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41mWHpXBYvL._SX370_BO1,204,203,200_ A few days ago I joked on Facebook that life isn’t about the score up on the board, but standing with your team. By this, I have come to the position that when it comes to arguments and debates the details of the models and facts, and who even wins in each round, is irrelevant (barring extinction) when set against the value and gains to group cohesion. In the middle 2000s a friend advised that I should be more explicitly partisan and ideological, because that is how I could gain friends and allies in my hour of need.

In my short jaunt through Theory writ large I have finally come that conclusion as well. I am a naive realist and a positivist. I work under the assumption that there is a world out there, that that world out there manifests itself in the order we see when we decompose it with analysis and empirical methods. As long as I kept my eyes on prize, the “score,” I felt at peace.

This was dangerously naive. Whereas before I had worked under the hypothesis that my interlocutors were falling prey to cognitive biases when they engaged in ad hominem or logical fallacy, I am now coming to suspect that one some level they are aware that they are engaging in the dialectics of ultimate victory. Every battle they lose is simply another opportunity to shore up their forces in future battles. Just like Rome against Hannibal, their contention that the structure of human society, rather than the world “out there,” is determinative, may very well be true in relation to all that matters.

9780195335613 Years ago I laughed at D. Jason Slone’s satirical tongue-in-cheek take on “discourse” and “Theory” in Theological Incorrectness: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn’t. Slone was working in a positivist and analytic tradition which attempted to understand religious phenomena on a rational level, to turn it into another phenomenon among phenomena. But with all due respect, Slone works in relative obscurity more than a decade later, while some of the people he mocked for being wrong walk hallowed halls. Who was truly right in all that matters in this world?

Slone knew the score. His side easily runs up the points. But while his side, my side, focuses on the banality of reality, their side, the other side, works to secure victory in the hearts of men. When you have gained master over human sentiment, you gain mastery over human action.

As an illustration of this, consider this piece in Vox, A new school year. A new fight against affirmative action. This time at Harvard. People make fun of Vox, but I believe that the people running it actually do think empirics matters. They attempt analysis. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to who and whom.

The Vox piece interviews a professor OiYan A. Poon, who expresses views typical of a certain segment of the professional Asian American intelligentsia. I say professional Asian American in the sense that these individuals are professionals at being Asian American, at being the Asian American voice among progressive cultural elites. Their Asianness is almost incidental to their identity, which steeped in what might be the termed the discourse of white supremacy, predicated on cross-identity alliances against Oppression.

At this point I might “fisk” Poon’s assertions, many of which don’t bear even superficial scrutiny, or her assertion that Asians who oppose her politics are basically stooges of white people without any independent agency. But that’s not the point of this piece at Vox. It’s not to explore facts, it’s to reinforce narratives. The author of the piece engages in no critical rationalism, no attempt to actually probe the assertions Poon makes, because Poon is on the right side, the right team. The interview is an exercise in team building, not an attempt to describe the real world that would hold up to any deep scrutiny. The people at Vox probably don’t see it this way, because the shape of reality has already been determined, the terms of have been set.

They believe because it is absurd. They make the leap of faith.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Ideology 
    []
  1. Spandrell says: • Website

    The Christian exhortation to have “faith” as a virtue started to make a lot of sense to me once I understood this point some time ago.

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  2. I had same reaction reading that piece. Was difficult to read through as I kept expecting at least some throw away line acknowledging the arguments on other side. Oh well.

    To larger point, I never got my head around idea of social group cohesion being so central to human cognition until I could give it some sort of evolutionary psychological underpinning. Even if he’s wrong, David Sloan Wilson’s ideas were the first to help me (personally) get there. Though by now I find the Joseph Heinrich gene-culture framework seems far more plausible and useful in explaining what’s going on.

