Open Thread

Open Thread #131

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46 thoughts on “Open Thread #131

  1. Sleazy, have you read Post-democracy by Collin Crouch?
    It seems to be a very interesting book. If you have read it, what’s your view on it?

    1. I have read parts of it many years ago. There was little in it I disagreed with. I would argue that we have been living in a post-democratic world for a long time. Crouch’s main point is that we live in a society in which the institutions of democracy have been hollowed out and that we basically only play theater whereas real power is now operating much differently. Yet, when you consider for how long the elites have been pushing policies that had no popular support at all, such as opening the floodgates for mass immigration from the third world, it is probably better to ask when we ever lived in a democracy that was close enough to what we were told it was. I would argue that we never lived in a “democracy” with the virtues espoused by Crouch and others. Thus, the term “post-democracy” is a misnomer, strictly speaking.

    2. “I would argue that we never lived in a “democracy” with the virtues espoused by Crouch and others. Thus, the term “post-democracy” is a misnomer, strictly speaking.”
      That is an interesting point to make. Could I ask you to throw more light on this point? Do you mean that American democracy since its inception in the 18th century is not a democracy at all? I still keep in mind this point “with the virtues espoused by Crouch and others.” What are those virtues, do you mind if I ask?

      Up till now, I think that the early democracy in America is indeed a democracy. I have read Tocqueville’s book so that is why I think so.

    3. Early democracy in the US did limit the franchise, however, so today’s leftards arguably would not consider it to have been a democracy either.

    1. It’s diversity in action, apparently. As usual, the IDF is going around killing Palestinian children and “defending themselves” by leveling civilian housing. Effectively, Israel is engaging in a decade-long genocide against the Palestinians. If Israel wasn’t Americas biggest ally, they would have been bombed to smithereens by now. Then again, if they weren’t able to lead the US around by its nose ring, they would probably behave a bit better.

    2. I actually read some articles of New York Times around the 1900s via this website:

      https://www.newspapers.com/

      I found some articles on the Kirosheev “Massacre” in Russia. Jews in the US immediately raised funds to support Russian Jews during this progrom.

      While it is not condemnable at all to help your co-religionists, as many Vietnamese in the US still raise funds to support Vietnamese in Vietnam, it shows that Jews form connection to each other around the globe.

      Jews in the US, the heaven for Jews, should actively support and endow Jewish agenda to help Israel in many ways.

    1. I got the money, but you did not respond to my email in which I suggest a few time slots. Please check your spam folder.

    2. Yeah, I have responded to you. I got back my Skype account. I will contact you again when the time is convenient for both you and me to conduct the consultation.

      Thank you, Sleazy!

  2. I am a major in Linguistics and minor in History. I have zero understanding of economics. What are your suggestions for books to read to improve my rudimentary knowledge?

    I feel like economics is a field filled with dishonesty. Its methodology is bankrupt. As a result, I find it crucial to find books that give you insights that are free from all these post-modern bullshits.

    1. I agree that many economists are dishonest. All social sciences are very corruptible. Some econ professors also work for Wall Street. They used to teach that derivatives were actually a good thing LMAO.

      They are no better than the feminists who teach sociology. Lots of theories that sound good, but don’t survive the scientific method.

    2. Some time ago, someone on this blog recommended “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt. I skimmed it and found it to be excellent. I would recommend you start with this one as mainstream economics is indeed garbage.

    3. When I was a 1 year foreign student in the US, I did take a course in economics. That was more than 14 years ago. Little remains on my mind. I just remember to ask my teacher what is the corresponding function of the graph of the probability density function. She shows me the formula, then I asked her should I integrate it to obtain the table for the normal distribution function, she said yes, then I asked her was it hard to do it. She said that was beyond the high school curriculum.

      Looking back, I should be more interested in economics rather than those technicalities that are closer to Mathematics.

      But I think if modern economists are full-time mathematicians, they would not produce mountains of garbage like today.

    4. Jevons is a great economist. He is a logician and a mathematician. I would definitely check him out.

      After all the hazardous effects of modern intellectual movements, only Mathematics stand out as the most honest science. There is absolutely no rooms for logical fallacy and sophism in Math. It is very sad that I don’t have enough aptitude to pursue this field in depth.

    5. Hazlitt is very nice introduction, would also recommend thomas sowell basic economics. But if anything, you should read up on game theory as I underlies everything

    6. Oh and you are actually wrong, most of the bullshit in economics is actually the use of advanced math where it doesn’t apply. The create some models and abstractions of human behavior, and then use fancy math to work on those models. The problem is, humans in the real world don’t behave as those neat little abstractions. It is basically garbage in, garbage out.

      For example a part of the 2008 crash was that all banks used a risk model that assumed that financial returns are normally distributed. Which makes it nice to calculate in a stochastic model, problem is just that it is bullshit, because financial returns are not normally distributed

    7. But if you are a conscientious applied mathematician, you would have to keep an eye on real life phenomenon to streamline and refine your mathematical models.

