Random Thoughts: This I Believe

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Not so much an essay as a brief description of my views on topics discussed on the androsphere.

My views on game, HBD, and all that other controversial stuff inside.

Game

I mostly believe in Game as propounded by Roissy and others but I do not see it as a magic bullet. As with music, sport, or any other talent, seduction skills are not evenly distributed. All maestros needed training and practice but not everybody that trains and practices will become a maestro. Most, if lucky, will become “quite good.” Of course, “quite good” may be good enough.

If I have a problem with game teaching it is that some of the gurus (e.g., Mystery and Style) tend to focus on pretending to be an extroverted party guy in order to attract extroverted party girls. If you want high numbers this is your best bet, but it probably does not suit those who are introverted non-partiers. Not so much “just be yourself” as just be someone entirely different.

Nature versus Nurture.

This is not so much a battle but a cooperative venture. I believe there is a strong hereditary component to many individual traits: height, IQ, extra/introversion, aggression, levels of dominance, agreeableness, conscientiousness, etc. However, nurture can expand or depress these traits (e.g., illness or stress at crucial stages of development may stunt the growth of person whose genes would have made tall). Early success (by luck or inborn skill) may lead to greater development of certain skills while early failure (by luck or lack of inborn talent) may lead to the atrophy of certain skills. In each case, nurture may inhibit or enhance what nature provided. Early social shame may drive a naturally extroverted type into relative quietness but a talent for music might bring a naturally introverted type out of his shell.

Nature and nurture can be difficult to separate: Do jocks flunk out because they are dumb or because they spent too much time on the field? Do geeks do poorly at sport because they are clumsy or because they spent to little time on the field? I suspect it is a mixture: If you are coordinated but not particularly smart it makes sense to concentrate where your skills are. If you are uncoordinated but smart, the chess team may offer better chances of a win.

I believe that the arrival time of puberty is very important to a man’s development. Delayed puberty will likely hurt his confidence due to the years spent as the runt of the litter. Early puberty will likely give him confidence as his greater height, weight, deeper voice, and more adult look will raise his status amongst his peers. However a too early arrival of puberty may lead to problems as his physical maturity does not match his emotional maturity causing others to place responsibilities on him that he is not ready to bear.

HBD

A common them across may game related sites is HBD. HBD or Human Bio-Diversity is the theory that different groups (racial or ethnic) will have different talents and temperaments and thus different outcomes. If many traits are inherited then it should not be surprising that related individuals should tend to share those traits. Just as we are not surprised that the jock father has a jock son or the geek father has a geek son, we should not be surprised that ethnic and racial groups may share characteristics. The problem with accepting this is that most societies place more value on certain traits than others. In principle we acknowledge that “it takes all types” but in practice we favor certain traits. So while not every one needs to be super smart we do tend to revere the clever, after all dumb jock is not a form of praise. The result is that acknowledging differences tends to place groups on a hierarchy and nothing makes the public more uncomfortable than that.
[On the flip side, dorky academic is not praise either. While society in general tends to place a higher value on smarts, it may not feel that way to the geeky young man dismissed by young women.]

The Bell Curve

Murray and Herrnstein’s book created a firestorm becuase it discussed racial differences. The sad part is that such considerations are not much more than twenty percent of the book (perhaps two chapters of about 14 or 15). All the outrage missed most important points: half of us are below average, most things will be more difficult for the less intelligent, the world increasingly is structured towards and rewards those with high cognitive ability, the less intelligent will tend to make poorer decisions (especially under complexity and ambiguity).

The important point of the book is that the smart people who make policy need to consider that most of the people that live under such policies will lack their brains. Again, we need to understand that half the population is below average. We are not all going to become “knowledge workers,” symbolic analysts, or part of the “creative class.” At least half the population will be unable to make full use of a rigorous undergraduate degree. As in HBD, we value and reward smarts but feel uncomfortable that the distribution of such traits is uneven. Instead of worrying about unfairness, the “creative class” should worry about the effect of policies on the other half.

