Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Dark Matter of ENCODE.

Now for something a bit different.

I suppose the latest advances in molecular biology and genetics are not really subject of interest to the majority of the manosphere. But, for its more religious and traditionalist members, some of the recent findings of the ENCODE project look like they will have more than just scientific significance.

One of the curious paradoxes of modern genetics is that most of genome seems to be composed of of what appeared to be non-functional "junk" . Roughly, mainstream scientific wisdom has determined that about 4% of genetic material codes for the proteins that build up our body, the rest of the stuff.............well....... we don't know. Scientists, in attempting to work out what this DNA does have performed experiements where they have "knocked out" some of this junk DNA, with the  offspring animals not seeming to suffer any ill effects from the deletion, confirming the notion of junk DNA.  Molecular Darwinism too,  is Ok with the idea, since it the random nature of genetic mutations would imply that not all our DNA be functional. My understanding of the matter is that mathematical models of Darwinian evolution predict fifteen percent of DNA to be "functional" and the rest to be junk.

Indeed, our favorite mass-man/cognitive miser evolutionary theoretician Richard Dawkins loved junk DNA. He used its existence to bash away at those who supported some from of intelligent design. Thundering from the pulpit, in 2009 he said;
"It stretches even their creative ingenuity to make a convincing reason why an intelligent designer should have created a pseudogene -- a gene that does absolutely nothing and gives every appearance of being a superannuated version of a gene that used to do something -- unless he was deliberately setting out to fool us... 
Leaving pseudogenes aside, it is a remarkable fact that the greater part (95 percent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes."
Now, this idea of junk DNA has always struck me as odd. One thing that struck me in my undergraduate years in biology was the notion that there was still so much to learn about, especially with regard to genetics, and that any definitve pronouncements on the matter were likely to be rash. But medicine and science have a good tradition of confidently pronouncing on subjects they woefully ignorant in. In the old days, when doctors didn't know about the functioning of the spleen or thymus, they declared these organs vestigial and non-functional and removed them with abandon; it was only years later that they were discovered to be vital for the development of immunity and the protection against certain types of the disease. My studies left me with the impression, which I still hold to this day, that there is very little waste when it comes to molecular machinery and that the system is very efficient.

Some other people must have had this notion as well and they decided to go "poking around" this junk DNA. In 2007 the U.S. National Human Genome Project Research Institute started and investigation called ENCODE program. It involved over four hundred scientists and its findings, released late last year, are simply stunning. Roughly 80% of the junk is "functional". (The other 20% was "silent" most likely, in my opinion, due to technical limitations and in due time will eventually be found to be "functional"). It appears from the project that  there is very little "junk." and the "junk DNA is responsible for the regulation of our genes through through a variety of mechanisms. One of the major ones being the the production  non coding RNA, a class of molecules whose significance has only appreciated recently.

The findings have unleashed some uncharacteristically sarcastic and bitter responses from the Darwinian pit bulls, such as is not seen in the clinical and staid world of molecular genetics. But they have a point, and the point concerns the definition of "functionality".  The Darwinians assert that the only thing that the ENCODE project have discovered is biochemical activity in bits of the junk DNA and not actual biochemical function. What they are arguing is that the discovered activity is nothing more than "transcriptional noise" or random biochemical activity. What's really surprising is the vehemence with which they are making their claims. The ENCODE scientists concede that they haven't demonstrate "function" as yet but it's very likely that the activity is functional.

But the data is beginning to surge in.

Prader Willi Syndrome and some variants of autism have now been found to be due to defects in the production of long non coding RNA as have other illnesses. Long non coding RNA seems to determine our brain architecture and neurological functioning.  As well as our embryonic development. Several cancers have now been linked to abnormalities of ncRNA expression.

More importantly, what appears to be one of the most damning papers for the Darwinians has just been released. (You're at the cutting edge of science here!) It appears to strongly vindicate the researchers of ENCODE and the abstract deserves to be quoted in full:
Known protein coding gene exons compose less than 3% of the human genome. The remaining 97% is largely uncharted territory, with only a small fraction characterized. The recent observation of transcription in this intergenic territory has stimulated debate about the extent of intergenic transcription and whether these intergenic RNAs are functional. Here we directly observed with a large set of RNA-seq data covering a wide array of human tissue types that the majority of the genome is indeed transcribed, corroborating recent observations by the ENCODE project. Furthermore, using de novo transcriptome assembly of this RNA-seq data, we found that intergenic regions encode far more long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) than previously described, helping to resolve the discrepancy between the vast amount of observed intergenic transcription and the limited number of previously known lincRNAs. In total, we identified tens of thousands of putative lincRNAs expressed at a minimum of one copy per cell, significantly expanding upon prior lincRNA annotation sets. These lincRNAs are specifically regulated and conserved rather than being the product of transcriptional noise [ED]. In addition, lincRNAs are strongly enriched for trait-associated SNPs suggesting a new mechanism by which intergenic trait-associated regions may function. These findings will enable the discovery and interrogation of novel intergenic functional elements.
Game. Set. Match.

