Variolation and Sportsball

Sportsball is very important to a lot of dumb proles, to the extent that their day will be ruined if their favorite team loses. It’s got to be a factor in all these demands for re-opening. Sports is the “opiate of the masses” which distracts the proles from political activism. People say that like it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s good. Does anyone think we need more opinions on coronavirus from people who haven’t done any math since they failed high school algebra? I’m no fan of the nrx larpers, but I do think it’s insanity to encourage people who don’t want to pay attention to politics to do so.

So I propose that as part of a general variolation program, all athletes are offered the opportunity to be infected, recover, and then can play in empty stadiums for the rest of the pandemic. That way the dumb proles might spend less time on Facebook demanding everything be reopened.

My Email to Elon Musk

Greetings Elon Musk,

You seek to establish a human colony on Mars by 2040; this is a very ambitious goal with many technical challenges that would need to be overcome. One of the biggest challenges I foresee is not technical but sociological. In the olden days if you could get a group of people to where they could find food, water, and shelter, and the group was large enough so their descendants wouldn’t wind up too inbred, you could count on them to multiply. But now, our fertility rate is hovering around 1.6, and the colonists you’d send would be a highly selected group, educated, industrious, visionary. They’d be around 1.2, their kids would regress back to a mean of around 1.5. Though the colony would be subject to the same process of natural selection as the human species as a whole and would reach 2.1 again eventually, it may hit the limit of viability first. What is your plan to deal with this problem?

The simplest would be to make the colonizing population large enough so it can decline for many generations before natural selection does its job and reverses the decline. But this would require more rockets and more supplies for an (initially) larger colony. Another approach is to try to select the colonists so that they, and their children, have a fertility rate above replacement. The latter point is crucial, because of regression toward the mean the colonists must be way above 2.1 but, crucially, also be qualified to make the trip and productively contribute to the colony.

I propose to offer my services in a plan to solve this problem. I will hire two teams. The first will be a team of geneticists and sample collectors with the job to develop the best polygenic score for fertility ever developed, attempting to sequence as many people as possible. The second will be a team of lobbyists. They are necessary because the problem with heritability estimates is that they only tell you about expected phenotypes in the environment used to estimate them. A gene* which serves to make someone more likely to have kids in our environment might not have done so in the culture and economy of 1900, and might not do so in the cultural and economic environment of 2100. The environment of Mars will be very different from the environment of earth, additionally, Mars will be continually influenced by Earth’s culture.** You could prevent the latter by disabling communications between the planets, but this would make it more difficult for Mars to act as the Earth’s “civilizational backup.” So what we want to do is find those genes that work across a variety of environments, assuming they exist, and use them to construct our polygenic score. Luckily, extensive birth and death records give us the data we need on how many children people had in prior generations and where their DNA still exists. Now, I know you don’t have much respect for the law, but I think I would have an easier time hiring the sample collectors if we could do it legally. Thus, the lobbyists will go to Washington and lobby for a law stating that due to the urgency of establishing the Mars colony, our team will be able to legally collect samples from graveyards. With the resulting polygenic score, you will be able to find the men and women with the “right stuff” to make your vision a sustainable reality.

Now, I did think before I sent this letter that you probably have better things to do than entertain cockamamie ideas that come from random people over the internet. Then I read about your behavior in the Unsworth case, and I realized that, no, you don’t.

*Or rather, the place in the genome correlated with the existence of the gene.

**Now, it may be such that the Martian environment leads to higher fertility and solves our problem for us. But if we’re gonna apply Murphey’s law to the design of the rocket, we should do so to the sociology of the colony too.

Sincerely, Alexander Turok

Jared Kushner

The easy explanation for why people blame him for Trump’s failures is antisemitic sentiment.

But I see a deeper reason. The desire to “give a chance to” one’s incompetent family members is at least arguably noble. In contrast, there’s nothing noble about hiring someone who called you a “deplorable” as white house deputy press secretary. That’s just incompetence. By putting the blame on Kushner, Trump’s current and former supporters can avoid facing what a horrible mistake they made.

