Sunday, September 28, 2014

Derek Jeter and Gnosticism

I know, wtf, right? But Sailer spots the connection, and this explains a lot of the persistence in debate in certain areas. Thus, my observation that all I ever do is recycle a few key themes. I was speaking with my dad last night, and he pointed out that when you think about it, mankind just keeps cycling through the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

It's human nature to want some esoteric, arcane knowledge or process to differentiate you from all the rubes. This is Pride, one of the seven deadly sins. Thus, esoteric specialists can demonstrate how billionaire George Steinbrenner was a fool to keep shoveling so much money to Derek Jeter, as he collected four world championships in the process.

Of course, this is not to pooh-pooh data collection but to criticize the idolization of the model constructed from the data. Steinbrenner saw something in Jeter that wouldn't necessarily show up in the spreadsheets. Donald Trump has made the point that he can tell a lot about potential business partners based on how they comport themselves in a round of golf.

My favorite example of gnostic thinking is "climate scientists" who fancy themselves something more than mere meteorologists. When they venture out of their computer labs, they end up trapped in Antarctic sea ice which their models told them did not exist. Then they have to radio actual meteorologists to find out what the weather patterns are so they can determine if their food stores and power supply will last through their taxpayer-funded rescue.

Economics is another area where very bright people get bored with axiomatic things like the supply-demand curve or capital and the structure of production. Genius-level people find this the intellectual equivalent of ditch-digging (which has its own science, as any ditch digger who's had to be pulled out from under a collapsed ditch wall can tell you). So they develop a "macro" field of economics with models that supposedly will have society running like a top. Of course, when they venture out in the real world their models fail appallingly. Long Term Capital Management nearly brought down Wall Street long before Goldman Sachs and AIG. The best and brightest American economists nearly killed post-Soviet Russia, and we came close to the Great Reset when the quants forgot to account for the fact that housing values can plateau, and also decline.

It's quaint to recall Gary Larson's great Far Side cartoons with the archetypal "scientists" peering through microscopes and telescopes, or in pith helmets in the jungle. (Actually, a lot of the humor was in how quaint it seemed even circa 1980 - 1995.) Currently, a lot of science consists in running computer models. Field work can actually be dangerous, which was a big complaint from the subject of a recent post:
I still love rocks and I still dream of the ancient Aegean seas, but for the better part of my career I’ve sealed myself into a locked laboratory, a small well-lit world that I can control. I still do fieldwork, but I do it in “safe” countries like Canada and Ireland — where similar things still happen. Where would I have ended up had I been the first person to report the isotope chemistry of the aquifers that underlie the ancient city of Hierapolis? I’ll never know, because I’ll never go back. I’ll take my chances elsewhere and let my male colleagues study the travertine deposits of the Menderes River Valley. I will continue to do everything right, and it will continue to keep me inadequately safe.

(Note that what is apparently out of the question is marrying a male colleague, who can do field work with her and protect her from harmful sexual encounters with strangers.)

As I've observed (repeatedly), the whole climate change alarum is rather distant from what people used to call "environmentalism." Things like eliminating particulate and heavy metal pollution, solid waste management, flora and fauna preservation aren't consistent with globalism and require some politically incorrect thinking about human r-selected reproductive practices. So the environmentalists tiptoed away from all these real world problems to focus on things with ambiguous metrics like "climate" and "sea levels." (As opposed to "weather" and "erosion.")

I certainly agree that it can't be good for anywhere or anybody to be burning so many fossil fuels, like the acres of idling cars on concrete highways, headed for reflective heat generators in the form of huge steel and glass buildings. I can drive two hours and see that brown smudge in the air above Atlanta and the temperature difference from city to rural to realize something non-normative is going on. But whereas an "environmentalist" used to be making these real world observations and calling for something tangible, now he's sitting in front of a computer trying to craft arguments for government to subsidize energy sources that are way too diffuse to have much utility. Or worse, arguing for some complicated rent-seeking scheme.

"Gnosticism" infects a lot of areas, like the magic thinking that concludes The Gap is because we're not getting black children away from their taciturn parents early enough--instead of thinking about things like how to get iodine and vitamin D into poor people's diets, and laying out some really clear rules for high-risk groups. Or that AIDS has everything to do with a runaway-freight-train of a virus that could Kill Us All, and nothing to do with practices that put intolerable loads on human immune systems. Or what Haitians really need are nice white people handing out canned goods instead of building them a sewage system and putting the Haitian equivalent of Paul Kagame in charge of it.

But the root of it all, it seems, is Pride.

UPDATE: John Derbyshire, on exactamundo, all-fours point:
Professor Thompson—she teaches math at the University of California, Davis—proceeds to apply that careful scrutiny at 3,500-word length. She concludes:

To summarize, the paper “Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers” contains a theorem that has neither mathematical content nor real-world applications, and a contrived computer simulation that illustrates the well-known fact that random algorithms are often effective. What the paper emphatically does not contain is information that can be applied to any real-world situation involving actual people.