Diversity and multiculturalism

As Christianity died we needed a new religion. Diversity is that religion. As Robert Putnam described and many individual experiences testify, diversity is not a strength. It is true that project or corporate success can depend on different types (technocratic, diplomatic, charismatic, etc.) but that assumes a strong culture with clear common purpose. Society can tolerate, and may even need, the eccentrics and misfits. However, such oddballs must be a small part of the society. Society, however, needs some common purpose and shared identity. A society that shares no common mores is just a random collection of individuals. Any random collection of individuals will likely soon break down into arguments and in-fighting. In the analogy of the meting pot, spices are the seasoning not the dish. The chef will ruin the meal if he goes too heavy on the curry, salsa, or soy.

Environmentalism

As Christianity died we needed a new religion. Environmentalism is that religion. It has much of the features of the old religion.
Sin: Consumption.
High priests: Climate scientists.
Mantras and dogmas: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
It is evangelical: All those school programs and public service advertisements.
It has its own Inquisition: The treatment of heretical climate “deniers.”
Selling Indulgences: just as the Catholic church sold indulgences, the new high priests sell carbon credits.

White Nationalism

I am not even sure what this means other than a shaming insult to stop discussion. Any society, will have groups with shared interests and needs. In America, white Anglo/Europeans are one such group. We understand that rural and urban groups may have different interests. We are comfortable that workers and business may have different interests. We even celebrate that other ethnic groups may have separate interests. I see no problem in granting the same courtesy to white Americans.

The Internet

Wave of the future I am told. However, I believe that the idea of information wanting to be free will become more like information wants to be paid. More and more information will move behind pay walls and register walls as corporations attempt to “monetise” their “online assets.”

Much of the free services will charge by intrusive collating of personal browsing habits. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress have (or could build) huge databases of personal connections. For example: if you have a gravatar then Automatic (owners of WordPress and gravatar maintainers) have knowledge of the sites you visit and comment on. They have a list for those that visit your blog. They have a complete picture of your interests and relationships.

As China has shown, the Internet is not censorship proof. As various DMCA and criminal investigations have shown it is not even anonymous. While corporate interests have provided much of the infrastructure and many useful sites (e.g., this free blog), they also bring a corporate ethos. The friendly, freewheeling days of the mid 1990s are over. The Internet may be a better place because of that (I hardly ever see blink text used any more) but is also more commercial.
[I am not opposed to commerce, but realize that it brings its own aesthetic and mores]

Other Stuff

Obviously, this is not all that I believe but is all I could be bothered to write about.

This is another Random Thought in the Random Thoughts series of quickfire posts (more like comments than articles).

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29 Responses to “Random Thoughts: This I Believe”

  1. Will S. Says:

    Re: environmentalism as a religion, exactly! I thought this through a year ago or so, and came up with the same sort of thoughts you’ve expressed:

    It has its weekly rituals (putting out the blue box); it has its dogmas that must not be questioned (catastrophic, man-made global warming) and its corresponding heretics (Bjorn Lomborg, and everyone else who has a hint of scepticism regarding the dogma of catastrophic, man-made global warming); it has its prophets (Al Gore, David Suzuki, etc.); it has its eschatologies (global warming will melt the ice caps and flood and drown us all, OR there’ll be a new ice age (back in the ‘70s, that was the prediction), OR the mushrooming global population will destroy us, etc., etc. – “unless we take drastic action”, though it turns out never to be enough)); it has its special days and observances (Earth Hour, Earth Day); it has its sacred documents (the Kyoto Accord; Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”); it has its faith-inspired politically active organizations (Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, etc.); it has a system of sacrifice and atonement (offsetting one’s “carbon footprint” through various acts – tree-planting, donating to conservationist and environmentalist causes, blah blah blah); it implicitly has a creation account (evolution by natural selection, or Darwinism, which it of course shares with philosophical materialism – this makes man not special in any way, and not to be specially favoured, so it does constitute an important aspect of the philosophical basis of environmentalism); it has its daily observances (sorting and putting things in recycling bins, and composters); it has its deity to be respected and honoured (Gaia / Mother Earth / Mother Nature), it even has outright worship for those so inclined (various Wiccan and New Age practices); and it has, in the minds of some of its proponents, special dietary restrictions (the vegetarians and vegans who invoke concern for the environment, as well as animal suffering / death, as their reasons for eschewing meat consumption), and various other self-denial actions (riding a bicycle or walking rather than driving a car / truck / SUV); like many religions and sects, it has a certain colour associated with it symbolically (green); and certain symbols (globe motifs; the three recycling arrows Mobius loop triangle).