    The writing advice of the first restating your opponents arguments clearly and conceding a few of points now makes more sense. You have to establish some group solidarity first before even attempting any kind of argument. You see it done best in how Scott Alexander writes at Slatestarcodex I think. Not a style of writing everyone finds worth attempting. But certainly his writing style makes more sense to me than it did a few years back. Of course people rarely ever change their mind about politicized ideas. But if that is your goal, it’s how to do it. It’s really the subtext of his post on how to write like him

    http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/02/20/writing-advice/

    Read More
  3. tbell says:

    You had me worried for a moment here. Please don’t leave ever leave Team Honest Inquiry for Team Mastery. I doubt we agree about many social issues but it’s precisely because you so rarely engage in point scoring and signaling that I value your perspective and analysis.

    Read More
  4. notanon says:

    I think life tries to find the optimum and it will get there eventually – despite many hurdles.

    Read More
  5. They believe because it is absurd.

    Are you reversing Voltaire’s maxim? They believe absurdities to signal that they will commit atrocities? This seems different from the rest of your post, which seems to be saying that people believe absurdities because they are convenient excuses for favoring their team in the short term; in contrast to believing absurdities to increase asabiyah. They could both be true, but it seemed like a jump to a different topic in the last paragraph.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credo_quia_absurdum
  6. Robert Ford says: • Website

    Once I saw that even other hbd people won’t listen to you then I realized how bad it is. I do feel limited in my ability for deep understanding because I have limited cognitive capacity but I at least try to be objective. I can’t say that for most other people.

    Read More
  7. jtgw says: • Website

    Are you saying you changed your view on reality? That you no longer believe in objective reality, but rather than reality is constructed by human prejudice and the desire for social cohesion? Or are you simply conceding that most arguments have the aim of reinforcing that cohesion, rather than discovering what is really out there? I suspect the latter, but I hope you can confirm that.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    the latter. and i always believed this. but reading 'post modern' stuff in the original makes it more clear to me why this set of thinkers and people influenced by this thought seem to abrogate all rules of dialogue so casually (this is not a feature of what i may perhaps term the 'positivist left,' which includes most scientists).
  8. Matt says:

    Great article. But because the professor would have a very small audience does it really matter what her narrative is?

    In the FT the other week:

    In the end Bruce Springsteen won. On the Mount Rushmore of 1980s stadium-scale stardom, there are musicians more famous (Michael Jackson), more lavishly skilled (Prince) and more adaptable to trends (Madonna). But only one saw where his country and the rich world were going, which is why Born to Run, the memoir he publishes next month and previewed this week, feels — in that coveted accolade of the rock community — “relevant”.

    Rock stars and reality TV stars, with their massive audiences, have a huge advantage over the intelligentsia.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Rock stars and reality TV stars, with their massive audiences, have a huge advantage over the intelligentsia.

    pop culture is a reflection of high culture. the views of pop culture now reflect a lot of critical race theory.
    , @notanon

    In the FT the other week:

    In the end Bruce Springsteen won.
     
    Yes, he helped the FT by black-pilling the rustbelt millions into not fighting back and choosing the slow motion suicide option instead - opiodes for the masses.
  9. While it is true I think that the vast majority of interpersonal human political action can be correctly described as tribal social signaling, if you are sincere in your stated political beliefs this is a really, really terrible dynamic. I say this because in a pluralistic liberal democracy you’re going to have to at least sometimes convince people who do not share all of your priors – people who are not diametrically opposed to “your side” but who are also not of your tribe – that your course of action is the correct one. This is impossible to do if you define political action as narrowly as the current Tumblr generation does – only speaking to the tribe, and meeting those who disagree with snark and derision. Or to flip it to examine the right wing, it’s well known that even if a pundit makes nothing but demonstrably bad calls they can make a living for the rest of their life on “wingnut welfare” – which means the institutional conservative movement has few incentives to alter behavior.

    I suppose as I get older I become ever more cynical about the political process. It’s clear to me now, for example, while “office politics” is often derided, it is actually a much clearer manifestation of what human political instinct is good for then what happens in the public sphere. Perhaps in our post-human future if we’re lucky AI can take care of the policy for us, leaving us to that which better suits our nature.

