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    Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Already there.

    The Hitchiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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  • For Economics, I recommend Debunking Economics by Steve Keen.

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  • I'm curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung. Very quick n' dirty summaries of terms and their discontents: Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably...
  • @hoct
    A few of the positions you name are contrarian, but others are epathicaly not, but are in fact conformist, still others can't really be positioned as contrarian/non-contrarian. What they all have in common is that either they are natively elitist or that you put an elitist spin on them. Eg Multhusianism, AGW and peak oil all tie into the growth-hating sustainable development eco-crap much loved by the self-important chattering classes of the middle class who alternate between preaching to the working class from high on and wishing for it to stop breathing already. I don't need to spend time on the elitism of your biology stuff. Low-carb diet is a worthwile thing, but you manage to twist around what we learn from it just so you can feel superior to fat people. Actually fat people don't hate low-carb, they've never heard of it. Also the reason they're fat isn't that they're lazy, but that they're told the way they will lose weight is if they lower their fat intake and increase their carb intake, which is actually impossible to result in a weight loss. So it isn't for lack of effort or determination, but for investing effort and determination in exactly the wrong method as advised by the medical establishment.

    You may be a fat-people despising green racialist, all consequence of your apparent superiority complex, but a contrarian you surely aren't.

    AK: You're not allowed to insult me, freak. Do it once more and you're banned.

    Fat people are not only lazy but apparently stupid for not doing their own research on their affliction. Not that I dispute that. Obesity is indeed highly correlated to IQ. Thanks for making my point for me!

    Also, a necessary correction: I don’t despise fat people. I lament the amount of fat chicks who are younger than 30 for the eminently rational reason that they have a negative impact on my life quality. The people I actually are those feminists and fat apologist trolls who enable this dystopia as well as their pathetic loser beta male orbiters (like yourself most probably) who are their enablers.

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  • Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • Long time reader, first time poster.
    I’ve enjoyed the lists and discovered some interesting books, but on Modern Political Economy, you are missing a crucial book: The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein.

    The Enigma of Capital, by David Harvey, is also very good.

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  • Lord of the Files is there. So try The Inheritors, also by Golding.

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  • @ Mark – How did I forget Holy Fire!

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  • ANd totally endorse Yalensis on Rosemary Sutcliffe.

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  • I am sure you meant to add Heinlein’s “Start Ship Troopers” but forgot.

    Brian Aldiss’s “Greybeard” is good post apocaplypse and then there are “Day of the Triffids”, “Lord of the Flies” or “On the Beach” (Nevil Shute – Australia after the bomb).

    Big History – Most big history’s are copied from Well’s “A Short History of the World” in some way or another. If he had a predeccessor I don’t know of it. Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Year of Rice and Salt” is big history in novel form. It is based on Joseph Needham’s work on Chinese technology and other history of technology stuff. For dystopia’s you should read some John Brunner, a descendant of the Brunner in Brunner-Mond, a precusor of ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries). He was a researcher for the BBC programme Horizon in it’s heyday so his science is very good. “Stand on Zanzibar” was the big one but his shorter ones are less mainstream now the mainstream has shifted his way. “The Sheep look up” is good. They are all dark. L P Hartley’s facial justice is different take on a Brave New World.

    The big book that you are missing is “The Origin of Virtue” by Matt Ridley. It’s not popular in the US. He is so contrarian to the zeitgeist and challenging to the religous because his argument present good without god that most people don’t want to take him on board.

    IMNSHO Taleb’s “The Black Swan” is almost total rubbish, unless you have never studied any economics. The best insight was that the City of London recruits 10,000 new entrants a year, fires the below average and hey presto, the survivors of this random process become unsackable gurus after 6 or 7 years. Enter Bob Diamond.

    As an aspiring steampunk, I should read some China Mieville. I am in South Wales, potentially one of the most totally steam punk places on Earth. First – steel wheels on steel rails, steam trains, blast furnace steel, photographs (ok, a few weeks after the French), concrete buildings; domination of non ferrous metal production and Brunel’s steamships were built across the river in Bristol. Silicon Valley beware!

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  • I'm curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung. Very quick n' dirty summaries of terms and their discontents: Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably...
  • A few of the positions you name are contrarian, but others are epathicaly not, but are in fact conformist, still others can’t really be positioned as contrarian/non-contrarian. What they all have in common is that either they are natively elitist or that you put an elitist spin on them. Eg Multhusianism, AGW and peak oil all tie into the growth-hating sustainable development eco-crap much loved by the self-important chattering classes of the middle class who alternate between preaching to the working class from high on and wishing for it to stop breathing already. I don’t need to spend time on the elitism of your biology stuff. Low-carb diet is a worthwile thing, but you manage to twist around what we learn from it just so you can feel superior to fat people. Actually fat people don’t hate low-carb, they’ve never heard of it. Also the reason they’re fat isn’t that they’re lazy, but that they’re told the way they will lose weight is if they lower their fat intake and increase their carb intake, which is actually impossible to result in a weight loss. So it isn’t for lack of effort or determination, but for investing effort and determination in exactly the wrong method as advised by the medical establishment.

    You may be a fat-people despising green racialist, all consequence of your apparent superiority complex, but a contrarian you surely aren’t.

    AK: You’re not allowed to insult me, freak. Do it once more and you’re banned.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Fat people are not only lazy but apparently stupid for not doing their own research on their affliction. Not that I dispute that. Obesity is indeed highly correlated to IQ. Thanks for making my point for me!

    Also, a necessary correction: I don't despise fat people. I lament the amount of fat chicks who are younger than 30 for the eminently rational reason that they have a negative impact on my life quality. The people I actually are those feminists and fat apologist trolls who enable this dystopia as well as their pathetic loser beta male orbiters (like yourself most probably) who are their enablers.

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  • Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • What about Sibel Edmonds new book Classified Woman that has details of western support for Chechen terrorism among other things.

    http://www.classifiedwoman.com/

    http://www.amazon.com/Classified-Woman-The-Sibel-Edmonds-Story/dp/0615602223/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

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  • Edward Lucas has a new book coming out about Russia.

    Dark Soldiers of the New Order

    The Soviet Union’s spies haven’t disappeared, they’re just wearing new clothes. An exclusive excerpt from Edward Lucas’s new book, Deception.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/07/13/dark_soldiers_of_the_new_order

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  • Dear Anatoly,
    I am a long time reader of your blog, from way back in 2008. It’s been a while, and you do not know me especially since I never posted any comments. I’ve found your perspectives and inferences to be very diverse and interesting. I do not mean to sound like an advertiser, but the sole reason that I am right now is to invite you to a forum called Iron March: http://ironmarch.org/
    I thought you should feel welcome, we are mostly young fascists and nationalists, but the perspective and diversity of views is very worldly. I will leave it to you to decide weather to join or not, but definitely look over the material, the discussions here you cannot find anywhere else (at least on the net.)
    As relevant to reading lists I recommend everyone skim through our reading archives. http://fascists.zxq.net/ I will post a more extensive list of materials that some may find interesting later, as for now here are a few complications of links and pdfs. All of these are very relevant.
    As a basic introduction to fascism and national socialism read 100 Questions by Oswald Mosley http://fascists.zxq.net/100.htm
    Here are the further links
    Stormchan study group http://stormchan.org/study/index.html Lots of useful pdfs from history and conspiracy to survivalist and bomb-making, social interaction and HP Lovecraft.
    Julius Evola Archive http://ironmarch.org/index.php?/topic/1039-julius-evola/page__fromsearch__1
    Oswald Spengler Archive http://ironmarch.org/index.php?/topic/645-oswald-spengler/
    Everything Hitler and National Socialism http://www.nazi.org.uk/

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  • KenM says:

    Actually quite like Mieville’s characters, & thought he comes up with some great ones.
    That said, he’s not really interested in the internal landscape to the extent of a real character writer like Pynchon – more on how they relate to their surrounds. Bit more of a landscape & idea’s man.

    Didn’t mention “Last and First Men” because I last read Stapledon over a decade ago, & the other 2 stuck in my mind, but you’re right, that is the one recognised as his masterwork (even though it does veer off in the last half into a kind of philisophical manifesto/exploration of the complete life of the universe, if I’m recalling correctly…)

    Anyone mentioned Spengler?
    Decline of the West is a pretty important work, & very influential on a lot of thinkers.

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  • @KenM
    Here's a few books that I was suprised not to see mentioned somewhere, considering that the site was previously called Sublime Oblivion...

    The Rifter's Trilogy, by Peter Watts
    (Starfish, Maelstrom, Behemoth)
    Possibly the darkest piece of SF since Stalker, this series touches on many of the issues explored in this blog. Brilliant ideas explored with a savage integrity, the Rifter's Trilogy is not for the faint hearted.
    Would fall under either sci-fi or post-apocalyptic...

    Blindsided, by Peter Watts
    Exploration of the role of consciousness in intelligence through the medium of a first contact novel, Watts turns the genre on it's head in this densely packed novel of ideas, & draws some startling conclusions (likely to be very challenging to any advocates of IQ as a measure of progress). Also has some fun with genres in it - Brilliant stuff.

    Watts, while a major author, allows his books to be downloaded via the creative commons license at http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm
    He's also a qualified scientist for those who like some real meat in their ideas (former marine biologist). See
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/assignment-impossible/2011/09/21/too-hard-for-science-fusing-brains/

    -------------

    FANTASY SERIES:

    Bas-Lag series, by China Miéville
    (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council)
    Brilliant, multi-award winning fantasy series with major overlaps with steampunk (& pretty much every genre out there), this is both a major work of ideas & an enormously fun ride.
    Also overlaps many of the ideas explored in this blog.

    Miéville studied social anthropology before picking up both a Masters' & PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He's also a Marxist, & ran on the ballot for the Socialist Workers Party (1.2% of the vote!). Very interesting character - see
    http://www.panmacmillan.com/author/chinamieville
    http://chinamieville.net/

    --

    Accelerando, by Charles Stross
    The ultimate novel (actually more of a set of interconnected stories) for many of themes explored here, this is an absolute rollercoaster ride of high-octane ideas that may burn the brain of the unwary. Be warned...

    Other great works by Stross -
    The Laundry Files series, consisting of The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue, Down on the Farm, The Fuller Memorandum, Overtime, The Apocalypse Codex - Great stuff.


    Also pretty much anything by Stross will be of interest to many here.
    Stross is a tech savvy former programmer who came up in the early 80's & has one of the more original minds out there..
    Many books made available to be downloaded by Stross via Creative Commons at his antipope site:
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/online-fiction-by-charles-stro.html
    OR: http://manybooks.net/authors/strossc.html

    ----

    For major sci-fi novels, Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker or Odd John are 2 of the most important ever written, & justifiably so. Stapledon's works can probably be described as the beginning of evolutionary philosophy explored through the medium & are of astonishing scale..
    Highly recommended.

    ----

    In fantasy series, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone) are one of the most important works in fantasy, & one of the great works in any genre.
    Takes a bit of free headspace in order to sink into it, & actually had it sitting on my shelf unread for awhile, then one day I just picked it up & started to read - genuinely astonishing work.

    (Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, already mentioned by Gregor, is the only series I'd put in the same class)

    Re China Mieville: I can recommend a short story anthology “Looking for Jake” which features a mix of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, and includes one original story that is part of the Bas-Lag universe. He also wrote a children’s novel “Un-Lundun” which is set in an alternative mirror version of London, one created by pollution.

    I only read “Iron Council” and found it interesting that in the territory where New Crobuzon is located, there’s an area of radiation similar to the Zone in Andrei Tarkovsky’s film “Stalker” where strange things that don’t conform to the laws of physics happen and can kill people.

    I find Mieville’s approach to writing fiction similar to Thomas Pynchon’s style and it’s possible Mieville might have been influenced by that writer. Both throw everything at you on nearly every page of writing. One difference is I find Mieville’s characters flat compared to Pynchon’s and so I prefer to read Mieville’s short stories, the format being better suited to his style.

    Since I mentioned Pynchon, I suggest people read “The Crying of Lot 49″ first to get a feel for his style before they try reading his novels which are usually hundreds of pages long. “Gravity’s Rainbow” is his classic novel about the creation of German V-2 rockets and includes heavy doses of paranoia and (I think – it’s been ages since I read them both) a link to ” … Lot 49″ in the form of the von Thurn und Taxis family and its connection with postal services and couriers.

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  • @KenM
    Here's a few books that I was suprised not to see mentioned somewhere, considering that the site was previously called Sublime Oblivion...

    The Rifter's Trilogy, by Peter Watts
    (Starfish, Maelstrom, Behemoth)
    Possibly the darkest piece of SF since Stalker, this series touches on many of the issues explored in this blog. Brilliant ideas explored with a savage integrity, the Rifter's Trilogy is not for the faint hearted.
    Would fall under either sci-fi or post-apocalyptic...

    Blindsided, by Peter Watts
    Exploration of the role of consciousness in intelligence through the medium of a first contact novel, Watts turns the genre on it's head in this densely packed novel of ideas, & draws some startling conclusions (likely to be very challenging to any advocates of IQ as a measure of progress). Also has some fun with genres in it - Brilliant stuff.

    Watts, while a major author, allows his books to be downloaded via the creative commons license at http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm
    He's also a qualified scientist for those who like some real meat in their ideas (former marine biologist). See
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/assignment-impossible/2011/09/21/too-hard-for-science-fusing-brains/

    -------------

    FANTASY SERIES:

    Bas-Lag series, by China Miéville
    (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council)
    Brilliant, multi-award winning fantasy series with major overlaps with steampunk (& pretty much every genre out there), this is both a major work of ideas & an enormously fun ride.
    Also overlaps many of the ideas explored in this blog.

