Occasionally, I feel the need to discuss technology, as my day business does depend on it. Actually, my DJing does also, to some extent. But still, I really abuse computers with my work, everything from running local virtual machines for development, to Photoshop, video editing in After Effects, and 3D Rendering. Then, of course, I still game on occasion.
Now, it used to be that I would build a new computer every 2 or 3 years. That was about the time when a build would start to have some issues, mainly because it was so heavily abused, and also the point at which performance increases would justify the cost. Every 2 or 3 years, I could double performance with a new build.
That hasn’t been the case for a long time. The current machine I’m running was built in 2011, and since then, the only component that’s seen an upgrade is the graphics card. Back when Bitcoin mining was a thing, I picked up a pair of Radeon 7950s and swapped them in, and made a nice tidy profit from that.
The reason I haven’t upgraded can basically be laid on the doorstep of Intel. AMD stopped competing in the high end CPU space sometime around 2008 or so. The company had decided that competition with Intel was too expensive, and relegated future designs to the low end market. This, in turn, made Intel very lazy. The i7-2600k in this build remained a competitive processor for a very long time. Even today’s i7-7700k is, perhaps, 40% faster. For 6 years of CPU development, that is really poor.
Meanwhile, my old build has been brutalized for nearly 6 years, and components are starting to fail. I used to have 24GB of RAM in this machine. Two DIMMs died a few months back, so I’m down to 16GB. The power supply is… twitchy, the system itself just feels less stable in almost all metrics, for which blame can probably be laid upon the motherboard. This system is giving me indications that I’ve a time limit on how much longer I can beat it to death.
Meanwhile, the only Intel options that looked interesting were completely unaffordable. The i7-7700k is pretty well priced, of course, but it’s a 4 core/8 thread CPU like my 2600k, and the IPC and clock speed improvements are not very impressive. Meanwhile, Intel released the 6900k 8 core/16 thread CPU, and the 6950k 10 core/20 thread monster. At least in development and content creation, these would be more than twice as fast as my 2600k. But these cost around $1100 and $1600, respectively, and require a much more expensive motherboard to boot.
Intel has enjoyed the fruits of being an effective monopoly in the high-end CPU space. High prices, and unimpressive performance gains were the order of the day. Monopolies really do stink. On the other hand, I have to think that even as a monopoly, this behavior was kind of stupid on Intel’s part. After all, they could have sold me a CPU or two in the last few years if they hadn’t acted this way. How many sales were lost because people didn’t see any persuasive reason to upgrade?
About time, AMD. Where were you for the last decade?
Fortunately, for whatever reason, AMD has decided to reenter the high-end CPU market with the Ryzen 7 series. I won’t go into too much detail on the benchmarks, as others have done a much better job of that, but the verdict is really fascinating. The Ryzen 1800x is nearly as fast as the high-end Intel 6900k and 6950k chips. In content creation, it appears to be slightly ahead of the 6900k, and somewhat behind the 6950k, which makes sense given that the latter is a 10 core part, and the Ryzen 7 line is merely 8 core/16 thread.
Nonetheless, this is very impressive, because even the most expensive Ryzen CPU is $499. The 1700 and 1700x are, of course, even less expensive. The 1700x may be the sweet spot, in that a modest overclock will grant performance on par with the 1800x.
In gaming, the verdict is more mixed. The Ryzen is competitive with the Intel 8 core chips in gaming, but not as competitive with the i7-7700k 4 core part. The reason for this is, of course, that games are less optimized for multi-threading. So the higher-clocked 7700k actually beats out its 8 core siblings and the Ryzen lineup by around 10% or so, across the board. There is a lot of speculation surrounding Ryzen performance in gaming, however. Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock, had this to say on the matter:
“Oxide games is incredibly excited with what we are seeing from the Ryzen CPU. Using our Nitrous game engine, we are working to scale our existing and future game title performance to take full advantage of Ryzen and its 8-core, 16-thread architecture, and the results thus far are impressive. These optimizations are not yet available for Ryzen benchmarking. However, expect updates soon to enhance the performance of games like Ashes of the Singularity on Ryzen CPUs, as well as our future game releases.”
The Ryzen may actually be able to gain some low hanging performance in this area. Its spectacular content creation benchmarks, and synthetic benchmarks show that AMD is not bullshitting about the CPU’s performance, as they’ve done in the past with the utterly garbage Bulldozer and Piledriver lineups. So in this case, the fact that developers have been optimizing more or less exclusively for Intel’s chips for nearly a decade — because AMD’s offerings were crappy — may have given Ryzen a handicap in those benchmarks. If so, we should expect to see a modest increase in gaming performance in the coming year.
There were two other teething problems for Ryzen. First, the Windows 10 scheduler incorrectly identifies physical CPUs (cores) with logical threads, and attempts to provide both with a similar workload. In workstation applications, this is a more or less a non-issue. In games, however, it has become a handicap for Ryzen. AMD claims to be working with Microsoft to provide updates to the Windows 10 scheduler to fix this problem. Ironically enough, Windows 7 does not have this issue (it’s also not officially supported anymore — thank Microsoft for that idiot decision). Gaming benchmarks in Windows 7 appear to be significantly better as a result, with early adopters seeing a roughly 8% improvement with the Windows 7 scheduler, over the Windows 10 scheduler. So if Microsoft deigns to fix this, which is by no means a guarantee, we should see Ryzen gaming performance jump to within a percent or two of the 7700k.
The last hiccup is the memory controller. Unusually for a CPU that is otherwise very fast and competitive with the Intel parts, the memory controller is rather weak. It is dual-channel only, and getting maximum memory bandwidth, at the moment, requires using only two DIMMs, and single rank memory. Using two DIMMs is generally not an issue at the moment, but the single rank memory issue is a major problem. It takes a lot of research to find out which memory kits are single rank, as this is not commonly listed in the specifications. The usual method is to visually inspect the memory. If the chips are on one side only, you can be about 99% certain it is a single rank part. But this is hard to do when shopping online, as the heatspreaders cover the chips, and the spec sheet doesn’t list whether it’s single rank or not. This is explained in great detail at Legit Reviews.
This will likely change in the near future, as more UEFI code comes out of AMD, and they optimize the memory controller somewhat. For now, if you are building a Ryzen box, be sure to check the motherboard maker’s QVL (Qualified Vendor List) for compatible memory. Asus, at least, has done a lot of research on this, and has even specified which memory kits are single rank, and thus best for Ryzen. The memory manufacturers themselves often don’t even do this, or bother to specify it, so kudos to Asus for taking the time to do that right.
Take careful notice of the memory speeds and latencies available to you, as Ryzen’s weaker memory controller and lack of quad-channel support make it much more sensitive to RAM speeds than Intel’s chips. Maximize memory performance to avoid a bottleneck here.
What we have here is a part from AMD that occupies a unique market position. It was a brilliant move from them. If you want the fastest gaming-only chip, the i7-7700k is still your best bet, as its higher clock speed gives it an unbeatable advantage here, and having 8 cores doesn’t do much for you in gaming (yet, anyway). Four is enough there, for now at least. If you want the absolute fastest workstation chip, the i7-6950k is still the fastest thing out there… if you have $1600 to pay for it.
But what if you’re like me, and your primary computer is a mixed-use machine? Something that sees use as a graphics and video workstation, a gaming box, and even, on occasion, a testing and development server? There the Ryzen shines. It’s cheaper than the Intel workstation chips by a huge margin, while offering broadly similar performance, and it handles games just fine, even if it’s not quite the fastest there either. It won’t double the performance of my 2600k in gaming, but it will more than double it in workstation and dev duty. And it will dominate the 7700k in workstation and dev duty.
So you sacrifice maybe 10% of gaming performance, and even then, only in situations where you are not GPU bound, and gain 50%+ in productivity and content creation compared to the 7700k. That’s a trade I’d make all day long. I suspect a lot of folks will be thinking similarly.