The vehemence which the Darwinian Atheists have attacked the ENCODE project is more than just a matter of defending a competing hypothesis, rather, what perceptive players have recognised is that deep philosophical issues are at stake here. Make no mistake, this is a Galileo moment.

John Mattick, a world renowned Australian researcher at the forefront of non-coding RNA research replied to the critics of ENCODE:
There may also be another factor motivating the Graur et al. and related articles (van Bakel et al. 2010; Scanlan 2012), which is suggested by the sources and selection of quotations used at the beginning of the article, as well as in the use of the phrase “evolution-free gospel” in its title (Graur et al. 2013): the argument of a largely non-functional genome is invoked by some evolutionary theorists in the debate against the proposition of intelligent design of life on earth, particularly with respect to the origin of humanity. In essence, the argument posits that the presence of non-protein-coding or so-called ‘junk DNA’ that comprises >90% of the human genome is evidence for the accumulation of evolutionary debris by blind Darwinian evolution, and argues against intelligent design, as an intelligent designer would presumably not fill the human genetic instruction set with meaningless information (Dawkins 1986; Collins 2006). [Ed] This argument is threatened in the face of growing functional indices of noncoding regions of the genome, with the latter reciprocally used in support of the notion of intelligent design and to challenge the conception that natural selection accounts for the existence of complex organisms (Behe 2003; Wells 2011). 
In any case, that our understanding of the remarkably complex processes underlying the molecular evolution of life, including the likely evolution of evolvability (Mattick 2009c), is incomplete should not be surprising. With the emergence of transformative technologies, such as massively parallel sequencing, which provide tools to view the inner molecular workings of the genome that were inconceivable less than a decade ago, it is as important as ever that we as scientists remain open to observations that challenge even the most fundamental paradigms that exist within biology today [Ed]
Mattick is not a creationist, he believes that these new findings are compatible with the "broad tenants" of evolutionary theory, but he does recognise the current Darwinian evolutionary understandings are seriously flawed. Make no mistake, one of the foundations of modernism has been seriously undermined by the latest findings in molecular genetics.

And what of our friend Mr Dawkins, what's his take on the new findings with regard to junk DNA?
"I have noticed that there are some creationists who are jumping on [the ENCODE results] because they think that's awkward for Darwinism. Quite the contrary it's exactly what a Darwinist would hope for[ED: See above quote], to find usefulness in the living world....

Whereas we thought that only a minority of the genome was doing something, namely that minority which actually codes for protein, and now we find that actually the majority of it is doing something. What it's doing is calling into action the protein-coding genes. So you can think of the protein-coding genes as being sort of the toolbox of subroutines which is pretty much common to all mammals -- mice and men have the same number, roughly speaking, of protein-coding genes and that's always been a bit of a blow to self-esteem of humanity. But the point is that that was just the subroutines that are called into being; the program that's calling them into action is the rest [of the genome] which had previously been written off as junk."
Seriously, sometimes you've just got to stand back and let them hang themselves.

HT: Egnorance blog for the Dawkins quotes

Finally, this post is dedicated to Simon Grey who feels there may be a bit of defeatism in my recent writings. Rest assured. There's still some fight in the old bastard.

Bonus.  John Mattick on Vimeo

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Biological Vote: It's Implications for Conservatism.

As mentioned in previous posts, the cognitive miser operates on intuition and feeling. Their opinions on matters can be considered as more akin to higher order reflexes responding to complex stimuli.  However, there does appear to be a wide variability in the nature of the response, with people responding differently to the same stimulus,  and what interests me is the origin of the variability.

It's been long know that temperament can be bred in dogs. It's also been know that certain mood disorders can run through family lines. So it is not unreasonable to assume that personality may have a strong genetic component. [Ed: For the spergs, environment also has an influence] Personality needs to be understood as not only how we respond to the world but also how we interpret it. The emotional responses generated novel environmental stimuli seems be both hard wired (genetics) and learned.