I am willing to say that I made a horrible mistake and I’m sorry I did so.

March of the Clevons

The political Left and the Right are more brands than products: someone sitting on the left of Revolutionary France’s parliament would see very little in common with the modern American Left today, ditto for his opposite-sitting counterpart. Likewise, the Republican and Democratic Parties have historically acted as brands rather than the ideological parties of Europe. The polarization of society has forced them to become much closer to Euro-style parties, which perhaps has acted to reinforce the polarization. If you have a many-party system, the different left-wing and right-wing factions can vote for their own party, which can then be truely homogenous. Try to force 40% of society into just one or two parties, and the parties will have little to agree on rather than demonization of the other side. Read the liberal and conservative ideological manifestos to their viewers and few would agree wholeheartedly with them in their entirety. To people these are labels, brands.

Sometimes, people will stick with a brand even when the product changes. They might convince themselves they’ve changed their mind about the product, or will tell themselves that this particular political issue, well, that’s actually not so important anymore. Sometimes people are wooed by a competing brand, but still want the same product as always. Thus, the customer and the product moves while the brand stays in place.

Bweteen 1976 and 2016, there has been a gradual movement of dumber whites away from the Democratic and into the Republican party. In 1976, white Republican voters scored 3.5 points higher on the wordsum(converted to IQ-scale) than did white Democrats. By 2004, white Democrats had the edge by 3.9 points. By 2016 the gap grew to 5.5 points.(Republican voters as a whole still have an edge due to Democratic dominance among non-whites.) With the influx of idiots attracted to the “Right” brand came an influx of idiotic ideas. 9/11 trutherism, which started on the left, has migrated to the right, as have anti-GMO, anti-vax, and general naturalistic fallacy nonsense.

march of the stupid
Migration of the stupid

Conspiracy retard Robert Bonomo wrote about corona that:

There are two diametrically opposed views on this crisis. The first argues that it’s a catastrophic pandemic and we must drastically change the basic functioning of our civilization until we find a safe way out. Let’s call the folks who follow this view the clocks.

The clocks see nature as a beautiful garden that they’re charged with caring for, cultivating and molding. They are the masters of science, logic, and materialism and feel an obligation to drive nature toward the good, the just and the equitable.

The other view of the virus is that it’s just one more curveball mother nature has tossed our way. We have survived other pandemics and we’ll survive this one. Those who follow this view are sceptical of the science and feel empowered to embrace their mortality and move one. Let’s call these folks the oranges.

The oranges feel a part of nature. Not only do they accept her harsh realities, they feel empowered by their role in her epic drama. They are not here to change the world, but to be part of it.

{snip}

Dr. Mackay tweeted a quote from a story about a pack of oranges, “They are the kind of person who isn’t happy with [what] they are told by experts and prefer to go and seek their own narrative.” He then asked, ‘Why do coronavirus sceptics and deniers continue to downplay the disease?’ He’s shocked that these people actually want to think.

One synonym for “orange” is “Clevon.”

“Under-man” is another synonym, coined by Lothrop Stoddard in his book The Revolt Against Civilization, the Menace of the Under-Man:

In this classic 1922 book, Dr. Lothrop Stoddard examines the point where egalitarian revolutionary movements — particularly the French Revolution and its ultimate offspring in the 20th century, the Bolshevik revolution — intersect with human biodiversity. His thesis is that civilisation imposes increasing intellectual and moral burdens on the less able strata of the population, causing growing frustration, restlessness, and feelings of worthlessness among their members

This is supposedly the origin of the German word “Untermensch,” later translated back into English as “subhuman.” Of course, many of those who eagerly partake in insults against Clevons would howl that they have nothing in common with Stoddard.