AMD created what’s probably the best general-use CPU on the market today.
So I’ll be building a Ryzen box this time around. But even if you don’t want to roll the dice with AMD, I imagine Intel will feel some competitive pressure again, and maybe we can get back to the market working like it ought to.
Ironically, however, where my last build used an Intel CPU and an AMD GPU, my new build will be a reverse. An AMD CPU, and Nvidia GPU (the Geforce 1080 Ti is the king right now). Maybe AMD should apply the same level of dedication they did with their Ryzen project to their next Radeon release (they claim the Vega release will be good — but we’ll have to see). Either way, though, folks ought to be thanking them for giving us an alternative to Intel that doesn’t require sacrificing your first-born son to buy.
Update: A great explanation of what’s going on with the mixed gaming performance from Ryzen. As it turns out, the decision by AMD to split the CPU into two CCXs (Core Complexes) created a latency issue between the two core complexes when there is a lot of thread-to-thread communication. It looks like this is actually a pretty easy fix, overall. Windows 10’s scheduler needs to treat them almost like two quad-core chips, rather than a single octa-core chip, which ought to distribute the workload better. I remember this was an issue for early Intel quad-core chips, which similarly split into two complexes of two cores each.
This video explains it:
This means a Windows update should fix most of the bizarre, split-personality of Ryzen. Let’s hope Microsoft actually bothers.
In the movie Men In Black, there’s a scene where an abusive farmer gets killed by the villain, some kind of giant alien cockroach. The alien then possesses his body and walks around in comic fashion, like some kind of rotting zombie. The farmer’s wife exclaims “like an Edgar suit.”
This is pretty much what Worldcon looks like, these days.
Social Justice Marxists operate in the same manner. They take over institutions, groups, corporations, movements, whatever… and kill them. They then wear the skin of the destroyed, rotting institution like an Edgar suit, ambling around in comic fashion, expecting to be treated as if they were still the institution itself.
Only unlike the movie, there are a great many of these alien bugs on Earth. They are legion. And the thing is, most rightists suspect this is true, because the Edgar suit doesn’t act like Edgar. He acts like an alien cockroach. But they nonetheless give the benefit of the doubt, because they aren’t sure.
It is in that space of uncertainty that Marxism is permitted to spread, and infest every sizable organization. Once infected, forget bringing the organization back to life. It’s a rotting husk. It’s dead. You aren’t going to take it back, and even supposing you did, it’d still be a rotting sack of skin.
I think this is the greatest weakness of the political right. We permit Marxism to spread because we are not confident in our assessment that the people in question are Marxists. Most of them deny it, of course.
I remember when one leftist kept posting about how the border wall was racist, and how illegal immigrants ought to be able to come over, and how stopping them was bad. When I asked him why he was for open borders he denied it. Yet, his chosen policy would result in a de facto open border! Was he really that delusional… or was he a Marxist trying to say “I’m not a Marxist”?
One of the ways to tell if it’s really Edgar, or just an Edgar suit, is to prod the person with absolutes. Marxists are absolutists. A case in point. Another individual explained to me that healthcare ought to be a human right. Every human should have it upon need. I pointed out the usual inefficiencies of government bureaucracy, the long waiting lists, the poor quality of VA care, and the general lack of innovation and creativity in government-run healthcare.
The thing is, the guy agreed with me on many of those things. But he countered with “but if you don’t make it a right, somebody might not get the care they need, and I just can’t support that.” It doesn’t matter if the care would be better for 99.9% of everyone else. If one single person went without needed care, he would judge it a failure.
You see this kind of argument from Marxists all the time. You could destroy entire countries with mass immigration, but if one refugee child suffered, then too bad, too sad. You must do it. Get used to British citizens speaking Arabic, you racist.
It’s the same kind of argument you hear from gun control advocates.”If it saves the life of just one child,” they will say, “it will all be worth it.” Or, “even one shooting is too many.” Marxist absolutism, again. Somebody is wearing an Edgar suit.
MADD is a great case in point. Originally founded to combat drunk driving, an honorable pursuit, the founder wound up leaving a few years later, because the organization had become a group of tyrannical neo-prohibitionists, not merely a group concerned with reducing drunk driving offenses. Soon it was receiving government money, advocating for Traffic Safety Funds (more government cash), and arguing for everything from a rash of checkpoints, to mandatory interlock devices on all automobiles — not just those owned by those convicted of alcohol-related offenses.
MADD is an Edgar suit. Scratch the surface, and you’ll find a bunch of Marxists.
The thing is, if Marxists were open about their Marxism, that is to say if the giant alien cockroach were seen as a giant alien cockroach, every normie on the planet would be trying to squash it. It you saw the bodies of the Stalin regime, the starvation of Mao’s regime, the killings of Pol Pot… you would want to stamp this thing out with every fiber of your being.
Charming fellow, right?
But when attacked, when someone starts to suspect an organization is full of Marxists, they retreat into the Edgar suit. Hi. I’m Edgar. Nice to meet you. And my goal is just to try and help reduce drunk driving deaths!
Do you know why Marxists like absolutism so much? Why even a 99.9% success rate is not good enough for them? Because it gives them an excuse to continue to exist. No human society will ever reach 100% of anything. There will always be people who are poor, people who don’t get the care they need, people who die senselessly, idiots who get drunk and wreck someone’s life. Always.
Reducing the incidence of those things is a good and noble pursuit. But they can never be stopped completely. By saying that nothing is good enough unless it has a 100% success rate, the Marxist is giving himself power for life, and his organization power forever. Because so long as one person slips through the cracks, he can say “my work is not done yet.”
But the single-minded focus of Marxists on power politics is a good tell. Absolutism can tell you if someone is a Marxist, but so can an over-reliance on the language of political power. Normal people might talk politics for a while, even rant about it as I do here, but there are also times when they just don’t care about politics at all.
Marxists want to bring politics into everything. Are you eating a plate of Chinese takeout? Cultural Appropriation. Do you drive a nice car? Privilege! Do you like your hair a certain way? Racism! Everything must involve politics with them. They cannot stop thinking about their obsession for even the briefest of moments. At some point, a normie is likely to talk about his dog, or his kid, or how much he likes beer, or something totally unrelated to politics. The Marxist, on the other hand, will find a way to steer that back.
Another Edgar Suit tell is an obsession with personal bias. Like the 100% success rate demands, the Marxist demands absolute objectivity on the part of others (while displaying none himself). Unless you can demonstrate proof of moral perfection and a completely unbiased, objective viewpoint, you can be dismissed because you’re biased. The data underlying it is irrelevant, because the collector is biased. For instance, if you said that black people in the United States committed a greater per capita share of violent crimes than white people, that is a true statement. The Marxist would say that you are biased against black people, thus your conclusion (whatever it may be) can be dismissed on that basis. Forget the facts.
The same standard, of course, is never applied to them. But again, it makes an impossible demand so that a permanent political bludgeon is created, which they can beat you over the head with constantly.
There are probably many more such tells (if you’ve got one, drop it in the comments), but those are the ones I’ve seen most frequently, and most obviously. And it’s very important to identify which groups and institutions are SJW-converged, which ones are Edgar suits filled with Marxist cockroaches, and which ones are not. Rightists have permitted bad actors to continue to be treated like good actors merely because they skinned an organization of good actors alive, and wore them like a suit. It’s both stupid, and disservice to the memory of those who created the original, non-converged organization.
Just a quickie for today. Over at Sarah’s place, I read this little gem:
Look, it’s not my fault. I was bit by International Socialism as a child and it’s the sort of thing that causes an allergy for life. Oh, yeah, and International ANYTHING day is a socialist thing, because they never fully realized that they didn’t control the whole world. Or they didn’t care and just wanted to make their rubes believe they were worldwide. The Happy People of Brutopia celebrated whatever day they were ordered, and they marched in orderly ranks past the red draped stands, and Socialism would Conquer the WORLD.
