it with a full-strength germ, using a weakened or harmless version of the germ, instead. Early on, weakened germs from actual smallpox scabs or lesions to inoculate people, a risky method since the germs often weren’t that weak. Later, people discovered that cowpox was similar enough to smallpox that its antibodies could also fight smallpox, but cowpox itself was too adapted to cattle hosts to seriously harm humans. (Today I believe the vaccine uses a different weakened virus, but the principle is the same.)

The good part about memes is that you do not actually have to inject a physical substance into your body in order to learn about them.

Ideologies are very difficult to evaluate in the abstract, because, as mentioned, they are all optimized to sound good on paper. It’s their actual effects we are interested in.

So if we want to learn whether an idea is good or not, it’s probably best not to learn about it by merely reading books written by its advocates. Talk to people in places where the ideas have already been tried and learn from their experiences. If those people tell you this ideology causes mass suffering and they hate it, drop it like a hot potato. If those people are practicing an “impure” version of the ideology, it’s probably an improvement over the original.

For example, “communism” as practiced in China today is quite different from “communism” as practiced there 50 years ago–so much so that the modern system really isn’t communism at all. There was never, to my knowledge, an official changeover from one system to another, just a gradual accretion of improvements. This speaks strongly against communism as an ideology, since no country has managed to be successful by moving toward ideological communist purity, only by moving away from it–though they may still find it useful to retain some of communism’s original ideas.

I think there is a similar dynamic occurring in many Islamic countries. Islam is a relatively old religion that has had time to adapt to local conditions in many different parts of the world. For example, in Morocco, where the climate is more favorable to raising pigs than in other parts of the Islamic world, the taboo against pigs isn’t as strongly observed. The burka is not an Islamic universal, but characteristic of central Asia (the similar niqab is from Yemen). Islamic head coverings vary by culture–such as this kurhars, traditionally worn by unmarried women in Ingushetia, north of the Caucuses, or this cap, popular in Xianjiang. Turkey has laws officially restricting burkas in some areas, and Syria discourages even hijabs. Women in Iran did not go heavily veiled prior to the Iranian Revolution. So the insistence on extensive veiling in many Islamic communities (like the territory conquered by ISIS) is not a continuation of old traditions, but the imposition of a new, idealized, version of Islam.

Purity is counter to practicality.

Of course, this approach is hampered by the fact that what works in one place, time, and community may not work in a different one. Tilling your fields one way works in Europe, and tilling them a different way works in Papua New Guinea. But extrapolating from what works is at least a good start.

 

 

Sacrifice Everything Memes

I woke up this morning with the realization that I needed to make a meme about Nongqawuse. (Context.)

These were the result:

In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide in order to reach a UFO they believed was accompanying comet Hale-Bopp.

In 1978, 918 followers of cult leader Jim Jones committed suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid–the origin of the phrase, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.”

 

Mathematician Ted Kaczynski, unable to find a publisher for his manifesto, Industrial Society And Its Future, turned to mailing bombs to professors.

 

 

82 Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh, died when their compound burned down during a raid by the ATF. It appears that the Branch Davidians set the fire themselves.

 

The Thugs were an Indian cult that ritually strangled and murdered travelers.

 

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in 1995 when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in what he claimed was revenge for ATF’s siege against the Branch Davidians.

Hong Xiuquan claimed to be Jesus’ little brother and lead the Taiping Rebellion, which resulted in the deaths of 20-30 million people.

Lee Harvey Oswald

Nongqawuse was a Xhosa prophet who convinced her people that if they sacrificed all of their cattle, the British would be “swept into the sea.” The Xhosa sacrificed their cattle, the British did not get swept into the sea, and mass famine resulted.

 

Charles Manson was a cult leader whose followers carried out 9 murders in the 70s.

 

Elliot Rodger

 

By request:

 

Moloch

 

Every month of the Aztec year had a specific form of human sacrifice devoted to different deities.

 

Nike is giving terrible advice. Anyone who encourages you to sacrifice everything is probably a charlatan and actually wants you to sacrifice everything for them.

Believe in something sensible, true, and not likely to result in mass death.

Vacation posting: When Capitalism Devours Democracy

I am on vacation, and so have only been able to take notes on the posts I want to write for the past week. Here is the outline I jotted down in the car:

  1. When Capitalism Devours Democracy

Ken Star, Mueller, the media, and endless for-profit, anti-nation investigations into the president. (Actually, Tom Nichols’s discussion about the evolution of talk radio and Cable News and their deleterious effects on political discourse is one of the better parts of his book, The Death of Expertise.)

The overly complex legal code + endless investigation + the media + advertising dollars => undermining government function.

Watergate, White Water, Monica, Russiagate, etc.

Can you imagine the national reaction if someone tried to investigate George Washington the same way? It would have been seen not as “anti-George Washington,” but as fundamentally anti-American, an attempt to subvert democracy itself and interfere with the proper functioning of the nation.

Note the complexity of the modern legal, economic, and tax systems, which simultaneously make it very hard for anyone doing much of anything to comply with every single law (have you ever jaywalked? Accidentally miscounted a deduction on your taxes?) and ensure that, with enough searching, if you want to pin something bad on someone, you probably can.

This is why you never talk to the police. Reason #1:

Even though you believe in your heart that you have done nothing wrong, you have no idea whether you might be admitting that you did something that is against the law. There are tens of thousands of criminal statutes on the books in America today. Most of them you have never heard of, and many of them involve conduct that nobody would imagine could ever be a crime.

(Unless you’ve been pulled over for speeding. Then obviously you pull out your driver’s license and talk like a normal human.)

See also Joe Salatin’s Everything I want to do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front.

In short, the media discovered, with Nixon and Watergate (at least within the past century or so,) that constant presidential scandals could be good for ratings, and certain folks in the government discovered with Bill Clinton and Monica and Lewinsky that if you go digging for long enough, eventually you can find some kind of dirt to pin on someone–even if it’s completely irrelevant, idiotic dirt that has nothing to do with the president’s ability to govern.

This creates the incentive for the Media to constantly push the drumbeat narrative of “presidential scandal!” which leads to people truly believing that there is much more scandal than there really is.

Theory: Monica, Benghazi, Russiagate, and maybe even Watergate were all basically trumped-up hogwash played for ratings dollars. (Well, clearly someone broke into the Watergate hotel.)

The sheer complexity of the modern legal system, which allows this to happen, also  incentivizes each party to push for constant investigations of the other party’s presidents. In essence, both sides are moving toward mutual defect-defect, with the media egging them on.

And We the People are the suckers.

I feel like there are concepts here for which we need better words.