    Miéville studied social anthropology before picking up both a Masters' & PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He's also a Marxist, & ran on the ballot for the Socialist Workers Party (1.2% of the vote!). Very interesting character - see
    http://www.panmacmillan.com/author/chinamieville
    http://chinamieville.net/

    --

    Accelerando, by Charles Stross
    The ultimate novel (actually more of a set of interconnected stories) for many of themes explored here, this is an absolute rollercoaster ride of high-octane ideas that may burn the brain of the unwary. Be warned...

    Other great works by Stross -
    The Laundry Files series, consisting of The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue, Down on the Farm, The Fuller Memorandum, Overtime, The Apocalypse Codex - Great stuff.


    Also pretty much anything by Stross will be of interest to many here.
    Stross is a tech savvy former programmer who came up in the early 80's & has one of the more original minds out there..
    Many books made available to be downloaded by Stross via Creative Commons at his antipope site:
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/online-fiction-by-charles-stro.html
    OR: http://manybooks.net/authors/strossc.html

    ----

    For major sci-fi novels, Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker or Odd John are 2 of the most important ever written, & justifiably so. Stapledon's works can probably be described as the beginning of evolutionary philosophy explored through the medium & are of astonishing scale..
    Highly recommended.

    ----

    In fantasy series, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone) are one of the most important works in fantasy, & one of the great works in any genre.
    Takes a bit of free headspace in order to sink into it, & actually had it sitting on my shelf unread for awhile, then one day I just picked it up & started to read - genuinely astonishing work.

    (Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, already mentioned by Gregor, is the only series I'd put in the same class)

    Agreed on Stapledon, but is there any reason you didn’t mention his “Last and First Men”? It seems to be his best-known work.

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  • Here’s a few books that I was suprised not to see mentioned somewhere, considering that the site was previously called Sublime Oblivion…

    The Rifter’s Trilogy, by Peter Watts
    (Starfish, Maelstrom, Behemoth)
    Possibly the darkest piece of SF since Stalker, this series touches on many of the issues explored in this blog. Brilliant ideas explored with a savage integrity, the Rifter’s Trilogy is not for the faint hearted.
    Would fall under either sci-fi or post-apocalyptic…

    Blindsided, by Peter Watts
    Exploration of the role of consciousness in intelligence through the medium of a first contact novel, Watts turns the genre on it’s head in this densely packed novel of ideas, & draws some startling conclusions (likely to be very challenging to any advocates of IQ as a measure of progress). Also has some fun with genres in it – Brilliant stuff.

    Watts, while a major author, allows his books to be downloaded via the creative commons license at http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm
    He’s also a qualified scientist for those who like some real meat in their ideas (former marine biologist). See

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/assignment-impossible/2011/09/21/too-hard-for-science-fusing-brains/

    ————-

    FANTASY SERIES:

    Bas-Lag series, by China Miéville
    (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council)
    Brilliant, multi-award winning fantasy series with major overlaps with steampunk (& pretty much every genre out there), this is both a major work of ideas & an enormously fun ride.
    Also overlaps many of the ideas explored in this blog.

    Miéville studied social anthropology before picking up both a Masters’ & PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He’s also a Marxist, & ran on the ballot for the Socialist Workers Party (1.2% of the vote!). Very interesting character – see

    http://www.panmacmillan.com/author/chinamieville

    http://chinamieville.net/

    Accelerando, by Charles Stross
    The ultimate novel (actually more of a set of interconnected stories) for many of themes explored here, this is an absolute rollercoaster ride of high-octane ideas that may burn the brain of the unwary. Be warned…

    Other great works by Stross –
    The Laundry Files series, consisting of The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue, Down on the Farm, The Fuller Memorandum, Overtime, The Apocalypse Codex – Great stuff.

    Also pretty much anything by Stross will be of interest to many here.
    Stross is a tech savvy former programmer who came up in the early 80′s & has one of the more original minds out there..
    Many books made available to be downloaded by Stross via Creative Commons at his antipope site:

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/online-fiction-by-charles-stro.html

    OR: http://manybooks.net/authors/strossc.html

    —-

    For major sci-fi novels, Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker or Odd John are 2 of the most important ever written, & justifiably so. Stapledon’s works can probably be described as the beginning of evolutionary philosophy explored through the medium & are of astonishing scale..
    Highly recommended.

    —-

    In fantasy series, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone) are one of the most important works in fantasy, & one of the great works in any genre.
    Takes a bit of free headspace in order to sink into it, & actually had it sitting on my shelf unread for awhile, then one day I just picked it up & started to read – genuinely astonishing work.

    (Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, already mentioned by Gregor, is the only series I’d put in the same class)

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    • Replies: @Scowspi
    Agreed on Stapledon, but is there any reason you didn't mention his "Last and First Men"? It seems to be his best-known work.
    , @Jennifer Hor
    Re China Mieville: I can recommend a short story anthology "Looking for Jake" which features a mix of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, and includes one original story that is part of the Bas-Lag universe. He also wrote a children's novel "Un-Lundun" which is set in an alternative mirror version of London, one created by pollution.

    I only read "Iron Council" and found it interesting that in the territory where New Crobuzon is located, there's an area of radiation similar to the Zone in Andrei Tarkovsky's film "Stalker" where strange things that don't conform to the laws of physics happen and can kill people.

    I find Mieville's approach to writing fiction similar to Thomas Pynchon's style and it's possible Mieville might have been influenced by that writer. Both throw everything at you on nearly every page of writing. One difference is I find Mieville's characters flat compared to Pynchon's and so I prefer to read Mieville's short stories, the format being better suited to his style.

    Since I mentioned Pynchon, I suggest people read "The Crying of Lot 49" first to get a feel for his style before they try reading his novels which are usually hundreds of pages long. "Gravity's Rainbow" is his classic novel about the creation of German V-2 rockets and includes heavy doses of paranoia and (I think - it's been ages since I read them both) a link to " ... Lot 49" in the form of the von Thurn und Taxis family and its connection with postal services and couriers.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I can think of a few other big history/hbd books. New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade’s “Before the Dawn: Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors” . Also, Cochran & Harpending’s ‘The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution’. Also, Michael Hart’s “Understanding Human History”. http://tinyurl.com/d5ztglo

    http://www.amazon.com/Before-Dawn-Recovering-History-Ancestors/dp/1594200793

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  • I haven’t read it, but Greg Clark’s ‘A Farewell to Alms’ might be a contender for the ‘big history’ list?

    “In my recent book, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World I argue two things. First that all societies remained in a state I label the “Malthusian economy” up until the onset of the Industrial Revolution around 1800. In that state crucially the economic laws governing all human societies before 1800 were those that govern all animal societies. Second that was thus subject to natural selection throughout the Malthusian era, even after the arrival of settled agrarian societies with the Neolithic Revolution.

    The Darwinian struggle that shaped human nature did not end with the Neolithic Revolution but continued right up until the Industrial Revolution. But the arrival of settled agriculture and stable property rights set natural selection on a very different course. It created an accelerated period of evolution, rewarding with reproductive success a new repertoire of human behaviors – patience, self-control, passivity, and hard work – which consequently spread widely.

    And we see in England, from at least 1250, that the kind of people who succeeded in the economic system – who accumulated assets, got skills, got literacy – increased their representation in each generation. Through the long agrarian passage leading up to the Industrial Revolution man was becoming biologically more adapted to the modern economic world. Modern people are thus in part a creation of the market economies that emerged with the Neolithic Revolution. Just as people shaped economies, the pre-industrial economy shaped people. This has left the people of long settled agrarian societies substantially different now from our hunter gatherer ancestors, in terms of culture, and likely also in terms of biology.”

    http://infoproc.blogspot.co.nz/2010/07/social-darwinism-21st-century-edition.html

    http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/a_farewell_to_alms.html

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  • Quite a fascinating range of books. I have only a few points to make or suggestions:

    1. On big history I would add either the Peloponesian War by Thucydides or perhaps the totally brilliant (if impossibly discursive) discussion of it by G.E.M de St. Croix “The Origins of the Peloponesian War”. Thucydides’s book is much more than just an account of a particular war. Rather it is an introduction to the study of international relations and arguably remains unsurpassed.

    2. I notice that you have omitted the Iliad and prefer the Odyssey and the Aeneid. An interesting choice.

    3. I notice that you have no section on religious/philosophic literature. Whilst I am not at all religious or philosophical in temperament I would add the following

    (1) the Bhagavad Gita
    (2) Plato’s Republic and the Laws
    (3) the Analects by Confucius
    (4) St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans
    (5) the Divine Comedy by Dante
    (6) All of Nietzsche’s later works (Thus Spake Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols, the Antichrist, Beyond Good and Evil etc)
    (5) possibly more recently Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

    Presumably also works by Kant and Hegel though I must admit to having read nothing of either.

    4. On Russian books I would add The Idiot by Dostoevsky. Unless it is far better in Russian than it is in translation (which is quite possible) I would omit Doctor Zhivago and would add Tikhy Don and possibly Babel’s Red Cavalry.

    5. On existentialist works I would add The Trial, the Castle and Metamorphosis by Kafka (in the corrected versions, not those edited by Jozef Brod), the Eye by Georges Bataille, Nausee, Les Mouches and Huit Clos by Sartre and the 120 days of Sodom by de Sade. I should give advanced warning that some of these works (especially the ones by Bataille by de Sade) require a strong stomach.

    6. I would also try to find somewhere space for a number of books that I judge to be key works in western literature and which explain much about their respective societies. I would include amongst these (1) Manon, Madame Bovary and In search of Lost Time by Proust (2) Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch, Women in Love and Ulysses and (3) Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick (4) The Leopard by Lampedusa. You have already mentioned Goethe’s Faust (both Parts 1 and 2).

    7. Lastly on economics, one of the best (and funniest) books is JK Galbraith’s The Great Crash.

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  • I'm curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung. Very quick n' dirty summaries of terms and their discontents: Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably...
  • AM says:

    Let me take issue with this *game* based solely on my personal observations from secondary school.

    Beta guys can only blame themselves for failing to get laid in high school – they pay attention to looks but not to objective beauty – rather they tend to notice only those girls who are very girly (makeup, short skirts) and confident (imo confidence in own sexappeal increases desirability by 100%), Thus, they overlooks a lot of girls who are not extroverted and/or just don’t dress like barbies – “nice girls” in favour of pursuing femma fatalle “bad girls” and failing miserably.

    Evidence – apart from my own observations many beta guys I know admit that they could have start having sex much earlier if only they didn’t deliberately ignore girls that seemed to be interested in them (because women do notice character ) but weren’t “girly” enough.

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  • Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • Bookmarked this bitch!

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  • @yalensis
    Victor Hugo, “Les Miserables” = greatest novel ever written in ANY European language. Forget about the Broadway musical, go back to THE BOOK.
    “Nibelungenlied” = greatest epic EVER. Structured like a medieval soap opera, with a few fantasy elements but mostly solid human psychology, and deeply rooted in Burgundian culture.
    Where is English-language literature: where is Shakespeare, Dickens, Melville? My personal favorite = “Billy Budd” (explores the nature of good and evil in humans).
    Victorian sci-fi: You could add “20,000 leagues under the sea” (Captain Nemo = suavest villain ever).
    For British high-class humorous lit, there is nobody superior to P.G. Wodehouse, any one of his stories will have you laughing your ass off.
    Top books on Russian civilization:
    “Slovo o pluku Igoreve”? Oh, okay, it’s untranslatable. Check.
    Greatest works of Russian literature: MOST of the ones you listed (“Gulag” – really??), plus Saltykov-Shchedrin “The Goloviov Family” = best dysfunctional family ever, and a good antidote to anybody who seeks to glamorize Russian rural life of the 19th century!

    There should be some clarification of the selection criteria. E.g. “Slovo o polku Igoreve” is a milestone of Russian literature indeed, but primitive by today standards. So, what is the purpose of the list? Collect the milestones or a guide for today reading by lay people? If the former, the list should dive deep into the history and, I bet, was compiled a few times already. Otherwise, almost all story lines of milestones are rewritten in modern terms and language and are much easier to read with even deeper final effect for the reader.

    I am wondering if all literature story lines can be reduced to a very small set of scenarios. E.g. type “love triangle” 2M1F (2 men 1 woman) or 1M2F, subtype
    M->M (man kills another man), or M->F, etc. For example, 2M1F(M->F) for “Idiot” by Dostoevskii. Then, the list can include the best representative of every scenario. This is the rationale I would favour most.

    Cannot but do agree about Gulag – neither novel nor history. If Solzhenitsin is to make it to the list, it should be “One day of life of Ivan Denisovich”. On the other hand, why not Sholohov’s “Destiny of a Man”?

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  • Good children’s/young adult lit:
    I just finished reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical Trilogy about Roman-era Britain: “The Eagle of the Ninth”; “The Silver Branch”; and “The Lantern Bearers”. I highly recommend for Anglophiles as well as people who are into Roman stuff (lots of battle scenes, even a gladiator scene or two). Is denoted as “children’s lit”, but requires college-level English-language vocabulary comprehension.

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  • @Pat Boyle
    Ugh! What a terrible top five books.

    The bell Curve is good but it's arguably it is only a popularization for the general public. Better to read Jensen or Rushton.

    I haven't read "The Game" but I have commented on Sailer's blog about it (unfavorably) for years. My problem is that it seems to overly impress men who have had very little real sexual experience. Bar pick ups are a tiny fraction of the totality of the places where one meets women. Men who like this book are losers- and Betas.