      This is why a pure mathematician may be able to produce good works in pure mathematics, but he would fail in real world application. Euler comes up to me. He couldn’t design the water jet in the garden of Frederick the Great.

      Ballistic differential equation is another example. Euler did advance the field of research for this equation. Jules Drach did finally find all cases of reduction.

      But such a great achievement in pure mathematics didn’t lead to great advancement in practical applications of the theory.

      It is one thing to be good at pure math, it’s another to be a great applied mathematician.

  3. I am in no way any expert, but from what I remember guys here recommended KhanAcademy series “economics 101” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7VHfuWV-Qg&list=PLijnJ-e31j5UnSjXdktnvFQFJf3ro1WWp

    Also, I don’t know how much finance is connected to economics and what’s topic belong to one or another and prove me wrong, but I think finance knowledge is much more helpful in making money than economics (don’t know your motivation to learn it).

    I am in the process of reading the book “The bitcoin standard”. It’s very good overview of the history of the money. In addition it explains in nice way topics like: hard money, fiat money, sound money, inflation, gold, bitcoin and many more. The same guy is writing another book called “principles of economics” and I am patiently waiting when he will x it (https://saifedean.com/principles-of-economics/).

    I’ve watched lots of videos of TraderUnivesity from youtube and I can recommend him. He is very pro-bitcoin, but has also lots of videos about economics and finance. As a bonus he talks about in very simple language, so it’s very good for beginners. You can check his playlist here:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7w04GVKPitEEkn65f605w3OGEL9IGLMm

    You can also check the blog of Lyn Alden: https://www.lynalden.com/ . I’ve heard only good opinions about her. It’s on my list to read.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS5WYp5xmvI
    Thomas Sowell on the negativity of welfare state. This is counterintuitive to me because I thought welfare is good. I knew that welfare carried terrible consequence to a society because Western European countries had high welfare. But I didn’t know that it also affects adversarially the poors.

    And yet, over the other sides of the globe, China, and Vietnam, for example. Chinese and Vietnamese think it is great to have a good welfare state instituted.

    I have always thought welfare in the US is good because the government doesn’t give too much, nor too little.

    1. I was about to recommend Thomas Sowell in the previous post, but I see you already discovered him. “Basic Economics” and “Economic Facts and Fallacies” are good starting points, I think, but I cant delve on specifics right now cuz I read them years ago.

      I really like Sowell, and I think he is on solid ground, although I his writing style tedious after a while.

      Ubermensch is right about the abuse of abstract models – this is a problem in other social sciences too, but economics must be the worst.

      Interestingly, some psychological research seems to suggest that people who study economics actually change their personalities to a degree, they themselves tend to adopt a mindset more in line with their theoretical “homo oeconomicus” (ie they become more like selfish assholes), which further distorts their worldview.

    2. @Cuong Quoc Vu:

      you really need to rethink your opinion on welfare states.

      While I understand that ethically you would feel that poor people should be supported, the welfare state is quite a terrible solution for it.

      The welfare state destroys incentives for low skilled people to work, leading to more dependent people. And it burdens highly skilled people who actually work with high taxes, also disincentivizing them from work.

      It also works as an incentive for the worst people (in terms of contribution to society) to have a lot of children, making the problem actually worse in the long run.
      (because personality and IQ are partially genetic)

    3. @Ubermensch

      So what is the final solution to this aching problem?

      1) Should the state refuses to give any kind of financial and material support to the poor, thus alleviating the tax burdens of the middle class?

      2) Should the state provide very basic welfare, such as basic foods, and that’s it?

      Because, you see, we face a serious situation right now. In Vietnam, for example, there exists almost no welfare, but the government always call up financial supports from the middle class and the upper class, as well as oversea Vietnamese to raise funds to support the poors. This happens yearly when natural disaster such as floods occur in central Vietnam.

      In China, before the opening of the economy, there exists all kind of social welfare as China was a socialist state. But after the 1980s, all of these programs are transformed or changed. Right now, the major classes that receive social welfare are the elders, the disabilities, and single mother (which China has far fewer than in the West).

      Social welfare in China is also more generous to ethnic minorities (like Tibetans) because it is a way to discourage them from joining separatist movements.

    4. In this video, several figures of Chinese financial information regarding welfare is provided. I view these figures as back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it should give us some insights:

      At 1:09, it states that:
      2011年中国财政总收入超过十万亿一元,其中九成都来组税收,支出更接近十一万亿[…]。用于社会保障和就业的支出只有一万多亿,仅为全部财政支出的10%。

      In 2011, Chinese fiscal revenues is over 10 trillion RMB, of which 90% of revenues derive from taxes, expenses approach near 1,100,000,000,000[…]. The total expenses for social security and employment is only 11 trillion RMB, only occupy 10% of the total national expenditure.