    It even has its “Jesus on a tortilla” tropes: see here and here.

  2. Default User Says:

    @Will S.
    That was a nice and thorough sum up.

  3. An Unmarried Man Says:

    Very nice summary, I think you are one of the pinnacles of reasonableness in this blogosector.

    Re The Bell Curve. I worry that as the “democratization” of knowledge and learning is misleadingly dispersed on an unequal populace, we will find that many modern “policy makers” are in fact NOT that intelligent themselves. Social and serpentine skills will get you farther in today’s cultural structure and whereas the policy makers of yore were predominantly men of intelligent means, it’s not so anymore and idiocy is rewarded far more often than we’d like to believe. We live in an age of blind patronage.

    It amuses me how many people in these parts are fond of celebrating their own intelligence. I think I’m more intelligent than average (never been formally tested) but I would hardly say I’m of “lofty” intelligence. Still, even at my slightly higher than average level, I’m amazed at the stupidity and ignorance of most people I interact with on a daily basis. But since policy makers are trending toward moron status, I think we can count on future public policy to reward societal sub-average intelligence.

  4. Default User Says:

    @An Unmarried Man

    I think you are one of the pinnacles of reasonableness in this blogosector.

    That “reasonableness” explains the low blog hit count (see here. Indeed accusations of “reasonableness” could be considered fighting words in this segment of blogosphere. :/

    Some of what you describe might be the difference between smarts and wisdom. There may be some relationship between the two (wisdom involves the weighing of often ambiguous details) but it is far from perfect.

    While I suspect that social and serpentine skills were always part of politics, the sound-bite TV driven nature of modern campaigns has only worsened that. The growth of government and corporations led to the merging of officers of both into one bureaucratic class.

    Intelligence is important but does not offer constantly increasing returns. A move from an IQ of 85 to 100 offers massive returns. It is the difference between struggling in the world and being at ease in the world. It is a journey from few available pursuits to many available options. Likewise, the journey to an IQ of 115 is one of increasing ease with life’s complexities and a widening field of opportunities. After that, I believe that the marginal benefits to extra smarts falls considerably (more smarts are still good, but at a decreasing rate of return).

    I imagine dullness this way: A smart person reading an advanced (i.e., post grad) physics text book probably feels the same way that someone with an IQ of 85 does reading a tax form or credit card statement. Having that kind of understanding might help those making policy for everybody.

    I too have never had a formal IQ test. I suspect that I am bright but not “smart” (closer to +1sd or about 115, not +2sd or 130+). What is (but only a little) upsetting is that I might be considered slow by many in this area of the ‘Net, where I imagine IQs are high. I am probably normal for most places I have worked. Some of those considered not so bright by such groups are probably individuals with normal, or even a bit above average, intelligence. It is this birds-of-a-feather flocking that can skew perceptions. It confuses people as to what average is. It also causes them to ignore the usefulness of intelligence as a separate trait. Just as a fish does not notice water, these smart groups do not consider intelligence as a separate trait.
    [I am not downplaying the part drive, honesty, leadership, etc. play in success.]

    PS
    Are all the typos in the above post (I always notice these things way after posting) a mark of intelligence (phhft minor details that only dull people worry about) or not? :/

    PPS
    I realize that not all of my reply really related to your post. My thoughts just spun off in that somewhat random manner.

  5. sdaedalus Says:

    I’m really sceptical about the merits of IQ tests in determining intelligence.

    What is ‘intelligence’ anyway? Some of the highest IQ people I know are also the most stupid.

  6. sdaedalus Says:

    stupid meaning they lack fundamental common sense and although skilled in certain respects, also have serious blind spots when it comes to living life and interacting with other people.

  7. Will S. Says:

    Thanks Default User!