    I have written several long detailed reviews of The Black Swan and his earlier book on Amazon. Taleeb is a miserable dweeb. A smart but misguided fool.

    In my experience only people who seldom read Science Fiction like Dune. It's so unscientific. It is the kind of goofy soft headed fantasy that a woman might write.

    You’re thinking of books you’d recommend or not to the choir as opposed to men who have yet to take the red pill.

    That is all.

    On Dune, I didn’t like it either (though I literally lolled at “that a woman might write”; for a start, where are the relationship and love triangles?), but it appears in virtually every Top 5 sci-fi list. It is a classic that has almost the same status in sci-fi as LotR in fantasy. As such its inclusion is eminently justified for the purposes of getting a survey of the genre.

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  • Pat Boyle [AKA "Albertosaurus"] says:

    Ugh! What a terrible top five books.

    The bell Curve is good but it’s arguably it is only a popularization for the general public. Better to read Jensen or Rushton.

    I haven’t read “The Game” but I have commented on Sailer’s blog about it (unfavorably) for years. My problem is that it seems to overly impress men who have had very little real sexual experience. Bar pick ups are a tiny fraction of the totality of the places where one meets women. Men who like this book are losers- and Betas.

    I have written several long detailed reviews of The Black Swan and his earlier book on Amazon. Taleeb is a miserable dweeb. A smart but misguided fool.

    In my experience only people who seldom read Science Fiction like Dune. It’s so unscientific. It is the kind of goofy soft headed fantasy that a woman might write.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    You're thinking of books you'd recommend or not to the choir as opposed to men who have yet to take the red pill.

    That is all.

    On Dune, I didn't like it either (though I literally lolled at "that a woman might write"; for a start, where are the relationship and love triangles?), but it appears in virtually every Top 5 sci-fi list. It is a classic that has almost the same status in sci-fi as LotR in fantasy. As such its inclusion is eminently justified for the purposes of getting a survey of the genre.

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  • @Jennifer Hor
    Scowspi,

    Another book you might find interesting is Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz's "Insatiability" which I read ages ago. This is incredibly long (over 1,000 pages I think) and very intense. Written in 1930, it takes place in a future world where China / Mongolia (the author didn't distinguish between the two) conquers Eurasia and forces all conquered peoples to take Murti Bing tablets which turn them into mindless slaves. The main character is a young guy who is seduced by a much older woman who keeps him as her sex toy. The book is not well known outside Poland but English translations do exist.

    Witkiewicz was experimenting with a number of drugs (cocaine, morphine, peyote I think) at the time which explains the intense and delirious tone of the book.

    A great Czech classic (and a long book too) is Jaroslav Hasek's "The Good Soldier Svejk" which I never tire of reading, funny and critical of Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy and military bungling. Is Svejk really as dumb as he appears or is he manipulating the people around him to get out of fighting and to have as good a time as he can?

    I've also read Gombrowicz's "Cosmos" and "Pornografia" which he wrote in the 1950s while living in Argentina. Funny that two great writers, Jorge Luis Borges and Witold Gombrowicz, should have been living in the same city (Buenos Aires)far away from the major cultural centres of the world and must have known of each other yet their paths never seem to have crossed. Instead Borges was writing his famous short stories and collaborating with Adolfo Bioy Casares. I've read some of Casares's own fiction and his sci-fi short story "The Invention of Morel" is a good read. There was another one he wrote about a pilot who, every time he flies his light plane, goes from one parallel universe to another and ends up alternating between two versions of Buenos Aires.

    The fact that so many Latin-American writers like Borges, Casares and Julio Cortazar were writing magic realism probably explains why 20th century Latin-American literature is weak on science fiction. Cortazar's short story "The Axolotl" is about as close as he gets to sci-fi.

    I read Svejk as a kid in Russian translation and found it very funny. Years later, when I first encountered a description of the Alpine racial type, I though “that’s Svejk, isn’t it?” I’m sure I would have thought that even if there were no illustrations in that book – based on his personality he couldn’t have looked any other way.

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  • Anyone who is interested in what the UK might be like in a few years’ time (?) ought to read Richard Jefferies’s novel “After London; or Wild England” which was published in 1885, a couple of years before he died from tuberculosis. It may be out of print but it’s not a very long novel and you can read it at this website: http://www.readbookonline.net/title/40289/. Jefferies was a nature writer by profession so much of the novel has lovely descriptions of a green and, um, maybe not very sceptred isle … until the hero reaches London (or whatever passes for it).

    I’ve read Yukio Mishima’s “The Sailor who fell from grace with the sea” which could be considered existentialist in that the main character is torn between a safe life he yearns for and his former life as a sailor which gave him freedom and which he will no longer have if he chooses the safe option. Also if Anatoly decides to make a list of Top 5 Books about children killing ADULTS, this novel would definitely go into the pile as would also J G Ballard’s “Running Wild”. I haven’t read John Marsden’s “Tomorrow, when the War began” or the four sequels that follow it; it’s about a bunch of teenagers who form a guerrilla group when Australia is invaded by a foreign power so they probably take down the odd enemy adult soldier or two.

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  • This really makes me wish I read more. I’ve a nice pile of books I really need to go through.
    You could have a “best psychology books” list. On the social animal, evolutionary psychology, psychopaths, etc. It would probably have Predictably Irrational (not read it) and Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) (am reading).

    Is Tim Ferris that good? It seems to me he is tapping into the very American get-rich-quick/big-teeth-self-help market. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad but makes me suspicious.

    I would recommend Aron’s Progress and Disillusion for modern political economy. It’s a great, encyclopedic introduction to industrial/rational modernity and what it means concretely in human societies.

    I would definitely not have Clash of Civs appear twice. It’s useful as a reference of elite thought. While I think civilizations are important and can’t be ignored, his book was more an attempt to replace one cartoonish caricature of the world (Cold War clash-of-ideologies) with another (clash-of-civs), backed up not by argument, but laundry lists of one-religion-on-another-religion violence (conveniently ignoring all violence within a religion…).

    On modern political economy, I’ve long been fond of the Italian school of elitists (on the limits of democracy and the inevitability of elite rule) and in particular Gaetano Mosca. His The Ruling Class is a great antidote to various idealist utopianisms. Also probably something by C. Wright Mills (e.g. The Power Elite, which I haven’t read).

    On history (either big or modern political economy), there should be Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes (or in fact the whole Age of series since the revolutions).

    Definitely should have The Hobbit under one of the fantasy headings.

    Mishima! Most (e.g. Temple of the Golden Pavillion and Confessions of Mask) would probably fall under “existentialist”. I haven’t read his other works.

    For Sci Fi I really recommend The Ice People (La Nuit des temps) by René Barjavel, about the discovery and self-destruction of a long-dead hypermodern civilization. In the dystopian genre, also by Barjavel, there is Ashes, Ashes (Ravage), a WW2-era novel taking place in the year 2000 (funny) and what would happen if all electricity just stopped… Has quasi-pétainist reactionary overtones.

    If you need another book on power, I recommend having a look at Charles de Gaulle’s The Edge of the Sword on leadership. It was one of Nixon’s favorites.

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  • @Jennifer Hor
    Scowspi,

    Another book you might find interesting is Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz's "Insatiability" which I read ages ago. This is incredibly long (over 1,000 pages I think) and very intense. Written in 1930, it takes place in a future world where China / Mongolia (the author didn't distinguish between the two) conquers Eurasia and forces all conquered peoples to take Murti Bing tablets which turn them into mindless slaves. The main character is a young guy who is seduced by a much older woman who keeps him as her sex toy. The book is not well known outside Poland but English translations do exist.

    Witkiewicz was experimenting with a number of drugs (cocaine, morphine, peyote I think) at the time which explains the intense and delirious tone of the book.

    A great Czech classic (and a long book too) is Jaroslav Hasek's "The Good Soldier Svejk" which I never tire of reading, funny and critical of Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy and military bungling. Is Svejk really as dumb as he appears or is he manipulating the people around him to get out of fighting and to have as good a time as he can?

    I've also read Gombrowicz's "Cosmos" and "Pornografia" which he wrote in the 1950s while living in Argentina. Funny that two great writers, Jorge Luis Borges and Witold Gombrowicz, should have been living in the same city (Buenos Aires)far away from the major cultural centres of the world and must have known of each other yet their paths never seem to have crossed. Instead Borges was writing his famous short stories and collaborating with Adolfo Bioy Casares. I've read some of Casares's own fiction and his sci-fi short story "The Invention of Morel" is a good read. There was another one he wrote about a pilot who, every time he flies his light plane, goes from one parallel universe to another and ends up alternating between two versions of Buenos Aires.

    The fact that so many Latin-American writers like Borges, Casares and Julio Cortazar were writing magic realism probably explains why 20th century Latin-American literature is weak on science fiction. Cortazar's short story "The Axolotl" is about as close as he gets to sci-fi.

    Yes, I’ve read “Insatiability” too. Like probably most non-Polish readers, I found out about it because it was analyzed in Milosz’s “The Captive Mind.” Witkiewicz was an incredible figure in general – primarily a playwright who pioneered the Theatre of the Absurd long before Beckett and Ionesco, but also a painter, philosopher and novelist. Unfortunately his work is very difficult to translate and highly Polish-specific, so it doesn’t transfer well to other cultures. Still, anyone interested in catastrophic visions of the future should read him.

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  • AM says:

    To add to fantasy series – the Witcher (Wiedzmin) by Andrzej Sapkowski
    and Discworld by Terry Pratchett (a parody but it’s just too good to be left out).
    Battle Royale definitely a classic as ‘children killing each other’ goes (“What do they call The Hunger Games in France? Battle Royale with cheese” – in Battle Royal kids have exploding metal rings around their necks, if they rebel, they lose their heads).

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  • Hi Anatoly

    Been a long time… but some quick recommends:

    Dystopia
    A Clockwork Orange

    Post-Apocalypse
    I’d wreck and mend Ridley Walker

    Existentialist:
    The Blind Owl: Sadegh Hedayat
    My Work is Not Yet Done: Thomas Ligotti
    Pedro Paramo: Juan Rulfo

    Victorian Sci-Fi
    The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
    Island of Dr Moreau

    Zombie:
    OK, it’s cheating a bit to call it a novel but Herbert West: Re-Animator

    Sci-Fi:
    The Fifth Head of Cerberus
    (Should be something by PKD, but he didn’t really have a magnum opus)

    Fantasy Series:
    Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe

    Western Civilisation:
    Prometheus Bound by Aeschylos
    The Orestia
    The Bacchae
    The Republic (agree or disagree with its ethos, it has been influential)

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  • @Scowspi
    Great recs, Jennifer! The Kafka of course is a world-famous classic, but Gombrowicz and Capek are also great writers. I think Capek’s greatest achievement is his philosophical (sometimes called “epistemological”) trilogy: the 3 novels “Hordubal,” “Meteor” and “An Ordinary Life.”

    Ballard is indeed a great short-story writer.

    Scowspi,

    Another book you might find interesting is Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz’s “Insatiability” which I read ages ago. This is incredibly long (over 1,000 pages I think) and very intense. Written in 1930, it takes place in a future world where China / Mongolia (the author didn’t distinguish between the two) conquers Eurasia and forces all conquered peoples to take Murti Bing tablets which turn them into mindless slaves. The main character is a young guy who is seduced by a much older woman who keeps him as her sex toy. The book is not well known outside Poland but English translations do exist.

    Witkiewicz was experimenting with a number of drugs (cocaine, morphine, peyote I think) at the time which explains the intense and delirious tone of the book.

    A great Czech classic (and a long book too) is Jaroslav Hasek’s “The Good Soldier Svejk” which I never tire of reading, funny and critical of Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy and military bungling. Is Svejk really as dumb as he appears or is he manipulating the people around him to get out of fighting and to have as good a time as he can?

    I’ve also read Gombrowicz’s “Cosmos” and “Pornografia” which he wrote in the 1950s while living in Argentina. Funny that two great writers, Jorge Luis Borges and Witold Gombrowicz, should have been living in the same city (Buenos Aires)far away from the major cultural centres of the world and must have known of each other yet their paths never seem to have crossed. Instead Borges was writing his famous short stories and collaborating with Adolfo Bioy Casares. I’ve read some of Casares’s own fiction and his sci-fi short story “The Invention of Morel” is a good read. There was another one he wrote about a pilot who, every time he flies his light plane, goes from one parallel universe to another and ends up alternating between two versions of Buenos Aires.

    The fact that so many Latin-American writers like Borges, Casares and Julio Cortazar were writing magic realism probably explains why 20th century Latin-American literature is weak on science fiction. Cortazar’s short story “The Axolotl” is about as close as he gets to sci-fi.