      I am sure the ratio between total national revenues and expenditures for various forms of welfare in Scandinavian countries and the US must be much higher.

    5. @CQV,

      In the US it is a very small slice of the budget. Much more goes to corporate America. And the military eats up the largest share.

    6. “In Sweden and Germany it’s around 50%.”

      I have no idea about Germany, but in Sweden it’s a bit under 30%. You’re probably thinking of total public spending, Aaron, which also includes things like military, police, etc.

    7. Isn’t 30% bad enough? Also, how much money is spent on police as a consequence of having an idle class at the bottom of society with too much time on its hands?

    8. In piss-poor Nicaragua, run by a corrupt socialist regime, it would be ludicrous to suggest ID-less voting.

      It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me how they even discuss this in the US. Or maybe not; after all, we see the effects of policiea like this in last year’s fraudulent election.

      When the biggest champion of modern liberal democracy suffers from this, you just know it is a sham.

  5. Big pharma foisted an opium epidemic on Americans, with the help of big government, and the Jewish Sackler family is behind it:
    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/523862-big-pharma-us-opioids/
    Surely, now with Covid the motives of big pharma are entirely noble. This time, they really have nothing but good intentions. Instead, their 100+ years of shady history are the outliers.

    1. That is legitimately hilarious. 😀

      For anyone who wants to see, the video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppK_D_AFzWI and the times are 3:17 for one angle and 3:56 for the other.

      I don’t normally pick on other men’s choice in women, but since he calls himself a PUA and publicly brags about her I think it’s fair game this time.

      Kinda makes me laugh how Black Dragon refers to her as “trim,” “small,” and “not quite as curvy as I’m typically used to” when she’s quite fat and you can see her belly sticking out.

      Worst thing is how he says she’s “what most men would consider a 9 or 10” because to me she honestly looks borderline trans. About the only positive thing he said about her that I agree with is that she has big boobs, but that alone’s not gonna save a girl when the rest of her is like that.

    2. I forgot what the article was about. I just keep staring at the girl in the first pick. Kidding, his girl is fugly and if she doesn’t even like him God help him.

  6. So I finished reading this book:

    https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/40224881-at-our-wits-end

    The main argument of the book is since around the year 1850 (beginning of the industrial revolution) that humans become less intelligent every generation (around 3 points of IQ lost), because IQ is negatively correlated with fertility.
    And this in the end will lead to the collapse of civilization (or at least worse living conditions)

    Reasons are:

    – modern medicine (children from poor people no longer die, and low IQ is correlated with poverty)
    – contraception (high IQ people are more effective at using it)
    – welfare state (raises incentives for low IQ people to have more babies)
    – feminism (high IQ women don’t have babies anymore)
    – immigration (from countries with lower IQ)
    – atheism (religion is correlated with fertility)

    Data & studies are presented for all of the arguments.

    Now a lot of you will mention the Flynn effect. The author has a whole chapter about it.
    But basically, the Flynn effect is masking the decline of actual intelligence.

    It works like this: IQ is ~80% genetic, the other 20% are environment.

    But because since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the environment improved a lot (better nutrition, better education, more stimulating environment), this lead to a big increase in the environmental component of IQ. But the genetic component is actually getting worse.
    And since around 1990, in some countries even the Flynn effect went into reverse.

    The auther shows studies that proxies for intelligence, for example reaction time, also get worse over time.

    It’s pretty damning evidence and I suspected this for a long time.

    If you understand how evolution works, this is pretty much unavoidable. If you remove pressures, a species will degenerate.

    1. Due to lack of time, I have not been able to read the book itself, so I resorted to reading some detailed reviews. On the face of it, the hypothesis sounds plausible enough. I myself have long pondered on the possible effects that the alteration (or outright elimination) of traditional evolutionary pressures by technological advancements and public policy, on the future of our species.

      My only objections so far are:

      1)the examples he chooses to illustrate it in the beginning, the Concorde supersonic passenger aircraft and the moon landings. The reason we never did those again was not because of declining intelligence made humanity uncapable of doing them, but because they turned out to be not very good ideas in retrospect.

      Supersonic passenger flight was riddled with problems of efficiency that made it a money losing venture almost from the start. The aircraft (both Concorde and its soviet analog, the Tupolev 144) were designed during the 1960s, before the oil crisis of 1973 made fuel efficiency a concern. The entire design and production process was heavily subsidized by british and french taxpayers and went massively over budget. Commercial operation was limited by flight path restrictions (because sonic booms over populated areas caused cracked windows and noise complaints), and the reduced cabin space meant you could only cater to wealthy passengers without being able to offer them amenities. They were mainly kept going because of national prestige issues, but by the time of the infamous Paris crash, the airframes were aged, Airbus had stopped providing spares, and it had already been decided to phase them out. And no replacements have been designed because there is still no reasonable market demand for this.