The reason why some people like authority and others don't may not have any rational basis whatsoever, rather their inherited genetic encoded operating system may pre-dispose them to to their respective responses. i.e the feelings generated are involuntary. Science has not yet worked out how we generate the emotional responses we do to certain situations. I suspect that the answer will lay in all that junk DNA that is currently being re-evaluated [Ed: Astute observers will note that the term "junk" has been dropped. Dumb Scientists]. But what's becoming increasingly evident is that Conservatives and Liberals seem to differ, to a degree, in biology. Anonymous Conservative (Hat tip, Matt Forney) has a good paper here listing some of the cerebral and genetic differences between Conservatives and Liberals. Now, I'm not a big believer in his r/K selection theory but I do think his comments on the differences between groups two have significant implications in reality.

As has been shown by neuroscience, the cognitive miser is strongly influenced by his emotional state, and given that most men are cognitive misers, it follow that their politics will be strongly influenced by their emotions. The non-intuitive thinker, will look at facts and issues and will try to weigh them objectively, being able to "decouple" from his emotions. The problem is that this type of man is an exception and in a democracy the intuitive mob rules.

The take home message here is that we seem to be dispositionally orientated to conservatism or liberalism as a result of our genetics, and as politics has become more dumbed down, we're seeing  and more of the influence of this genetic component on voting results. In a democracy, where the cognitive miser is king, the absence of an overwhelming idea means that people will vote upon  intuitive lines. The reason why we can't reach consensus is because the underlying biology is in opposition. It's almost as if voting is decided by bloodlines.

My concern, however, is with the conservative cognitive miser, the man who votes for the Right. Whilst most political psychological studies are liberal biased, nearly all of them demonstrate a continual aversion to novelty, individuality and cognitive flexibility amongst conservatives. This does not mean that conservatives are incapable of taking on new ideas, rather, they're slower on the uptake. However, if they can become accustomed to idea, over time, they will adopt them. These intuitive conservatives, are thus agents of cultural inertia. Note, they're not concerned about the content as much as the novelty of the idea. Go it slow is their motto. The thing about these conservatives is that their conservatism is "content lite" and is situational more than principled. There is no political ideology intrinsic to conservatism of the cogntive miser, because it is all about the rate of change and how the ideologies are superficially packaged.

Now you can see how Burkean Conservatism appeals to these types, for Burke echos their intuitions. I've got to admit, I've never been a fan of Burke's thinking. He reminds me of an old grandfather driving a well maintained old Ford. He travels a bit under the speed limit, "just in case" and sticks to well worn routes. He keeps talking about the kids killing themselves driving those fast foreign cars.

The thing is, once a liberal idea does take hold amongst these intuitive conservatives they're just as likely to hold on it. If we were to survey the current political landscape, which conservative party is seriously trying to push back on ideas such as pre-marital sex, divorce, moral relativism, multiculturalism and more recently gay marriage? The stuff that is the real social rot of our society. These things are now taken as a given by the mainstream right. The modern Right in the U.S. looks a lot like the Carter Left in the 70's, though Carter did not support gay marriage......maybe.

Old style conservatism was heavily based on religion, and hence was propositional. The content of religion flavoured the conservatism and set limits to its malleability. The new style "inclusive" conservatism is situational and content "flexible", it is endlessly malleable provided it is done slowly. This is why the religious collapse in the West in the 1960's was so destructive to political conservatism as well.  Religion buttressed political conservatism in a mass democracy and its removal ensured the slow drift to the Left.

Conservatism needs to be framed as a propositional ideology. Principally, it is an ideology which first and foremost believes in the truth and reality. The problem with such a conservatism though is that it is inaccessible to the cognitive miser, who votes with his gut instead of his head. Therefore the only way I can see that meaningful conservatism will reassert itself in the West will be either through;

1) An evangalisation of the democratic nations. In my opinion, unlikley.
2) The collapse of democracy and the reassertion of Conservatism by a cognitive/religious elite.

The way things are going, the second option seems the most probable.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Some Thoughts on System 1 Thinking, IQ Debate and the Cathedral.

Unlike most critics of IQ testing, I believe in their validity. Where I differ from most of the supporting crowd is that I recognise that the test has some practical real world limitations.  It's true that a higher IQ reduces the risk of outright stupidity but does not eliminate it, and thus, it being a cure-all for the ills of society should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, the way the majority of people think about IQ is a classic example of Systems 1 thinking in operation.

The graph below is one that I've randomly pulled off the internet and which we'll use for discussion purposes.