Predictable as the effing tides.


lannes said...

Interesting, but who but a handful
will read it?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

If I worried about that, I wouldn't bother.

I am definitely in a rut though. Time for some new material or a new approach.

Your Kakistocracy said...

Mark Shea at Patheos once accused me of the sin of Pride. I countered with Gluttony. And only one of the two could support our position demonstrably.

As far as the post, it's an excellent piece. Both culture and policy are now premised on models of the world, rather than the tangible one we all happen to live in. Models of race, economics, climate. They are simply accepted in lieu of supposedly faulty inputs from our own senses. Holy models even persist well beyond their defrocking. Boas is still far more respected than any "HBDer" no matter what acknowledged fraud is the former. That's our model and we're sticking to it.

And you're not in a rut. You're in a niche with no market. No matter toward what peril the herd shambles, a huge majority will remained resolutely in its core. Those in our sphere are offering content to such a narrow sliver of the Internet audience that the whole market wouldn't round up to a tenth of one percent. In the dissident right you've a literal handful of sites reaching some global five figure audience combined. Then add a few dozen bloggers writing to a few dozen more readers...and the end.

I read an article about commercial blogging a few months ago. The self-styled gooroo stated that six months into a blog, you should have a solid core of at least 250 readers. He said any blog with less than that figure after one-year should be trashed as a failure. My place didn't reach the first metric. Though as a for example, he linked to a blog of his own that he claimed attracted a 500 core in only 90 days of operation. "That must be a very impressive blog," I thought. It was mindless drivel.

So unless you can bring yourself to pen breathless pop culture profiles, it's probably going to be artful rephrasing of the same laments to the same sparse congregants. No matter how well-done the former and appreciative the latter.

Toddy Cat said...

I wouldn't worry too much, Kak. To paraphrase Vox Day, anyone who hasn't been attacked by Mark Shea, has to wonder what he's doing wrong.

August said...

Since I've been reading/listening to permaculturalists because I think the systems design could help create a micro-civilization or two (since you basically need to go off-grid to compete with the leviathan), I have noticed a huge difference in what the words mean.

Climate change means more than global warming to them- it means erosion and other forms of ecological disaster brought about by our fragile farming systems. Additionally, sustainability essentially ends up meaning fertile ground, and an ecological system that will maintain itself for some indeterminate period of time with the sole inputs of air & water.
Sustainable, to a political parasite, means whatever keeps him in power until he retires, and then whatever keeps his retirement coming, which is one reason why all these 'Christian' world changers aren't going to change a damn thing. And they also reduce climate change to global warming because they want global power. I don't think CO2 is a big deal, but the answer is still the same- build the soil. Good soil is a carbon trap, yet the politicians never mention building the soil.

I find these themes, and the feeling of repeating them over and over, quite familiar too...

Your Kakistocracy said...

Yeah TC, anyone who's accepted as mainstream at this point is basically peddling mush.

Regarding Shea: given his status as nuevo-clergy, it's interesting (in the drearily predictable way that things are not) to note how he has personally aligned his sin prioritization not with any expressions from God, but strictly with those of our Devine Zeitgeist.

And as you can imagine, there is but one mortal sin. Though since he was busily pronouncing it upon all opponents, I asked his opinion on Gluttony (as any photo will reveal his indulgence). He replied that was just a churlish fat attack. You see, he'll decide what are real sins and what are not--and will let you know forthwith.

A perfect representative of the modern church.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Updated this post per John Derbyshire's latest at Unz.

"As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

Anonymous said...

"Or that AIDS has everything to do with a runaway-freight-train of a virus that could Kill Us All, and nothing to do with practices that put intolerable loads on human immune systems."

Almost nobody knows this, but even back in the early '70s, well before the advent of AIDS, big-city medical clinics specially catering to homosexual clients were reporting tons of patients with severely compromised immune systems. AIDS didn't create these problems, it just made them much more lethal.

"Or what Haitians really need are nice white people handing out canned goods instead of building them a sewage system and putting the Haitian equivalent of Paul Kagame in charge of it."

The problem there is that Haiti's severe Brain Drain to the United States, thanks to the USA's open-door immigration policy. One of my early bosses was a Haitian-born engineer educated in the US. He undoubtedly enjoyed a much higher standard of living in the US than he ever could have in Haiti, which I didn't begrudge him. That said, in the US he was just one more moderately-successful department manager at a mid-sized company. In Haiti, he could have held a major leadership position that would have had a dramatic positive effect on the lives of many, many people.

Some countries use the United States to dump their undesirables (Mexico), whilst in others, the elites use the US as a refuge to get away from their dysfunctional countrymen.

Gealgh said...

And you're not in a rut. You're in a niche with no market.

Hear, hear.

Anonymous said...

About AIDS, I think a degree of skepticism is warranted. House of Numbers.