Discovering Truth

One thing that has become clear to me over the years is that people can reason themselves in and out of pretty much anything. Evidence can be provided for just about any assertion, no matter how ludicrous, and debunking it can lead to an endless rabbit hole of argument and counter-argument that never resolves much of anything. You can test this by googling just about any idiotic idea, and mountains of “evidence” will be found to support it.

So how does a man determine what is true, or at least more likely to be true?

Scott Adams has an excellent method for sifting through bullshit quickly and efficiently. He provides a list of common methods of discovering the truth:

  1. Personal Experience
  2. Experience of People You Know
  3. Experts
  4. Scientific Studies
  5. Common Sense
  6. Pattern Recognition

Note that each one of these methods contain serious problems if used alone. For instance, personal experience can be narrow and subject to confirmation bias. Experts may lie to you, or be a member of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Intellectual Yet Idiot class. Scientific studies can be twisted, or could be outright fabrications. Common sense, which I actually liken to basic logical consistency, can be wrong on the basis of flawed assumptions.

So a good bullshit filter is taking the list as a whole. A lie will not pass all 6 items. Neither is it likely to even pass a majority of them. Studies and experts may, for instance, tell you that Islam is a religion of peace. But common sense, pattern recognition, and the experiences of people you know would tend to counter the assertion. Where one contradicts another, resolution must be made.  If your experience and the experiences of people you know contradict the experts, who do you trust? In that case, I look for a motivation for the expert to lie (like, say, grant money for Climate Change researchers). If I find a blatant conflict of interest, I will usually dismiss the expert opinion on the basis of the other evidence. If I don’t, perhaps I need to reevaluate why my experiences and those of folks I know are different. Maybe there is another factor at work.

Some time ago, I explained that Francis once changed my mind in a big way on an important issue. At the time, I considered mortgage debt to be generally good. After all, experts claimed that it was good debt, studies showed that holders of mortgage debt did better than their fellows, and common sense generally appeared to favor home ownership (I later understood that it didn’t, per se). The experiences of people I knew were good, and I recognized the pattern that homeowners were generally better off than their fellows. Everything lined up for this, right?

Except it didn’t. My personal experience went south in a hurry. And in 2008, the experiences of people I knew turned sour as well. And when I went back and thought about it a little more, even common sense (in line with what Francis originally wrote) suggested that being exceedingly careful with debt was the wiser course. The experts, of course, changed their tune pretty quick, for a while. But one of the things which turned me off to media talking heads and anointed experts was precisely how quickly they turned, backpedaled, and pretended their earlier assertions had never even existed. After that debacle, I’ve been a lot more skeptical of their class.

Point is, when I reran the assertion through the bullshit filter, I became convinced that Francis was right, and I had been wrong.

But you must be very careful with the tool. Some time ago, I had a self-admitted Marxist attempt to convince me that the red states were economically backward, and that the quasi-Socialist policies of the blue states had created economic gains relative to their backward right-wing brethren. He cited some experts that were criticizing Kansas, and some others who were criticizing the South.

Interestingly enough, I am a well-traveled man, at least with respect to the lower 48 states. Having just returned from a trip to Philadelphia, the evidence of my own eyes immediately contradicted the Marxist’s assertions. Most of Philly was terrible. Outside the downtown core, it looked like a bomb went off. Hiroshima probably looked more attractive after it was nuked. And even in the urban core, the sidewalks smelled like piss, there were cops on every corner, and the black panthers were demonstrating right across from City Hall, in an effort to get an Islamic terrorist freed.

The evidence of my own eyes did not show me a fountain of prosperity for Philadelphia. Nor have my travels to other northern cities shown me likewise. Now, one might say that Miami and Atlanta are bad too, and that perhaps this is a trait of big cities, not something unique to the blue states. But even the worst areas of Atlanta and Miami were better than most of Philadelphia. It was that bad.

Nor, I should note, do my friends who live in Chicago and Detroit say any better about those places. Oh sure, each has a limousine liberal urban core. But outside of that, they are all cesspits. And I lived in Los Angeles long enough to know that it is nearly as bad as Philly. No, the blue states don’t get to claim economic superiority, regardless of what GDP numbers say. There is something terribly wrong with blue state cities. And if some red state cities have a similar disease, it certainly isn’t anywhere near as bad.

So the experts can make their claims all day long. I’m not buying it, no matter how well they present their case.

Folks these days put too much stock in some items of the bullshit filter, and not enough stock in others. Where personal experience contradicts the experts, where common sense and pattern recognition contradict the studies, a resolution must be made. Most people would have you rely on the experts and the studies more heavily. But over time, I’ve come to favor personal experience at least as much.

