Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not sure

So here's another editorial by Brooks in the times.

As Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz describe in their book, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” America’s educational progress was amazingly steady over those decades, and the U.S. opened up a gigantic global lead. Educational levels were rising across the industrialized world, but the U.S. had at least a 35-year advantage on most of Europe. In 1950, no European country enrolled 30 percent of its older teens in full-time secondary school. In the U.S., 70 percent of older teens were in school.

Yes, education matters. Not going to deny that.

I.Q. matters, but Heckman points to equally important traits that start and then build from those early years: motivation levels, emotional stability, self-control and sociability. He uses common sense to intuit what these traits are, but on this subject economists have a lot to learn from developmental psychologists.

Just simply not true. The failure of head start to make permanent differences in early development despite over saturated youth environments continues to make the case that intelligence is largely genetic in nature.

It’s not globalization or immigration or computers per se that widen inequality. It’s the skills gap. Boosting educational attainment at the bottom is more promising than trying to reorganize the global economy.

Yes, but the skills gap is INTERTWINED with the other issues:

1) Immigration exacerbates the effect of the skills gap. Instead of allowing the wages of unskilled laborers to rise with inflation, it has been artificially kept down by illegal immigration, which offers nearly an unlimited source of 5$/hr labor. So, that makes employers less willing to pay a decent wage for unskilled labor, and increases the competition for those competing for the few unskilled jobs reserved for legal residents, which then drives down wages in those jobs.

2) Globalization is also somewhat to blame. To ignore the ease by which factory jobs go to China is to ignore the elephant in the room. Less factory jobs at home. Yes, it really is that simple.

3) Computers. THIS is the crucial point. More than even free trade and immigration, automation has and will continue to eliminate jobs at an increasing pace. This is NOT going to stop. And if we want to remain a competitive economy, there is NOTHING we can do about it.

So, Brooks suggests getting more education? That will simply NOT WORK for the vast majority of the population, who hit their cognitive limit around 10th grade algebra. So, what will we do then?

Brooks isn't going to have any solutions. He already wrote himself with his IQ debacle piece which was thoroughly refuted in GNXP article awhile back.

Oh well.

No one is going to listen, not even the HBD realists. Without the active transformation, re engineering, and ultimately AI merge of the entire human race, our species is doomed to something of the order of 1984 or Brave New World.

I advocate the singularity not to destroy humanity but rather to preserve liberty. Without it, the bulk of the population will truly become proles and parasites.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The fascade is cracking

Courtesy of Steve Sailer, here is an article from New Republic on skepticism of Obama's secrecy towards the media. enjoy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Response to "vegan is murder"

Unfortunately, there are some brainless people in the animal rights movement who give us a bad name. Free market singularitarians are a very small component of it. Nevertheless, in response to a post
on the killing of field animals in agriculture as evidence of veganism's hypocrisy, I wrote this on the same blog:

Like in the Jain philosophy, any act of living of any living being will cause harm to another animal. However, we have to consider the morality of a society that enslaves, tortures, and consumes sentient beings for dubious nutritional benefit.

The same society that only a century and a half ago forbid the slavery of humans. A society that at the time, did NOT view all humans as equal.

Now, the question of these field animals is resolved relatively simply. My living on this planet and making use of public transportation and sidewalks involves to necessary destruction of life: the squirrel who crosses the street or the cockroach who happens upon my path. However, such deaths are not an intrinsic characteristic of the system. They are merely accidents, and they occur with the animal taking the risk upon itself. The same is the case with the field animals. These animals have been exploiting the niche of human agriculture and are purposefully putting themselves in harms way for the benefit of the food. Their injuries are not a necessary component of agriculture.

Compare that with the brutality and savagery of the meat industry and the clear suffering that these animals go through to satisfy our taste buds. To make a moral equivalence such as "vegan is murder" is absolutely absurd and designed to avoid debating the crucial moral values that define the animal rights movement.

Not as well written as I had hoped, but whatever. This is kind of just a rehash and I think that the vegetarianism articles written in the aftermath of the slate/IQ incident were far more compelling than addressing stupidity like "vegan is murder".

Objectivism v. Determinism

I am a capitalist. I believe that people have a right to consume the same amount of economic value that they produce. No one is owed a living, though people have the right to make a living if they have a product/service to sell, someone to buy, and no third party gets injured.

At the same time, I think free will is an illusion. Just as 90%+ of all communication is non-verbal, many of our decisions are emotional and subconscious and we often decide and then rationalize using our thought. Because ultimately, everything that we do has a chemical pathway. The words I type now can be traced from my finger to my motor neurons to the brain, where it goes through millions of pathways that actually forms the thoughts I'm typing.

So, how do you reconcile these two? People should have the freedom to buy what they please if they can afford it. But the act of buying itself is not a free act. Either way, I don't want the government telling me what I can and can't buy.

So, there has to be a middle position.

Despite his cluelessness of genetics, Brooks has an interesting column in the nytimes about how supposedly rational people get into debt.

First, I'll let it be known that some people are just stupid and don't know what they're doing. Sure, you can call them exploited, but future-orientation is a key component of the mental capacity needed for responsibility.

In short, these predatory companies swooped down on a vulnerable woman, took what they could and left her careening toward bankruptcy.