Right. So that was part of why I blew up. I hate “International” this and that, and the idea behind it. Whatever good it is supposed to do never actually works where needed, and it does very bad things everywhere else.
It’s true. International (insert thing here) is almost invariably a Socialism thing. If there was an International Shoe Shiner’s Day, I’d presume the shoe shiners in question were probably Commies. Workers of the World Unite! That’s the rallying cry. Only, since the Frankfurt school popularized the idea of scapegoating various demographic groups as privileged, or whatever, they now have more flexibility in slogan generation.
Women of the world unite! Not-white people of the world unite (white people go away)! Transgendered people of the world unite! Muslim lesbian genderqueer androgynous robot anime furries of the world unite!
Whatever. Leftist agitprop has become functionally retarded. I can’t believe people still legitimately fall for this bullshit. But RadFems are full of contradictions. Observe:
Yeah… I got nothing.
RadFems are all up in arms when a man holds open a door, or for whatever reason (probably blindness), when he shows any kind of sexual interest in them. But they are silent about Islamic oppression of women. Yes, I know, it’s a tired cliche. Us rightists always talk about Islam when RadFems start complaining about this or that. But it’s true.
I’ve spoken at length about the darker side of the feminist psyche, how they actually crave oppression. Just not, it should be noted, from you. The barbarian bad boys outside the gate are much more interesting, I suppose. That’s why Islam gets a pass, and why the nastiest, most violent assholes in the club walk away with swooning feminists, arm-in-arm, dedicated fighters of the patriarchy taking a break by letting some thug have his way with them.
In essence, the woman above is asking for it. Just not, it should be noted, from you. Where’s her romantic migrant-in-whatever-jihadis-wear to enslave her and honor-kill her?
International Socialism is full of such contradictions. The Progressive stack is confused about who is the greater victim, the white woman, or the black gay man? What if the woman is a Muslim, or the black man of Hispanic descent? These are the great conundrums of the left, the questions that burn in their psyches, underneath layers of pink pussy hats.
A Day Without Women, they said. No, no. There are plenty of women. I imagine Sarah Hoyt kept on writing, and, of course, my wife cooked up some good buffalo wings for dinner yesterday. My friend, who is an MD, went to work, same as always, caring for her patients (I imagine many of them were women, also). No, it wasn’t a day without women. It was a day without Socialist RadFems. Society did not crumble, we didn’t lose power, starve to death, or suffer great tragedy. The bulk of America hardly even noticed their absence. And, to be frank, I wish we had more days like that.
I once had dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant with a fellow who insisted on eating there instead of my selection of a casual Greek taverna with a friendly owner operator, his second cousin as a manager and his third cousin once removed as a receptionist. The other customers seemed, as we say in Mediterranean languages, to have a cork plugged in their behind obstructing proper ventilation, causing the vapors to build on the inside of the gastrointestinal walls, leading to the irritable type of decorum you only notice in the educated upper classes. I note that, in addition to the plugged corks, all men wore ties.
Dinner consisted in a succession of complicated small things, with microscopic ingredients and contrasting tastes that forced you to concentrate as if you were taking some type of exam. You were not eating, rather visiting some type of museum with an affected English major lecturing you on some artistic dimension you would have never considered on your own. There was so little that was familiar and so little that fit my taste buds: once something on the occasion tasted like something real, there was no chance to have more as we moved on to the next dish. Trudging through the dishes and listening to some b***t by the sommelier about the paired wine, I was afraid of losing concentration. I costs a lot of energy to fake that I was not bored. In fact I discovered an optimization in the wrong place: the only thing I cared about, bread, was not warm. It appears that this is not a Michelin requirement.
It’s fascinating because it’s so true. Most high-end restaurants I’ve been to operate more or less as Taleb describes them. The server will spin a line of bullshit about the wine pairings, lecture us on the acidity of this or that, and attempt to sell us on the exclusivity of the place. Everything is unnecessarily complex.
There have been exceptions, of course. There is a high-end steakhouse near where I live called Bern’s Steakhouse, and it apparently has some renown, given that out of town friends often gravitate toward it. In that case, the place lived up to the hype. The steak was excellent, among the best I’ve had, along with what is probably the best french onion soup I’ve ever tasted. But the building itself is sort of run down, and the wait staff doesn’t lecture you on the menu, or the pairings, or any of that garbage (this despite having one of the largest wine collections in the world). And the menu is simple. You go there for steak, and the accompanying sides, and that’s pretty much it.
But such unassuming high end restaurants are the exception, not the rule. For the most part, be prepared for a lot of pretentious bullshit about why complex ingredient lists and overpriced wine is proof that you have an elevated palate, that you are special in the way those dirty unwashed masses aren’t. As Taleb puts it, they have corks plugged up their asses. It must be uncomfortable.
I couldn’t imagine living that way.
As Taleb tells us, this extends beyond food, however. When people get to thinking this way, everything must be complex, special, expensive, and out of reach of the unwashed masses. It’s about differentiation, thinking yourself better than others.
When people get rich, they shed their skin-in-the game driven experiential mechanism. They lose control of their preferences, substituting constructed preferences to their own, complicating their lives unnecessarily, triggering their own misery. And these are of course the preferences of those who want to sell them something. This is a skin-in-the-game problem as the choices of the rich are dictated by others who have something to gain, and no side effects, from the sale. And given that they are rich, and their exploiters not often so, nobody would shout victim.
It’s not just when they become rich, however. It’s when they start to climb above the teeming mass of humanity. Remember when Hillary Clinton looked positively baffled by a beer tap, when looking to do some kind of misguided blue collar photo op? There she was, with a fake smile and a beer glass full of foam, looking for all the world like she would rather be anywhere else.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hoists a beer during a tour of at Pearl Street Brewery in La Crosse, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Beer, you see, is the peasant’s drink. Unless you’re becoming a beer snob, I suppose. Either way, though, it’s too simple and plebbish for a refined power broker like Hillary. I bet she’s one of those women who sniffs the cork repeatedly before deigning to pour a glass of wine. Oh hell, silly me, what am I saying? She probably pays somebody to pour the wine for her.
I think most Americans daydream on occasion about what they would do if they were supremely wealthy. I asked one of the redneck gearheads at the local muscle car meetup about what he’d do with a few million bucks.
“I’d buy a GT350. Supercharge it,” he replied.
Simple needs for a simple man, I suppose. No Ferraris or Lambos for him. He just wanted to go fast, and to hell with the rest of the bullshit. There was no talk of servants, or mansions, or outings to the fanciest French restaurants. It was all about the go-fast.
Nicholas Nassim Taleb explains that even if the costs were reversed, he’d prefer a pizza over the bazillion-course microscopic servings at the fancy place:
Let’s return to the restaurant experience and discuss constructed preferences as compared to natural ones. If I had a choice between paying $200 for a pizza or $6.95 for the French complicated experience, I would pay $200 for the pizza, plus $9.95 for a bottle of Malbec wine. Actually I would pay to not have the Michelin experience.
Of course, this isn’t to say that if you genuinely liked the complex food that it’s somehow wrong to eat it. Neither, should it be noted, should you forgo the Ferrari if you can afford it, and if you really want one. The key is to avoid the artificial narrowing down of your options, in some misguided attempt to signal your superiority:
Many have been mistaking this idea for an advocacy of Spartan choices rather than something about the restriction of freedom.
If you’re poor, you can have the pizza, or nothing. If you’re rich, you can choose the pizza or the fancy food, as you prefer. You should not say no to the pizza just because someone is trying to sell you on the superiority of complex food. Neither should you deny yourself the fancy shit, if that’s what you really want.
But whose desires are you satisfying at that point?