Winston said it properly in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre.

To this day, this remains one of my most frequent citations. Buried in this is a central truth about many ideologies that have been peddled throughout history: they assert the primacy of another’s view over the evidence of your eyes and ears. Once trained to dismiss this, a man might be made to spout any kind of absurdity.

Leftists often assert that the Rightist has a closed mind. But it is the Left that commands us to ignore what we see and hear, and to spout only pre-approved views, without question or critique. Their notion of an open mind is actually a controlled mind. Skip the bullshit filter, believe what you are told, obey.

No thanks. I’ll run everything through the bullshit filter, thank you very much.

Tyranny of the Midwits

This afternoon, I came across a fascinating Tweet thread by the esteemed Eve Keneinan. Eve echoes my own thoughts on the subject of Academia and militant anti-theism. Leftists love to make fun of folks they perceive to be peasants. Farmers, rural folks, working men, they are all stupid hicks and rubes to the hard Left. And Leftists love to make fun of the Christian faith possessed by these folks. Stupid sky wizards and zombie overlords, they’ll say. All the ‘brights’, the so-called smart people are, of course, proper atheists and good Socialists.

Except as Eve points out, they aren’t. Sure, the working man might not have a fancy education, but this doesn’t necessarily imply stupidity. And meanwhile, those truly comfortable with their own knowledge and experience seldom see a need to be insecure about it. It is the midwit, the person who is moderately more intelligent than average, and thus has had years of smoke blown up his ass about his relatively high intelligence, who is most vulnerable to such insecurity. And, in turn, superficially intellectual philosophy is appealing to him.

Eve explains:

It was [midwits] in Vietnam who were most likely to turn traitor. They are the most easily led by the nose class of persons.

 

Stockdale spent 8 years in the infamous Hoa Lo prison, the “Hanoi Hilton,” and observed many things about the human condition.

 

One was the varying effects of Vietnamese communist propaganda on various types of men.

 

Rough, uneducated soldiers were largely immune. A sergeant from Tennessee met every attempt to break his loyalty with one word: “BULLSHIT!”

 

Stockdale, highly educated (having studied philosophy) was also largely immune. He could show his captors how THEY were misreading Marx …

 

The men who turned coat were the moderately smart, moderately educated. THESE are the class that are MOST susceptible to propaganda.

Flattery and negging, in turn, are the weapons used to convert the midwit into the service of Marxism. You’re stupid if you believe in the Christian sky wizard, and the ‘invisible hand’ of Capitalism. You’re dumb if you think you have freedom. But you’re smart if you understand Marxian dialectic. You’re smart if you see through to the great wisdom of Socialism. Only the educated and wise, you see, are capable of understanding the nuance. Your own insecurity is a weapon in their hand. Your desire to be perceived as intelligent is soon used against you.

Whereas the “stupid rubes” are largely immune. They point, laugh, and say “you’re full of shit.” It doesn’t matter if you call them stupid. That is something they’ve heard from city-slickers since the dawn of civilization. And you can flatter them all you like, but they are largely immune to that, too. For them, fancy words are about as useful as a windshield wiper on a goat’s ass.

The city boy with a 125 IQ who gets his 4 year degree, on the other hand, is extremely vulnerable. He’s intelligent enough to notice that he’s above the norm, but will likely always feel small in the presence of greater men. Academia can easily mold him into a good Socialist by playing the flattery/negging game.  He is invested in his status as better than others, and that is the easiest lever with which to move him.

Of course, the highly intelligent, highly educated folks tend to be relatively immune to this sort of thing. If you are very secure in your intellectual capacity – and this is more a matter of knowing your limitations than anything else – the lever will not move you. Only truth will do. Fooling such a man is extraordinarily difficult. But, it should be noted, that in many ways the country rube is still the harder man to fool. The high intellectual will evaluate and entertain a thing, dissect it, and attempt to understand it before passing judgment on it. The “rube” will simply dismiss it if it fails to produce concrete results. The how and why isn’t of much concern to him.

In many ways, this is very sad. For though folks on Twitter are prone to using the term “midwit” as an insult, it really isn’t one. A man of moderately high intelligence and good education is incredibly useful. They form the ranks of engineers, technicians, programmers, medical specialists, and a number of other critical fields. They just need to get over themselves. Yes, you’re smarter than the average bear. But don’t get in over your head. Just because you were the best basketball player on your middle school team doesn’t mean you’re going to go pro. And don’t let folks falsely flatter you and manipulate you because, deep down, you’re insecure about this.