      2) The moon landings cannot be understood outside the context of the Space Race between the USA and the USSR. Again, geopolitics and national prestige at work, generously showered with taxpayer dollars. There is little of relevance for us on the moon, and certainly nothing was gained by sending people there that could not have been achieved by sending probes. Despite Elon Musks fever dreams, colonizing either the moon or Mars is extremely impractical and unlikely to bring any benefit to humanity. There is no economic or military value in doing so (the real money makers in space business are satellites and their launch services).
      The interest in those exotic space ventures will probably reignite somewhat as the competition with China heats up, but again, that has more to do with politics than brainpower.

      3) Finally, one topic that I have not seen properly addressed yet, is related to the fact that humanity seems to be achieving a lesser amount of scientific and technological breakthroughs per capita now than in the past. Instead of a symptom of declining intelligence, this may well because the low hanging fruits have already been taken, and that the marginal effort necessary to move science along then progressively climbs to the outer limits of human brain capacity until they exceed them.

      In any case, despite these particular objections, I find the general hypothesis of the book to be plausible enough, and intellectually provocative. I will read it in full as soon as possible.

    1. The U.S. opposition to voter ID laws has always seemed so completely irrational to me. Even here in Sweden, which isn’t exactly right-wing central, most people support voter ID laws and find the suggestion to allow ID-less voting weird.

      Ami Horowitz made a great video about U.S. white liberal opposition to voter ID laws:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odB1wWPqSlE

      (Yes, as the name indicates he’s Jewish, but I think you’ll like this video, Aaron. 😉 )

    1. “In reality, in those areas where they settled, Indochinese refugees were a significant drain on welfare and other forms of public assistance, barely assimilated, and “overloaded the public schools and medical facilities and were blamed for a rise in the rate of tuberculosis and other diseases.””
      Although I am an Indochinese, this is indeed revealing and disturbing. My guess is that new Indochinese immigrants drained the US resources because they had difficulty of integrating into American society. They needed food stamp, medical and financial support to begin to establish themselves in the area where they were relocated. As time goes by, they may be strong enough to stand on their own feet.

      The Vietnamese American community, as a whole, just like the Chinese community, is responsible for rigging income taxes when it comes to small businesses. Shops, supermarkets, restaurants, receive cash instead of credit and debit cards, leaving little traces for the authority to track their inflow and outflow.

      Chinese supermarkets are also known to hire illegal immigrants to work as they could not bargain for a higher salary.

  7. Western median and Wikipedia lackeys insist that the Uyghur ongoing crisis in China is “genocide”.

    I have read many Chinese online news and can decipher that among the Uyghurs, there are both supporters and separatists. China targets mostly the second group to preserve national sovereignty.

    On historum, a history forum, a member called heavenlykhaghan (he takes the title of the Tang emperor Tang Taizong as his username), states as followed:

    [blockquote]
    I honestly don’t understand why people have to denounce all the other side’s video as fake. There are clearly both oppression and mass support of the CCP among the Uyghurs. They clearly don’t have a uniform voice. I’ve personally seen both. But the very existence of mass support of the CCP among particular Uyghurs denounces the genocide narrative by default.

    That, however, does not mean the CCP policies in Xinjiang weren’t arbitrary and repressive.
    The oppression however is targeted at specific groups which the CCP deems to be terrorism. My biggest problem with these policies isn’t the fictional death camp narrative presented in western media, but the often paranoid detention of people who made very minor “mistakes” that they are not even aware is wrong. I personally know an Uyghur scholar who was taken by the CCP after he visited an academic conference from a Pan-Turkic group from Turkey (he didn’t even think its a big deal). We lost all contact with his family and don’t know if he is released now. This is the type of paranoia that SOME Uyghurs go through. However, it would be ridiculous to portray this as being directed to all or even majority of the Uyghurs. Plenty of Uyghurs are behind the CCP and reaped benefits from the government, limited oppression of particular people is not a genocide. It’s akin to saying that the Han is getting genocided by the CCP because of persecution of the Falungong.
    [/blockquote]

    1. There is definitely something dodgy going on both in Xinjiang, and in the reporting about it.

      I have no doubts there is a large degree of repression going on there, as can be ascertained from multiple independent sources. For example, the destruction of Uighur mosques and cultural sites can be followed on satellite imagery.

      However, at the same time, the most dire estimates of victims seem to rely heavily on the work of one single, pretty dodgy character, a researcher named Adrian Zenz. His work has been published by the Jamestown Foundation, which is a CIA backed think tank, which raises some red flags to me.

      China is probably being brutal to the Uighurs, but tales of their deeds are probably exaggerated for propaganda purposes in the West.

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