  8. Word Around the Campfire – the Still Swamped edition « Hidden Leaves Says:

    [...] Default User:Short Story: An Act of Terror and Random Thoughts: This I Believe [...]

  9. Default User Says:

    @S(mart)Daedalus

    What is ‘intelligence’ anyway? Some of the highest IQ people I know are also the most stupid.

    All humans are have blind spots and the capability to make poor decisions. You are probably falling into the bias I discussed: you are smart and around smart people, so the differences you notice are those unrelated to intelligence. Other than certain motor skills, I suspect that g (general intelligence) matches well to the so-called multiple intelligences (i.e., great artists, fine writers, charming promoters, superb musicians, also have high g). While mathematics and science are g-loaded, and what we associate with high IQ, they are not the only endeavors that require intelligence.

    I do not understand why people dismiss intelligence as a useful attribute. Some are tall, some are not; some have pleasant features, some do not; some have pleasant personalities, some do not. Intelligence, likewise, is a gift bestowed on some while denied to others. In some cosmic sense it is “unfair,” but it still exists.

    IQ tests (and similar markers of basic cognitive ability) have shown correlations with general life success (e.g., staying in a job, staying out of trouble). Intelligence is one of many factors that create success; it is not the only one but it is an important one.

    Those “stupid” people you mention might be in a far worse position if they were not intelligent. A poor personality and low intelligence is still worse than that poor personality matched to higher intelligence.
    [Of course, high intelligence and sociopathy are bad for others.]

    Nature is not fair; there is no automatic trade-off between intelligence and good looks or good personality. I doubt there is a natural law that always grants the shy or awkward high intelligence.

    The one trade-off that may exist is between earlier maturity and intelligence. Earlier or faster maturity may allow less time for the development of higher brain functions. Perhaps, it is this effect that causes the awkward but smart (this effect would probably be more prominent for males). It is also possible (I have seen no studies on it) that there is a link between body size and intelligence. I base this supposition on the just-so theory that are earlier forbears may have “specialized” in tool-maker versus warrior roles.

    All that said, I still believe that the intelligent are just as likely (perhaps even more likely) to be gifted in other areas (i.e., smart, good-looks, charm, common sense are just as likely to go together as not).

  10. sdaedalus Says:

    I was in a gifted children programme for a couple of years as a kid (my mother used to call it the ‘children of pushy parents programme’ but I think secretly she was rather proud).

    All the kids on the programme had performed fairly well on IQ tests (not stratospherically well, this is Ireland after all, but better than the national average). I’m not sure how much of this was hothousing – in order to make sure I got onto the programme, I borrowed a book of IQ tests from the library & practised for a couple of months prior to the test – this improved my initial performance by 5 points.

    I keep in touch with most of the kids on the programme. Most of them (not all) performed well in their final high school exams, most of them albeit a lesser percentage performed well in their university exams but only a very small percentage achieved noticeable career success over and above their less gifted peers. There was a significantly higher rate of schizophrenia than the national average, also.

    Someone I know once said that, to succeed in my field of work, people need to have two out of the three: family contacts, high intelligence and luck. I’d rephrase this as two out of four: family contacts, high intelligence, luck and common sense. And I’d say it applies to most jobs. For research & university & other specialised fields, I would say high intelligence is a necessary pre-requisite, but, unless phenomenally gifted. you also need either common sense or luck.

  11. Default User Says:

    Remember “gifted” probably means 130+ IQ. That is the the top three percent or so. Those less gifted peers were themselves probably above average.

    I do not disagree about the importance luck (chance) and, to some degree, contacts play in life. I have previously discussed the high cost less social types pay for their smaller contact network. However, I think the high IQ = low common sense idea is mostly a myth.

    It is true that in deciding for others (policy, education, etc.) smart types may favor abstract ideals over practical solutions, but in deciding for themselves (financial, career, family) they suffer no greater lack of common sense (indeed they will probably weigh options – especially things such as time value – better).

    Great success is a mixture of passion, skill, and luck. It is finding something that you love, being very good at it, and finally being at the right place and time. Passion is what gets you started; skill is what keeps you going, because you see real progress; luck (chance) brings it all together. Contacts help you find that luck. It is through contacts that you become the right person, at the right time, in the right place.

