Thursday, December 21, 2006

Academia is shit

In a moderately insightful article Mark Tarven wrote:

> What saves university is generally the beauty of the subject as built by great minds. But if you just look at the professors and don't see past their narrow obsession with their pointless and largely unread (and unreadable) publications to the great invisible university of the mind, you will probably conclude its as phony as anything else. Which it is.

How unbelievably CONCEITED! "the beauty of the subject as built by great minds"?! Give me a fucking break!

Quantum physics:
  1. haven't assimilated advances made in 20th century
  2. still believe in 17th century Vitalism, that the human brain doesn't follow the laws of physics
  3. believe in magic like wave collapse
  4. believe in gibberish like non-determinism
  5. deny the formal conception of probability
  6. don't teach fundamental concepts because practitioners don't know them
  7. deny fundamental concepts are necessary, scorn them
  8. have no deep understanding of fundamental concepts or how they interrelate
  9. have no understanding of what is physics, dismiss it as philosophy of physics, dismiss their own subject matter as unimportant and irrelevant


  1. hasn't assimilated 20th century advances in meta-mathematics
  2. assumes ancient Platonist ideal of uniqueness of mathematics
  3. despite being viciously disproved in 20th century
  4. most practitioners have no understanding of meta-mathematics and teach students lies


  1. culturally relativist claptrap
  2. denies developmental psychology exists
  3. denies psychology exists period
  4. denies own subject matter
  5. denies the possibility of scientific explanations in field
  6. is ANTI-scientific


  1. immature proto-science with no fundamental theory of mind
  2. too many to go into


  1. assumes psychology doesn't exist


  1. no theory of cellularity
  2. gave up on theory of cellularity
  3. denies Central Dogma was overturned, have retconned reality claiming they "never believed" the Central Dogma was absolute


  1. only a threadbare theory of what exists (common descent)
  2. strictly ad hoc and non-empirical (non-scientific) explanations of how species evolve
  3. no fundamental theory of ecosystems


  1. doesn't exist as a field of study, should exist


  1. market fundamentalists exist
  2. market economics not yet destroyed by development economics
  3. obsession with trade over and above consumption and production is an obscenity and an abomination
  4. no fundamental theory of economies
  5. no clue about fundamental concepts of such a theory

Complex Systems:

  1. doesn't exist
  2. even though it's required to formulate proper basis for economics, ecology, biology and urbanity.

Computer Science:

  1. not a science but a trade
  2. teaches 20 year obsolete material
  3. no understanding of the role of design or skillset of designers

And that's not even going into the fact that ALL of these fields freely mix the practice of their field, the conceptual basis of their field and the history of their field. Roundly fucking up the study of ALL of them. Because all three streams have radically different audiences, different cognitive needs and different uses (at different times to boot).

Finally, despite the great variety of kinds of tasks involved in the complex enterprise of science, there are only two recognized roles: experimentalists and theoreticians. There is no distinction made between generalists and specialists since everyone is assumed to be a specialist. There is no room made for networkers keeping everyone up to date. Nor is there any room for knowledge mappers maintaining and cross-checking an open conceptual basis for each scientific field.

Academia is shit.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Morality, part 1

What is morality?

Morality is the set of internal rules that members of a group should live by for the well-being of the society. Similarly, ethics is the set of external rules that members of a group should live by for the well-being of the group. So morality adjudicates your dealings with members of your own group just as ethics adjudicates your dealings with outsiders.

Morality is consequentialist. A rule is moral or immoral based on its theoretical consequences for the group that follows it. On the other hand, morality is non-consequentialist because it isn't too interested in the practical consequences of following a rule. If morality were wholly consequentialist, it would just be pragmatic.

What are rights?

Rights are the expectations one would have from a just society. These rights are organized hierarchically.

Human rights are universal, inalienable rights. They are universal because they apply to everyone equally. They are inalienable because they cannot be traded, negotiated, bought, paid for, sold, lost or destroyed. They can be violated or defended but they cannot be damaged, changed or taken away.

Human rights are positive. The terms "positive" and "negative" are purely a linguistic convention that has no meaning to non-Americans. It won't be explained here as it is ludicrous to limit humann rights by a linguistic convention. It should be noted that all so-called negative rights have a positive form but that not all positive rights have a negative form.

In particular, babies do have a positive right to be cared for and to be gazed at by their primary caregiver. When these rights aren't met, civilization collapses either directly by a population collapse or indirectly by a rise in psychopathy due to lack of bonding. The collapse of civilization isn't compatible with the well-being of society.

What are the human rights?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides a good though imperfect listing of human rights. The most notable mistake is freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is not and can never be a human right because it directly contradicts freedom from religion which is a human right. Furthermore, freedom of religion cannot be established by a corrected Rawlsian process because atheists have no personal interest, no matter how minute, in protecting any freedom of religion. Finally it must be observed that if children have human rights, and they do, then they have the right to be free from their parents' religions. So in practice, within a few generations religion would die out.