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  10. Realistically, I think the NYT incident is a signal that any attempt to side with the left probably won’t work, especially because a Hillary victory would likely mean an attempt to crack down on “hate speech” and “harassment” online, and your past heresies are too great. Your best bet is to try to catch on as “articulate token brown guy” at one of the bigger conservative websites like Breitbart, kind of like how Milo is a token gay guy. Since Hillary has seen fit to explicitly target the alt right, in spite of the relative obscurity of even its bigger names, trying to fly under the radar as a thought criminal is becoming more difficult and dangerous. The Trump campaign has done a lot to destroy the media’s credibility in the eyes of the public, putting us in a situation in which a lot of powerful and nasty people feel their power threatened while still retaining the resources to persecute those they dislike. I wish you well in your quest to find strong allies, because I really respect what you do.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I think the NYT incident is a signal that any attempt to side with the left probably won’t work

    why would i side with the left? i'm on the right, and always have been. your comment misunderstands what i'm saying if you think i'm looking for a side. i have a side. it's just not a totalistic or very important aspect of my personality.

    Your best bet is to try to catch on as “articulate token brown guy” at one of the bigger conservative websites like Breitbart

    best bet for what? do you even know what i do for most of my life? it's not write stuff on the internet.
  11. The most important explanat6ion of the real thought of the left was written my George Orwell almost 70 years ago. An excerpt:

    The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

    RTWT:

    https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/o79n/chapter3.3.html

    Read More
    • Replies: @Megalophias
    Are you referring to the thinking of the totalitarian character, or of the socialist author?
  12. @Douglas Knight

    They believe because it is absurd.
     
    Are you reversing Voltaire's maxim? They believe absurdities to signal that they will commit atrocities? This seems different from the rest of your post, which seems to be saying that people believe absurdities because they are convenient excuses for favoring their team in the short term; in contrast to believing absurdities to increase asabiyah. They could both be true, but it seemed like a jump to a different topic in the last paragraph.
    Read More
  13. @Obamadon_Imbecilis
    Realistically, I think the NYT incident is a signal that any attempt to side with the left probably won't work, especially because a Hillary victory would likely mean an attempt to crack down on "hate speech" and "harassment" online, and your past heresies are too great. Your best bet is to try to catch on as "articulate token brown guy" at one of the bigger conservative websites like Breitbart, kind of like how Milo is a token gay guy. Since Hillary has seen fit to explicitly target the alt right, in spite of the relative obscurity of even its bigger names, trying to fly under the radar as a thought criminal is becoming more difficult and dangerous. The Trump campaign has done a lot to destroy the media's credibility in the eyes of the public, putting us in a situation in which a lot of powerful and nasty people feel their power threatened while still retaining the resources to persecute those they dislike. I wish you well in your quest to find strong allies, because I really respect what you do.

    I think the NYT incident is a signal that any attempt to side with the left probably won’t work

    why would i side with the left? i’m on the right, and always have been. your comment misunderstands what i’m saying if you think i’m looking for a side. i have a side. it’s just not a totalistic or very important aspect of my personality.

    Your best bet is to try to catch on as “articulate token brown guy” at one of the bigger conservative websites like Breitbart

    best bet for what? do you even know what i do for most of my life? it’s not write stuff on the internet.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Obamadon_Imbecilis
    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't mind if you spent most of your life writing stuff on the internet, on the grounds that you're one of few people actually good at it. I apologize if I'm just wishing out loud for something you have no interest in.
  14. @Matt
    Great article. But because the professor would have a very small audience does it really matter what her narrative is?

    In the FT the other week:

    In the end Bruce Springsteen won. On the Mount Rushmore of 1980s stadium-scale stardom, there are musicians more famous (Michael Jackson), more lavishly skilled (Prince) and more adaptable to trends (Madonna). But only one saw where his country and the rich world were going, which is why Born to Run, the memoir he publishes next month and previewed this week, feels — in that coveted accolade of the rock community — “relevant”.

    Rock stars and reality TV stars, with their massive audiences, have a huge advantage over the intelligentsia.

    Rock stars and reality TV stars, with their massive audiences, have a huge advantage over the intelligentsia.

    pop culture is a reflection of high culture. the views of pop culture now reflect a lot of critical race theory.

