I was reading an article earlier where the core theme was balance between duties and choices. For instance, a labor union can strike, however then they are not being paid, an a factory owner can refuse to give into the demands of the union but then he is not making any money. In this case, you have a carrot for both parties in that if they come to an agreement they can both get paid, and a stick in the form of that they are both losing money by not coming to an agreement. These types of checks and balances are what keeps every structure in working condition because they promote stability and moderation over instability and excess. Democratic countries are often built with “majority” clauses, and/or multiple branches of government, which does slow things down, but also ensures that there is wide support and that it does not devolve into majority tyranny. Take the draft in the United States of America, every man has to register for selective service within 6 months of turning 18, in exchange they get the right to vote. This means that every man who votes for hawkish and interventionist foreign policy knows that this means that he risks being sent off to war if there is a draft. This has the effect of somewhat limiting the willingness to go to war, and encourages voting for a policy that relies on both diplomacy and force, not pure force. In the same way, if I forgot to lock my door, the insurance company can refuse to pay if I get robbed, because through my actions I placed an unnecessary and excessive risk on them. Continue reading
Stoicism and Machiavellianism are both philosophies that are very much about power in their essence. When Nicollo Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” he wrote it as a gift to his lord, a gift of knowledge gleamed from observing history, and distilling patterns into essence. I do not really know what was Seneca’s motivation behind writing “Letters“, whether he did it for himself or for others. Perhaps it was as “Ethics” by Spinoza, a thinly clad rejection of religious oppression, perhaps like Paine’s “Common Sense” it was a call to action to the peasantry to rise up against their oppressors, or perhaps it was like quite a few of my writings Continue reading
Solipsism exists in various strength of formulation. The word itself comes from the Latin “Solus” meaning alone, and “ipse” meaning “self“, the position of this philosophy is that one’s own mind is the only thing one can be certain of exists. As an epistemological position, it posits that everything outside of ones own mind is unsure, in terms of metaphysics it can go so far as to say that the outside world and other minds does not exist. The best known formulation from a solipsist philosopher is perhaps Descartes “I think, therefore I am”. From this perspective, it is perhaps the rejection of empiricism, and to some extent the embrace of reason as the guiding force. However, where it becomes interesting is in the acceptance of logic as a guidance for thought. Continue reading
The whole model of human cognition is interesting from the perspective of modelling something. The whole concept behind a model, be it financial, technical, structural or other forms is to represent something that exists in reality in a different way. A financial model may represent different outcomes mixing macro and micro economics to form scenarios of “what if” allowing your to play with various premises and conclusions and see the results.
The funny thing about the model of human cognition is that there are about 160 biases that behavioral economists talk about when trying to fit the model of “homo economicus” with observed behavior. Economics was always big on making conditions that would make it seem more science and less art, I suppose that has to do with the positivist and quantitative bias within the field. However, if you need a 163 exceptions in order to make your model fit, you do not have a model, you have data points that you need to find a fitting model for. Its a classic example of starting with a conclusion and finding a set of premises that work. Continue reading
The idea for this post was one that just dropped into my head as I was putting away groceries and I’m not really sure why. For those who are not familiar with the FOG concept, it is an acronym for “Fear, Obligation and Guilt” which are three primary mechanisms of manipulation. To give some examples, when you see a group of boys playing, and when one of them refuses to do something the group wants, the calls of “are you chicken?” combined with various physical gestures and clucking quickly follows. In this case, they are using the target’s fear of losing social status as a mechanism to get him to do something he really does not want to do.
When you see parents trying to get their children to visit their annoying uncle, and the “he’s family” statements start to come out, they are playing on the children’s feeling of obligation to the family construct, or to wider social values.
Finally, if the parents start to tell the children “remember how your uncle gave you that great present for [insert time]“, they are playing on the children’s feeling of guilt. The funny thing about all three of these is that humans have irrational fears, we feel obligated when we have not accepted an obligation, and some even feel guilty for putting themselves first. Continue reading
As you go through life, you will find yourself meeting and working with many different people. Some of them will be brilliant, some of them will be so intellectually challenged that you ask yourself how they managed to tie their shoes without killing themselves, and most will be absolutely mediocre. With experience comes the ability to learn which category someone fits into rather quickly, but unfortunately, it is often camouflaged by credentials and other forms of social proof.