After some thought, I’ve settled on “Clevon” as the best term. Who are the Clevons, really? Lack of intelligence is necessary, but not sufficient, to be a Clevon. The Clevon is one who is unintelligent and who believes his mind is capable of discovering the answer to any problem, using only the tools contained within it at any given moment. As Bonomo says, the Clevon wants to “think,” and is confident he can find the solution to any problem with rhetorical skill and no math. Bridge design? He can do it, he doesn’t need the “experts” telling him what’s right and wrong. He will think for himself. The Clevon does not suffer from “Dunning-Kruger syndrome,” for he knows he is not cut out for math or science. Yet he believes it doesn’t matter, believes that numbers are just abstractions, not at all connected with the “real world.” What, after all, does concrete and steel have to do with mathematics? What does epidemiology have to do with mathematics?

The Clevon feels free to ignore science, mathematics, history, anything that he can’t understand or wishes is not true. Freed from any obligation to consider such things, he can pick and choose beliefs like he picks and chooses vegetables in the grocery store.* Naturally, he picks the ones which make him feel good. Why is Alex Jones selling pen*s-enlargement pills? Partly because no one else will advertise with him and thus he has little choice. But it’s also because his fan base are Clevons, people who are always looking for something for nothing. Get-rich-quick schemes. Weight loss without dieting. E-thots. And not needing to do anything about corona. Just ignore it and it’ll go away somehow.

Trump is betting on the Clevons come November. If there is a rational reason for Trump’s demands that schools be re-opened, it’s that he hopes to appeal to Clevons who don’t want to take care of their kids. Not that re-opening schools is necessarily a bad idea. But do I believe Blompf is looking as this rationally? Hell no.

Is this a problem? Well, it depends on where your funds are coming from. If they’re coming from Clevons, your view of Clevons gets warped. You might want to say, cryptically and selectively, that in fact, you know the Clevons are dumb. That you should be judged on these semi-private views, not on what you say openly. It’s not often that superhero movies are insightful. But I remember being struck by this quote from Batman:

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Steve Sailer has chosen to lend his intellectual credence to a pack of insane crackpot Clevons, who wouldn’t be nearly so encouraged if it weren’t for smart people like him allowing them to think of him as an ally. He doesn’t need to tell us that he privately thinks the Clevons are morons. We can all see it, but the Clevons can’t. And so they continue their Clevoning.

He doesn’t care.

As an aside, many are blaming religion for the corona crackpottery. I don’t think that’s correct: few Clevons attend church; the Clevons whining about “muh liquor stores are open but churches aren’t,” spend far more time in the former. For while the Clevon is “skeptical of science,” religion reminds him too much of it, those men in robes who read books, telling him how he should live his life. And getting up early on a Sunday? Pish posh! But I do think religion has a subtle effect of encouraging the Clevons, especially in the form of American protestant Christianity. What is the origin of the universe? Why is the universe here? Why is there something rather than nothing? These are big questions, perhaps unknowable questions. American Protestant Christianity tells people that they can personally be near certain of the answers despite no actual training, knowledge, education. If they can figure out the answer to such weighty questions with no intellectual skill, why shouldn’t they be able to find out the answer to the corona crisis?

*I’m just using “vegetables in the grocery store” as a metaphor, the Clevon doesn’t actually consume vegetables.

Children immune to corona?

According to this source, there are about 9% more Swedes aged 20-29 than aged 0-9. With that and this data on Swedish cases, the rate of corona for kids 0-9 is 4.8% of that of adults aged 20-29. Why? Well, if kids are locked at home, unlike their parents who have to go out and buy groceries or work essential jobs, they won’t catch it, right? But a decent number should be getting infected by their parents. And, in Sweden, schools are not closed:

Sweden is compelling parents to keep sending their children to school — including students with conditions that some evidence suggests may make them more at risk of catching COVID-19 — as part of its policy to avoid a fullscale lockdown in response to the coronavirus.

While school systems in other countries have ceased or greatly restricted in-person learning, Sweden says that anyone under 15 should keep going to school. There are almost no exceptions.

Some parents have refused to comply, sparking a stand-off with state officials.