I’ve found in my short time on this Earth that most people espouse things that aren’t them in spades. I used to think it was a drive toward artificial conformity, you know, the traditional cliquish high school behavior writ large. But I find that this operates in reverse, too. At times they choose something precisely because they don’t want to be associated with some group. Ask any Mustang guy what he thinks of the Chevy Camaro. Buying a Mustang is as much about avoiding being a Camaro driver (jokes about mullethead, Miller Lite drinking GM guys abound). And the wealthy patrons of Michelin’s don’t want to be seen crawling around some neighborhood pizzeria. That’s for plebs!
It’s funny, because the virtue signalers often spout cliches like “be yourself!” You first, asshole.
All of this is artificially restrictive of choice. Becoming wealthy is supposed to grant you more choices, not take them away, not pigeonhole a person into the sort of vapid, petty-tyrannical, I’m-better-than-you snobbery espoused by our political class.
And it makes you think. How much of what they say or do isn’t even based on their own preferences, but based on some kind of desire to signal superiority? Social Justice is signalling moral superiority. Food snobbery signals superiority of taste. And then there is the sort of Dunning-Kruger-esque desire to signal intellectual superiority by barfing word salad like the privileged cisnormative heteropatriachal conspiracy, or some bullshit. I mean, if you don’t like white guys, I’d actually prefer if you just said that. You’re still a racist shit, mind you, but at least you’re not a pretentious racist shit.
Put simply, if you like well done steak, order away. If you prefer pizza to Michelin’s, get yourself a pizza. And if all your friends are virtue signalling their food superiority, you probably ought to get new friends.
Sarah Hoyt wrote an excellent piece this morning describing the Leftist view of racism as, in essence, fear of the stranger. Fear of the stranger contains a strongly rational component, in that, as she puts it:
In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.”
Oh sure, in times of stress and famine, the chances that your own band would tuck in were fairly high, but still the chances that dear old mom would eat you were not nearly as high as that a stranger would eat you.
In other words, the in-group was more likely to protect and cherish you — and less likely to eat you — than the out-group. So fear of the stranger was rational, and selected for.
That isn’t to say you cannot regard someone of a different background as part of the in-group. Over time, as individuals prove themselves and you get to know them, the fear of the stranger will ease because the individual is no longer a stranger to you.
My in-laws are of Cuban ancestry, and their culture is somewhat different from the one in which I was raised. But having lived with it for near to a decade now, it is very familiar to me. It is not strange or odd.
But therein lies the distinction. You get to know someone first. And if they prove themselves, then they are no longer regarded as strangers.
Instead of rationally determining which individuals and groups are good, and offer no threat to you, then acting accordingly, Leftists demand that you display a knee-jerk reaction every time fear of the stranger comes, and immediately accept that person into your home, regardless of what they say or do.
The Syrian migrant/refugee business is a great case in point, as is illegal immigration. The Left thinks it a crime to ask the stranger what his business is, and why he wants to enter our community. They think it is a crime to not immediately give the stranger every possible honor, a seat at our table, a home in our village, a position of power in our councils, and then demand nothing from him in return. We don’t even demand that he obey our laws, or speak our language.
It’s absolutely insane.
Their position is beyond stupid. Any species that acted this way in the wild would be rendered extinct within a generation. They would be eaten by everyone. They would be gullible fools, easy snacks for any predators.
A Leftist sees a sketchy van roll into his neighborhood, and in order to virtue signal his moral superiority over us, he immediately dismisses his fear of the stranger, and offers his children to the sketchy van owner, heedless of any threat or danger (because recognizing any threat is discriminatory). He asks the sketchy van owner to come into his home, eat at his table, and give company to his wife. It doesn’t even matter if the van owner speaks his language. In fact, the more difference he has from you, the stranger he is to you, the better for the moral preening.
Any hesitation to do this immediately and reflexively is racism/sexism/homophobia/islamophobia/whatever.
It’s knee-jerk moral preening, and if it weren’t moderated by a fair amount of Rightist common sense, it would have already destroyed the country, and then the Leftists themselves, in short order.
There’s a reason, of course, why Stalinists shot gullible true believers. They didn’t want those idiots around either. They were useful for destroying the old order — because they bring civilizational extinction wherever they achieve power — but they are useless for any other purpose.
Leftist anti-racism is a knee-jerk reaction to a survival instinct. If the choice is dismissing the stranger, or doing whatever the Left is doing, dismissing is the superior choice, because it at least concedes survival. The best position, of course, is a healthy skepticism of the stranger, until he proves himself adequately, upon which he is no longer strange to you.
But nothing other than civilizational hara kiri is acceptable to the political Left.
And that’s really the important crime on offer. It’s not damaging property that really counts, here; it’s the suppression of free political speech. The physical assault and battery of Professor Stanger wasn’t just about her and Charles Murray; it was much more an attempt to spread fear of speaking freely to far and near. David Harbour isn’t just inciting to violence from the safe perch of a stage; no, over and above his disgusting virtue signaling, nauseating moral preening, and filthy self-aggrandizement, he’s trying to terrorize into silence – rather, to get others to terrorize into silence – anyone who doesn’t agree with him and his. No need to belabor the point with Falarca and the anti-Milo riots, except to wonder why no one has yet put the tyrant bitch in the hospital or the morgue. O Tempora; o mores!
The Left is conducting a coordinated campaign against free speech, through all means available. They will use government, of course, when they can. But they will use more private means, also.
It must be resisted and countered effectively. When Leftists destroy property and use violence to silence Rightists, defense and retaliation are now on the table. For every Leftist who punches a Rightist, a Biker for Trump ought to pay it forward. If they want to bring the black bloc to protest us, we ought to bring bikers, veterans, and mean-looking rednecks to counter them. If they want to smash our signs, their signs likewise must be smashed. If they want to boycott our businesses, we need to boycott theirs. If they get our people fired, we should ensure their people are fired too.
I don’t like it, and I don’t want to do it. But they won’t even think about stopping this behavior until we make it painful for them.
Otherwise you’re going to get more of this:
Keep in mind that not only are these cretins trying to suppress freedom of speech, they are also plainly crazy. Many of them are mentally ill. Take a look at this classic case of animus possession:
See the face of the enemy. Know your enemy. Know that she is utterly and completely mental.
At Sarah Hoyt’s place, there’s a comical guest fisking wherein a radical feminist course, designed to heal you from your toxic whiteness, or whatever the hell being white means these days, is torn apart to comic effect. It’s comedy gold and well worth the quick read.
Lastly, Francis explains to us the knife’s edge upon which American electoral politics is still perched. Trump’s win was a landslide from an electoral perspective, but only because the Democrat coalition fell apart. The Shudra class defected to the GOP after decades of being the butt-monkey of the Democrats. That allowed Trump to build a winning coalition in the electoral system. But even so, the concentration of Democrat power on the two coasts remains a significant threat. It is possible that they still possess an outright, if too-concentrated, majority. Meanwhile, politics in America threatens to Balkanize along racial lines.
Trump may have pulled a hail Mary pass and won a hard-fought battle, but the war continues, and the enemy grows increasingly desperate.
Think about what these four seemingly unrelated items tell you. First, the hard Left wants to silence you completely, second, the hard Left is crazy, as in completely mental. Third, there is no position too insane, no stance too loony, to stop them. And lastly, America is rapidly fracturing along its demographic cracks, as all factions within it grow increasingly desperate, seeing this as a battle not of ideological preference, but of survival.
This is a recipe for Civil War, folks. Tread lightly.
Tom Nichols is one of those individuals who straddles the line between elitism and sense. At times, he acts intelligently and contributes valuable insight into current affairs. At other times, he demonstrates a certain elitism, a sort of smugness little different from the Jon Stewart liberals, a sort of technocratic disdain for the layman, or, indeed, anyone that is not within his small circle of approved smart people.
It’s one of those pieces that demands a fisking, a point-by-point rebuttal, because this notion of the stupid layman, the idiot who is unaware he is voting against his own best interests, as determined by the credentialed wise men of government, is central to the dispute about where the West is heading, and why.