And lastly, remember one other fact. The folks you might dismiss as uneducated hicks are often a lot more intelligent than they appear to be. What, did you think every guy with a 150+ IQ went to an Ivy League school? Some were happy where they were at. Some preferred to till the soil, or work on old cars, or DJ dingy nightclubs. I’ve got friends of all shapes and sizes. Some of my people are rednecks from the sticks, who do a lot more hunting than they do reading. Others, like my friend Francis over at Liberty’s Torch are men of immense intellectual capacity and education (don’t tell him that, I don’t want his head to explode!). And you know what? I learn a little bit from all of ’em.

If you get over yourself, then no matter what your IQ level or educational achievements, you might just learn something. And, of equal importance, you might avoid swallowing a load of complete bullshit.

Forget “Higher” Education

My in-laws were asking me when I was going to start my son’s college fund, over the weekend, as my son had his first birthday party. I said “never.” I also explained that I intended, rather, to ensure that our family avoided debt and maintained assets and savings. They looked at me all puzzled. To them, college was a given. You just did it. That’s the way it was. And, to be fair, it once was that way.

I suspect the higher education sector will implode long before my son reaches that age. And, in any event, I’m not sending him to go get brainwashed by these fucks no matter what the situation is.

I genuinely believe the future of education will be more hands on, trade-school oriented. My father is an electrician, and he explained to me recently that he’s pulling $50-$60/hr on cakewalk residential jobs, because there are so few electricians. And, here’s the kicker, most of them are older than him! When they retire, that’s where the money will be. The trades that everyone has been neglecting for the last few decades.

It’s getting pretty bad these days. Awhile back, I was going to lunch with another developer friend of mine. When we got back to his car after eating, he had a flat tire. So he did what every modern American these days seems to prefer: he called AAA to come deal with the tire for him. I offered to just change it for him, because he had a full-size spare. But he insisted on waiting for the tow truck. He seemed incredulous that I would even offer to change a tire. 

After awhile I gave up and just walked back to work. He waited for like two hours for someone to change the tire for him. It was another one of those moments that struck me as a symptom of the Decline of the West. He had an Ivy-league degree, but couldn’t change a tire. And he wasn’t even particularly bad — he is even Conservative, a rarity among Ivy League graduates these days. I can’t imagine how bad his liberal equivalents are, now.

Not only do people refuse the skilled trades, but they actively loathe learning anything that resembles physical work. At least my friend contributed something, through his programming work. And in fairness to him, he recently started a rental business and got a bit more hands-on with it. Most don’t even do that. They become middle managers, project managers, or some other sort of busy make-work. In the meantime, all the productive jobs are shipped overseas.

Well, they can’t ship the trades, not all of them. Because, at the end of the day, somebody needs to change their tires on the side of the road. Somebody needs to unclog the drain or snake the toilet. Somebody needs to wire the low-voltage LED lighting that’s in demand in all the rich people’s homes these days, supposedly so they can feel good about themselves for saving the planet while running the A/C at 70 in the middle of 90 degree Florida heat.

I don’t know what my son will be, or what he will be good at yet. But I do know that more of the same from a failing “higher” education staffed with Social Justice Warriors and quasi-Communists won’t do him any good.

I sympathize with the concerns of my in-laws, but quite frankly, higher education has become a joke. Worse, it’s become a facility for brainwashing and indoctrination. If I were of college age today, I would eschew the campus altogether.

As Roosh put it on his Twitter account, these are the fruits of your $46,000 per year Ivy League education:

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Francis occasionally calls me out on my various grammatical errors, but here we see that Yale students can’t even manage basic English. But we’re supposed to believe them on this intersectional feminism business, and entrust the management of our entire society to them. Riiiight.

My son deserves far better. When he’s old enough, I intend to introduce him to the philosophy of Mike Rowe. This “work smarter, not harder” catchphrase that drove higher education for the last several decades is a fallacy. Work smarter AND harder. And even if you just wanted to be smarter, college campuses are ill-equipped to provide even that much.

 

06262015_Mike-Rowe_Tea-Party-Express

That’s the truth.

The End of the Family

Some time ago, I suggested that Socialism’s greatest flaw is in its inability to scale. Two people who get married share resources, money, and expertise. This operates along principles not terribly different from Socialism. Extend this further. Many families are composed of several generations, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc… and there is a degree of sharing among them. There was a time where one’s retirement plan was the family.

Indeed, my wife’s grandparents moved in with her parents. They watched the children during the day, contributing what they could (and saving child care costs), in exchange for room and board. But since this was a family unit, it wasn’t accounted like that. It was expected that each contributed what they were able, and took what they needed. Anyone who contributed less than their ability, or took more than their share, would face the wrath of the rest of the family. No matter how Marxist this sounds in theory, it worked well, because the scale was small. Everyone knew everyone else. If someone was slacking or becoming a glutton, it was obvious to all.