    Read More
  15. @jtgw
    Are you saying you changed your view on reality? That you no longer believe in objective reality, but rather than reality is constructed by human prejudice and the desire for social cohesion? Or are you simply conceding that most arguments have the aim of reinforcing that cohesion, rather than discovering what is really out there? I suspect the latter, but I hope you can confirm that.

    the latter. and i always believed this. but reading ‘post modern’ stuff in the original makes it more clear to me why this set of thinkers and people influenced by this thought seem to abrogate all rules of dialogue so casually (this is not a feature of what i may perhaps term the ‘positivist left,’ which includes most scientists).

    Read More
  16. People make fun of Vox, but I believe that the people running it actually do think empirics matters. They attempt analysis. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to who and whom.

    Indeed—I think Vox writers on subjects where “who? whom?” is less important, like Timothy Lee on economics or Andrew Prokop on horse race politics, tend to be more interesting and empirically minded than writers like Victoria Massie, author of the linked piece.

    Read More
  17. @Walter Sobchak
    The most important explanat6ion of the real thought of the left was written my George Orwell almost 70 years ago. An excerpt:

    The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
     
    RTWT:

    https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/o79n/chapter3.3.html

    Are you referring to the thinking of the totalitarian character, or of the socialist author?

    Read More
  18. @Razib Khan
    I think the NYT incident is a signal that any attempt to side with the left probably won’t work

    why would i side with the left? i'm on the right, and always have been. your comment misunderstands what i'm saying if you think i'm looking for a side. i have a side. it's just not a totalistic or very important aspect of my personality.

    Your best bet is to try to catch on as “articulate token brown guy” at one of the bigger conservative websites like Breitbart

    best bet for what? do you even know what i do for most of my life? it's not write stuff on the internet.

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn’t mind if you spent most of your life writing stuff on the internet, on the grounds that you’re one of few people actually good at it. I apologize if I’m just wishing out loud for something you have no interest in.

    Read More
    • Agree: theo the kraut
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Fair enuf.
    , @theo the kraut
    It dawned on me in the last year only that praising the emperor's new clothes enforces group cohesion, the emperor just being a totem pole the courtiers dance around. SJWs are a bit like the Mafia where the novice has to kill or rob somebody to become a (not overly) trusted accomplice, the crime being a performative act. As a made man he can't afford to ever let down his guard else the others will pounce on him, same with the SJW. Pretty depressing, living in Merkel-Land I'm really frightened--you can't get to them, all that is left is organising your side, mostly by helping them to overcome the fear of the democratic tyranny that Tocqueville wrote about. As a leftist activist in the 80ies I was terribly naive.
    , @Robert Ford
    agree! no one else has the breadth, depth of knowledge combined with the judgment and courage so say what should be said. some have one or two of those but can't think of any other public communicators that have produced a body of work like The Great Khan.
  19. @Obamadon_Imbecilis
    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't mind if you spent most of your life writing stuff on the internet, on the grounds that you're one of few people actually good at it. I apologize if I'm just wishing out loud for something you have no interest in.

    Fair enuf.

    Read More
  20. @Obamadon_Imbecilis
    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't mind if you spent most of your life writing stuff on the internet, on the grounds that you're one of few people actually good at it. I apologize if I'm just wishing out loud for something you have no interest in.

    It dawned on me in the last year only that praising the emperor’s new clothes enforces group cohesion, the emperor just being a totem pole the courtiers dance around. SJWs are a bit like the Mafia where the novice has to kill or rob somebody to become a (not overly) trusted accomplice, the crime being a performative act. As a made man he can’t afford to ever let down his guard else the others will pounce on him, same with the SJW. Pretty depressing, living in Merkel-Land I’m really frightened–you can’t get to them, all that is left is organising your side, mostly by helping them to overcome the fear of the democratic tyranny that Tocqueville wrote about. As a leftist activist in the 80ies I was terribly naive.

    Read More
  21. Robert Ford says: • Website
    @Obamadon_Imbecilis
    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't mind if you spent most of your life writing stuff on the internet, on the grounds that you're one of few people actually good at it. I apologize if I'm just wishing out loud for something you have no interest in.

    agree! no one else has the breadth, depth of knowledge combined with the judgment and courage so say what should be said. some have one or two of those but can’t think of any other public communicators that have produced a body of work like The Great Khan.