You need only recall Brexit, and the groans of the remainers, to understand this. A majority of Britishers, it would seem, were too stupid to understand that the EU was better for them. And so all sorts of legal chicanery was deployed in the service of preventing Brexit, or rolling it back.
Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve taken issue with Mr. Nichols and his view of the American citizenry as what you might call expertise deniers. A sort of equivalent of the climate change denier writ large, as if most Americans hate experts for no good reason, and are too stupid to realize that they ought to willingly subordinate their wills to greater men.
But enough of that. Let the fisk begin:
Do Americans hate science? They certainly seem to hate it more than they used to, as they rage against experts in every field. This is more than a traditional American distaste for eggheads and intellectuals. Americans, increasingly, are acting (and voting) on myths and misinformation about science, and placing themselves at significant risk.
What traditional distaste for intellectuals? When I was young, I remember how the engineers and scientists who supported NASA were regarded as quasi-gods. Everybody wanted their kid to be a rocket scientist, or an aeronautical engineer. No, America never had a tradition of hating intellectuals. At worst, there was a time when being nerdy was regarded poorly. But nerdy and intellectual are not the same thing.
Furthermore, Tom tells us that they rage against experts in every field. This is observably false. They do not rage against airplane pilots, or automotive engineers. They do not malign physicists and mathematicians. There are very specific fields which have attracted the ire of a sizable fraction of the citizenry. More on this later.
In Texas, for example, “personal-belief exemptions” among parents refusing to vaccinate their children increased from 2,314 in the 2003-2004 school year to 44,716 in 2015-2016. Although these parents were, they say, galvanized by the election of Donald Trump—America’s most prominent vaccine skeptic—this reflexive dismissal of science long predates the 2016 election, even if it has intensified in the last few years.
This anti-vaxxer thing is a frequent political bludgeon deployed by the Left to make the Right look like morons. Except there does not appear to be strong correlation between conservatism and vaccine skepticism. Observe. For one, only 13% of Americans disagreed with the statement that “vaccines are safe.” The French were much more skeptical, at 41%. Meanwhile, the article cites Marin county, California as a bastion of strong vaccine skepticism. This is a county that votes strongly Democratic. So it is not exclusively (or even strongly) a Right-wing issue.
Tom, of course, doesn’t claim that it is Right wing (he probably knows better). But nonetheless, the skepticism bothers him. Another interesting tidbit of information comes to us from the same article’s citations. In it, we find that one out of four French doctors are telling their patients that many vaccines recommended by the public health authorities aren’t even necessary. I wish there was better data in America on this, but nonetheless, the French statistics are useful for illustrating one possibility, namely that citizens aren’t distrustful of qualified doctors and medical practitioners, they distrust public health bureaucrats. That’s very different from distrusting science, or expert opinion, or just smart people in general.
Of course, Americans don’t really hate science: they rely on it every day in ways they don’t even notice. From tens of thousands of safe and effective over-the-counter drugs to the directions on a car’s GPS system, Americans trust the work of experts on a daily basis. Rather, it is more accurate to say that the American public distrusts scientists, rather than science itself. Scientists, however, should be consoled by the fact that they are disdained not for their work, but for being part of an undifferentiated mass of “experts” whom a fair number of Americans now view as, at best, a suspect political class, and, at worst, as an enemy.
There is an interesting intellectual sleight-of-hand here. Note that Tom starts off talking about science, then switches to the word expert. Scientist and expert do not mean the same thing. Neither, it should be noted, do Americans distrust scientists in all fields. It’s not a general hatred of science, it’s much more specific than that.
Tom is right on one thing, however. The ones who are disdained are subjected to this because they are seen as a suspect political class. It is the politics that engenders the hate, not reliance on the scientific method.
In one sense, this attack on the defenders of established knowledge was inevitable. It is not only fueled by an obvious culprit—the internet—but also by the unintended side effects of otherwise positive social changes. Universal education and increased social mobility, among other changes, have thrown America’s experts and citizens into direct contact after nearly two centuries in which they lived segregated lives and rarely interacted with each other. And yet the result has not been a greater respect for knowledge, but the growth of an irrational conviction among Americans that everyone is as smart as everyone else. To understand this, and to think about solutions, requires a deeper look at causes. Both the professional community and the public it serves bear some responsibility for our parlous condition.
Tom spoke before on how he thinks the Internet was actually a bad thing, because in his view, the proliferation of bad information on the Internet has given rise to a politically active class of idiot. He explained that he believes the media was better when it was in the hands of a few expert firms, and such clout was effectively denied to the layman. The rise of blogs like this one horrified him.
Trouble is, the layman may in many ways be uneducated, and not inclined to intellectualism. But that does not mean he is stupid. America doesn’t have a tradition of hating scientists, it has a tradition of hating tyrants. The layman may not know anything about climate statistics, ice sheets, the ozone layer, or a host of other things, but he may have the vague sense that he’s getting screwed, that he’s being taken advantage of. It is similar to when a man goes to the car dealership, and may not understand all of the arcane math spouted by the sales weasel. Indeed, the sales weasel may be far more intelligent. Yet the man still realizes the salesman is trying to screw him, and acts accordingly.
In other words, the average American is on the look out for a tyrant trying to sell him a lemon.
For its part, the American public is in the grip of a sullen, almost paranoid, narcissism about science and experts. This is not a function of education; the anti-vaccine movement, for example, is actually concentrated among parents with more education than their poorer counterparts.
The poor and uneducated do what they’re told. The middle class doesn’t. It’s been a bone of contention for a long time. The elite doesn’t like the middle class. Tom’s second statement here is borne out by the data… it isn’t the uneducated and stupid who are vaccine skeptics, generally. Saudi Arabia has only a 2% skepticism rate, and we’d hardly call it a bastion of high education, or particularly high IQ.
This actually contradicts his earlier implications that this is primarily driven by stupidity. It isn’t.
Instead, the public rejection of science is an extension of our politics, which in turn have become an expression of our constant outrage about everything that offends our deepest beliefs about ourselves. As social scientist David Dunning has put it: “Some of our most stubborn misbeliefs arise not from primitive childlike intuitions or careless category errors, but from the very values and philosophies that define who we are as individuals.” When those misbeliefs are challenged, laypeople take it not as correction but as a direct attack on their identity.
Now we get to it. This reminds me of the common atheist superiority complex, wherein an atheist believes himself to be superior and more intelligent because he isn’t so stupid as to believe in a sky wizard. To the atheist, God is misbelief.
It’s funny to hear this sort of thing from social scientists – the same sort of folks who are going over to this idea of gender as an infinite spectrum rather than anything concrete. Tell a genderqueer androgynous person that this is all made up nonsense, misbelief in other words. Does that not get viewed (by them, as least) as a direct attack on their identity? The experts in social sciences have been spewing a lot of nonsense lately, things that are directly and easily contradicted by observation.
Now they are bothered when, suddenly, folks don’t trust them anymore?
The expert community, however, must shoulder some of the blame for the collapse of the relationship between science and the public. Experts often trespass across from empirical knowledge to normative demands—I am not without sin as an expert myself in this regard—and thus validate the suspicions of laypeople that the real goal of expert advice is to force compliance with expert policy preferences.
Well, at least he admits it.
The debate over climate change is a good example of this problem. Is the earth’s climate changing? Most experts believe it is, and they believe they know why. Whether their models, extrapolated out for decades and centuries, are accurate is a legitimate area for scientific debate. What experts cannot answer, however, is what to do about climate change. It might well be that Boston will be underwater in fifty years, but it might well also be that voters— who have the right to be wrong— will choose to shift that problem to later generations rather than to risk jobs (or comfort) now.
This is so stupid. “Is the Earth’s climate changing?” Of course it is changing. This is axiomatic, it categorically must be. The Earth is not static. When the experts say “the climate is changing” the proper reply is “duh!” This is why I hate the label “climate change.” It would be like calling weather forecasting “weather change” and acting like it’s somehow the mark of an intelligent man to say that the weather tomorrow will be different than the weather today. Duh! It also strikes the layman as a weaselly term. The layman knows that the climate will change, and may view the expert as hedging his bets. In other words, he may think the salesman is trying to screw him.