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    • Replies: @Scowspi
    Yes, I’ve read “Insatiability” too. Like probably most non-Polish readers, I found out about it because it was analyzed in Milosz’s “The Captive Mind.” Witkiewicz was an incredible figure in general – primarily a playwright who pioneered the Theatre of the Absurd long before Beckett and Ionesco, but also a painter, philosopher and novelist. Unfortunately his work is very difficult to translate and highly Polish-specific, so it doesn’t transfer well to other cultures. Still, anyone interested in catastrophic visions of the future should read him.
    , @Glossy
    I read Svejk as a kid in Russian translation and found it very funny. Years later, when I first encountered a description of the Alpine racial type, I though "that's Svejk, isn't it?" I'm sure I would have thought that even if there were no illustrations in that book - based on his personality he couldn't have looked any other way.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Victor Hugo, “Les Miserables” = greatest novel ever written in ANY European language. Forget about the Broadway musical, go back to THE BOOK.
    “Nibelungenlied” = greatest epic EVER. Structured like a medieval soap opera, with a few fantasy elements but mostly solid human psychology, and deeply rooted in Burgundian culture.
    Where is English-language literature: where is Shakespeare, Dickens, Melville? My personal favorite = “Billy Budd” (explores the nature of good and evil in humans).
    Victorian sci-fi: You could add “20,000 leagues under the sea” (Captain Nemo = suavest villain ever).
    For British high-class humorous lit, there is nobody superior to P.G. Wodehouse, any one of his stories will have you laughing your ass off.
    Top books on Russian civilization:
    “Slovo o pluku Igoreve”? Oh, okay, it’s untranslatable. Check.
    Greatest works of Russian literature: MOST of the ones you listed (“Gulag” – really??), plus Saltykov-Shchedrin “The Goloviov Family” = best dysfunctional family ever, and a good antidote to anybody who seeks to glamorize Russian rural life of the 19th century!

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    • Replies: @Brother Karamazov
    There should be some clarification of the selection criteria. E.g. "Slovo o polku Igoreve" is a milestone of Russian literature indeed, but primitive by today standards. So, what is the purpose of the list? Collect the milestones or a guide for today reading by lay people? If the former, the list should dive deep into the history and, I bet, was compiled a few times already. Otherwise, almost all story lines of milestones are rewritten in modern terms and language and are much easier to read with even deeper final effect for the reader.

    I am wondering if all literature story lines can be reduced to a very small set of scenarios. E.g. type "love triangle" 2M1F (2 men 1 woman) or 1M2F, subtype
    M->M (man kills another man), or M->F, etc. For example, 2M1F(M->F) for "Idiot" by Dostoevskii. Then, the list can include the best representative of every scenario. This is the rationale I would favour most.

    Cannot but do agree about Gulag - neither novel nor history. If Solzhenitsin is to make it to the list, it should be "One day of life of Ivan Denisovich". On the other hand, why not Sholohov's "Destiny of a Man"?

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  • Though I do wonder about those six people who voted "none of the above" in my poll of attitudes towards the 10 odd theories that figure prominently in the Karlinist Weltanschauung... with all due respect, but what are you guys doing on this blog then? :) The vast majority agree with Peak Oil, Limits to...
  • @anon666
    I like your site because it illustrates that acceptance of HBD needn't necessarily entail an "alt-right" or "traditionalist" political stance. As one who falls on the right half of the bell curve, I'm quite capable of living a stable and productive existence without the aid of tradition, and would not welcome its incursion into my life. As far as those who fall on the left half of the bell curve, I'm not sure that tradition is of any effectiveness in improving their moral virtue. If a group expresses below average future time orientation, for example, it's unclear how something like religiosity and belief in God would serve to motivate people to postpone gratification for future benefits. Speculation regarding reward or punishment in a purported afterlife is unlikely to be compelling to people who are barely capable of forecasting the consequences of their actions that fall beyond the span of a week.

    Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" presents a compendium of data showing that many prior eras of history had higher homicide rates and of violent crime in general, in spite the presence of more dire punishments for crime. Black violent crime rates in the more-traditional-than-today late 1800s were disproportionately high compared to the black percentage of the U.S. population, much like today.

    Although I have a few heterodox views that would outrage most other liberals, I'm basically a liberal myself. I like *most* of the policies and practices of countries like Germany and Canada, although I'd probably like both countries even better if they replaced their nurturist/blank-slatist intellectual paradigm with a hereditarian one. While I don't believe in tradition's ability to make us virtuous, I do believe in removing carrot that encourages irresponsible and behavior while demanding that the rest of us pay for it (both the carrot and the behavior).

    Why would a hereditarian one be better?

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  • Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • This has some relation to Big History and to HBD: “Human Accomplishment” by Charles Murray.

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  • Though I do wonder about those six people who voted "none of the above" in my poll of attitudes towards the 10 odd theories that figure prominently in the Karlinist Weltanschauung... with all due respect, but what are you guys doing on this blog then? :) The vast majority agree with Peak Oil, Limits to...
  • @Scowspi
    Well it depends on the subject matter too. I’m dealing with very specific nuances and points involving legal liability and the like. So I have no choice but to pick through everything slowly, and also to consider questions like “is this the proper style to address a person of this stature?” “Does this terminology need to be clarified or amplified for a person coming from a certain background?” “Are the semantic parameters of this term the same in both languages?” and so on. If computers are ever able to do this, then it will probably be time for homo sapiens to vacate the planet.

    Understood. That makes sense.

    I think machine translation will largely obviate the need for humans as regards popular articles by 2020 or 2025, understanding these legalistic nuances however you’re venturing into Turing territory.

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  • Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • @Jennifer Hor
    Dear Anatoly,

    Would like to recommend "The Trial" by Franz Kafka for the existentialist section. Another book I just thought of now, written in 1937, about how an individual's identity is influenced by history, time and circumstances is Witold Gombrowicz's "Ferdydurke": probably not strictly existentialist but close. Karel Capek's "War with the Newts", also written in the 1930s, is an excellent SF novel though not well known now.

    I've only read one cyberpunk novel and that was William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's "The Difference Engine". I'm amazed I still remember it at least ten years after reading it.

    @ Mark Sleboda: you should try reading J G Ballard, his short stories are the best.

    Great recs, Jennifer! The Kafka of course is a world-famous classic, but Gombrowicz and Capek are also great writers. I think Capek’s greatest achievement is his philosophical (sometimes called “epistemological”) trilogy: the 3 novels “Hordubal,” “Meteor” and “An Ordinary Life.”

    Ballard is indeed a great short-story writer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jennifer Hor
    Scowspi,

    Another book you might find interesting is Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz's "Insatiability" which I read ages ago. This is incredibly long (over 1,000 pages I think) and very intense. Written in 1930, it takes place in a future world where China / Mongolia (the author didn't distinguish between the two) conquers Eurasia and forces all conquered peoples to take Murti Bing tablets which turn them into mindless slaves. The main character is a young guy who is seduced by a much older woman who keeps him as her sex toy. The book is not well known outside Poland but English translations do exist.

    Witkiewicz was experimenting with a number of drugs (cocaine, morphine, peyote I think) at the time which explains the intense and delirious tone of the book.

    A great Czech classic (and a long book too) is Jaroslav Hasek's "The Good Soldier Svejk" which I never tire of reading, funny and critical of Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy and military bungling. Is Svejk really as dumb as he appears or is he manipulating the people around him to get out of fighting and to have as good a time as he can?

    I've also read Gombrowicz's "Cosmos" and "Pornografia" which he wrote in the 1950s while living in Argentina. Funny that two great writers, Jorge Luis Borges and Witold Gombrowicz, should have been living in the same city (Buenos Aires)far away from the major cultural centres of the world and must have known of each other yet their paths never seem to have crossed. Instead Borges was writing his famous short stories and collaborating with Adolfo Bioy Casares. I've read some of Casares's own fiction and his sci-fi short story "The Invention of Morel" is a good read. There was another one he wrote about a pilot who, every time he flies his light plane, goes from one parallel universe to another and ends up alternating between two versions of Buenos Aires.

    The fact that so many Latin-American writers like Borges, Casares and Julio Cortazar were writing magic realism probably explains why 20th century Latin-American literature is weak on science fiction. Cortazar's short story "The Axolotl" is about as close as he gets to sci-fi.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Dear Anatoly,

    Would like to recommend “The Trial” by Franz Kafka for the existentialist section. Another book I just thought of now, written in 1937, about how an individual’s identity is influenced by history, time and circumstances is Witold Gombrowicz’s “Ferdydurke”: probably not strictly existentialist but close. Karel Capek’s “War with the Newts”, also written in the 1930s, is an excellent SF novel though not well known now.

    I’ve only read one cyberpunk novel and that was William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s “The Difference Engine”. I’m amazed I still remember it at least ten years after reading it.

    @ Mark Sleboda: you should try reading J G Ballard, his short stories are the best.

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    • Replies: @Scowspi
    Great recs, Jennifer! The Kafka of course is a world-famous classic, but Gombrowicz and Capek are also great writers. I think Capek’s greatest achievement is his philosophical (sometimes called “epistemological”) trilogy: the 3 novels “Hordubal,” “Meteor” and “An Ordinary Life.”

    Ballard is indeed a great short-story writer.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Though I do wonder about those six people who voted "none of the above" in my poll of attitudes towards the 10 odd theories that figure prominently in the Karlinist Weltanschauung... with all due respect, but what are you guys doing on this blog then? :) The vast majority agree with Peak Oil, Limits to...
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    As you're aware, I translate a number of Russian texts into English on my other blog. What I typically do is paste in the Russian paragraph, then the machine-translated paragraph below that. Then working from the top, I start writing my own translation, leaning heavily on the machine translation. It gets 90% of stuff right, so why mess with the dictionary and thesaurus myself? It is clear where it is obviously wrong, most commonly that happens when you have complex grammatical structures, when meaning depends on context, or Russian-specific idioms. Then I have to get my thinking cap on and become inventive.

    On the whole however, I find that modern machine translation (Google Translate) helps my productivity immensely. So respectfully disagree here. :)

    Well it depends on the subject matter too. I’m dealing with very specific nuances and points involving legal liability and the like. So I have no choice but to pick through everything slowly, and also to consider questions like “is this the proper style to address a person of this stature?” “Does this terminology need to be clarified or amplified for a person coming from a certain background?” “Are the semantic parameters of this term the same in both languages?” and so on. If computers are ever able to do this, then it will probably be time for homo sapiens to vacate the planet.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Understood. That makes sense.

    I think machine translation will largely obviate the need for humans as regards popular articles by 2020 or 2025, understanding these legalistic nuances however you're venturing into Turing territory.

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  • @Scowspi
    Re: machine translation. Since I translate legal documents for a living, I have some thoughts on this.

    I’ve tried to use machine translation to make my job easier. Actually it makes it harder. Even when it doesn’t make gross mistakes, it destroys the continuity and consistency of a text, and has no idea of appropriate style and register. Most of the time it makes sense to just translate something the normal way, rather than go through the dreary job of editing that is required after machine-translating a text.

    People have speculated that such programs will replace human translators. As long as homo sapiens thinks differently from a computer, I think not. The only danger is that companies that are satisfied with crappy or so-so translations (which is probably a lot of companies) will rely on them.

    As you’re aware, I translate a number of Russian texts into English on my other blog. What I typically do is paste in the Russian paragraph, then the machine-translated paragraph below that. Then working from the top, I start writing my own translation, leaning heavily on the machine translation. It gets 90% of stuff right, so why mess with the dictionary and thesaurus myself? It is clear where it is obviously wrong, most commonly that happens when you have complex grammatical structures, when meaning depends on context, or Russian-specific idioms. Then I have to get my thinking cap on and become inventive.

    On the whole however, I find that modern machine translation (Google Translate) helps my productivity immensely. So respectfully disagree here. :)

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    • Replies: @Scowspi
    Well it depends on the subject matter too. I’m dealing with very specific nuances and points involving legal liability and the like. So I have no choice but to pick through everything slowly, and also to consider questions like “is this the proper style to address a person of this stature?” “Does this terminology need to be clarified or amplified for a person coming from a certain background?” “Are the semantic parameters of this term the same in both languages?” and so on. If computers are ever able to do this, then it will probably be time for homo sapiens to vacate the planet.
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  • @Glossy
    "...humans simply have not had time to evolve to eat complex grains let alone have them constitute the bulk of their diet. "

    G. Cochran and H. Harpending argued in their book "The 10,000 Year Explosion" that agriculture seriously sped up human evolution. It led to a population explosion. From what I understand, before agriculture there were only about 4 million people on Earth. An increase in population size led to an increase in the number of mutations per generation. With more rolls of the dice per year, beneficial mutations occurred quicker and more often. Of course the number of harmful mutations per year also increased, but before the rise of the welfare state those weren't being picked up.

    New food sources, new lifestyle, new diseases presented new challenges, and that also sped up evolution. Obviously, all cavemen must have lacked lactose persistence, for example. Those human groups who have it only developed it after the domestication of the cow.

    I wonder how well Australian Aborigines, Bushmen, the Arctic Peoples and other such groups do with grains. If they do much worse than the rest of humanity when exposed to them (obesity? diabetes?), then we, the rest of humanity, have probably already moved past the point where paleo-diet enthusiasts' advice could do us a lot of good.

    As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol. Compared to them the rest of humanity has already evolved to handle booze somewhat better.

    "Technological singularity is a more iffy possibility..."

    I'm sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought? According to what I've read on this subject, the answer is no. They're just using larger volumes of already-translated (by humans, of course) text. The databases have gotten larger. The AI aspects of machine translation haven't improved. The sense I got from reading about machine translation projects is that there is disappointment with the AI side of things.

    Re: machine translation. Since I translate legal documents for a living, I have some thoughts on this.

    I’ve tried to use machine translation to make my job easier. Actually it makes it harder. Even when it doesn’t make gross mistakes, it destroys the continuity and consistency of a text, and has no idea of appropriate style and register. Most of the time it makes sense to just translate something the normal way, rather than go through the dreary job of editing that is required after machine-translating a text.