What is Rawlsian morality?

Rawlsian morality is a process whereby you take a society of intelligent beings, scoop their brains out of their skulls to install them into vats, boost their intelligence, erase any particular knowledge of their history or circumstances (eg, personal life history, status, skin colour, nationality, language, proportions of same in the world), make them immortal, give them access to a database of all general knowledge (physics, cosmology, geology, biology, chemistry, psychology, economics, and so on) then let them deliberate between themselves what rules they are willing to live by.

This process works because it forces everyone to maximize their minimal expectations. There is no way for anyone to calculate the odds of their being killed if they're black versus if they're white. Likewise there is no way to calculate the odds of their getting away with raping someone. Or of their successfully killing their enemies. Everyone is forced to consider only one thing; their own skin. And short of people who are actively suicidal or masochistic, they all agree on much the same thing, right down to the ordering of human rights.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Environmentalists vs Animal Lovers

Recently there has been a big brouhaha made over the death of the host of The Crocodile Hunter show. Now I find that kind of public weeping extremely distasteful at best. I do not find it "sad" when a public figure dies. I have no personal allegiance to Noam Chomsky as a person anymore than I did to Jane Jacobs. Their works are useful to many, including me personally, but their deaths should be left to their families and friends to mourn, not strangers.

I'm also against everything Steve Irwin did in life and everything he represents. Like most people today I'm concerned over the environment but that doesn't extend to being an animal lover. On the contrary, I am very much opposed to the entire "animal rights" movement. I don't anthropomorphize animals or supplant a Disneyfied version for what animals really are. Wild animals are dangerous and unpredictable and it is neither respectful nor responsible to pretend they are otherwise.

With few exceptions (parrots, crows, primates and cetaceans come to mind) animals don't think and they don't learn. A crocodile acts based on instincts, not by weighing options using symbolic reasoning (thinking). It doesn't matter if you've been feeding it for years, it will just as cheerfully eat your baby as the steaks that are its usual fare. At one time, Steve Irwin fed a crocodile with his baby underneath his arm on camera. It was criminally negligent of him to endanger his own child and in a Just society some judge or social worker would have intervened.

Irwin conveyed a dangerous and suicidal attitude to millions as an ideal to be emulated. Regardless of his intentions, the effect of his acts is to endanger many others. This is criminal. And he did this in order to personally profit from it, which is despicable.

But let's get into animal rights. You want to know how much I'm not an animal lover? Well, the condors of California were on their way to extinction anyways, so why not just let them die already? As for the cutesey wuvwey pandas? I vote we kill them to prove a point about whole-habitat conservation and the greater importance of lower life-forms in ecosystems. Environmentalism is about self-preservation, not about warm fuzzy feelings for anime pandas.

Ecology has more to do with the bacteria in people's shit than it does with pandas raised in cages. Irwin wasn't an environmentalist, he was a travesty of environmentalism. People claim he promoted a love of nature but it's more accurate to say he promoted a perversion and exploitation of nature. Irwin took animals out of their habitats and put them on a pedestal for people to gawk at. Nature isn't animals and plants, nature is a system of animals and plants. If you want to see a genuine environmentalist, look to David Attenborough.

It's the same kind of thinking that gets people to feel sad for the cows with their big brown eyes but be scared of the evil bacteria in their guts, the same bacteria that are as important to a human being as the liver or kidneys. This is not a talking point. People's actions are informed by their beliefs, and beliefs that "cute animals are good, ugly animals are evil" do an incredible amount of damage both directly to humanity (as when people take antibiotics without appreciating that it is a kind of chemotherapy) and indirectly by destroying the biosphere.

What Irwin did wasn't founded on any notions of goodness. So how did he get away with it? How could he ever have been mistaken for an environmentalist? Well he got away with it because the environmental movement is split between two factions, the same two factions that divide every sector of our society. Enlightenment progressives and Romantics. The distinction between environmentalists and animal lovers (or animal rights activists) is the distinction between the Enlightenment (rationalists) and the Romantic (intuitionists) movements. David Brin talks about these distinct movements in history.

A lot of people in the green movement are animal lovers and not environmentalists. This is a kind of magical thinking, much like the irrational terror of radiation. The problem with this magical thinking is that it doesn't lead to rational decision-making. Actually, the problem with this particular brand of magical thinking is that there's a whole psycho-dynamic behind it that involves hatred of humans and seeking union with the nature that's being "murdered" by humans. These people worry about bears, wolves, and tigers because they're mammals like us and they have the big eyes that make them anthropomorphizable. So they devote resources to those animals with big eyes. Meanwhile, what we really have to be worried about are the algae, the phytoplankton, frogs and insects. We should be worried about the animals and plants that are dirty, slimy and repulsive, not the ones that are cute and cuddly.