Perhaps children are catching it, but aren’t being tested for some reason? Why would this be? People tend to have more sympathy for and protective views over children than 20-somethings, so you’d expect a bias in the opposite direction. The most obvious reason is that they aren’t showing symptoms. This is supported by seroprevalence studies, which find that the rate of corona in the 0-19 age group is 7.5%, barely lower than the 7.6% for those aged 20-64. This strongly points to the conclusion that testing is biased and children are not immune to corona to any real extent.

But this does not mean that children will be a major vector in spreading corona. People want to think that the spread is mostly due to asymptomatic carriers. But this crisis has shown that a lot of our fellow humans are just worthless. It may be (mildly) symptomatic carriers all the way.

 

Wassup with the stonks?

This recession has repressed consumption among the investor class far more than ordinary recessions, thus, they have more money available to bid up the price of assets. But will this last forever? It’s unlikely. The personal savings rate peaked at 32.2 in April, but declined in May to 23.2. Though the lockdowns are likely to be re-tightened, consumption opportunities will still gradually return, as people think up new ways to consume and show off. 100$ shifted from investments will rebound into corporate profits, but it will not have the same effect as before, as corporations will have to absorb some of the costs of adaption to corona.

The EMH would tell you that the market should have figured this out by now. It would have also told you that it should have been bothered by the world’s largest economy shutting down, but apparently not. What’s undeniable is that when you compare the projected GDP growth rate to the stock market loss, the latter is unprecedentedly small. What are some explanations:

  1. Investors have, for some reason, suddenly started to behave rationally, following the advice of economists and not selling their stocks during recessions or trying to time the market.
  2. The fed has figured out how to prevent stock markets from falling during recessions.
  3. The real value of the stock market has declined, the lack of a fall in nominal value is due to higher inflation expectations.
  4. Stock prices, like everything, are a function of supply and demand, demand is elevated based on the high savings rate, but this is temporary. (As I think anyone should agree, the pandemic won’t go on forever.)

1. is contradicted by a record level of day trading. I see no prior reason to assume 2., the fed has always attempted to do this, why would it only have figured out how to do so now? And, as this is a global pattern, our explanation should be biased to global theories. Did everyone figure out how to do this?

The most likely explanations are 3. and 4. Right now I’m in bonds, and if the EMH is right and I lose the next three to six months of the expected equity premium, well, that’s a loss I’m willing to risk for the chance to buy after a much larger crash.

Fire Season

I was enthralled by fireworks as a kid. I never did anything really dangerous, but boy did I fantasize about doing so. You know those rockets? Well, they don’t have to be aimed at a 90-degree angle. When you’re ten years old, when you’re so powerless, there’s a massively liberating feeling when you walk around with explosives in your back pocket. When I’d go to the fireworks shows, a part of me was rooting for the sparks to hit the ground, set something on fire. The ten-year-old never gets around to fantasizing about the people who’d have half their face burned off. I knew the possibility was very remote, since the adults, with their adult magic, made it safe.

I was reminded of that, tonight, when I went on a walk and was startled as a firework exploded right above my head. The sparks fell. I wondered if they’d hit the ground, set anything on fire. A lot of adults have the same mentality as I did at age ten. Wanna see boom. Don’t think about the consequences.

I’m just thankful I have a basement apartment, which insulates me from all the noise. I feel sorry for the rest of them… scratch that, of the bulk of them I don’t feel sorry at all. You get what you vote for.

Corona: The Basic Question

Are there some questions where you need to have mathematical knowledge to determine the correct answer? Where if all you have is rhetoric and no math, you will be blindfolded, walking in circles?

The answer to the question determines how you see corona. What I believe the corona deniers will say is that yes, there are some questions you need math to solve, but those questions are never, ever “political.” If it’s a “political” question than my rhetorical skill and lack of math knowledge can always determine which path is correct.

I say this: I don’t want to hear the opinions on coronavirus from all these commentators who haven’t done any math since they failed algebra in high school. I’m not going to show them any level of intellectual respect.  “Everyone’s entitled to an opinion?” I say no, they aren’t.