    People have speculated that such programs will replace human translators. As long as homo sapiens thinks differently from a computer, I think not. The only danger is that companies that are satisfied with crappy or so-so translations (which is probably a lot of companies) will rely on them.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    As you're aware, I translate a number of Russian texts into English on my other blog. What I typically do is paste in the Russian paragraph, then the machine-translated paragraph below that. Then working from the top, I start writing my own translation, leaning heavily on the machine translation. It gets 90% of stuff right, so why mess with the dictionary and thesaurus myself? It is clear where it is obviously wrong, most commonly that happens when you have complex grammatical structures, when meaning depends on context, or Russian-specific idioms. Then I have to get my thinking cap on and become inventive.

    On the whole however, I find that modern machine translation (Google Translate) helps my productivity immensely. So respectfully disagree here. :)

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Re-grains as new food source. That is of course true, but what it leaves out is that farming communities tended to be a lot less healthy than hunter-gatherer ones. Life expectancy plummeted during the Neolithic; diseases such as rickets became commonplace that are otherwise unknown among hunter-gatherers. The agriculturalists did however outcompete the hunter-gatherers because of greater numbers and technology so in that sense they were superior from an evolutionary point of view. However, what is "good" for population groups or even a whole species isn't typically so for the individuals within them. The most basic example of that is altruism. Another is social hierarchies. Carbohydrate heavy food sources is another.

    Re-"As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol." So do Russians. Or Finns, a generation ago. Or America in the early 19th century, when it was the "Alcoholic Republic". Propensity to alcoholism (though not alcohol tolerance - on which long civilized East Asians fail!) seems to me one of those things better explained through culture not HBD.

    Re-"I’m sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought?" Well, this is of course a huge debate in philosophy and CS. I for one think Searle is a quack.

    The result of neolithic revolution (i.e. agriculture) were indeed the population explosion and shortening of average lifespan.
    The first had mostly two causes – the abundance of cheap source of calories and the earlier weaning of children due to changing lifestyle. While among hunter-gatherers the average interval between births was 4-5 years it became considerably shorter in agricultural societies.
    The higher mortality had also several causes. One of them was simply the increase of population density which simplified the spread of contagious diseases. The other was, of course, the lower quality of food. But the problem was not the high concentration of carbohydrates, but low amount of proteins, certain vitamins and minerals in cereals.
    The most visible adaptation to cereal diet is the second depigmentation event among northern Europeans that coincided with the beginning of agriculture in boreal areas. The first depigmentation happened sometimes after the out of Africa migration and was quite similar for European and Asian populations (although having different genetic mechanisms) – light brown skin, dark hair and dark eyes. But as cereal food is remarkably low in vitamin D compared to meat, people living in Northern Europe had to obtain even paler skin to absorb whatever little sunlight was available. This time the depigmentation included also hair and eyes.
    It is remarkable that hunter-gatherers living in far north do not have pale skin because their diet has enough vitamin D from fish and meat.
    It is hard to say which other adaptations may have developed because of cereal diet – but it is quite probable that there are some.
    In any case – I think Japanese populations proves quite well that people eating high-carb diet can be healthy and live long.

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  • Good books are of course far better than almost anything you can read in a magazine or find on the Internet. They are also of double the benefit when the reader actually interacts with them, e.g. by writing a review. I have about 25 of these on my two blogs, but they still come very...
  • Enders Game – orson Scott Card (sci fi again)

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  • Oh sci fi missed one

    David Wingrove – Chung Kuo (The whole world becomes the Middle Kingdom)

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  • SO much here. Take them one at a time in spurts. Scifi and Cyberpunk today
    Scifi you just NEED way more than ten.

    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
    Ringworld – Larry Niven
    The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
    Greg Bear – anything really, say Eon, Forge of God, Moving Mars, or Queen of Angels
    The Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, 2312) – Kim Stanley Robinson (a must)
    The Fall Revolution Series – Ken Mcleod
    The Uplift Series – David Brin
    Bruce Sterling – everything. Schismatrix would be my first choice, The Caryatids, The Artificial Kid
    Robert Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, and the Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    The Culture Novels – Ian M Banks
    Philip K Dick – take your pick
    2001 – Arthur C. Clarke

    Cyberpunk
    Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson if you inlude nanopunk then The Diamond Age as well
    Bruce Sterling – nearly anything say Holy Fire, Islands in the Net, Heavy Weather (Sterling buries Gibson, hands down)
    Rudy Rucker – Ware Tetralogy

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  • Wow, this is quite a list. Thanks for posting. I’ll definitely have to check out that Metro 2033, as it looks fantastic.

    For books on writing, I’d recommend William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. I read it and I thought it was pretty useful.

    Are you still learning Chinese?

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  • This reminded me of all the oceans of books that I haven’t read and would like to read some day. If I wasn’t so lazy and didn’t have a 9 to 5 job…

    “So, books reviews are very useful. Both for personal development…”

    Very true. “How am I supposed to know what I think about a topic until I’ve tried writing about it?” – I don’t know who said that first, but it conforms to my experiences.

    Recommendations:

    I’d add Chekhov’s short stories to the Russian literature section. I’ve always liked them for the subtle humor, the lack of pretentiousness, the wisdom about human nature. Also on Russia, I’d add the great 19th century histories – Karamzin, Solovyov, Kliutchevsky. I read parts of the latter two many years ago and remember finding them fascinating.

    I don’t know if you’ve read Nietzsche’s “Geneaology of Morals”. I was very impressed. It changed my outlook on some things, plus the style was beautiful. The man could write. I still don’t know what to think about some of the things there. I may well re-read it some day, and I really should read his other stuff.

    English lit: my favorite author here is Kingsley Amis. I’ve read about a dozen of his novels, his memoires, a book of his book reviews, and it was all brilliant. His son’s stuff is to be avoided. “Lucky Jim” was K. Amis’s first and most commercially-successful book, and it’s a good place to start with him, though it’s neither better nor worse than most of the others. “One Fat Englishman” was pure genius.

    Evelyn Waugh’s early comic novels are some of my favorite books ever. I haven’t read his later stuff though, and I should.

    World history: I have a little book about the world’s demographic history by McEvedy and Jones which I love. Great graphs and maps, a thourough explanation of where they got their data and estimates, well-written.

    Books on how to succeed in business, how to be liked by people, game: I think that the people who are really, really good at that stuff act entirely on instinct. I don’t think they’ve processed any of these rules consciously. Can someone who lacks those instincts (and I do) profit from reading these rules? I’m skeptical. Roissy is great fun to read, and his portrait of the female psyche is true to life, but parts of his message sound like the MBA scam – they’re going to teach you how to be a good businessman. I have an extremely distant relative who did succeed in business decades ago, and the idea of him ever having opened a book on that topic or ever having taken a business class sounds preposterous to me. I CAN imagine him trying to fool others into thinking that he can teach them to become millionaires for a fee, however – that wouldn’t be out of character at all.

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  • @Sean
    I recommend A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin) for your list of fantasy series

    Already there.

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    • Replies: @ObaMahdi
    The Hitchiker's Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
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  • I recommend A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin) for your list of fantasy series

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Already there.
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  • Though I do wonder about those six people who voted "none of the above" in my poll of attitudes towards the 10 odd theories that figure prominently in the Karlinist Weltanschauung... with all due respect, but what are you guys doing on this blog then? :) The vast majority agree with Peak Oil, Limits to...
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Re-grains as new food source. That is of course true, but what it leaves out is that farming communities tended to be a lot less healthy than hunter-gatherer ones. Life expectancy plummeted during the Neolithic; diseases such as rickets became commonplace that are otherwise unknown among hunter-gatherers. The agriculturalists did however outcompete the hunter-gatherers because of greater numbers and technology so in that sense they were superior from an evolutionary point of view. However, what is "good" for population groups or even a whole species isn't typically so for the individuals within them. The most basic example of that is altruism. Another is social hierarchies. Carbohydrate heavy food sources is another.

    Re-"As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol." So do Russians. Or Finns, a generation ago. Or America in the early 19th century, when it was the "Alcoholic Republic". Propensity to alcoholism (though not alcohol tolerance - on which long civilized East Asians fail!) seems to me one of those things better explained through culture not HBD.

    Re-"I’m sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought?" Well, this is of course a huge debate in philosophy and CS. I for one think Searle is a quack.

    “So do Russians.”

    Not to the same extent as the Arctic peoples, both in Russia and North America. There’s also a difference of degree between northern and southern Europe. Southern Europe adopted agriculture before the north. Amerindians with roots in what is now the US are much more prone to alcoholism than Mexicans. Mexicans have a far longer history of agriculture, and everyone who grew crops made alcohol. There seems to be a pattern – longer exposure to agriculture coincides with lower propensity for alcohol addiction. I’m sure that culture and banning can exert their influences too.

    “The most basic example of that is altruism.”

    Altruism can be made to work for individuals if it’s combined with exclusivity. The British aristocracy used to describe itself as “a caste of gentlemen”. If everyone within the caste is altruistic, and entrance into the caste is closely guarded, huge benefits can accrue to individuals. They ended up conquering half the world. I’m sure that the original Roman aristocracy was very altruistic too. If no one within the group has to worry about cheating or any other kind of selfishness, then the group can be spectacularly successful with benefits accruing to members. I have a feeling that the Japanese samurai also operated on that principle, as did Scandinavian states before immigration. If exclusivity can be maintained, then altruism is a huge bonus. If exclusivity is broken, it’s a liability.

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  • @Glossy
    "...humans simply have not had time to evolve to eat complex grains let alone have them constitute the bulk of their diet. "

    G. Cochran and H. Harpending argued in their book "The 10,000 Year Explosion" that agriculture seriously sped up human evolution. It led to a population explosion. From what I understand, before agriculture there were only about 4 million people on Earth. An increase in population size led to an increase in the number of mutations per generation. With more rolls of the dice per year, beneficial mutations occurred quicker and more often. Of course the number of harmful mutations per year also increased, but before the rise of the welfare state those weren't being picked up.

    New food sources, new lifestyle, new diseases presented new challenges, and that also sped up evolution. Obviously, all cavemen must have lacked lactose persistence, for example. Those human groups who have it only developed it after the domestication of the cow.

    I wonder how well Australian Aborigines, Bushmen, the Arctic Peoples and other such groups do with grains. If they do much worse than the rest of humanity when exposed to them (obesity? diabetes?), then we, the rest of humanity, have probably already moved past the point where paleo-diet enthusiasts' advice could do us a lot of good.

    As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol. Compared to them the rest of humanity has already evolved to handle booze somewhat better.

    "Technological singularity is a more iffy possibility..."

    I'm sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought? According to what I've read on this subject, the answer is no. They're just using larger volumes of already-translated (by humans, of course) text. The databases have gotten larger. The AI aspects of machine translation haven't improved. The sense I got from reading about machine translation projects is that there is disappointment with the AI side of things.

    Re-grains as new food source. That is of course true, but what it leaves out is that farming communities tended to be a lot less healthy than hunter-gatherer ones. Life expectancy plummeted during the Neolithic; diseases such as rickets became commonplace that are otherwise unknown among hunter-gatherers. The agriculturalists did however outcompete the hunter-gatherers because of greater numbers and technology so in that sense they were superior from an evolutionary point of view. However, what is “good” for population groups or even a whole species isn’t typically so for the individuals within them. The most basic example of that is altruism. Another is social hierarchies. Carbohydrate heavy food sources is another.

    Re-”As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol.” So do Russians. Or Finns, a generation ago. Or America in the early 19th century, when it was the “Alcoholic Republic”. Propensity to alcoholism (though not alcohol tolerance – on which long civilized East Asians fail!) seems to me one of those things better explained through culture not HBD.

    Re-”I’m sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought?” Well, this is of course a huge debate in philosophy and CS. I for one think Searle is a quack.

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    • Replies: @Glossy
    "So do Russians."

    Not to the same extent as the Arctic peoples, both in Russia and North America. There's also a difference of degree between northern and southern Europe. Southern Europe adopted agriculture before the north. Amerindians with roots in what is now the US are much more prone to alcoholism than Mexicans. Mexicans have a far longer history of agriculture, and everyone who grew crops made alcohol. There seems to be a pattern - longer exposure to agriculture coincides with lower propensity for alcohol addiction. I'm sure that culture and banning can exert their influences too.

    "The most basic example of that is altruism."

    Altruism can be made to work for individuals if it's combined with exclusivity. The British aristocracy used to describe itself as "a caste of gentlemen". If everyone within the caste is altruistic, and entrance into the caste is closely guarded, huge benefits can accrue to individuals. They ended up conquering half the world. I'm sure that the original Roman aristocracy was very altruistic too. If no one within the group has to worry about cheating or any other kind of selfishness, then the group can be spectacularly successful with benefits accruing to members. I have a feeling that the Japanese samurai also operated on that principle, as did Scandinavian states before immigration. If exclusivity can be maintained, then altruism is a huge bonus. If exclusivity is broken, it's a liability.