    Bill Gates is a good example:
    Passion: he loved computers
    Skill/smarts: undeniable he is smart and had a talent for programming (accusations of idea theft aside).
    Contacts: his parents were big wigs who helped him get that meeting with IBM.
    Luck: IBM backed the PC model of computing. The market entered a huge growth phase after Microsoft’s entry, etc. A few years earlier he may have burned out of capital. A few years later another system (e.g., DR DOS) might have achieved a foothold.

    He also had another element of successful people, a degree of sociopathy. Perhaps too many smart people are also nice (agreeable) people. Nice guys may not always finish last, but they may not come first either.

    I suspect successful people (in many endeavors) have a mixture of above average IQ (probably not super high), extraversion/dominance, non-nerdy personality (not all jocks are dumb), and the luck, contacts that you mention. High IQ may not be the only thing, it may not even be the most important thing, but it is unlikely to be a hindrance.

    As a though experiment imagine that you could transfer IQ to others. That is, whatever allows one to perform well on IQ tests could be transferred to another. Would you do it. Would you give some of those useless IQ points away? Would you sell them? Would you buy them?

    My own answer is that I would be unlikely to sell but would consider purchase. If the price was high enough I might consider a sale on the basis that it would yield enough to live comfortably on for the rest of my life. If I were younger, I might consider purchase on the basis that I would have greater time to realize a return. However, I suspect I would not have a big enough surplus that a sale would yield me a comfortable retirement.

    PS
    I am not a super IQ type. I have no personal interest in promoting IQ as a cure-all to make myself feel good. Indeed, I probably benefit from being considered smarter than I am.

    PPS
    I am not all that surprised that you were in the gifted program.

  12. sdaedalus Says:

    I would gladly trade ten to fifteen IQ points for increased youth & beauty with a view to finding a man who was attractive & rich & then devote the rest of my life to living in comfort. This is called Common Sense. Obviously I would have a full life plan worked out before I traded on the iQ points as it might be more difficult to do so afterwards. Of course, this is probably female-specific.

    I am not all that surprised that you were in the gifted program

    My father used to call it the ‘Annoying Children’ program, so, probably not all that surprising.

    I was an advanced learner for my age but most of my peers caught up with me in my teens (I was a very go-ahead pre-teen but lost a lot of confidence & initiative in my teens) so the difference in adulthood is not very great.

    You must remember that society is run by people who are not particularly intelligent, in some respects intelligence really can be a liability when dealing with them, intelligent people can get discouraged and give up, or they can vent and annoy these people, or they can provoke jealousy. All of these can be a hindrance. Common sense is required to deal with these and sometimes even act stupid when necessary. This may be more true in Ireland than in other societies.

  13. Default User Says:

    Estimates of “dumb” George Bush’s IQ put him around 120. It is probably the same for “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan. Blair and Bertie would probably score similar.

    I suspect that most of our leaders are in the bright (110-120) range. Remember that is still smart.

    Like you, I might trade some smarts for social dominance and extraversion. However, I still maintain that we confuse nerdy, cerebral, or socially inept personalities for cleverness. I suspect many of merely average intelligence also suffer these defects; they are just less visible. The person that stacks shelves does not need a scintillating personality, you would not notice if he did, and you do not notice if he does not.
    [I would not automatically be "cooler" is I were less intelligent. Indeed my personality and low intelligence would probably have left me a homeless drifter.]

    Many corporate or political leaders are dangerous because they have intelligence with certain “people” (machiavellian to be less polite) skills.

  14. chicnoir Says:

    However a too early arrival of puberty may lead to problems as his physical maturity does not match his emotional maturity causing others to place responsibilities on him that he is not ready to bear.

    yes defalut this is usually what happens to girls who develp too early.

  15. chicnoir Says:

    I see I’ve come to visit my man more often. someone has made this place her second home.
    *chic noir rolls eyes at SD*

  16. chicnoir Says:

    default I see no problem in granting the same courtesy to white Americans.

    if white americans call themselves Italian-Americans,Irish-Americans or German Americans then that’s one thing but to untie under white americans, that will read as another to non white americans.

