Begun by dreamers and implemented by criminals

July 19th, 2016

Minorities trouble in two main ways, Dr. James Thompson notes — by being a nuisance and by becoming majorities:

Doing both in parallel is the greatest threat to the host nation.

Proportionality is the key here: in most places, most people, most of the time,  go about their business peaceably. They can rightly say of the troublemakers in their communities that “they are a minority”. True. However, those troublemakers are more frequent in some communities than others, and this is a subtlety that often gets lost in discussion. Troublemakers need some support from their own communities, even if just tacitly turning a blind eye.

The rate at which European communities commit mass murder of their own citizens is very low, though not zero. The US suffered casualties from anti-government bombers. The UK suffered more casualties from Irish Republicans. Basque separatists have bombed Spaniards. However, these dreadful events can be seen as localised grievances, not an over-arching plan.

What troubles most about the Jihadist meme is its generality: its scope is global, and although it has key Western targets, the Crusaders, it takes on all non-believers: white Europeans, Black Nigerians, and anyone else who gets in their way, including brands of Islamic belief they judge to be insufficiently pure.

Like any franchise, it attracts lone entrepreneurs: those who vaguely want to do something, and find a general plan excuse enough to vent anger, disappointment, and general malaise. Insurrections are begun by dreamers and implemented by criminals.

So now we have a dreadful calculus: Western Europe has sizeable Islamic populations, most of whom are not bent on committing murder. Within those populations there are a minority willing to murder on a large scale. Their spectaculars (as the IRA used to boastfully call them) are aimed at showing the population that their governments cannot protect them. They attack the presumption of safety on which civil society is based.

A nation is a protection system, and not a racket if you can leave of your own free will. In exchange for following the rules and paying your dues you get the protection of the state: the protection of borders and the protection of your safety within the boundaries of the state. Insurrections challenge that protection, and taunt both the governed and the government.

The paradox comes thus: any state which guarantees the rights of citizens must also grant them to those who would destroy the state and injure its people. Our interpretation of Magna Carta is that the big letter demands that no-one be arrested without due cause. A noble aim, though of course the original did not apply to all citizens, only to free men, say about 40% of the population at most. It did not contemplate millions of non-Christian non-Europeans, with perhaps 10% of them at least passively in favour of establishing the dominion of another religion and another system of law. That which would have been considered treason is now considered a right which must be defended by the very State which is the target of the attack.

How Viennese Culture Shaped Austrian Economics

July 19th, 2016

Erwin Dekker explores how Viennese culture shaped Austrian economics:

What if the coffeehouse culture of the Viennese circles, the decline of the Habsburg Empire, the failure of Austrian liberalism, the rise of socialism and fascism, and the ironic distance at which the Viennese observed the world, are all essential to understanding what the school was about? It would be exciting to discover that the Vienna of Gustav Mahler, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, and Adolf Loos, would also be the Vienna of Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. And if that is so, how would that change how we think about this school and about the importance of cultural contexts for schools of thoughts more generally?

[...]

The hands-off attitude first practiced at the Viennese Medical School, where it was called therapeutic skepticism, spread among intellectuals. They dissected a culture which was coming to an end, without seemingly worrying too much about it. As one commentator wrote about this attitude “nowhere is found more resignation and nowhere less self-pity.”¹ One American proponent of the Viennese medical approach even called it the ‘laissez-faire’ approach to medicine.² The therapeutic skepticism, or nihilism as the critics called it, bears strong resemblance to the Austrian school’s skepticism of the economic cures propounded by the government. Some of the Austrian economists, for instance, have the same ironic distance, in which the coming of socialism is lamented, but at the same time considered inevitable. That sentiment is strongest in Joseph Schumpeter. But one can also find it in Ludwig von Mises, especially in his more pessimistic writings. In 1920, for example, he writes: “It may be that despite everything we cannot escape socialism, yet whoever considers it an evil must not wish it onward for that reason.”³

That same resignation, however, is put to the test in the 1930’s when Red Vienna, the nickname the city was given when it was governed by the Austro-Marxists, becomes Black Vienna, the nickname it was given under fascism. The rise of fascism posed an even greater threat to the values of the liberal bourgeois, and at the same time it demonstrated that socialism might not be inevitable after all. One of my book’s major themes is the transformation from the resigned, and at times fatalistic, study of the transformation of the older generation, to the more activist and combatant attitude of the younger generation. Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Peter Drucker as well as important intellectual currents in Vienna start to oppose, and defend the Habsburg civilization from its enemies. That is one of the messages of Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, of Hermann Broch’s novel The Death of Virgil, of Malinowski’s Civilization and Freedom, of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, Drucker’s The End of Economic Man, and of course Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies. It is also the message of the most famous book of the period on civilization The Civilizing Process by the German sociologist Norbert Elias. These intellectuals fight the fatalism and the acceptance of decline, and instead start to act as custodians or defenders of civilization.