But also,

Free societies depend on individual choice and responsibility, those in this camp argue. People have to be held accountable for their indulgences or there is no justice. As McLeod herself admirably told Morgenson: “I regret not dealing with my emotions instead of just shopping.”

The two dueling visions I'm talking about, though I blame chemicals more than predatory companies.

Here is the reconciliation attempt:

Decision-making — whether it’s taking out a loan or deciding whom to marry — isn’t a coldly rational, self-conscious act. Instead, decision-making is a long chain of processes, most of which happen beneath the level of awareness. We absorb a way of perceiving the world from parents and neighbors. We mimic the behavior around us. Only at the end of the process is there self-conscious oversight.

According to this view, what happened to McLeod, and the nation’s financial system, is part of a larger social story. America once had a culture of thrift. But over the past decades, that unspoken code has been silently eroded.

Some of the toxins were economic. Rising house prices gave people the impression that they could take on more risk. Some were cultural. We entered a period of mass luxury, in which people down the income scale expect to own designer goods. Some were moral. Schools and other institutions used to talk the language of sin and temptation to alert people to the seductions that could ruin their lives. They no longer do.

Norms changed and people began making jokes to make illicit things seem normal. Instead of condemning hyper-consumerism, they made quips about “retail therapy,” or repeated the line that Morgenson noted in her article: When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

McLeod and the lenders were not only shaped by deteriorating norms, they helped degrade them. Despite all the subterranean social influences, there still is that final stage of decision-making when individual choice matters. Each time an avid lender struck a deal with an avid borrower, it reinforced a new definition of acceptable behavior for neighbors, family and friends. In a community, behavior sets off ripples. Every decision is a public contribution or a destructive act.

So, the shift has to come from society. We have to stop rewarding frivolous conspicuous consumption. We have to stop treating the mediocre girl with the Gucci purse like a hot girl. We have to stop giving social standing to people with fast cars (that are probably giving oil money to the Muslims too). We have to stop this ridiculous conspicuous consumption culture that is threatening to take over the globe.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garbage From Brooks

Proving that he is not keeping up with current research, Brooks writes an editorial in the times claiming that genetics has nothing to do with behavior.

Right...differences between dog breeds are solely due to differences in the environment?


Monday, July 14, 2008

Genes and violence

Genes matter. Check out this study:

"These results, which are among the first that link molecular genetic variants to delinquency, significantly expand our understanding of delinquent and violent behavior, and they highlight the need to simultaneously consider their social and genetic origins," the researchers said.

This is important. Blank slate continues to go down, and the genetic roots of behavior continue to increase in importance as environments become less varied. Social engineering will fail to alleviate problems in our society.

The challenge for liberals is to consider a paradigm shift away from blaming society and oppression for failed citizens. Instead, they should blame genetics as opposed to ceding the ground to conservatives who blame moral character or religious decline for crime and teenage hoodlums.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Commandments

Just going to link here for your edification. Enjoy.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Animal Equality

All animals are not equal. I find it much more difficult to hit an innocent puppy than step on a ladybug.

Saletan has written a post on that in slate

GAP is scientifically honest. And science doesn't show mental parity between great apes and human adults. What it shows, as the group's president acknowledges, is that great apes "experience an emotional and intellectual conscience similar to that of human children." Accordingly, the Spanish proposal doesn't treat apes like you or me. It treats them like "humans of limited capacity, such as children or those who are mentally incompetent and are afforded guardians or caretakers to represent their interests.

Their justification?

(Apes) enjoy a rich emotional and cultural existence in which they experience emotions such as fear, anxiety and happiness. They share the intellectual capacity to create and use tools, learn and teach other languages. They remember their past and plan for their future. It is in recognition of these and other morally significant qualities that the Great Ape Project was founded.

But there is a problem. Once you open the door of rights to non-humans, then you have to start judging ALL living beings on a spectrum, where the question of rights becomes a QUANTITATIVE question rather than a BINARY choice between all rights and no rights. What happens when the rights of very intelligent animals conflicts with that of very unintelligent humans? Whose rights win out? For example, would it be justified to destroy an ape habitat to make way for a facility to house the mentally ill?

Should rights be proportional to intellectual capacity? It would be difficult to argue otherwise if apes were granted rights but mice weren't.

In that case, would rights be apportioned more to racial groups that are more intelligent?

Disturbing questions. Only more justification for the singularity.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The left is weird

So, for however long I've been making the case that the Democratic party's defense of Islam and vilification of Evangelicals is fundamentally hypocritical. Here is defense for that statement in a post from GNXP.

Most striking comparisons:

Homosexuality should be accepted by society:
Evangelicals: 26%
Muslims: 27%
Catholic: 58%
Protestant: 56%

Government should do more to protect morality:
Evangelical: 50%
Muslim: 59%
Catholic: 43%
Protestant: 33%

And finally, to show that it's the religion's fault, not necessarily a lack of belief:

Belief in God: Absolutely certain
Evangelical: 90%
Muslim: 82%
Catholic: 72%
Protestant: 73%

People, Islam is, simply, a bad religion. They do not fundamentally believe in secularism, which is a treasured first amendment right.

They do not have a progressive belief system. And yet liberals love them. What an odd world!