    , @lauris
    The result of neolithic revolution (i.e. agriculture) were indeed the population explosion and shortening of average lifespan.
    The first had mostly two causes - the abundance of cheap source of calories and the earlier weaning of children due to changing lifestyle. While among hunter-gatherers the average interval between births was 4-5 years it became considerably shorter in agricultural societies.
    The higher mortality had also several causes. One of them was simply the increase of population density which simplified the spread of contagious diseases. The other was, of course, the lower quality of food. But the problem was not the high concentration of carbohydrates, but low amount of proteins, certain vitamins and minerals in cereals.
    The most visible adaptation to cereal diet is the second depigmentation event among northern Europeans that coincided with the beginning of agriculture in boreal areas. The first depigmentation happened sometimes after the out of Africa migration and was quite similar for European and Asian populations (although having different genetic mechanisms) - light brown skin, dark hair and dark eyes. But as cereal food is remarkably low in vitamin D compared to meat, people living in Northern Europe had to obtain even paler skin to absorb whatever little sunlight was available. This time the depigmentation included also hair and eyes.
    It is remarkable that hunter-gatherers living in far north do not have pale skin because their diet has enough vitamin D from fish and meat.
    It is hard to say which other adaptations may have developed because of cereal diet - but it is quite probable that there are some.
    In any case - I think Japanese populations proves quite well that people eating high-carb diet can be healthy and live long.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • “…humans simply have not had time to evolve to eat complex grains let alone have them constitute the bulk of their diet. ”

    G. Cochran and H. Harpending argued in their book “The 10,000 Year Explosion” that agriculture seriously sped up human evolution. It led to a population explosion. From what I understand, before agriculture there were only about 4 million people on Earth. An increase in population size led to an increase in the number of mutations per generation. With more rolls of the dice per year, beneficial mutations occurred quicker and more often. Of course the number of harmful mutations per year also increased, but before the rise of the welfare state those weren’t being picked up.

    New food sources, new lifestyle, new diseases presented new challenges, and that also sped up evolution. Obviously, all cavemen must have lacked lactose persistence, for example. Those human groups who have it only developed it after the domestication of the cow.

    I wonder how well Australian Aborigines, Bushmen, the Arctic Peoples and other such groups do with grains. If they do much worse than the rest of humanity when exposed to them (obesity? diabetes?), then we, the rest of humanity, have probably already moved past the point where paleo-diet enthusiasts’ advice could do us a lot of good.

    As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol. Compared to them the rest of humanity has already evolved to handle booze somewhat better.

    “Technological singularity is a more iffy possibility…”

    I’m sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought? According to what I’ve read on this subject, the answer is no. They’re just using larger volumes of already-translated (by humans, of course) text. The databases have gotten larger. The AI aspects of machine translation haven’t improved. The sense I got from reading about machine translation projects is that there is disappointment with the AI side of things.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Re-grains as new food source. That is of course true, but what it leaves out is that farming communities tended to be a lot less healthy than hunter-gatherer ones. Life expectancy plummeted during the Neolithic; diseases such as rickets became commonplace that are otherwise unknown among hunter-gatherers. The agriculturalists did however outcompete the hunter-gatherers because of greater numbers and technology so in that sense they were superior from an evolutionary point of view. However, what is "good" for population groups or even a whole species isn't typically so for the individuals within them. The most basic example of that is altruism. Another is social hierarchies. Carbohydrate heavy food sources is another.

    Re-"As everyone knows, the above-mentioned peoples do catastrophically badly when exposed to alcohol." So do Russians. Or Finns, a generation ago. Or America in the early 19th century, when it was the "Alcoholic Republic". Propensity to alcoholism (though not alcohol tolerance - on which long civilized East Asians fail!) seems to me one of those things better explained through culture not HBD.

    Re-"I’m sure that a lot of people have noticed an improvement in the quality of machine translation in recent years. Is that because computers are closer to understanding human speech and with it human thought?" Well, this is of course a huge debate in philosophy and CS. I for one think Searle is a quack.

    , @Scowspi
    Re: machine translation. Since I translate legal documents for a living, I have some thoughts on this.

    I’ve tried to use machine translation to make my job easier. Actually it makes it harder. Even when it doesn’t make gross mistakes, it destroys the continuity and consistency of a text, and has no idea of appropriate style and register. Most of the time it makes sense to just translate something the normal way, rather than go through the dreary job of editing that is required after machine-translating a text.

    People have speculated that such programs will replace human translators. As long as homo sapiens thinks differently from a computer, I think not. The only danger is that companies that are satisfied with crappy or so-so translations (which is probably a lot of companies) will rely on them.

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  • TFD says:

    To be clear, the poll was “Which of these are theories are highly useful for understanding the world, being effective in it, and/or worth pursuing?”

    So when you say “Slightly fewer agree with the precepts of AGW, Game, and 80/20 principle & Parkinson’s Law”… it’s not necessarily that people didn’t agree with them. It’s just (at least in my case), I found them less interesting or less important/useful when it comes to discussing our understanding of the world. Given the choice to identify the most critical items, I selected Limits to growth, Intelligence theory, and Human Biodiversity theory.

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  • with all due respect, but what are you guys doing on this blog then?

    Perhaps they are doing something similar to what I do? For example, I almost entirely disagree with Vox Popoli, but he is on my RSS feed.

    In my case I am interested a number of topics, and I prefer to consider a variety of opinions and discussions on the subjects from more than one perspective.

    Even if I do not agree with a particular viewpoint, I appreciate the opinions of people who I have deemed to be reasonably intelligent, and apparently well informed enough to have worthwhile arguments to consider.

    But that is just me.

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  • I voted “no” for low carb diet. But that does not mean, that I think high-carb diet is “natural”.
    The inconvenient truth is, that there is no natural diet for humans. We are a species that is still in transition – and the selective pressure has been alternating between mostly vegetarian to mostly carnivorous to mostly vegetarian diet again. In no case has the environment stayed stable long enough (10+ million years) for our metabolism and anatomy to actually adapt to it – like it is for undulates or felines.
    The whole concept of adaptation is often used too idealistically. Natural selection never produces perfection – it’s result is being “good enough” for certain environment. And our organism are “good enough” for various diets and “perfect” for none.

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  • I like your site because it illustrates that acceptance of HBD needn’t necessarily entail an “alt-right” or “traditionalist” political stance. As one who falls on the right half of the bell curve, I’m quite capable of living a stable and productive existence without the aid of tradition, and would not welcome its incursion into my life. As far as those who fall on the left half of the bell curve, I’m not sure that tradition is of any effectiveness in improving their moral virtue. If a group expresses below average future time orientation, for example, it’s unclear how something like religiosity and belief in God would serve to motivate people to postpone gratification for future benefits. Speculation regarding reward or punishment in a purported afterlife is unlikely to be compelling to people who are barely capable of forecasting the consequences of their actions that fall beyond the span of a week.

    Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” presents a compendium of data showing that many prior eras of history had higher homicide rates and of violent crime in general, in spite the presence of more dire punishments for crime. Black violent crime rates in the more-traditional-than-today late 1800s were disproportionately high compared to the black percentage of the U.S. population, much like today.

    Although I have a few heterodox views that would outrage most other liberals, I’m basically a liberal myself. I like *most* of the policies and practices of countries like Germany and Canada, although I’d probably like both countries even better if they replaced their nurturist/blank-slatist intellectual paradigm with a hereditarian one. While I don’t believe in tradition’s ability to make us virtuous, I do believe in removing carrot that encourages irresponsible and behavior while demanding that the rest of us pay for it (both the carrot and the behavior).

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    • Replies: @charly
    Why would a hereditarian one be better?
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  • I'm curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung. Very quick n' dirty summaries of terms and their discontents: Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably...
  • @Anonymous
    Peak oil -- agree, also peak coal.

    AGW -- agree with the latest scientific consensus on this issue

    Limits to growth -- I don't know about the collapse, but there is going to be some kind of friction at least.

    Intelligence theory -- disagree. True Intelligence is extremely complex and cannot be rightly measured by IQ tests. Other qualities are also important for success, such as tenacity and fearlessness, or alternatively tact and keeping a low profile, lack of ego, depending on the strategy.

    HBD -- disagree. I reject scientific materialism as a worldview, so genotype is not of much importance to me. Beliefs, esp. core beliefs, and psychological programming is where it's at. Not your meat.

    Game -- this is a gross simplification. Women are individuals and they don't all prize the same quality in men. Some like the so-called alpha men, some don't. And dividing men into alphas and betas is a gross simplification of human character. Men are more complex than such naive categorization would suggest.

    Low-carb diet -- obesity is a problem, but I don't believe carb content is a strong determinant. Instead it's the activity level, the sitting lifestyle, and the total consumption level. So if you eat 5 burgers a day but you're a lumber jack, you won't be fat. But if you sit in a cubicle all day and you eat as if you were a lumber jack, you'll need to be forklifted out of your home one day.

    80/20 principle/Parkinson’s Law -- not sure what this is all about. But I believe we do waste a lot of time at work. We don't have to work 40 hours a week to be properly productive.

    Transhumanism -- neutral. If there is a safe way to implant something, why not? The problem is I don't foresee any safe implants any time soon. As for vitamins and other bullshit like that to extend life, good luck with that. Life length is determined by something deeper than the flesh (like I said before, I reject scientific materialism). But I am not against experimenting. If some things are found to extend life, we'll need to lower our birth rates to compensate. And if this isn't done in a way that's socially fair, it will be explosive.

    Technological singularity -- hype. AI will never happen. Currently Marvin Minsky at MIT AI Lab can't even formulate a working definition of intelligence. It's going nowhere.

    “I reject scientific materialism as a worldview…”

    Then how can you say that you “agree with the latest scientific consensus” on AGW?

    “Other qualities are also important for success, such as tenacity and fearlessness, or alternatively tact and keeping a low profile, lack of ego, depending on the strategy.”

    These qualities are much more difficult to measure than IQ. How are you going to measure tenacity? By asking people how tenacious they are? A lot of them will lie. But if a person can find the right answers to a bunch of logical problems, he’s showing us something real, a real ability. That’s useful data. The qualities you listed ARE important. I think that the best way to study them is by looking at ethnic stereotypes, i.e. folk wisdom. But people are often selectively blinded by nationalisms, liberalism and other ideologies. All surveys of opinions have problems of a type that IQ tests lack. The reason why you hear more about IQ gaps than about honesty or egoism gaps is that it’s much easier to get good data on IQ than on egoism, ability to work hard, etc. Either the subject can solve a problem or he cannot. Opinions, desires, egos, ideologies – all that squishy stuff becomes irrelevant.

    “True Intelligence is extremely complex and cannot be rightly measured by IQ tests.”

    IQ tests measure the main outward manifestation of intelligence – the ability to solve problems. I can come up with lots of other examples where a very complex system has outward manifestations that are easy to measure. Atmospheric temperature, a human being’s pulse rate, etc. Yes, understanding the inner workings of the brain will be difficult. But giving people brain teasers and tabulating the results isn’t. And yet, just like atmospheric temp measurements, this activity gives us useful info.

    “genotype is not of much importance to me. Beliefs, esp. core beliefs, and psychological programming is where it’s at.”

    How do you know that? What are your arguments for that view?

    “Women are individuals and they don’t all prize the same quality in men.”

    There is much, much less variability in women than in men. Nature makes almost all of its experiments on males because each individual male is more expendable in the evolutionary sense than each individual female. So most morons, geniuses, weirdos, heroes, victims of birth defects, etc. are men. Also, women are far more conformist than men. They want to do what they see others do to a much greater extent than men. This has been true in all time periods and in all cultures that I am aware of. Because of these two things – less biological variability and more conformity – generalizations about women are much more likely to be true than generalizations about men.

    “And dividing men into alphas and betas is a gross simplification of human character.”

    Is dividing all colors into blue, green, red, yellow, etc. a gross simplification of the color spectrum? Sure. But it’s still useful.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Peak oil — agree, also peak coal.

    AGW — agree with the latest scientific consensus on this issue

    Limits to growth — I don’t know about the collapse, but there is going to be some kind of friction at least.

    Intelligence theory — disagree. True Intelligence is extremely complex and cannot be rightly measured by IQ tests. Other qualities are also important for success, such as tenacity and fearlessness, or alternatively tact and keeping a low profile, lack of ego, depending on the strategy.

    HBD — disagree. I reject scientific materialism as a worldview, so genotype is not of much importance to me. Beliefs, esp. core beliefs, and psychological programming is where it’s at. Not your meat.

    Game — this is a gross simplification. Women are individuals and they don’t all prize the same quality in men. Some like the so-called alpha men, some don’t. And dividing men into alphas and betas is a gross simplification of human character. Men are more complex than such naive categorization would suggest.

    Low-carb diet — obesity is a problem, but I don’t believe carb content is a strong determinant. Instead it’s the activity level, the sitting lifestyle, and the total consumption level. So if you eat 5 burgers a day but you’re a lumber jack, you won’t be fat. But if you sit in a cubicle all day and you eat as if you were a lumber jack, you’ll need to be forklifted out of your home one day.

    80/20 principle/Parkinson’s Law — not sure what this is all about. But I believe we do waste a lot of time at work. We don’t have to work 40 hours a week to be properly productive.

    Transhumanism — neutral. If there is a safe way to implant something, why not? The problem is I don’t foresee any safe implants any time soon. As for vitamins and other bullshit like that to extend life, good luck with that. Life length is determined by something deeper than the flesh (like I said before, I reject scientific materialism). But I am not against experimenting. If some things are found to extend life, we’ll need to lower our birth rates to compensate. And if this isn’t done in a way that’s socially fair, it will be explosive.

    Technological singularity — hype. AI will never happen. Currently Marvin Minsky at MIT AI Lab can’t even formulate a working definition of intelligence. It’s going nowhere.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    "I reject scientific materialism as a worldview..."

    Then how can you say that you "agree with the latest scientific consensus" on AGW?

    "Other qualities are also important for success, such as tenacity and fearlessness, or alternatively tact and keeping a low profile, lack of ego, depending on the strategy."

    These qualities are much more difficult to measure than IQ. How are you going to measure tenacity? By asking people how tenacious they are? A lot of them will lie. But if a person can find the right answers to a bunch of logical problems, he's showing us something real, a real ability. That's useful data. The qualities you listed ARE important. I think that the best way to study them is by looking at ethnic stereotypes, i.e. folk wisdom. But people are often selectively blinded by nationalisms, liberalism and other ideologies. All surveys of opinions have problems of a type that IQ tests lack. The reason why you hear more about IQ gaps than about honesty or egoism gaps is that it's much easier to get good data on IQ than on egoism, ability to work hard, etc. Either the subject can solve a problem or he cannot. Opinions, desires, egos, ideologies - all that squishy stuff becomes irrelevant.