In the process the relationship between natural instincts, rational thought, and civilization undergoes a major transformation. Civilization? — ?our moral habits, customs, traditions, and ways of living together ?— ?is no longer believed to be a natural process or a product of our modern rational society. Rather, it is a cultural achievement in need of cultivation and at times protection. Civilization is a shared good, a commons, which can only be sustained in a liberal culture, and even there individuals will feel the ‘strain of civilization’ as Popper put it. That is the strain of being challenged, of encountering those of different cultures, and of carrying the responsibility for our own actions. Hayek adds the strain of accepting traditions and customs which we do not fully understand (including the traditions and customs of the market). Similar arguments are made by Freud and Elias.

Why Terrorists Keep Succeeding in France

July 18th, 2016

Muslims make up 60 percent of the French prison population, but just 8 percent of France’s total population:

Youths with a criminal record are excellent material for radicalization: It gives them a cause for which to fight. And yet the French government barely has a system for tracking this risk group’s embrace of radical Islam.

France makes a convenient target for global terrorists, because of the linguistic and cultural heritage it left in its former colonies:

“We must no longer think in terms of French or French-resident people, but in terms of francophones,” Patrick Calvar, head of France’s domestic intelligence, told the commission. “Thousands of Tunisians, thousands of Moroccans and Algerians can be dispatched into our territory.”

Why Turkey’s Coup d’État Failed

July 18th, 2016

The leaders behind the recent Turkish coup made some of the classic blunders:

Rule No. 2 in planning a successful military coup is that any mobile forces that are not part of the plot — and that certainly includes any fighter jet squadrons — must be immobilized or too remote to intervene. (Which is why Saudi army units, for example, are based far from the capital.) But the Turkish coup plotters failed to ensure these loyal tanks, helicopters, and jets were rendered inert, so instead of being reinforced as events unfolded, the putschists were increasingly opposed. But perhaps that scarcely mattered because they had already violated Rule No. 1, which is to seize the head of the government before doing anything else, or at least to kill him.

The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was left free to call out his followers to resist the attempted military coup, first by iPhone and then in something resembling a televised press conference at Istanbul’s airport. It was richly ironic that he was speaking under the official portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey’s modern secular state, because Erdogan’s overriding aim since entering politics has been to replace it with an Islamic republic by measures across the board: from closing secular high schools so as to drive pupils into Islamic schools to creeping alcohol prohibitions to a frenzied program of mosque-building everywhere — including major ex-church museums and university campuses, where, until recently, headscarves were prohibited.

Televised scenes of the crowds that came out to oppose the coup were extremely revealing: There were only men with mustaches (secular Turks rigorously avoid them) with not one woman in sight. Moreover, their slogans were not patriotic, but Islamic — they kept shouting “Allahu ekber” (the local pronunciation of “akbar”) and breaking out into the Shahada, the declaration of faith.

Richly ironic, too, was the prompt and total support of U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the European Union’s hapless would-be foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, in the name of “democracy.” Erdogan has been doing everything possible to dismantle Turkey’s fragile democracy: from ordering the arrest of journalists who criticized him, including the outright seizure and closure of the country’s largest newspaper, Zaman, to the very exercise of presidential power, since Turkey is not a presidential republic like the United States or France, but rather a parliamentary republic like Germany or Italy, with a mostly ceremonial president and the real power left to the prime minister.

Why popular opinion can’t predict a coup

July 17th, 2016

The assumption that popular opinion has an impact on coups is common in political science, but there is no evidence to support it:

Over the course of writing my book, “Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups,” I spent 300 hours talking with participants in 10 coup attempts in Ghana and statistically analyzed the determinants of every coup attempt and outcome in the world from 1950 to 2000. Based on this evidence, I argue that there is no reason to believe that military factions hesitate to attempt coups when popular opinion is against them, or that coup attempts are more likely to fail when the populace is opposed.