Now, the reason I point this is out is not to sing the praises of Marxism, but rather to point out something many on the Right fail to understand: Marxism regards the Family unit as competition. Indeed, Marxists are jealous of the family, because it operates more efficiently and less tyrannically than Socialism does. Good families stick together and support one another in ways Socialist Revolutionaries could only dream about. We might call families Communal instead of Socialist, because families actually have some chance of working in the long term.

The reason I bring this up now is an article I discovered earlier today: Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

Yes. The author of this article genuinely believes in three things.

  1. It is unfair that some parents are better than others.
  2. This needs to be addressed by the state, because unfairness is bad.
  3. Children should thus be wards of the state, and should not be awarded to biological parents.

 

Now, on some of these points, the author, in the manner typical of progressives, attempts to weasel out of stating his points openly. But it’s pretty hard to take this back:

I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.

One of the rhetorical tools the Progressives use in their quest for power is reversing the polarity of the argument. Instead of suggesting that, since some parents are better than others, it might be beneficial to encourage the formation of stable families in order that more parents become good parents… the Progressives prefer to suggest that the good parents are to blame for creating disadvantages for the children of bad parents. The author further states:

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.

Who will restrict the telling of bedtime stories? Why, your friendly Marxist government, of course. You see that with Progressives, everything will be twisted into a defense of Marxist government. They have spent decades attempting to destroy the American family unit, and now that they have succeeded partially, in that many children are raised without functioning families, they say that it is unfair those without families are disadvantaged. Then they use this as justification for destroying the remaining family units, or at least critically weakening them.

This is akin to what they have done where economics is concerned. They impoverish people around the world, then blame those who have not completely fallen into poverty for being “privileged,” thus justifying further government action. To do this, they utilize a human psychological blind spot: a child-like mind’s instinctive dislike for unfairness.

It’s the first lesson of life that those who blindly follow Progressive leaders have failed to understand: life isn’t fair. More on this tomorrow.

College is Obsolete

There’s a great lie in American discourse today. They say education is too expensive. We need to subsidize this or that, pay for some years of college, etc…

It’s all bullshit. Education is FREE. Yes. Right now. You can download all of MIT’s coursework, today, right now, for free. One professor I really respect, a Dr. Kelley Ross from California, runs a website http://www.friesian.com/ that has the most comprehensive writings on philosophy, economics and history that I have ever seen. The man is a machine. And, as I have conversed with Francis over at Liberty’s Torch, I realized there are resources for learning the art of storytelling, too.

Now, I don’t trust Wikipedia anymore, but Britannica is online, and you can buy a DVD version for like $20. Project Gutenberg gives us access to classic literature. There are Youtube channels dedicated to teaching you foreign languages. Your local library is even a resource. If you’re in my industries (I am both a DJ and a Web Developer), there are so many resources to teach you these fields it is ridiculous. I am entirely self-taught in both careers.

Now, I get it. People still go to college because they need the certifications, they need the sheepskin, so to speak, in order to get by the GateKeepers in HR departments around the world. But now we’re talking something entirely different. We’re not talking about getting an education, we’re talking about proving that you’re educated.

I submit that, for many fields, there are better ways to prove your education than a college degree that often costs over $100,000.

The fact of the matter is, College is obsolete.

People today are spoiled, in many ways. If you’ve ever read Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, you can get a sense for how difficult gaining knowledge once was. This was a life’s work for Gibbon. He had to travel all over Europe, digging through ancient monasteries, noble libraries, and universities in order to dredge up the information required for his work.

In those days, education had to be centralized. There were not enough books and knowledge had to be concentrated in only a few places. Universities and Monasteries were the only places you could really get a substantial education.

Today books are cheap, and with the advent of the computer and the Internet, knowledge is so cheap it doesn’t even need to be printed anymore. Gibbon wouldn’t have had to spend 25 years scouring Europe for reference material, he could have done it all in 25 minutes on Google.

So the old centralized model of education is outdated. Oh, institutions still have a place, but more as practical, hands-on teaching. A man who wishes to become a mechanic or a surgeon will need tools, practice material and internship-style work in order to fulfill his role. Institutions can provide that component. But those institutions won’t be colleges or universities in any traditional sense.

But the rest? College is worthless for that, because the education can be obtained far more cheaply and readily elsewhere. And in my field of web development, advancement moves so fast colleges literally cannot keep up. By the time a class is formed and a professor is taught… the industry has moved on.

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