If someone told you “My friend would be perfect for you, she has a great personality, she’s intelligent and she is so caring!” would you take them on their word, or would your internal voice be saying “So, she’s ugly then?” This is what you will encounter if you elect to go through life avoiding long-term relationships, a series of people presenting the “Eligibility CV” of their various questionable friends, accomplices and malcontents. “She is a great and caring girl, (you can tell from the 11 cats/dogs she adopted)”, “She is so generous (you can tell from the hundreds of thousands of credit card debt)”, “She will be such a great mother and housewife (she cannot really handle working)”. “She is such a free spirit (you just cannot count on this bitch)” or my personal favorite “She has a really rambunctious personality, and is a strong woman (she will nag you to death, and start fights over nothing)”
Social proof comes in many forms, personal recommendations, the reputations of former employers or the degree awarding institution that signed off on this person having a certain level of competence. However, one must take into account the incentives each of these parties have to be less than truthful.
The case for third-party trust
When you start reading red pill literature “Social proof” is probably one of the first concepts you hear about, frequently in the context of “If you are with an attractive woman, other women are more interested in you, because of social proof/pre-selection“. From a business perspective it could be argued as the equivalent of credit rating agencies, or other organizations that offer analysis, due diligence and other services that aim to reduce risk. In this example, a case of trust in a third-party, leading to you suspending your own critical analysis. It is a form of “Milgram experiment light”  Rather than engaging our brain in the energy intensive work of research and analysis, we elect to take the easy way out by assuming that someone else has already done such critical analysis and research.
We put our trust in that a second party has the knowledge base and necessary critical thinking ability to make an educated judgment about a given situation, thus saving ourselves the need to engage in calorie intensive system 2 thinking. I can see where this made sense in terms of evolution, the basic idea of teaching is that each human being does not have to expend the necessary energy to learn a range of information that could be made available to them in a more efficient way. However, the human preference for “cheap and easy” over “expensive and difficult” tends to have unintended consequences. Nowhere is this more clear than in the “diet and weight-loss” industry, which is overflowing with quick-fixes and magic pills for a problem that is both complex and challenging. The answer is simple, but the execution is difficult.
When we accept an analysis from a third-party, we are in fact not only saving energy by accepting our analysis, we are saving energy in our critical evaluation of their knowledge and experience base for making such an analysis. Human interpersonal relationships is a lot like art history, in that there are certain facts and some technical knowledge that could be used to make sounder and more accurate judgments, however they tend not to be used because “it’s about emotions“.
So the judgments you do not accurately make when accepting a third party analysis is:
A) That they made this analysis using the relevant facts.
B) That they made the analysis using sound and valid logic
C) That they are not hampered by bias
D) That they do not have a vested interest.
For instance, when your mother sets you up with that “nice girl from next door” by saying “She is such a nice responsible, go-getter” did she take into account:
A) That the “nice girl next door” is still living next door at 32, because she has had 5 different “careers“, and has 3 baby daddies?
B) Did they use logic to construct a syllogism such as:
Premise 1: She has 3 kids by 3 different men.
Premise 2: She has had 5 different careers in 10 years.
Premise 3: People who are stable, responsible adults have stable career paths.
Premise 4: People who are responsible adults do not have 3 baby daddies.
Conclusion: Therefore she is not stable, responsible or an adult.
C) Did your mother consider that perhaps she is influenced by a bias that you should be married at your age, or perhaps that since she never goes out and only interacts with “nice responsible girl next door” that she may have a massive case of availability bias.
D) Does your mother’s desire for grandchildren, and her failing health influence her urgency for you to knock someone up?
These will obviously differ from person to person, D could just as easily be that your best friend just got married, his wife only lets him hang out with “couples friends” thus he wants to couple you up so you can double-date and he can get some freedom from the utter boredom. However, a third party will always have their own interests and therefore, one runs into a case of agent-principal.
This type of proof is also sometimes called “borrowed authority” in that a speaker borrows or transfers authority from one field or area into another, or from one person to another. One example is the “Dr. So and So said solar roadways makes sense” without mentioning that “Dr So and So” has a doctorate in education. Even children understand this concept intuitively when they argue with their siblings or friends using such arguments from authority as “My mom says” or “Teacher said that“. They are borrowing the authority of a third party to add more weight to their argument, but in doing so they are fairly free to play around with the information. The concept of information asymmetry touches on this in that it deals with two parties having access to differing information with usually one party having more or better information than the other.
You will face the referential proof issue less in your dating life as a man because men tend not to be convinced by arguments such as “You know, she fucked the lead singer of Whitesnake in the back of their tour bus” or “She dated rich wealthy men“, but they are crack to women. If you can offer a woman third-party referential proof that you are a high status man you win. However, men are very prone to assume that because someone is something, they can tell you how to become what they are. However, this is not always the case. Those who have interacted with men who are “naturally good with women“, have without a doubt experienced the natural’s “You just talk to them man” or “Just act like you normally do“, which is true for them, but offer you little in terms of actionable advice.
