Bloody Shovel 4

Nemo nos Salvabit

Posts tagged as signaling

The Role of Government, 2

A few centuries ago people in Europe discovered free trade. The market. They got the state to say: go make money, free of any guilds or regulations.  I won't stop you. Go out there and make money. Compete freely. So people went to make money. Started businesses, factories, mines. In short order we got 2 industrial revolutions, the greatest technological advances in history, and vast, vast, amazing amounts of wealth. Pretty neat.

But. We also found the market isn't perfect. Yeah it produces weal...

Making Virtue out of Necessity

Or, making virtue out of lack of lack of other paths for upward mobility.

The most important topic in social science, the humanities or however you want to call it, is what drives cultural change. Things change, that is obvious enough, and humans have been discussing it since they ever started doing abstract thinking. We understand a lot of change now. Physics tell us why the physical world changes: by obeying the laws of physics. Biology tells us why living things change: through evolution. What...

Self-Deceptive Status Filters

People call me cynical because I say ideology is crap. It's just stuff people say to look good to their peers. Signaling, that is. And I support this claim by pointing out that people just don't know shit. David Hume proved that. We don't even "know" the laws of nature with any certainty. Yes, we're used to some things happening after certain things. There's chains of events that strongly hint at causality. But you can never know for sure.

Of course that kind of fuzzy knowledge is good enough for...

The balance of the natural and social world

Apparently I missed this kind post by Jim where he calls me clever but pessimistic. Guilty as charged. I agree with his point though. Irrational optimism works. I'm just not very good at it. Which is why I've been reading and writing on how to generate it exogenously, i.e. for people like me.

The discussion there at Jim is uncharacteristically good. The main issue people ask is that you can't just make up a new religion. That's a good point. It's also a bummer, given that my shtick for 5 years h...

The Bow of the King of Chu

Google openly praises leftist terrorist supporters, Obama forces schools across the US to allow transexuals to choose the toilets they use. The West is fucked up. Yes, I know. The mission of this blog has been to explain in plain language why the Left exists, why it's so crazy, and why it gets even crazier over time.

Part of that mission is to find similar instances of crazy political ideas in non-Western cultures. Sir John Glubb spent some time in the Arab world, and he seemed to have the same ...

Holiness Escalation

Remember this? The lily-white couple who implanted 100% black embryo and gave birth to black triplets? They were so happy of themselves. So proud of it. The holiest people on earth. Surely nobody could be holier than us!


Oh boy. There's a Japanese saying, 上には上がある (ue ni wa ue ga aru). It means that as high as you get, there's always somewhere higher. As good as you think you are, there's always someone better. The world's a big place. And humans can be so annoying.

Another whit...

Signaling spirals

1800: Oh, you still have slaves? I freed all of mine.

1860: Did you know they still have slaves in the South? My sons have enlisted to kill those evil slavers.

1920: You listen to classical music? I go to a Jazz Club, there's a black musician who is so awesome.

1950: I have a black secretary.

1970: I have a black friend.

1980: I have many black friends. I even slept with one.

1990: I have a black child. Well, half black.

2000: I adopted a fully black child. Straight from Africa. Zero white admixture.


Means, goals and signaling

As I said in a recent post, the euphoria caused by the Donald Trump candidacy and the recent breakdown of public order in Western Europe has given renewed energy to white nationalism in both sides of the Atlantic. Now it seems like the time is ripe for revolution. Surely when Ivy League universities are openly staging rallies saying white people are evil by definition, and when white women are being openly assaulted by Middle Eastern migrants in the streets of Sweden and Germany, now white peopl...

Men doing their own thing

Basically means doing steroids and denying that those have any bad effect.

You'll remember a post I did a while ago on the Chinese classical novel, the Water Margin. That's a 14th century novel, thought to be based on the peasant rebellions that overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in China in the 1350s. So that's 665 years ago. The novel is a historical novel of a previous rebellion in the 1110s. Rebellions are of course stories of men, and the Water Margin is an epic story of 108 men who are forc...