It doesn’t help that “fighting climate change” almost universally requires the government to take more of his money. It isn’t the science that bothers John Doe, it’s the potential for tyranny.
Now, as to making specific predictions, to say the climate will change in this direction, by this amount, and for these reasons… that’s a much more difficult ball of wax. As I’ve stated before, I essentially have no opinion, except that I don’t trust the government or the academic establishment, because I’ve caught them in many other lies.
And that goes back to why Tom’s appeal is likely to fall upon hearts of stone. The public has been lied to with such frequency that it is hard to trust anyone in a position of power anymore. Politics has always been a business of lies, but the last few decades have become much worse. Tom wants to blame the Internet for this.
I blame our “leaders” and their way of trying to piss down my back while telling me it’s raining.
Letting Boston slide into the harbor is not my preferred outcome. But experts cannot compel civic engagement, and they must accept that their advice, which might seem obvious and right to them, will not always be taken in a democracy that may not value the same things they do. The job of mediating those values and policies lies with elected officials, not with scientists or other experts. The knowers cannot—and in a constitutional republic, should not—be the deciders.
This is the sort of stupid, transparent rhetoric usually peddled by Leftists. Tom should be ashamed of himself. Sure, he admits the technocrats shouldn’t be the ultimate decision makers, but then makes sure to jab the stupid hoi polloi by implying they’d be fine letting Boston slide into the harbor.
Actually, with the way Boston votes these days, he might be right. Maybe they wouldn’t care. It would be like if the California coastline sunk into the Pacific, there’d probably be a party in middle America the next day. But that has nothing to do with climate change, per se.
Tom is making sure to tell us that it sucks that stupid people (i.e. people not like him, the anointed intelligentsia) get to make decisions.
At the same time, experts cannot withdraw from a public arena increasingly controlled by opportunistic demagogues who seek to discredit empiricism and rationality.
Tom is talking about Donald Trump here, of course. He can’t resist a dig at the President, either.
Instead, the expert community must help to lead laypeople, who find the modern world intimidating and even frightening, back along the road to a better day when the citizens of the United States valued scientists and other professionals as essential parts of the American story. Experts must continue, as citizens, to advocate for those things they believe to be in the public interest, but the most important role they can play is defend a stark but empathetic insistence on science and reason as the foundation for public policy.
In the end, Tom tells us that the experts must lead the laypeople, shepherding the flock of idiots who find the world intimidating and frightening. He then admits openly that America once valued these people (you know, back when Academia wasn’t the shining beacon of Marxist-Leninism and Social Justice weirdness). Earlier, you recall, he told us that America traditionally hates these people.
Which is it, Tom?
He tells us that experts shouldn’t make the decisions, but must advocate and lead the laypeople. Which is it, Tom?
I can only guess at what’s going on in his head, because he appears very conflicted and contradictory here. He doesn’t want to espouse open technocracy, to seize control openly. And yet he wants his chosen to lead the people nonetheless.
He fails to mention the real reason we are in this mess. Academia is full of loons and crazies. The education system is a disaster, and full of leftist agitprop. The experts in certain fields have been caught in egregious lies, obviously designed to serve a political narrative. Having been lied to about so many things, many Americans find it hard to trust those people.
And that’s what Tom’s experts (at least in those fields closely tied to Academia and government) need to address. Trust. They need to stop crying wolf, stop lying, stop trying to cloak wealth redistribution and globalization with a thin veneer of environmentalism.
The layman feels strongly that he’s being sold a false bill of goods by a fast-talking salesweasel. And quite often, he’s right on the money about that.
Recently, there has been some foofarah over the President’s food preferences. Namely, he likes his steaks well done and slathered in ketchup. The horror! The utter, unmitigated gall of a man to order food the way he likes it!
You know, it’s funny. My father still orders his steaks well done, and I’ve never quite understood why. Medium rare to medium has always struck me as the best balanced steak. I really don’t care for a bloody mess on a plate, so rare and blue rare are right out. If I wanted that, I’d just go to the Serengeti, chuck a spear at some wild animal, and eat the flesh raw. But well done, indeed, cooks out much of the flavor. So, yeah. Balance. But what business is it of mine to harp on a man for what he likes to eat? It is enough that I’ve my own preferences, and another man has his.
Food virtue signalling, or more aptly, food snobbery has been a thing for a very long time. And like political virtue signalling, it is all about display one’s superiority over another based on some irrelevant metric. “Look at me,” says the narcissist, “I’m superior because I like my steak rare.”
Of course, it is not merely steak that has suffered this effect. Wine has traditionally been a strong bastion of snobbery, but the practice has moved to craft beer. Now, again, don’t get me wrong, I like craft beer. For the longest time, I thought I didn’t like beer, because I found Bud, Coors, and Miller Lite to be foul-tasting beverage abominations. But therein lies the point: I found them foul. Another man might like them. Indeed, even today these beers sell like hotcakes. Obviously somebody likes them.
If the President wants a Bud Lite, get him a damned Bud Lite. And just because you drink Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA (which I also find foul, by the way, as it’s a totally overrated beer in my opinion) doesn’t mean you are a better man, or have a more “elevated” palate, or anything of the sort. Here’s a great video about the irritating nature of the new craft beer snob types that have been popping up in trendy bars around the country:
Some years back, I remember reading about a blind taste test of wines, and a number of Napa valley California wines beating out French wines among the French. Naturally, the French were angry about this. You can’t virtue signal your superiority if you’re just rating what tastes good. Or, put in simpler terms, the French taste testers couldn’t cheat and give their own a leg up.
There’s this thought today that, like correctness in politics, there is correctness in food and drink. There is an Overton Window for acceptable steak. There are some steak places I’ve been to where ordering a medium steak gets me a dirty look from the server. As if to say “how dare you order cooked food from our establishment.” Given that Donald Trump likes his steak well done, I’m sure he’s dealt with much worse over the years.
Folks act like Donald Trump is afraid to try new things, afraid to eat superior food, or some such. It’s lunacy. More than likely, he’s tried his steak other ways in the past, and just likes what he likes. After all, if you like your steak rare for whatever reason, you’ll deal with a lot less dirty looks and peer pressure. Just like, it should be noted, that if you like your politics Leftist, again, you will deal with a lot less hate for it.
Rare has been deemed by the nameless food correctness authorities to be the *perfect* steak. Anything else is wrongthink.
This is past the point of ridiculousness. Not only must your politics be perfectly correct, according to some nameless, faceless, cultural authority, but your food and beverage choices must be also. Or else, as some outlets have implied, you are not qualified to be President.
I wonder, however, if the people who push such narratives of correctness even believe any of their own bullshit. Do people really prefer their steaks rare in such mass numbers? Or are a healthy percentage of them doing it because the snooty server at the fancy steak place will give you a dirty look if you order anything else?
How many craft beer snobs drink the beer for taste, and how many drink it because it’s trendy? I suspect a great many folks do this out of trendiness. When I went to Germany some years back, I noticed that some of my favorite German beers were incredibly cheap there. I filled up on beer, let me tell you. I remember walking through the aisle of a kiosk store there, and seeing bottled water selling for a higher price than some of the best beers in the world (again, in my opinion). Amusingly enough, German purity laws regarding beer probably meant the water in the beer was probably of better quality than the actual bottled water. But never mind that. I had a great time at the breweries and such.
But one thing that stood out to me was how normally the Germans regarded their beers.To them, this was just how beer was. If you wanted one, you drank one. People weren’t sitting around sniffing their glasses, or some theatrical bullshit like you see sometimes in American craft beer bars.
If you like your beer, you can drink your beer.