Referential proof is faced frequently in the job market, where it is a very high contributor to why certain types of people get hired. This is a function of brand image in many cases where people have a certain perception of a company or an institution that lead them to associate the qualities and reputation of the institution or company, with the person. In some cases, the reputation of the institution and the reputation of the company, are intertwined in a manner which creates synergy for both of them. A great example is Harvard University, that through connections to top ranked firms in both consulting and finance are able to place graduates at these firms, not necessarily graduate merit, which leads to a perception of Harvard as the way to the big leagues, and lead to the perception of the firm as prestigious and selective. This becomes known as a self-reinforcing feedback loop, that benefits both brands by increasing their status through synergy.
This plays into a variant of the halo effect  where the quality of the work done by a person, and that person are viewed more favorably as a result of marketing rather than concrete results.
Summary and conclusions
Everyone has people in their life who they trust and who gives valued advice. However, if one discounts the incentives behind the advice, or hold the wrong person in high regard, this can be a perilous journey. Referential authority often holds a lot of weight, and that if you can figure out what authority figures a person you are trying to manipulate view through the halo-effect, you can add force to your manipulations. Social programming relies heavily on referential authority, and repetition in order to slowly alter our perceptions and opinions in the desired direction.
Beware of authority in general, and be aware that in order to be a thinking man, you have to do the work. You cannot get by allowing other people to influence the most important decisions you will make in your life. Getting advice is one thing, we all need and want that at differing times, however once you stop relying on your own knowledge base and logical faculties, you have given up control of your own mind and life. Beware of people who use their academic credentials or employers as shields.
Thinking fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Influence by Dr. Robert Caldini
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
Since I first heard that “gender is a social construct” I’ve done some light reading on the topic to see what the actual science is, but no definitive answer has been given. Biological sex is a fact and well defined in literature on biology. Gender is defined as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex”  as biology defines sex as being binary and follows purely physical traits. Gender on the other hand, is not strictly defined as being purely about the physical, as it includes behavioral and psychological traits that have social influences, and culture which is an entirely social phenomenon.
In our societies we have legislation that does deign some behaviors unlawful. We punish unlawful behavior with legal sanctions such as prison or fines. Whether or not a behavior is in truth unlawful depends both on the behavior and the subject context. For instance, someone can be declared not competent to stand trial, as a result of among other things mental illness. In this case, we are saying that the behavior was unlawful, yet the personal biological/medical circumstances of the person who committed the crime, are such that it cannot be punished.
We could say that our justice system is based on people being actors, that are able to tell lawful behavior from unlawful. Thus, we create axiom 1: Able to tell lawful behavior from unlawful behavior.
Secondly, we have to consider which behaviors could be deemed unlawful. Can something that is biological be illegal? This goes towards the human construct of government and by extension law, versus the reality of biology. Of course, we have cases of genetics such as the warrior genes, that may make someone more likely to be violent, however as long as they can tell lawful from unlawful behavior, this is not a recognized legal defense.
So from this we can create 2 principles for making something illegal:
A) People have to be able to tell what is legal and what is not legal. (Competency)
B) One cannot legislate against biology.
The basic argument presented to make homosexuality no longer unlawful behavior was as follows:
Premise 1: You cannot make something biological illegal.
Premise 2: Homosexuality is biological
Conclusion:Therefore, you cannot make homosexuality illegal.
This is a logically valid argument. Premise 1 is widely accepted in legal circles, both in terms of principles but also in terms of practice. Premise 2 is contested, but the science is starting to come in on the topic. What homosexuality is, is the attraction to someone sharing your biological sex. If homosexuality is genetic/biological then it follows that who you are attracted to is hardwired in your brain. In terms of economics we could argue that what sex you are attracted to is the “need” and your preferences in a partner is the “want”. In the same way that need is “thirst” but your preference for a drink is Miller Lite.
Feminism has long claimed that there is no such thing as male or female brains. That despite the differing hormonal cocktails we receive throughout pregnancy and life, in addition to differing chromosomes this does not influence the functionality of the brain.    Which brings an interesting contradiction. If there is no such thing as male or female brains, then how can someone be born as “the wrong gender”? After all, trans is rapidly becoming the new gay, and the basic premise of trans is “being born as male and identifying as female” or “being born as female and identifying as male“.
If I put this in the form of a syllogism:
Premise 1: Gender is a social construct
Premise 2: People can be born as the wrong gender
Conclusion: Therefore, people can be born as the wrong social construct.
This is a logically valid argument, but the conclusion does not make sense. If you are born as something, then it is biological, this follows from the fact that social construct cannot come into play until you exist within a social group. Secondly, if gender is a social construct, then you are not born as a gender, you develop into it as a result of social interaction. If I restructure the syllogism:
Premise 1: Sex is biological.