Over the course of this research, I observed that conspirators devoted very little consideration during coup plotting to the question of how the population would react. Coup makers are largely convinced that their cause is just (even when the coup comes from a partisan or personal interest), and that they will have widespread popular support for their actions, with perhaps limited opposition coming from entrenched special interests. And, in general, coup attempts do encounter very little popular protest, although this is not a reflection of support for military intervention. Coup attempts generally transpire very quickly and, with a few noteworthy exceptions, are over before civilians can mobilize in opposition. If a coup succeeds, civilians respond strategically. Opponents of the previous government will rejoice, joined by opportunists who wish to curry favor with the new rulers. Supporters of the previous government will usually remain quiet, afraid of bringing attention to themselves. Because successful coups are generally met with expressions of popular support, it spuriously appears that public opinion had a role in encouraging the conspirators to act.

The whole point of a coup is for a faction of the military to take over the government without kicking off a civil war:

That means that coups are typically marked by defections to whatever side appears to be winning, rather than outright military conflict between factions.

[...]

One critical way to create this self-fulfilling prophecy, according to Singh’s research, is to take control of the broadcast media. Once you’ve got the radio and television stations, you then use them to tell everyone the government has already been overthrown. That convinces people in the military that the coup has succeeded, leading them to take your side.

But reports on the ground say that this didn’t happen. President Erdogan managed to make a televised statement opposing the coup (though he did so, amusingly, via a cellphone on Skype). Leaders of major political parties, including the opposition, publicly opposed the coup.

Perhaps most importantly, the coup plotters did a very poor job of getting their message out. While they did seize a number of media outlets, like CNN Turk, they failed to use them effectively in broadcasting their message.

“We had no clear statement from the coup forces. No leader came on TV, no real manifesto,” Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina who was in Turkey during the coup attempt, tweeted. “In Turkey, successful coup attempts are massive, happen within chain-of-command, and take over media immediately.”

The coup plotters failed to establish the perception that they were fully in control, and hence failed to win the overwhelming bulk of the military to their side. It’s still early, so we can’t be sure of anything. But given Singh’s research, and the information we have, it’s very likely that this explains — at least in part — why they failed.

Puzzling Statistics

July 17th, 2016

Why do the human sciences record pervasive behavioral differences among racial groups, such as in violent-crime rates?

One explanation is that these disparities originate in complex interactions between nature and nurture.

But, of course, only dangerous extremists hold that theory.

The much more respectable sentiment is that statistical differences among the races are the fault of bad white people, such as George Zimmerman and Minnesota policeman Jeronimo Yanez.

Last week, on his way to Warsaw on Air Force One, President Barack Obama was looking at social media. According to The New York Times, he alerted his press secretary that:

He had decided to make a statement himself as soon as they landed, and had told his aides to collect statistics demonstrating racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Now, you might think that’s putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps the administration should objectively evaluate the evidence first, rather than order its media flacks to dredge up some data justifying the president’s prejudices?

But that would be wrong. Everybody knows that culture or evolution can’t have anything to do with hereditary racial differences in performance. If you even consider those possibilities, you must be one of the bad white people you’ve been warned about.

Instead, we know that science has proved that statistical differences among the races are all due to a vast conspiracy to plunder blacks. Nothing makes 21st-century people who think they are white richer than having a lot of black bodies around. Just ask MacArthur genius Ta-Nehisi Coates. He’ll tell you.

“Why are there all these puzzling statistics that don’t agree with the stereotypes promoted by our national leaders?”

And yet, here’s a statistic published in 2011 that doesn’t support the Coates-Obama orthodoxy:

While young black males have accounted for about 1% of the population from 1980 to 2008…(b)y 2008, young black males made up about a quarter of all homicide o?enders (27%)…

In other words, young black males are about 27 times more likely to kill somebody than the average American.

Interestingly, that datum comes from the Obama administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which published a report entitled Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980–2008.

One reason young black males are disproportionately homicidal is that they are young (homicide rates are highest among 18- to 24-year-olds). Another factor is that they are male (according to the BJS, “Males were 7 times more likely than females to commit murder in 2008”).

That the police keep a warier eye on men than women and the young than the old is never seen as offensive. It’s just common sense.

Yet profiling blacks as tending to be more threatening than whites (not to mention Hispanics or Asians) is the worst offense imaginable under today’s ruling ideology. For instance, the day after the Dallas antiwhite atrocity, the first two policy responses that Hillary Clinton recommended in an interview with Wolf Blitzer were: “National guidelines for police about the use of force” and “We need to look more into implicit bias.”

Jon’s Law

July 16th, 2016

The recent truck attack brought to mind Jon’s Law, from the world of hard science fiction fandom:

Any interesting space drive is a weapon of mass destruction.