It was that way in America, once too. Sure, our beers were probably crappier in those days, but I do miss the idea that if you liked a certain kind of beer, nobody cared. I wonder if steaks were once that way too. Wines, of course, probably weren’t, but we can blame the French for that. Though if you read your Bible, you’ll notice how wine didn’t seem to be a big deal in Christ’s day. Certainly the Messiah didn’t see the need to sniff the cork and aerate the wine before doing whatever with it.
Most of this is just theatrics. Maybe more folks like their steak one way as opposed to another, and maybe more folks like this beer over that beer. But it’s not about that anymore. It’s about putting on airs of self-righteous indignation every time someone does something differently with their food and drink. It’s about saying “I’m better than you.”
For a bunch of Leftists who once tried to ride the wave of prole resentment into Communism, it’s something of an irony. Their behavior has much more in common with aristocratic disdain for the peasantry than any sort of “workers of the world unite” bullshit.
Apparently, you can have infinite number of genders, my friends, but you must order your steak only one way.
This quotation from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a frequent citation on The Declination, for very good reasons:
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. With the feeling that he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
One of the harder lessons in life is understanding how little you know, and how small you are in the grand scheme of things. The Dunning-Kruger effect describes the great confidence utter morons often have in their conclusions, and the corresponding uncertainty possessed by those of more advanced intelligence. The idiot often has greater certainty than the skilled and talented.
This uncertainty is commendable in many ways. A man might remain mentally flexible, able to modify his opinions and beliefs as new information is revealed to him. But this uncertainty can also be cynically exploited. You can lob facts at a moron all day, and nothing will pierce the dense armor of stupidity that surrounds him. But you can do likewise with carefully-calculated lies and expert debating techniques, and convince a smarter man that lies are truth, and truths are lies.
Water is not wet. Stones are not hard. Objects unsupported do not fall towards the earth’s centre.
Let us review this part of the quotation again:
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.
One thing became clear to me in the 2016 election. The enormous power arrayed against anyone with right-of-center views is too great to defeat in a framed debate. Questions were leaked to Hillary’s campaign, so as to give her an advantage. The media went from suspected bias to openly siding with Hillary’s campaign. Media collusion was revealed in the Podesta emails. The hatred of Trump was constant, the tears flowed from journalists live on television as Trump’s victory became certain.
Trump was accounted to have lost the first debate, and if he won the second, it was by a nose hair only. The third was accounted a Trump victory, though not one based on substance as much as style. Trump has a talent for pulling one-liners out of nowhere and landing surprising blows on his opponent. But it was more rhetoric than dialectic.
In a framed debate, the argument is seen only from the Leftist perspective. For instance, if we were to talk about welfare payments, the Left would demand that any Right-wing alternative should give even more to the poor. Otherwise, they say, you must hate the poor and want them to suffer. When Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax as a replacement for welfare, Leftists loved the idea… so long as it wasn’t actually a replacement for welfare. Negative income tax plus the welfare state was something they considered to be a great idea. Milton Friedman, of course, was advocating no such thing. He wanted the massive welfare bureaucracy to go away and be replaced with a more efficient system with less overhead.
Nobody can even discuss the opportunity cost of the welfare state. For instance, could we have colonized Mars with that money? Or perhaps could we have cured cancer with it? What else could those billions have been used for, what benefits might we have realized? And how does that weigh against the results of the welfare system? It is entirely possible that America without the welfare state may have actually elevated the poor relative to their current position. But we’ll never know any of it. We can’t even discuss it without accusations of greed and hate being lobbed our direction.
Those questions cannot be asked in a Leftist frame. The welfare state is axiomatic. All that is allowed the discussion of how much more may be given to the poor, and where the money might come from. In the same manner, discussion of whether or not illegal immigrants should be permitted to stay, and which countries we deign to accept legal immigrants from, are not allowed in the Leftist frame.
All illegals must be given amnesty — citizenship would be most ideal — and as many immigrants from any country on Earth must be permitted to come to America. That is the Leftist frame. All that is open for discussion is how we can give them more money, more benefits, and how we can best elevate their lives. The lives of the existing citizenry are irrelevant. Nothing is allowed to be discussed, except how America can best give up its wealth to everyone else.
Government, media, entertainers, academics, and most of the gatekeepers, from HR departments to publishers all agree that no discussion that takes place outside of these bounds is to be permitted. The debate is framed this way, and so framed, it is nearly impossible to obtain victory. The argument essentially becomes a moral superiority contest within a narrow Overton window that is exclusively Leftist.
Try arguing, for instance, that individual choice and responsibility means anything to Leftists. To them, this is meaningless. Nothing is choice. All is fate. A Rightist might say, for instance, that homosexuality is a choice. Sure, he might say, there are probably genetic predispositions, and consequences from upbringing that make it much more likely. But ultimately, it still remains a choice.
To a Leftist, this is not only a point of disagreement, it is considered outright hatred. Of course a gay man was born gay, and has no choice in the matter. Of course the trans person was born trans. Everything is fate. To say otherwise is hateful and evil.
“It’s not my fault,” is the rallying cry of the Leftist.
Note that the Rightist point-of-view is not that homosexuality is necessarily an evil, but rather that it is a choice. In contrast to the common Leftist view of Rightists, individual freedom is paramount, but it comes with individual responsibility, too. In other words, if you want to be gay, then be gay. But if being gay means a church down the street doesn’t want to conduct a marriage ceremony for you, then too bad. It’s not like you didn’t know, it’s not like you didn’t have a choice.
See how that works? Leftism subtly removes choice from everything, then only permits debate within a framework that doesn’t allow for individual choice. It becomes mental masturbation at that point. It’s utterly useless, like my old back-and-forth debates with Merkur, to which I’m sure most of my readers can relate. We’ve all had a persistent Leftist or two in our time that argued this way.
As Orwell explained for us, the vast power arrayed against us is impossible to defeat conventionally.
And yet water is still wet! Truisms are still true. At least, insofar as one believes objective reality actually exists, insofar as one avoids the trap of solipsism, and the resulting descent into nihilism.
I’ve learned in recent years that to defeat this trap, you cannot allow the Leftist to frame the debate this way. You must force them to acknowledge that reality exists beyond their narrow, self-determined bounds. That not only do their decisions have consequences in the strictest sense, but they also have opportunity costs.
And if they can’t acknowledge this, they are either fools or liars. Oftentimes, they will be both.
But above all, you cannot allow yourself to fall into the moralizing trap, because their system of morality permits no free will on the part of any participant except the Leftist himself. It is solipsism.
Here is a great example of this in action. In my neighborhood, there is one village/street that was opened up to Section 8 housing some years ago. That one street quickly became full of ruffians, drug dealers, thieves and a number of such undesirables. Almost all crime in the neighborhood originated from this one place. Given the demographics of Section 8 usage, most of the offenders were blacks.
Now, we’ve some good blacks in the neighborhood. There’s a good family down the street, real nice folks. And a few others in the village across the main drag. So far as I can tell, none of them wanted the Section 8 people either. The phase I CDD managed to get it isolated and restricted through legal means (I’m not quite sure how – I’m no lawyer – I’m just glad it happened), so that the cancer would not spread. Meanwhile, an effort to remove the existing Section 8 allowances was pushed, to which even the black residents agreed (after all, blacks are more often victimized by other blacks). My own phase II CDD has never allowed it, thank God.
I remember discussing with Tom Kratman as to why things like this happened. If it wasn’t the blacks in the neighborhood agitating for Section 8 to be adopted in a good area… who was doing it? He said “it’s always the white liberals.” And he’s right. White liberals get stuck in this solipsistic do-gooder trap, wherein they don’t even see the Section 8 blacks as real people. They don’t even see their neighbors, white or black, as real people. They are seen, rather, as something akin to an NPC in an role playing game. A static thing which can be manipulated for personal political purposes, or just outright amusement. Chess pieces, only.