    Read More
  22. Vinay says:

    ” It’s not to explore facts, it’s to reinforce narratives”

    I’m not sure that this is necessarily a disingenuous undertaking. *All* narratives need to be reinforced because there are always facts which seemingly run counter to the narrative. If your narrative is “right”, then most of these would be misleading distractions and people need some short-hand way of protecting themselves from these refutations.

    I guess what I’m saying is,
    a) purely considering every argument on its merits, regardless of “who-whom”, is more likely to lead you to chase down chimeras than bring enlightenment, and
    b) the Poons and Voxes of the world simply raise the barrier a bit for changing the narrative, they don’t make it impervious to change.

    All that may be cold comfort if you’re the one being burnt at the stake. But spending some effort to ensure that somebody has your back doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning truth or anything like that.

    Read More
  23. to add nothing substantive to this article, what would Ted Nugent say about Prof. Poon? “Wang Dang…”

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  24. Sean says:

    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2013/december-13/mapping-mindsets.html
    Recently, we tested approximately 400 undergraduates at an elite American university. About half of them were of European descent, while the remaining half were native Asians, none of whom had spent more than 7 years in the US at the time. They filled out a series of self-report scales designed to assess their self-perception, self-esteem, and other aspects of independence, as well as their sense of interdependence. Replicating many previous studies, we found that European Americans were both more independent and less interdependent compared to Asians. Importantly, this cultural difference was quite pronounced for those Asians and European Americans who carried a high-dopamine variant of DRD4. In fact, among non-carriers of these high dopamine gene variants, the cultural difference was absent. It appears, then, that the high dopamine gene variant carriers play some kind of special role in sustaining the values and beliefs of their culture

    Asians who oppose OiYan Poon’s policies are basically recent Chinese immigrants.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Asians who oppose OiYan Poon’s policies are basically recent Chinese immigrants.



    that's what poon says. she provides no evidence. and frankly neither to do you, but that's par for the course in your case.
  25. notanon says:
    @Matt
    Great article. But because the professor would have a very small audience does it really matter what her narrative is?

    In the FT the other week:

    In the end Bruce Springsteen won. On the Mount Rushmore of 1980s stadium-scale stardom, there are musicians more famous (Michael Jackson), more lavishly skilled (Prince) and more adaptable to trends (Madonna). But only one saw where his country and the rich world were going, which is why Born to Run, the memoir he publishes next month and previewed this week, feels — in that coveted accolade of the rock community — “relevant”.

    Rock stars and reality TV stars, with their massive audiences, have a huge advantage over the intelligentsia.

    In the FT the other week:

    In the end Bruce Springsteen won.

    Yes, he helped the FT by black-pilling the rustbelt millions into not fighting back and choosing the slow motion suicide option instead – opiodes for the masses.

    Read More
  26. Tulip says:

    Plato divides the world between intelligible forms and the sensible world. Georges Sorel in his Reflections on Violence spoke of the power of myth in contrast to an understanding derived from empirical science.

    I am not clear philosophically how you can get rid of a duality between myth/forms and a world of matter, and retain the capacity to speak meaningfully about human life and politics. Further, forms/ideas are not “subjective” (as the Rationalist would have it), they are principles by which the objective world is ordered. A traffic light is a perfect example of the concrete embodiment of an idea.

    There is a dialectical struggle, but it is not resolved through debate or cannons of reason, it is resolved through politics and sometimes warfare. Further, the outcome of a battle is not subjective or culturally relative in any sense. On the other hand, the outcome of a battle does depend on “subjective” morale and determination to win, as well as the capacity of troops to cooperate and fight effectively as a unit. [Looking at nature as composed of intersecting holistic orders, language and myth can be viewed as emerging properties of human groups, and the struggle between groups is manifest in historic changes in forms of language and mythology.]

    I am inclined to say that the gods (or God) decides the fate of a battle between roughly evenly matched opponents, in the sense that it cannot be explained by simply the material causes at play, nor can it be explained by the psychological factors at play, nor necessarily the will and determination of the opposing forces, but this synthesis of matter, idea and will coming together and being weighed by the scales of the cosmos or Providence.