Apparently Warg Franklin had the same thought:

Looks like it turns out we don’t need to imagine starships, or even airplanes, for this to be a problem. In the hands of sufficiently motivated terrorists, everyday tools like trucks become weapons of mass killing.

Banning assault trucks is attacking the wrong part of the problem.

Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order Ads

July 16th, 2016

Steve Sailer remembers being amazed in the 1970s to hear that his mother and his aunt Kay would go to the movies downtown several times per week during the 1940s:

The idea that women had once been free to walk and take public transit at night in the city was astonishing in the post-Great Society era.

This was brought to mind by some of Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order ads:

Sailer adds these thoughts:

One interesting aspect is that these Hitchcockian ads were clearly aimed at fairly sophisticated grown-ups, people who had loved “North by Northwest” and felt obligated to see “Psycho” but didn’t like it. The ads look a lot in style like the following year’s “Midnight Cowboy.” You constantly hear about Nixon’s Southern Strategy, but these ads are about as Northern as you can get.

In reality, in 1968′s three-way race, George Wallace carried white Southerners who wanted to restore Jim Crow in their mixed race small towns; Humphrey carried white Southerners in the Appalachians who lived in all-white communities; and Nixon carried white Southern suburbanites who wanted to put Jim Crow behind them and join modern America.

Hitlers Everywhere

July 15th, 2016

Every good left-winger knows there are Hitlers everywhere:

Little Hitlers and Big Hitlers. There’s a Hitler with the Republican Party presidential nomination in America. There’s a Hitler running Russia. Another Hitler in Syria. One Hitler in Britain just caused the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, and we know he is a Hitler because as soon as he accomplished that, he resigned from his party, which is exactly what a Hitler would do. There are Hitlers under the bed and Hitlers in the closet.

Transplanting Mitochondria

July 15th, 2016

Transplanting mitochondria extends life — in mice:

Dr Enríquez and his colleagues worked on that scientific stalwart, the mouse. Many genetic strains of lab mice are available, and the team started with two whose mitochondria had been shown by DNA analysis to have small but significant differences—about the same, Dr Enríquez reckons, as the ones between the mitochondria of modern Africans and those of Asians and Europeans, people whose ancestors left Africa about 60,000 years ago. They then copied the procedure for human mitochondrial transplants by removing fertilised nuclei from eggs of one strain, leaving behind that strain’s mitochondria, and transplanting them into enucleated eggs of the second strain, whose mitochondria remained in situ. A group of the first strain, left unmodified, was employed as a control. The researchers raised the mice and kept an eye on how they developed.

While the animals were young, few differences were apparent between modified and unmodified individuals. But as murine middle age approached, at around the animals’ first birthdays, differences began to manifest themselves. Modified mice gained less weight than controls, despite having the same diet. Their blood-insulin levels fluctuated less after fasting, suggesting they were more resistant to diabetes. Their muscles deteriorated less rapidly with age. And their telomeres—protective caps on the ends of their chromosomes whose shortening is implicated in ageing—stayed lengthier for longer.

Not all of the changes were beneficial. Young, unmodified mice had lower levels of free radicals—highly reactive (and therefore damaging) chemicals produced by mitochondria—than did their modified brethren, though even that difference reversed itself after the animals were 30 weeks old. But the combined result of the various changes was that the modified mice lived longer. Their median age at death was about a fifth higher than that of their unmodified cousins.

Given the fundamental metabolic role played by mitochondria, it makes sense that replacing one set with another, more distantly related set causes profound changes. The surprise is that those changes seem largely positive. Most biologists would have predicted the opposite, assuming that nuclear and mitochondrial DNA would co-evolve to interact optimally, so that mixing versions which have not co-evolved would be harmful.

Though unsure what to make of his discovery, Dr Enríquez suggests that a concept called hormesis might offer an explanation. This is the observation that a small amount of adversity can sometimes do an animal good, by activating cellular repair mechanisms that go on to clear up other damage which would otherwise have gone untreated. The biochemical cost of coping with mismatched mitochondria might, therefore, be tempering the animals’ metabolisms in ways that improve their overall health.

Gun Deaths In America

July 14th, 2016

FiveThirtyEight presents a rather reasonable infographic depicting gun deaths in America, which are mostly suicides, then homicides, with a few accidents, and notes that while the common element is a gun, the causes are very different, and that means the solutions must be, too.

Gun Suicides, Homicides, and Accidents

Is transgenderism an autism spectrum disorder?