  17. sdaedalus Says:

    I would agree most leaders (apart from our Bertie, who can’t grasp abstract concepts & therefore could only be 105 IQ tops) are in the range you specify. This is sufficient in my view if other qualities are present & they have brighter advisers to call on when necessary. Part of leadership is delegation & knowing when someone else has greater skill & when to rely on it.

    I think it’s very difficult to say what people would be like if … all we can do is make the best of what we have got.

  18. chicnoir Says:

    SD Part of leadership is delegation & knowing when someone else has greater skill & when to rely on it.

    agrred, i think social intelligence comes into play here to.

  19. Default User Says:

    @s(marty) daedalus

    I think it’s very difficult to say what people would be like if … all we can do is make the best of what we have got.

    Very true. Although it is fun to speculate.

  20. Default User Says:

    Distinct ethnic groups do unite under a one ethnic banner currently. Individuals from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc are happy to unite under the “Hispanic” banner, even if they would not normally consider themselves one. Likewise, for the various Asian countries; Asian includes many separate groups that would not normally consider themselves one. I do not see a problem with English, Irish, and Italians also uniting under an ethnic banner broader than one based on their country of origin.

    Indeed, “Hispanic,” or “Asian” can fairly be taken to mean, “not white” or “anyone but Caucasians.”

  21. chicnoir Says:

    Default, I’m just saying that the “white banner” makes many people feel uncomfortable.

    If you don’t mind my asking, why are you having these sort of thoughts?

    What would the “white people” platform be about?

  22. Default User Says:

    Other bloggers have written on these topics, I just decided to sketch out my own ideas. There was no real reason, other than trying to post something.

    I have never really considered an idea of a “white” platform. I was merely saying that I do not find the fact that white Americans might have common interests strange, and I do not believe it should shocking to acknowledge that.

    Other groups worry about giving up their identity and seek to protect it; I feel that white Americans should be free to do the same. I am not drawing up a manifesto, merely stating that such ideas should be permissible in “polite” conversation.

  23. chicnoir Says:

    I do not find the fact that white Americans might have common interests strange

    Well I can certainly agree with you here.

    I feel that white Americans should be free to do the same.
    ok

    you aren’t mad with me are you default?
    I just posted our wedding video.

  24. Default User Says:

    Although you promised you would not post it, I will forgive you. You did manage to make me look taller than I am.

  25. namae nanka Says:

    It’s humbling to live with guys 1 or 2 SD above your IQ, especially when you yourself are 1 to 2 SD over average and there are no girls for miles to level their advantage.

  26. Default User Says:

    @namae nanka
    That smart guy in a very smart world is how I sometimes feel in the blogosphere. Even though I know I am not dumb, there are too many people who write better, have better ideas, and discuss things of which I know little. The net result is that I sometimes feel dumb.

  27. David Foster Says:

    SD…”Part of leadership is delegation & knowing when someone else has greater skill & when to rely on it”….start-up companies often run into trouble on this score: the founder/CEO views himself as the universal expert and decision-maker, and the people he hires as basically his assistants–“arms and legs,” as the saying goes. But as the company grows and becomes more complex, it doesn’t work to just delegate *tasks*, it’s necessary to also delegate *ongoing responsibilities*, and this is often very difficult or impossible for the founder to do. The problem seems especially bad with founders who have an academic background, as they tend to treat their employees, including managers, like grad students.

    It’s actually extremely impressive that Bill Gates was able to run Microsoft from the start up through being a very large company…his skills obviously go beyond his technical abilities.

  28. sdaedalus Says:

    It is indeed extremely impressive.

    Possibly part of the reason he could do it was because he was so young. Younger people tend to be more malleable in terms of adjusting to different roles.

    But he must have had a variety of skills.

    Ideas persons are not necessarily good at making money out of their ideas, people who start up businesses are not necessarily good at managing them when they expand.

    I’d like to see more focus on recognising and developing these different skills in an educational context.

  29. Myers Musings: The Most Useless Type « Default User Says:

    [...] I briefly touched upon in my This I believe post, while we like to say it takes all types, we actually prefer some over others. Outside of the [...]

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