    I suggest you look at the writing of Joseph De Maistre if you have not already encountered them.

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  27. Tulip says:

    To paraphrase Webber’s definition of ethnos:

    1.) Myth of a common descendant;
    2.) Shared set of myths, martyrs, rites and customs;
    3.) Taboos against exogamy.

    A shared mythology and a system of taboos would appear to be the primary driver of group perpetuation and social cooperation.

    If from a Darwinian perspective, a group’s capacity to get its members to cooperate with each other and perpetuate itself gives it higher relative fertility rates over time compared to other groups, inculcating and transmitting belief in the mythology would seem to have ultimate fitness value. [Especially if the ethos includes "Be fruitful and multiply".]

    In this sense, myth and taboo would represent a “higher truth” (in terms of fitness) than scientific or technical “know-how”. On this basis, one can distinguish between religious wisdom and scientific knowledge.

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  28. @Sean

    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2013/december-13/mapping-mindsets.html
    Recently, we tested approximately 400 undergraduates at an elite American university. About half of them were of European descent, while the remaining half were native Asians, none of whom had spent more than 7 years in the US at the time. They filled out a series of self-report scales designed to assess their self-perception, self-esteem, and other aspects of independence, as well as their sense of interdependence. Replicating many previous studies, we found that European Americans were both more independent and less interdependent compared to Asians. Importantly, this cultural difference was quite pronounced for those Asians and European Americans who carried a high-dopamine variant of DRD4. In fact, among non-carriers of these high dopamine gene variants, the cultural difference was absent. It appears, then, that the high dopamine gene variant carriers play some kind of special role in sustaining the values and beliefs of their culture
     
    Asians who oppose OiYan Poon's policies are basically recent Chinese immigrants.

    Asians who oppose OiYan Poon’s policies are basically recent Chinese immigrants.

    that’s what poon says. she provides no evidence. and frankly neither to do you, but that’s par for the course in your case.

    Read More
  29. Charlotte says:

    A rigorous postmodern “right” thinker – if these labels still have any real meaning – is Alasdair MacIntyre, who is also something of a defender of the project of moral rationality. He sees rationality as a project, not a given – and though, to him, rationality is more complex and less readily universalized than earlier thinkers have assumed. he isn’t at all ready to give up attempts to dialogue across the gaps. I admit he doesn’t raise up the thymos the way Sorel, or other prophets of cleansing violence, might, but in my book that’s a good thing.

    Many people have also been reading Carl Schmitt, though I am still trying to understand why he has the reputation he does. To me his use of myth seems thin. The journal Telos might also be of interest to you.

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  30. Doug says:

    > At this point I might “fisk” Poon’s assertions, many of which don’t bear even superficial scrutiny…The author of the piece engages in no critical rationalism, no attempt to actually probe the assertions Poon makes, because Poon is on the right side, the right team.

    That’s how the writers of Vox see things, but that doesn’t mean that all, or even most of the readers of Vox think that way. Vox markets itself as a paragon of disinterested truth-seeking. And a lot of people actually believe that. It may seem ridiculous to you, as an insanely well-read, genius, who’s spent two decades intensely digesting and interpreting thorny evidence from complex problems. But put your self in the shoes of a 120-IQ conventionally educated, curious, but intellectually inexperienced 20-year old.

    You click on Vox, because as far as you’ve seen, it really does seem like the most sophisticated and accurate, fact-driven source of information out there. Yes, it skews left, but so far, nearly every intellectually impressive person you’ve ever met in your life has skewed left. You parrot what Vox tells you, not because you’re immune to contrary evidence, but rather because you’re not exposed to it at all.

    And if there’s no Razibs around, dissenting with cold hard evidence, chances are you never will be exposed to that contradictory evidence. You’re right, even the most well-documented and reasoned refutation is never going to change Vox’s mind, or anyone else from the entrenched intelligentsia. They’re not naive, they’re immune. You don’t get to that position without at least hearing the whispers from the dark side.