Premise 2: People can be born with the wrong sex.
Conclusion: Therefore, trans is biological.
This argument works in terms of validity. Premise 1 is uncontroversial, however, there is little proof for premise 2.
Our self-perception must come from the brain, as it is the only organ in our body that has the capability to process information in the manner required to construct your self-image.
The trouble really arrives when you try to keep all these 3 positions in your mind at once.
The conclusion to the homosexuality-principle “What sex you are attracted to” is biological.
The conclusion to the transgender-principle “What sex you identify as” is biological.
The conclusion to the feminist-principle “There are no biological sex differences in the brain”.
I outlined the reason why there is an incentive to make both homosexuality and transgender biological from the perspective of advocates for both groups. If something is biologically contingent, then discrimination against it, would be violating basic human rights as it puts it in the same category as race.
Feminism on the other hand has a very strong incentive to make everything related to gender a social construct, because if it is not, then the convergent evolution of similar gender-roles within a disparate group of cultures indicates the superiority from an evolutionary perspective of the current status quo. Furthermore, rather than the oppressive thumb of the patriarchy oppressing the feminine sex for all of history, the current status is a result of individual choice on an aggregate level over a long period of time.
After all, if gender roles are the result of biology which drives choices made by men and women, then it follows that working to “make things equal” is undermining the very choices made by both women and men in the first place. This is where concepts such as “internalized patriarchy” become very insulting to women, by implying that a woman who has made choices that do not fit within the permitted choices outlined by feminism, is not doing so because she is in fact a strong, independent woman, but because she is brainwashed. To construct yet another syllogism:
Premise 1: You are attracted to a sex.
Premise 2: You identify as a sex.
Premise 3: There is no such thing as biological sex.
Premise 4: Sex is a social construct
Conclusion A: Therefore, the sex you are attracted to is a social construct. (From 1, 3, 4)
Conclusion B: Therefore, the sex you identify as is a social construct (from 2, 3, 4)
The questionable premises here are 3 and 4 in terms of soundness, but the argument is valid. If I restructure as:
Premise 1: You are attracted to a sex
Premise 2: You identify as a sex
Premise 3: Sex is biological
Conclusion: Therefore, the sex you are attracted to, and the sex you identify as are biological
I don’t think a single one of those premises are hotly contested in science, and the argument is valid.
The takeaway from this diatribe is that feminism in it’s rush to stay relevant through intersectionality, has become a religion where the basic premises end up in a form of Kettle Logic where the whole system of thought falls apart because it is built on contradictory premises. I’ll demonstrate why:
If sex is biological, then it follows that certain behaviors are biological as well. Such as women being more inclined by nature to take care of children. If women are more inclined by nature to take care of children, it follows that behaviors that would result in more successful child-rearing would be selected for by evolution.
From a perspective of mathematics:
If you have 2 women, one has an 80% chance of successfully raising a child to reproductive age, the other 50%.
Both women are identical in every other way.
They become capable of pregnancy at 16, and become unable to have children by age 45. (29 reproductive years) At 1 child pr year, this is a total of 29 children, out of which the 50% mom will raise 14 – 15, and the 80% mom will raise 23 – 24. In one generation, mom-80% had 12 daughters who inherit her gene for successful child-rearing, and mom-50% had 7. In generation 2, the 12 go on to have a total of 278 children, 139 of which inherit her successful gene. In the second generation mom-50% has 7 daughters who have 101 daughters inhering her gene. Over a few hundred this compounds to the point where the 80% gene is in most of the female population.
Some would be inclined to dismiss this argument as “biological determinism” but that isn’t really the case. The core premise of evolution by natural selection is that organisms that adapt the best to their circumstances survive and reproduce, whereas organisms that do not adapt, die out. For something to be deterministic, it would indicate having no choice in how your life played out. In essence, by knowing someone’s genetics, we would be able to tell exactly how their life will play out. The argument is that over the span of hundreds of generations, certain behaviors and the genes that influence them have been much more successful in the survive and reproduce game than other genes. Therefore, these genes are now present in a very high proportion of the population, and therefore lead to successful behaviors being widespread within a population.
The “biological determinism” accusation is frequently a false dichotomy where arguments from biology is pitted against the debunked “Blank slate” hypothesis.
The core of this essay, is that you cannot on one end argue that gender is a social construct, while holding the position that both what gender you are attracted to, and what gender you perceive yourself as are biological. This becomes a contradiction. Gender is by definition the manifestation of behaviors, cultural or psychological traits associated with one sex.