I don't really keep up with conservation issues, but I'll give you an example from the energy sector. In the 70s, the world had the option of going to nuclear. Nuclear power is safe and sensible, and the fear of radiation is completely irrational. Storage of nuclear waste and even reactors blowing up were never issues until the greens made them issues. The greens made nuclear power economically and politically expensive. As a result the world never went nuclear. So what are we left with? Coal. Coal was always far, far more dangerous than nuclear ever was. Acid rain? That was the environmentalists' cause during the 80s. There would have been no acid rain with nuclear power. And you know what else there wouldn't have been? Global warming. Greens caused 50-80% of the global warming problem. The global warming we're seeing today wouldn't have happened until 2030 by which time electric cars would already have solved the problem. That's the power of irrationality.

I will leave you with this final thought in mind. The harmony of nature is that of overwhelming and collective murder.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pragmatists Learn From Everyone

Notice that gerontocracy (rule by the old) is not represented below. That's because nobody actually believes in it as an ideology, as a way that things ''should'' be. Like murder, gerontocrary is an unfortunate circumstance that we suffer from.

Useful concepts from across the political spectrum


  • Authority (of one person over/for another), inequality, and totalitarianism (aka micro-management) are inherently evil.

  • As it happens, they are also inefficient. Any activity, including a workplace, is best structured in an anti-authoritarian manner.


  • Security, Prosperity and Family are separate from freedom and are more important towards happiness than freedom.

  • Freedom can be deferred and submaximal freedom may be best. Freedom can be imperfect so that a free choice to enter into a relationship may not be freely unmade either easily or justly.

  • "Consider pornography: libertarians say it should be permitted because if someone doesn’t like it, he can choose not to view it. But what he can’t do is choose not to live in a culture that has been vulgarized by it." source

  • Economic realism, it makes no sense to tax things you want to promote, like income and employment.

Libertarianism (Georgist):
  • Land is a public good. Land can never be a private good except at the forbearance of society.

  • All public goods ought to be taxed for the benefit of society. Primary resources, including oil and land, should be taxed to the max.

Social democracy:
  • Democracy works to benefit society.

  • Radical egalitarianism in politics requires radical egalitarianism in economics.

  • Cooperation works better than competition.

  • Labour theory of value: excess value can accrue to customers just as well as producers (or under capitalism, to capitalists)

  • Entitlements (Static Freedom).

Totalitarian Communism:
  • From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

  • Crushing inequality and insecurity can't survive indefinitely. Justice for the masses must prevail. (Contrary to Western opinion, what preceded, and followed, the USSR was worse than it was.)

  • Standardized goods simplify life, leaving more leisure time for the things that matter.

  • The entire human rights hierarchy, which is a technocratic issue actually.

  • The economy suffers from pervasive externalities, transaction and sunk costs.

  • Freedom to innovate is necessary to progress. (So's leisure but anyways ...)

  • Social security is necessary for individual risk-taking, hence to innovation and progress.

  • Procedural freedom (Dynamic Freedom).

  • Technical questions are best left to committees of experts, or groups of people who can be made into experts for the duration of the judgement.

  • Most people are magical thinkers incapable of abstract reasoning. They aren't fit to make technical decisions at all.

  • Hierarchy is efficient and conducive to fast decision-making.

  • Liberal, largely atheist, Jews control many of the more prosperous and advanced sectors of the economy. Including Hollywood in the USA.

  • Most people are not equipped to be citizens. (The fault of fascism but anyways ...).

  • "Clandestinism is not the usage of a handful of rogues, it is a formalized practice of an entire class in which a thousand hands spontaneously join. Conspiracy is the normal continuation of normal politics by normal means." source. And in the Army, normal politics involves multiple murder.

  • Murder and criminality are effective and rewarding.

  • Positive interest currency causes inflation which is a shadow tax on citizens' money.

  • Currency is a public good which can and should be taxed.

  • Negative interest currency is the best possible economic policy. It is a decentralized economic policy.

Developmental economics:
  • Real wealth consists of, but is not limited to, factories, robots, generators, engines, mines, fields, bridges, viaducts, roads, trains, train tracks, trucks and ships. It specifically excludes coloured pieces of paper, integers in a special computer, bars of a shiny yellow metal, tasers, billy clubs, prisons, tanks, aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, nuclear bombs, or other things which cannot be put to any productive purpose.

  • Finance is the enemy of industry

  • Use-value is different from trade-value. Real value is use-value. It isn't a conserved quantity. It isn't tradeable. It obeys no known laws. Yet it rules economics. Ignoring use-value leads to excess, decadence, corruption, economic stagnation and eventually economic collapse.


Originally published at The Adjunct (minor additions)