    But at the end of the day, they’re an admittedly prominent, but tiny fraction of the population. Please, do keep up fisking frauds like Poon. And please do keep putting it on a globally accessible, archived and public medium. You’re not going to hear about it, but there are thousands of people who have been influenced by the work you’ve done.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Spotted Toad
    Great comment.

    I can only assume that Vox has become so influential despite its recency because it is so perfectly in consonance with the spirit of the times, and understands when to make it seem as though there is still a dialogue and a dialectic and when to admit only of its own point of view. It drove me absolutely nuts when it first came out, its extreme "Everything is Already Decided" stance, and I was someone who had often enjoyed Yglesias and Klein's previous forums, even if I disagreed with them in particulars. But intellectual power, as you note, just has no real competition now- there is only one right answer on so many different issues, and there is much less competition intellectually than there is politically.
  31. Twinkie says:

    The problem with “realism” is that it often – not necessarily always, but often – degenerates into materialism, which is grossly unfulfilling for most (perhaps all) human beings.

    People need to belong, they need to feel honored by their peers, and they need myth. And for that, men even sacrifice their lives.

    “They chose honor, they chose myth”: https://youtu.be/wPg6D9D_GW4

    Or if something of more contemporary relevance is your cup of tea: https://www.amazon.com/Tribe-Homecoming-Belonging-Sebastian-Junger/dp/1455566381

    The book is by Sebastian Junger, who also made the documentary films “Restrepo” and “Korengal.”

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  32. @Doug
    > At this point I might “fisk” Poon’s assertions, many of which don’t bear even superficial scrutiny...The author of the piece engages in no critical rationalism, no attempt to actually probe the assertions Poon makes, because Poon is on the right side, the right team.

    That's how the writers of Vox see things, but that doesn't mean that all, or even most of the readers of Vox think that way. Vox markets itself as a paragon of disinterested truth-seeking. And a lot of people actually believe that. It may seem ridiculous to you, as an insanely well-read, genius, who's spent two decades intensely digesting and interpreting thorny evidence from complex problems. But put your self in the shoes of a 120-IQ conventionally educated, curious, but intellectually inexperienced 20-year old.

    You click on Vox, because as far as you've seen, it really does seem like the most sophisticated and accurate, fact-driven source of information out there. Yes, it skews left, but so far, nearly every intellectually impressive person you've ever met in your life has skewed left. You parrot what Vox tells you, not because you're immune to contrary evidence, but rather because you're not exposed to it at all.

    And if there's no Razibs around, dissenting with cold hard evidence, chances are you never will be exposed to that contradictory evidence. You're right, even the most well-documented and reasoned refutation is never going to change Vox's mind, or anyone else from the entrenched intelligentsia. They're not naive, they're immune. You don't get to that position without at least hearing the whispers from the dark side.

    But at the end of the day, they're an admittedly prominent, but tiny fraction of the population. Please, do keep up fisking frauds like Poon. And please do keep putting it on a globally accessible, archived and public medium. You're not going to hear about it, but there are thousands of people who have been influenced by the work you've done.

    Great comment.

    I can only assume that Vox has become so influential despite its recency because it is so perfectly in consonance with the spirit of the times, and understands when to make it seem as though there is still a dialogue and a dialectic and when to admit only of its own point of view. It drove me absolutely nuts when it first came out, its extreme “Everything is Already Decided” stance, and I was someone who had often enjoyed Yglesias and Klein’s previous forums, even if I disagreed with them in particulars. But intellectual power, as you note, just has no real competition now- there is only one right answer on so many different issues, and there is much less competition intellectually than there is politically.

    Read More
  33. AndyBoy says:

    I think this is basically right and worth keeping in mind. Yet, most of the advancements we’ve had over the last 500 years came from people who put truth first. Hmmm, or maybe I am overstating that. They put it first in their respective scientific field. But maybe not in other areas?

    Read More
  34. […] Razib Khan has had a similar epiphany, his one apparently being caused by his inside exposure to academic politics in the US. Razib Khan is an awesome blogger who’s been writing on history and human biodiversity for a decade already. If we were Chinese I’d call him 師傅 master and would have to be extremely polite with him. Razib knows his facts. He knows a whole lot of them. […]

    Read More

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