    "True Intelligence is extremely complex and cannot be rightly measured by IQ tests."

    IQ tests measure the main outward manifestation of intelligence - the ability to solve problems. I can come up with lots of other examples where a very complex system has outward manifestations that are easy to measure. Atmospheric temperature, a human being's pulse rate, etc. Yes, understanding the inner workings of the brain will be difficult. But giving people brain teasers and tabulating the results isn't. And yet, just like atmospheric temp measurements, this activity gives us useful info.

    "genotype is not of much importance to me. Beliefs, esp. core beliefs, and psychological programming is where it’s at."

    How do you know that? What are your arguments for that view?

    "Women are individuals and they don’t all prize the same quality in men."

    There is much, much less variability in women than in men. Nature makes almost all of its experiments on males because each individual male is more expendable in the evolutionary sense than each individual female. So most morons, geniuses, weirdos, heroes, victims of birth defects, etc. are men. Also, women are far more conformist than men. They want to do what they see others do to a much greater extent than men. This has been true in all time periods and in all cultures that I am aware of. Because of these two things - less biological variability and more conformity - generalizations about women are much more likely to be true than generalizations about men.

    "And dividing men into alphas and betas is a gross simplification of human character."

    Is dividing all colors into blue, green, red, yellow, etc. a gross simplification of the color spectrum? Sure. But it's still useful.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • prosa123 [AKA "ironrailsironweights"] says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Only as long as they're not the obvious Straussian ones about the wiggling nose or the nice fake nails.

    In last night’s episode of Girls on HBO a wealthy venture capitalist tried to use Game on one of the titular characters and failed miserably.

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  • charly says: • Website
    @charly
    Korean system wasn't that fucked up (see Zaire for a really fucked up system). But you simply can beat the network effect. And if you loose your network than you are fucked up.

    But AK, please explain why Japanese Koreans have a lower IQ than South Koreans or even Japanese.

    This sounds to pro North Korean. What i wanted to say is that it was an average Comecon country which lost its network with the collapse of communism. It at least seems to be ruled with the intention to develop the country, unlike for example Zaire.

    One can argue that the country would develop better with another government because than the embargo would be lifted but i will not hold that against any government as self preservation is always the primary directive of states

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  • charly says: • Website
    @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea is indeed a perfect illustration that no matter how fucked up a political/economic system you have, the genetic component will still make itself very strongly felt.

    Ironically, had Koreans been less intelligent and/or less socially conformist, the regime would have probably long since disintegrated from total collapse of basic infrastructure and discipline.

    Korean system wasn’t that fucked up (see Zaire for a really fucked up system). But you simply can beat the network effect. And if you loose your network than you are fucked up.

    But AK, please explain why Japanese Koreans have a lower IQ than South Koreans or even Japanese.

    Read More
    • Replies: @charly
    This sounds to pro North Korean. What i wanted to say is that it was an average Comecon country which lost its network with the collapse of communism. It at least seems to be ruled with the intention to develop the country, unlike for example Zaire.

    One can argue that the country would develop better with another government because than the embargo would be lifted but i will not hold that against any government as self preservation is always the primary directive of states

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @prosa123
    Game is losing its effectiveness because more and more women have caught onto it. When a man starts negging a woman in a nightclub the chances are very good that she knows exactly what he's doing.

    Only as long as they’re not the obvious Straussian ones about the wiggling nose or the nice fake nails.

    Read More
    • Replies: @prosa123
    In last night's episode of Girls on HBO a wealthy venture capitalist tried to use Game on one of the titular characters and failed miserably.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Glossy
    Peak oil: I don't know enough to say anything intelligent about it, but will say stuff anyway. I started reading newspapers and magazines sometime in the mid-1980s. Peak oil (though not under that name, not in Russian anyway) was already a big topic then. I remember reading as a kid, considerably more than 15 years ago, that there was 15 years' worth of oil left in the world. I also remember seeing a collection of quotes, one from every decade of the 20th century, about the impending end of oil. I don't know how widespread this idea was in the 1910s though - it would be interesting to find this out. All I know for sure is that it was about as widespread in the 1980s, 90s and the 00s as it is in this decade. In general people have always loved impending-disaster ideas. The end is coming. Of course it still could be. I don't know anything about geology, so who am I to say?

    AGW: The world is warming, but why? There have been bigger upswings and downswings in the past. Again, I don't know the details, so I can imagine the AGW enthusiasts being right. Or wrong.

    Limits to growth: more end-of-the-world stuff. I'm suspicious of it in general. People obviously want it to be true. If you take religion from a man, he'll reinvent it in every little particular under other names. Humanity has sinned and must repent! Of course even a broken clock can yadda yadda yadda.

    Intelligence theory: I do know enough about this to judge, and yes, it's all true.

    HBD: same thing.

    Game: same thing.

    Low-carb diet: don't know enough to judge.

    80/20 principle/ Parkinson's Law: seems reasonable.

    Transhumanism: not in our lifetimes, don't know if ever. The more I deal with medicine, the more shocked I am about how little useful knowledge there is in it. Forget about the brain, the most complicated mechanism ever observed - they don't even know what to do with the common cold or male pattern baldness. The following has been generally true in my experience: if a 10-year-old won't understand the mechqanisms involved (I'm thinking of anything more complicated than setting bones or picking out glasses), the medical profession won't understand it either. Sure, there are some exceptions. But it's a good rule of thumb to have in mind.

    Technological singularity: not in our lifetimes, not 10 generations after us either. 100 generations? Don't know.

    “The more I deal with medicine, the more shocked I am about how little useful knowledge there is in it” – My experiences with doctors (and what I’ve heard from others) has convinced me that doctors are to be avoided if at all possible. They’re good for certain things, like setting broken bones or other “mechanical repair” type of work, but most of them are clueless dealing with anything chronic or ambiguous.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • prosa123 [AKA "ironrailsironweights"] says: • Website

    Game is losing its effectiveness because more and more women have caught onto it. When a man starts negging a woman in a nightclub the chances are very good that she knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Only as long as they're not the obvious Straussian ones about the wiggling nose or the nice fake nails.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Glossy
    A statistical correlation between mean IQ and GDP has been shown. That's not the same as an absolute law of nature. Nobody is claiming that the correlation coefficient is 1. Life is complicated. Lots of factors besides IQ affect GDP. But yes, data shows that mean IQ is one of the factors that's correlated with GDP in a statistically-significant way.

    In regards to North Korea: how's that Sudanese nuclear weapons program coming along? Any 100-story hotels put up with the help of local engineering talent? Come to think of it, did even any of Dubai's high-rise projects use local engineering talent? If the US government ever became so displeased with Congo-Brazzaville as to wish to contain it, how many troops would it need to use? 400? 4,000? 40,000? How long would they have to stay? How much money would have to be spent on this?

    North Korea is indeed a perfect illustration that no matter how fucked up a political/economic system you have, the genetic component will still make itself very strongly felt.

    Ironically, had Koreans been less intelligent and/or less socially conformist, the regime would have probably long since disintegrated from total collapse of basic infrastructure and discipline.

    Read More
    • Replies: @charly
    Korean system wasn't that fucked up (see Zaire for a really fucked up system). But you simply can beat the network effect. And if you loose your network than you are fucked up.

    But AK, please explain why Japanese Koreans have a lower IQ than South Koreans or even Japanese.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Glossy says: • Website
    @charly
    Problem with HBD is that real world numbers don't show it. Take for instance Koreans. North & South should have the same intelligence and Japanese Koreans should be smarter than both because of selection effects. But in the real world South Koreans are a lot smarter than North or Japanese Koreans.

    A statistical correlation between mean IQ and GDP has been shown. That’s not the same as an absolute law of nature. Nobody is claiming that the correlation coefficient is 1. Life is complicated. Lots of factors besides IQ affect GDP. But yes, data shows that mean IQ is one of the factors that’s correlated with GDP in a statistically-significant way.

    In regards to North Korea: how’s that Sudanese nuclear weapons program coming along? Any 100-story hotels put up with the help of local engineering talent? Come to think of it, did even any of Dubai’s high-rise projects use local engineering talent? If the US government ever became so displeased with Congo-Brazzaville as to wish to contain it, how many troops would it need to use? 400? 4,000? 40,000? How long would they have to stay? How much money would have to be spent on this?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    North Korea is indeed a perfect illustration that no matter how fucked up a political/economic system you have, the genetic component will still make itself very strongly felt.

    Ironically, had Koreans been less intelligent and/or less socially conformist, the regime would have probably long since disintegrated from total collapse of basic infrastructure and discipline.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Glossy says: • Website

    Peak oil: I don’t know enough to say anything intelligent about it, but will say stuff anyway. I started reading newspapers and magazines sometime in the mid-1980s. Peak oil (though not under that name, not in Russian anyway) was already a big topic then. I remember reading as a kid, considerably more than 15 years ago, that there was 15 years’ worth of oil left in the world. I also remember seeing a collection of quotes, one from every decade of the 20th century, about the impending end of oil. I don’t know how widespread this idea was in the 1910s though – it would be interesting to find this out. All I know for sure is that it was about as widespread in the 1980s, 90s and the 00s as it is in this decade. In general people have always loved impending-disaster ideas. The end is coming. Of course it still could be. I don’t know anything about geology, so who am I to say?

    AGW: The world is warming, but why? There have been bigger upswings and downswings in the past. Again, I don’t know the details, so I can imagine the AGW enthusiasts being right. Or wrong.

    Limits to growth: more end-of-the-world stuff. I’m suspicious of it in general. People obviously want it to be true. If you take religion from a man, he’ll reinvent it in every little particular under other names. Humanity has sinned and must repent! Of course even a broken clock can yadda yadda yadda.

    Intelligence theory: I do know enough about this to judge, and yes, it’s all true.

    HBD: same thing.

    Game: same thing.

    Low-carb diet: don’t know enough to judge.

    80/20 principle/ Parkinson’s Law: seems reasonable.

    Transhumanism: not in our lifetimes, don’t know if ever. The more I deal with medicine, the more shocked I am about how little useful knowledge there is in it. Forget about the brain, the most complicated mechanism ever observed – they don’t even know what to do with the common cold or male pattern baldness. The following has been generally true in my experience: if a 10-year-old won’t understand the mechqanisms involved (I’m thinking of anything more complicated than setting bones or picking out glasses), the medical profession won’t understand it either. Sure, there are some exceptions. But it’s a good rule of thumb to have in mind.

    Technological singularity: not in our lifetimes, not 10 generations after us either. 100 generations? Don’t know.

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    • Replies: @Scowspi
    "The more I deal with medicine, the more shocked I am about how little useful knowledge there is in it" - My experiences with doctors (and what I've heard from others) has convinced me that doctors are to be avoided if at all possible. They're good for certain things, like setting broken bones or other "mechanical repair" type of work, but most of them are clueless dealing with anything chronic or ambiguous.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Agreed with PO (@ Georges de La Tour: the Saudis have been pumping sea water into al Ghawar oil field for a few years now so they are panicking), AGW, LTG, Intelligence Theory, Low-carb diet, Transhumanism and 80/20 principle / Parkinson’s Law. There’s a corollary of Parkinson’s Law called Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. This says time spent on debating and deciding on an issue is in inverse proportion to the expense (and maybe also the technical issues) involved. So we not only stretch work out but most of that work isn’t even that important in the first place.

    Agree with Charly that HBD is not that important and as for Technological Singularity, that quote from John Good reminds me of stories about the IBM Chariman Thomas Watson who in 1943 said that there would be a world market for five computers, and Bill Gates who said in 1981 that 640K ought to be enough for anyone.

    As for “Game”, to me that’s part of Intelligence Theory. It may be possible to teach or persuade most young women through education or alternative forms of pop cultural brainwashing that beta males are better than alpha males.

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  • charly says: • Website

    Problem with HBD is that real world numbers don’t show it. Take for instance Koreans. North & South should have the same intelligence and Japanese Koreans should be smarter than both because of selection effects. But in the real world South Koreans are a lot smarter than North or Japanese Koreans.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    A statistical correlation between mean IQ and GDP has been shown. That's not the same as an absolute law of nature. Nobody is claiming that the correlation coefficient is 1. Life is complicated. Lots of factors besides IQ affect GDP. But yes, data shows that mean IQ is one of the factors that's correlated with GDP in a statistically-significant way.

    In regards to North Korea: how's that Sudanese nuclear weapons program coming along? Any 100-story hotels put up with the help of local engineering talent? Come to think of it, did even any of Dubai's high-rise projects use local engineering talent? If the US government ever became so displeased with Congo-Brazzaville as to wish to contain it, how many troops would it need to use? 400? 4,000? 40,000? How long would they have to stay? How much money would have to be spent on this?

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Anatoly,

    I have voted for all except the Limits of Growth and the Technological Singularity. I am not sure I quite understand what the last means. Does it mean that once a machine with actual cognitive intelligence is developed humanity will become superfluous?

    By the way on the subject of Game I have experience of its truth. As a weedy and bespectacled youth I had great difficulty getting girls to take me seriously. By contrast classic Alpha males amongst my peers seemed to have no such difficulty. However I would say in fairness that things did improve in later life but then my appearance also changed. In my opinion women are as affected by manner and appearance in men as men are (and why shouldn't they be?).