They have an image of what the demographic balance ought to be in their minds, and they go about making it happen, without any regard for the fact that all those involved are human beings, possessing free will of their own. And if you presume to debate them on the wisdom of this, you will be called a racist, or forced to debate the issue in the framework of what’s good for blacks who need Section 8 housing instead of what’s good for the neighborhood’s existing residents (white, black, and otherwise). In such a framework, only one answer is possible: cede the neighborhood to criminals and thugs, and let it become a ghetto. After all, it’s easy to argue that giving them nice houses for free is good for them.
All because a Leftist got it in his head that he wanted to change the demographics of his neighborhood, for whatever reason, personal profit, virtue signalling, do-gooderism, or just for the lulz.
Now extrapolate this to immigration and the welfare state as a whole, and you start to see how allowing Leftists to control the frame is not only stupid, but quite possibly suicidal. After all, if the CDD hadn’t struck down the Section 8 crap, I could have sold my house (probably at a loss, but hey, I could still sell it) and moved someplace else. But if your entire country is rendered into a third world cesspit, as are all other first-world nations, where will you go?
Taking the frame away from them right now is exceedingly difficult. I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you it was easy. Vast powers are arrayed against us. But in the end, Truisms are True.
Francis wrote a great post this morning: Scientism, the One True Faith. Consider it required reading. For a long time, I have maintained that science, as popular culture understands the term, is no longer tied the scientific method. It has become a euphemism for all knowledge, and so has lost the specificity that made the term useful. Francis explains for us:
Thus also with science:
It isn’t a bunch of people with doctorates who spend several hours a day wearing white lab coats.
It isn’t a laboratory filled with glassware, chemicals, electronics, and experimental subjects;
And it most certainly isn’t “settled,” no matter what subject or persons declaim on it.
Science is a methodology for the investigation of reproducible phenomena. Science is the scientific method,more or less as Francis Bacon originally prescribed it.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to deceive you for purposes of his own. He is dangerous to you and others. He means to take something from you, most likely your money and freedom. When confronted by such a person, put one hand on your wallet, the other over your genitals, and back slowly away.
Social Justice Progressivism has this way of co-opting the skin of a thing, the appearance of a thing, without capturing the thing’s essence. I remember some time ago reading a syllabus for a mathematical course, wherein the teacher described the course as eliminating inequalities, promoting diversity, and interpreting the language of math for all races, cultures, and religions.
Just as now you will find gaming journalists who suggest that the first priority of gaming is to be properly diverse, to fight white privilege, and promote social justice.
When it comes to the notion of man-made climate change, there is now a new term which has recently become vogue: Climate Justice. Yes, it isn’t even Climate Science anymore. It’s Climate Justice. As if that has anything to do with whether or not mankind is having observably detrimental impacts on the climate.
Their science looks like science, acts like science, and quacks like science… yet it is not science.
As Francis explains, they will show you pictures of people with white lab coats, beakers filled with strange substances, and a myriad of various degrees and diplomas hung on the wall. And then they will claim that a consensus of experts have agreed on a conclusion, and you would be foolish to question them.
All of this ignores that climate “science” is not science at all. Where is the reproducible experimentation and observation? Do you possess a control Earth without humans that you may benchmark against? Do you know what the Earth would be like without humans, with a lesser number of less advanced humans, and with the number of humans we have now?
Then how can you be doing this scientifically?
Allow me to provide an interesting example. Warmists have frequently warned us that global warming will lead to more powerful hurricanes. It’s part of the usual doom-and-gloom fear mongering. They point to some of the unusually active hurricane seasons, such as in the mid-2000s.
But hurricanes are caused by a confluence of things. For one, the interaction of the Sahara desert, the jungles of Africa, and the Atlantic ocean produce tropical waves. Many hurricanes form out of these tropical waves. The reason for the desertification of the Sahara is an open question. Theories range from overgrazing to a slight perturbation in the Earth’s orbit.
The warmists would have you believe that warmer temperatures equal more hurricanes, but they’ve no way to prove this scientifically, because they cannot isolate this one effect from all the other effects. What if, for example, warming reduced the number of tropical waves that often generate hurricanes? What if it had other effects in the atmosphere that reduced the efficiency of a hurricane’s heat engine?
What they have is a hypothesis (and possibly a reasonable one) that they cannot test. It’s not science. Then they sell this hypothesis as proven fact, and call anyone who remains skeptical a denier, the modern euphemism for a heretic.
None of this is to say that they are right, or that they are wrong. I don’t know, and I don’t have access to the sort of time and data to comment on it in great detail. Rather, what I’m saying is that they are observably lying as to the kind of research they are doing. And I don’t trust a liar.
Many people say “trust the experts” without questioning either the competency or the trustworthiness of the expert. I trust an airline pilot to fly the plane, because I can see for myself that the airline record is pretty good, and that these people are good at their jobs. But what if a healthy 50% of airline pilots flew you to the wrong place? What if, furthermore, some pilots flew you to the wrong places deliberately? You bought a ticket to Vegas, but you ended up in Alaska. And the whole time, the pilot kept telling you how great the weather was in Vegas over the loud speaker. How much would you trust the pilot the next time you got in a plane, and he said “we’re heading for San Diego?”
Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t? How the Hell should I know?
The sleight of hand is not always obvious to the casual observer, however. Certainly not as obvious as mistaking Vegas for Alaska. Francis explains again:
Believer: Climate scientists are correct because the scientific method is reliable over time, thanks to peer review. The experts are overwhelmingly on the same side.
Skeptic: The prediction models are not credible because prediction models with that much complexity are rarely correct.
Believer: You troglodyte! You know nothing of science! The scientific method is credible!
See what happened? The believer was discussing science and the skeptic was NOT discussing science. These are different conversations. The prediction models are designed by scientists, but they are not “science” per se, any more than a microscope is “science.” Both are just tools that scientists use.
Prediction models may or may not work. Living in Florida, I’ve developed a healthy amount of respect for the NHC folks. Yeah, the accuracy of their predictions leaves much to be desired, but they nonetheless do an impressive job, and if they are often wrong in the specifics, in the generalities they are usually correct. Their prediction models are observably “pretty good” given the circumstances.
But even in such closed systems, they require several prediction models, which they often average together or weight differently depending on the forecaster’s experience. This is a skill more than anything. And then the forecaster adds his own spin on the data, looking at historical storm tracks, and making some subjective decisions about what all of it may mean. This isn’t science. But it is an impressive skill, nonetheless.
Yet all this is barely sufficient to predict where a storm might generally be in a few days, perhaps a week at the most, and have some reasonable expectation of how strong it will be.
Fortunately, we can check their work with hindsight. We can see how good their track record has been, and judge whether or not to trust them based on that record. With the warmists, we’ve no ability to track their assertions, because anything that goes counter to their hypothesis will be judged “noise” in the data, and anything that follows their hypothesis will be judged positive evidence.
Add to that the nature of government funding and peer pressure (skeptics are often greatly derided by their peers), and you have a recipe for manufactured consensus, with no way for the casual observer to check the results. Then, on top of that, we catch some of them in blatant lies, after which they demand that we trust them! Then they have the temerity to lecture those of faith on their “stupid sky wizard” god.
These people have a religion of their own. I see it often enough on Fecalbook, where the “I fucking love science” crowd posts all sorts of things that are not science, and acts like they are extra nerdy and super smart because of it.
I don’t know when popular culture switched on us, when everything that was once nerdy was made popular, but I suspect we are all the poorer for it. For it made loads of really dumb people think that they were smart because they shared a post about “science” and believed in global warming.
As far as cargo cult religions go, it may be one of the dumbest masquerading as one of the smartest.
I'm a DJ, developer, amateur historian, would-be pundit, and general pain in the ass. I still cannot decide on the wisdom of the Oxford Comma. These are my observations on a civilization in decline, a political system on the verge of collapse, and a people asleep at the wheel as the car turns toward the jersey barrier.