July 14th, 2016

Steve Sailer has a vague hunch that the transgender movement is somehow related to what he calls the Nerd Liberation movement, the most unexpectedly successful identity movement of his lifetime:

It’s not clear if autism, Asperger’s, and/or nerdism is becoming more common, but it’s definitely more of an identity than it once was.

There has been a little research into this subject, breaking trans people up into three main categories:

  1. Effeminate early transitioning male to female trans individuals (ladyboys) are of course not very nerdy at all. They tend to be people persons (e.g., prostitutes) and not big on logic.
  2. Female to male trans are very nerdy.
  3. Late transitioning masculine male to female trans people (the Wachowskis, the baseball stats person, my MBA school teammate, the economist, etc.) tend to be at least as nerdy as the average man and much more nerdy than the average woman.

I’ve found that the third category, which includes most of the celebrities and high achievers, tends to have a science fiction aspect to their interests. They often seem like characters from old Heinlein sci-fi stories.

Heinlein, a dedicated professional writer, believed in fan service and studied the wants of his various kinds of fans. In 1941 he was both guest of honor and de facto host of a convention for sci-fi fans at which he emphasized to the attendees that, sure, they might be social outcasts today, but they would be a world-changing elite tomorrow!

It doesn’t strike me as absurd that Heinlein would have sensed a market for these kind of fantasies among some sci-fi fans as early as 1958, the year of his solipsistic transsexual time travel short story “All You Zombies.”

In general, much of transgenderism seems like a weird flavor of a sci-fi fan’s traditional interest in Subduing Nature through New Technology.

Control the Tense

July 13th, 2016

Jay Heinrichs’ Thank You For Arguing advises you to control the tense:

In “Control the Tense” you’ll learn that all issues of persuasion boil down to three main issues: blame, values, and choice. Identifying what category an argument falls into is important because you can’t meet your goals if you argue around the wrong core issue. If you’re arguing over who did what (blame), you should use the past tense. If you’re arguing over whether something is wrong or right (values), you should use the present tense. But if you’re arguing over a decision (choice), using the future tense is the most advantageous. It skips the who, what, and the right or wrong, and focuses on how to reach agreement. If you want to keep an argument from becoming a fight, use the future tense. It promises a payoff.

Audible Suggestions

July 12th, 2016

I’ve heard good things about Audible (and the Great Courses). I’m open to audiobook suggestions.

Our Dumb World

July 12th, 2016

As far as average IQ scores go, Gregory Cochran notes, this is what the world looks like:

national_iq_per_country_-_estimates_by_lynn_and_vanhanen_2006

But there are two relevant tests: the Stanford-Binet, and life itself. If a country scored low on IQ but at the same time led the world in Cavorite production, or cured cancer, or built spindizzies, we would say “screw Stanford-Binet”, and we would be right to do so.

Does that happen? Are there countries with low average scores that tear up the technological track? Mostly not – generally, fairly high average IQ seems to be a prerequisite for creativity in science and mathematics. Necessary, although not sufficient: bad choices (Communism), having the world kick you in the crotch (Mongols), or toxic intellectual fads can all make smart peoples unproductive.

[...]

You could improve the situation, raise the average, by selection for IQ. But that takes a long time, and I know of no case where it was done on purpose. You could decrease inbreeding, for example by banning cousin marriage. That only takes one generation. You could make environmental improvements, iodine supplementation being the best understood. People assume that there are a lot of other important environmental variable, but I sure don’t know what they are. In practice the rank ordering of populations seem to be the same everywhere, which is not what you would expect if there were strong, malleable environmental influences.

Is it easy to notice such differences? Well, for ordinary people, it’s real easy. Herero would ask Henry why Europeans were so smart – he said he didn’t know. But with the right education, it apparently becomes impossible to see. Few anthropologists know that such differences exist and even fewer admit it. I’m sure that most have never even read any psychometrics – more importantly, they ignore their lying eyes. Economists generally reject such explanations, which is one reason that they find most of the Third World impossible to understand. I must give credit to Garret Jones, who is actually aware of this general pattern. Sure, he stepped on the dick of his own argument there at the end of his book, but he was probably lying, because he had to. Sociologists? It is to laugh.

Generally, you could say that the major job of social science is making sure that people do not know this map. Not knowing has its attractions: practically every headline is a surprise. The world must seem ever fresh and new to the dis-illuminati – something like being Henry Molaison, who had his hippocampus removed by a playful neurosurgeon and afterwards could not create new explicit memories.

So when we tried a new intervention aimed at eliminating the GAP, and it failed, Molaison was surprised, even if 47 similar programs had already failed. Neurologically, he was much like a professor of education.