    The best “manifesto” of the TS is probably Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near (that link, and the WIki article on the TS, are both informative).

    The basic idea is that:
    (1) Evolution now predominantly occurs on the cognitive realm (the “noosphere), as opposed to biology.
    (2) This evolution is progressing at an exponential rate (the well-known Moore’s Law is but one reflection of this).
    (3) Human brains can in theory be computationally modeled, and in practice they will eventually be “augmented” (creating cyborgs), or uploaded entirely onto silicon subtrates (human-machine mergence).
    (4) At some point, machine (or cyborg) intelligence will reach a critical mass, such that it takes over as the driver of technological development. Unimproved humans will be passive and bewildered observations, much like the animal kingdom in relation to industrial civilization.
    (5) The pace of this development will be far faster than now, as machines will be able to improve themselves in a recursive loop – though eventually, expansion will likely hit upon some hard universal limits.

    So yes, humanity will become superfluous according to TS theorists. But this is of now concern as it’s just a continuation of evolution, and in any case, humans can choose to join the party or not.

    My own view is that many TS concepts are valid, but I am skeptical of the unbounded technoutopianism that permeates the movement. They tend to dismiss stuff like PO, AGW, and LTG on the basis that technology will solve all problems anyway, and their predictions have tended to be more optimistic than not on timescales (e.g. Kurzweil predicted eyeglasses with full-immersion audio-visual virtual reality by 2010, whereas in fact 2015-2020 is looking likelier).

    As regards conventional game theory, one of the key lessons is that for guys, manners (as in character) massively trump looks almost every time. The reverse isn’t the case: Guys judge chicks on their looks, regardless of any platitudes to the contrary (this BTW is why obesity is inestimably worse for women than for men in social terms).

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Anatoly,

    On a wholly unconnected subject, is that Pobedonostsev whose picture is appearing on your Facebook page?

    Yes!

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  • @AG
    Wow, I actually agree with every thing except skeptism about global warming.

    So if you don’t agree with skepticism about AGW, then… you agree with AGW? Well, then you agree with everything on that list then!

    (I consider AGW both valid and a serious long-term threat to stability).

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  • Dear Anatoly,

    On a wholly unconnected subject, is that Pobedonostsev whose picture is appearing on your Facebook page?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Yes!
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Dear Anatoly,

    I have voted for all except the Limits of Growth and the Technological Singularity. I am not sure I quite understand what the last means. Does it mean that once a machine with actual cognitive intelligence is developed humanity will become superfluous?

    By the way on the subject of Game I have experience of its truth. As a weedy and bespectacled youth I had great difficulty getting girls to take me seriously. By contrast classic Alpha males amongst my peers seemed to have no such difficulty. However I would say in fairness that things did improve in later life but then my appearance also changed. In my opinion women are as affected by manner and appearance in men as men are (and why shouldn’t they be?).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    The best "manifesto" of the TS is probably Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near (that link, and the WIki article on the TS, are both informative).

    The basic idea is that:
    (1) Evolution now predominantly occurs on the cognitive realm (the "noosphere), as opposed to biology.
    (2) This evolution is progressing at an exponential rate (the well-known Moore's Law is but one reflection of this).
    (3) Human brains can in theory be computationally modeled, and in practice they will eventually be "augmented" (creating cyborgs), or uploaded entirely onto silicon subtrates (human-machine mergence).
    (4) At some point, machine (or cyborg) intelligence will reach a critical mass, such that it takes over as the driver of technological development. Unimproved humans will be passive and bewildered observations, much like the animal kingdom in relation to industrial civilization.
    (5) The pace of this development will be far faster than now, as machines will be able to improve themselves in a recursive loop - though eventually, expansion will likely hit upon some hard universal limits.

    So yes, humanity will become superfluous according to TS theorists. But this is of now concern as it's just a continuation of evolution, and in any case, humans can choose to join the party or not.

    My own view is that many TS concepts are valid, but I am skeptical of the unbounded technoutopianism that permeates the movement. They tend to dismiss stuff like PO, AGW, and LTG on the basis that technology will solve all problems anyway, and their predictions have tended to be more optimistic than not on timescales (e.g. Kurzweil predicted eyeglasses with full-immersion audio-visual virtual reality by 2010, whereas in fact 2015-2020 is looking likelier).

    As regards conventional game theory, one of the key lessons is that for guys, manners (as in character) massively trump looks almost every time. The reverse isn't the case: Guys judge chicks on their looks, regardless of any platitudes to the contrary (this BTW is why obesity is inestimably worse for women than for men in social terms).

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • One thing which strikes me is that most of these ideas (at least as currently packaged – some have been around forever in some guise or other) appear to be products of the Internet age. Given the taboo or polarizing nature of many of them, traditional media shy away from discussion, which creates a gap filled by Internet sites and commenters.

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  • Wow, I actually agree with every thing except skeptism about global warming.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    So if you don't agree with skepticism about AGW, then... you agree with AGW? Well, then you agree with everything on that list then!

    (I consider AGW both valid and a serious long-term threat to stability).

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @georgesdelatour
    Anatoly - I think most of us have more nuanced opinions than a poll can show.

    1. Peak Oil - true (sort of). Depends when we hit the point of decline, where most of the remaining oil is, and the politics of those countries. I'd love the Saudis to run out of oil completely tomorrow: they've used the money to spread their rebarbative version of Islam far and wide. I can't imagine an oil-rich Brazil will be as anything like as bad. I'll take carnival and samba over burqas and decapitation, thanks.

    2. AGW - true (sort of). Depends what the climate sensitivity to CO2 is. I suspect it's lower than the IPCC three degrees, and there's more chaotic natural variability in the climate system than we've allowed for. On the other hand, methane release could accelerate warming more than predicted.

    (My big problem with some CAGW advocates is, they're "deniers" about energy science - about the fundamental facts of energy density and the energy needs of modern societies.)

    3. Limits to Growth - true (sort of). Rare earth metals etc are "a" limit, but they're not "the" limit. If we're clever enough we can substitute, recycle, mine the moon and asteroids...

    You are FOR or TRUE on all three of those.

    For instance, in most circles the very notion of PO or LTG is so radical that anyone who believes the theories are valid, no matter how many nuances or caveats they attach to them, should count them as FOR/TRUE for the purpose of this poll.

    Said caveats and nuances are for the comments. :) The poll is because I am genuinely interested in the views of my readers.

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  • Anatoly – I think most of us have more nuanced opinions than a poll can show.

    1. Peak Oil – true (sort of). Depends when we hit the point of decline, where most of the remaining oil is, and the politics of those countries. I’d love the Saudis to run out of oil completely tomorrow: they’ve used the money to spread their rebarbative version of Islam far and wide. I can’t imagine an oil-rich Brazil will be as anything like as bad. I’ll take carnival and samba over burqas and decapitation, thanks.

    2. AGW – true (sort of). Depends what the climate sensitivity to CO2 is. I suspect it’s lower than the IPCC three degrees, and there’s more chaotic natural variability in the climate system than we’ve allowed for. On the other hand, methane release could accelerate warming more than predicted.

    (My big problem with some CAGW advocates is, they’re “deniers” about energy science – about the fundamental facts of energy density and the energy needs of modern societies.)

    3. Limits to Growth – true (sort of). Rare earth metals etc are “a” limit, but they’re not “the” limit. If we’re clever enough we can substitute, recycle, mine the moon and asteroids…

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    You are FOR or TRUE on all three of those.

    For instance, in most circles the very notion of PO or LTG is so radical that anyone who believes the theories are valid, no matter how many nuances or caveats they attach to them, should count them as FOR/TRUE for the purpose of this poll.

    Said caveats and nuances are for the comments. :) The poll is because I am genuinely interested in the views of my readers.

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  • As you're all aware, on April 1st 2012, more than 3 years of blogging at http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/ (S/O) came to an end. For the majority of that period - to be precise from May 13th, 2009, to March 31st, 2013 - I had an account with Google Analytics that provided me with very detailed states about...
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I find it interesting how Florida essentially has the same population as New York state but far less visits to your blog. It probably has to deal with lower education and income in Florida as well as less english speakers, although New York has a large amount of immigrants with potentially the same language barrier.

    This is only tangentially related to your post but I still remember the first time I found S/O when I was trying to find insightful analysis of geopolitics and this was one of the google search results that I decided to check out. Needless to say, S/O was a total treasure trove for me, especially your massive page of links which I believe led me to Fabius Maximus. Basically, your blogging has forever altered my intellectual course in an incredibly beneficial way.

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  • I’m curious about how Spokane made the Top 40 Cities list. I hear it’s not a very large city. Does it boast an outstanding university or an economy that attracts highly educated people such as scientists, engineers and IT workers?

    As for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane making the list, that may be partly due to the paucity of quality TV and print media in Australia. Most reporting on Russian issues is poor and relies on British sources (BBC, The Guardian, The Independent). Another possibility is that most of S/O’s Australian readers are of Russian, Serbian or other eastern European backgrounds.

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  • @Maksim Chudenko
    Did setting up a separate website for Da Russophile improve hits?

    Thanks for asking.

    Currently, daily visits are running at about 500 at Da Russophile, and 300 at AKarlin (with a lot of variance). This constitutes a huge drop from my 2000+ peak up until February 2012, but it had declined to about 750 by March anyway, once the pharma hack took away my SEO presence.

    So, no change, essentially. Hopefully gross numbers will get up to their former peak in half a year or so as I reestablish a presence on the search engines, which is where most of my visitors previously came from.

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  • Did setting up a separate website for Da Russophile improve hits?

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Thanks for asking.

    Currently, daily visits are running at about 500 at Da Russophile, and 300 at AKarlin (with a lot of variance). This constitutes a huge drop from my 2000+ peak up until February 2012, but it had declined to about 750 by March anyway, once the pharma hack took away my SEO presence.

    So, no change, essentially. Hopefully gross numbers will get up to their former peak in half a year or so as I reestablish a presence on the search engines, which is where most of my visitors previously came from.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    All this is most interesting and also very encouraging. It shows that there is a great deal of interest in Russia and that there are many people who want to learn the truth about it. As for the success of your blog and its soaring popularity that does not surprise me at all since it is in all respects outsanding. I am always impressed by what you write and I am frankly in awe that you are able to find the time and energy to research and write it.

    PS: One little comment, rather off topic. Your move to a new site has given me an opportunity to read many of your previous posts, which you wrote before I started reading your blog about a year ago. There was an especially fine post you wrote on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi Soviet Non Aggression Pact. In it you quote extensively from a speech Stalin is supposed to have given to the Politburo in August 1939. That speech was first published in a French newspaper in I think December 1939, which in itself should make one wary of its authorship. Anyway the opening of the Soviet archives (including Stalin's personal appointments diary) has conclusively proved that this speech is a forgery and that Stalin never delivered it and that the Politburo almost certainly did not meet on the day when he is supposed to have delivered it. The arguments in the speech that the Pact was therefore some sort of cunning plan of Stalin's to play the western powers off against Germany before proceeding to the Bolshevisation of Europe after the European powers had exhausted themselves are therefore exposed as the paranoid fantasies of the forger, who I strongly suspect was a member of the White Russian emigration. There is a good though brief discussion of this speech in a recent book called Stalin's Wars (I am afraid I cannot off the top of my head remember the name of the author or publisher), which shows that the speech is definitely a forgery. That does not of course prevent various "historians" from continuing to cite it. A short while ago whilst browsing in a book shop I came across a recent book of important twentieth century speeches where it was the only speech supposedly by Stalin that was included and in which it was quoted in full.

    Thanks!

    PS. Note that you can use the Archives link on both this site and Da Russophile to easily access old posts.

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  • Dear Anatoly,

    Sorry, I notice that my comments above were limited to Da Russophile but they of course extend to every other part of the Sublime Oblivion blog as well.

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  • NYC Rules for Karlin! :)

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  • All this is most interesting and also very encouraging. It shows that there is a great deal of interest in Russia and that there are many people who want to learn the truth about it. As for the success of your blog and its soaring popularity that does not surprise me at all since it is in all respects outsanding. I am always impressed by what you write and I am frankly in awe that you are able to find the time and energy to research and write it.

    PS: One little comment, rather off topic. Your move to a new site has given me an opportunity to read many of your previous posts, which you wrote before I started reading your blog about a year ago. There was an especially fine post you wrote on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi Soviet Non Aggression Pact. In it you quote extensively from a speech Stalin is supposed to have given to the Politburo in August 1939. That speech was first published in a French newspaper in I think December 1939, which in itself should make one wary of its authorship. Anyway the opening of the Soviet archives (including Stalin’s personal appointments diary) has conclusively proved that this speech is a forgery and that Stalin never delivered it and that the Politburo almost certainly did not meet on the day when he is supposed to have delivered it. The arguments in the speech that the Pact was therefore some sort of cunning plan of Stalin’s to play the western powers off against Germany before proceeding to the Bolshevisation of Europe after the European powers had exhausted themselves are therefore exposed as the paranoid fantasies of the forger, who I strongly suspect was a member of the White Russian emigration. There is a good though brief discussion of this speech in a recent book called Stalin’s Wars (I am afraid I cannot off the top of my head remember the name of the author or publisher), which shows that the speech is definitely a forgery. That does not of course prevent various “historians” from continuing to cite it. A short while ago whilst browsing in a book shop I came across a recent book of important twentieth century speeches where it was the only speech supposedly by Stalin that was included and in which it was quoted in full.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Thanks!

    PS. Note that you can use the Archives link on both this site and Da Russophile to easily access old posts.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.