Good old Mencken said:

(pause your adblock or Ghostery or similar extensions to see embedded Tweets)

Well, as I always say, there are no mysteries in life. Reality isn't strange, you just have a bad model. Not that I'm innocent of that mistake. I'm known of chanting how the truth will always prevail, even when most people obviously prefer bullshit, and have always done so. I, like Mencken, like Orwell, also used to pick my brains out about...


Von Neumann, widely regarded as perhaps the most intelligent man who ever lived, had this to say:

There's an amazing story (H/T Candide) of a Belgian couple who for some stupid reason decided to drive across the Belgian Congo (DRC today). They documented the whole trip on this forum. The whole adventure is a great story, of course. Unless you're like me, and can't stop wondering why would anybody attempt such a stupid trip. Why, oh why. I mean I sorta get it if you're a 20 something man with your...

The Relentless Pursuit of Advantage

Let's see if I can expand SP theory.

Early October is the anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China, and the people there get a one week vacation. As a result a billion people start moving in one direction or the other. Tourist spots in China become hell on earth, the closest thing to an ant colony. Those who can afford it choose to travel abroad, where there's bound to be less people. The yen being quite cheap these days, Japan is one of the top destinations for Chinese tou...

The Social Module

It's common now among scientists of the brain to propose that the brain is made out of separate modules, which receive input, process it, and produce an output, often in the form of behavior. If you've read any Haidt or Pinker you know what I'm talking about.

Letting aside the question of whether the brain actually works like that, even if we understand the idea of "module" as metaphorical, it does seem to be a productive framework.

Imagine that human beings all have a number floating above their ...

Male culture

So I'm reading the Water Margin (Shui Hu Zhuan 水滸傳). Written in the 15th century, it's the most famous vernacular novel in Chinese history, together with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Well, I'm not actually reading it (it's long). I'm watching the 2011 TV show. Which is long too, but very neat. The Water Margin is the story of 108 men. Good men, strong, noble, virile men who are wrongly abused by the governmenet, and thus rescind their loyalty to the state, and run to the hills to form...

The cause of absurdity

My previous post has been understandably interpreted as an endorsement of the Dalrymple (echoed by Unz) theory that absurd ideas are made up on purpose to humiliate people and check who is really loyal to the power holders.

I should clarify that my point was not an endorsement, just an observation that absurdity as power-trip is a very ancient trick. The Chinese noticed 2200 years ago. I'm sure it's happened a lot, in all countries on earth. Even in middle sized organizations it happens to a less...

The purpose of absurdity

Ron Unz had an interesting comment at Sailer's blog a while ago:

Well put. But personally what struck me is that he had to come up with this by his own. A very intelligent man in his 50s had to personally realize this. When it should be a perfectly obvious point.

The very point of writing down history is to bring to make it easy for people to find out the patterns in human interaction, especially in politics, so that we can understand why things happen. Because the fact is that the same things hap...

Leftism is just an easy excuse

To expand on the Maoism post. Marquez came up with the flattery inflation theory to explain how cults of personality evolve in mechanistic terms. But the same idea can be used to explain not only Red Queen spirals of sycophancy. Any ideological innovation, both in states and inside small cults or organizations, behaves under the same principles.

Any political system, any organization, even the smallest one, is going to have people in power, and people out of power who want to be in power. Or at l...

Explaining the Cultural Revolution: signalling arms races as bad fiat currency

This is going to be a long post.

The idea of Chinese people worshipping wax mangoes because some Pakistani minister didn't have time to have a proper gift made for his visit to China is indeed quite startling. Of course some people will instantly run into the old stereotype of those perfid Orientals slaves, who have been forever worshipping their tyrants as Gods on Earth. But that's bullshit. The Chinese have always been a fairly unruly bunch, and the Emperor was never worshipped as a God, unlike...