Now, clearly, the  population groups under consideration are different, with mean Black IQ being lower than White. This a fact. But from the graph we can see that there still are many blacks who have a higher IQ than the average white. This is also a fact. An intelligent man will be cognsicent of these facts and will take them into account in any discussion.

The problem occurs when the cognitive miser becomes involved.

System 1 thinking--the predominant mode of thought amongst the cognitive miser-- tends to concentrate on the rule and not the exception. The factual statement that most blacks have lower IQ's than whites is internalised into the heuristic that all blacks have lower IQ's than whites. It's cognitively simpler and intuitively congenial to the miser. The thing is, based on the above chart,  the miser will be right roughly 80% of time. If the miser lives in a poor 'redneck area"  where selection pressures have made high-IQ blacks leave, he will be right nearly 100% of the time. In his own mind his life experience will confirm his ideas and liberal notions of black academic potential will be dismissed with scorn.*

The problem is, when such a man comes to the IQ debate he brings partial truths to it. He can't be dismissed outright, yet he is also factually wrong about his "conceptions" of Black IQ. When such as man presents his arguments to other cognitive misers, they will be readily accepted, especially amongst those who are dispositionally inclined. However, given the strong emotional link to System 1 thinking, anyone who is dispositionally disinclined to any argument will reject it outright. Thus on one hand, we have a advocacy of partial truths on one side and suppression of them by another. In the end, when two dispositionally opposed cognitive misers meet, it's not about the exchange of ideas as much as it is about the assertion of their various camps. The IQ debate eventually degenerates inot one camp who asserts that blacks are stupid, and the other; who assert that IQ doesn't matter, the tests are false or that there opponents are racist.

But the really interesting thing is what happens to the intelligent man who tries to assert himself in the debate. Firstly, let's say he is conservatively disposed; the conservative cognitive misers who are supposedly his allies will suspect he is some crypto-liberal who has infiltrated their ranks. If he liberally disposed and acknowledges the racial differences, the prole liberal with regard him as some nascent Fascist. Both sides will look upon him with suspicion and both will be quite literally "confused" by his position.  He doesn't neatly fit into any camp.

Secondly,  he is overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers, as cognitive misers are the overwhelming majority in any population. A universal democracy, with gives everyone the "right to an opinion" ensures the opinions of the uninformed overwhelm those of the informed, thus public debate never rises above that of the mob squabble.

Finally, any attempt to convince the cognitive miser or the merits or failings of any cause is likely to further entrench them in their position, especially if there is a strong emotional attachment to the cause. Debate with such an individual is usually counterproductive and trying to convince the public through rational debate is a waste of time, especially to  those with diminishing resources (i.e. thoughtful conservatives) Indeed, the whole "convince your opposition with the merits of your case" approach is a diversionary tactic which favours the The Cathedral. The intelligent Right expends itself trying to convince the unconvincables.

The Cathedral has long recognised that intelligent discourse with its enemies is counterproductive. It has recognised that the way to win the debate with the masses is through emotional conditioning. As the Jonathan Haidt has shown, and commercial advertising has demonstrated for decades, it's the emotional tail which wags the rational dog. [Ed:Amongst cognitive misers.] The Cathedral tries to paint causes in a positive light always. All the Gays depicted on television and the media are funny, nice and agreeable, all the Conservatives; nasty, unattractive and ignorant. The whole thrust of Cathedral ops is to conflate agreeableness with Liberal values and disagreeableness with Conservative ones. If you can make people feel good about an issue they will vote for it.

*Depressing examples of this type of thought are frequently seen on Roissy's blog in the comments section. Take, for example, the concept of the "neg".  An intelligent man will see that it's use is conditional on the circumstances but a lot of the spergy commentariat miss this distinction. They neg away endlessly to their detriment. Roissy is good writer but some of his implicit subtlety is lost with the Hive mind commentariat.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Jason Richwine recently put up a rather good post over at Politico.  Why can't we talk about IQ should really be titled Why cant we talk about certain things?

In my mind, the IQ debate is settled. Overwhelming scientific evidence validates the concept, as does personal experience.  Only those who deliberately turn a blind eye to the data can assert that there isn't a genetic component.  Environment does play a role, though you can't put in what God's left out. Still, I'm not a IQ Calvinist who believes in genetic predestination, there are ways to by-pass innate stupidity but that is for a different post.

What struck me about Richwine's piece was it's explicit, but confused, attack on The Cathedral.
At stake here, incidentally, is not just knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but also how science informs public policy. The U.S. education system, for example, is suffused with mental testing, yet few in the political classes understand cognitive ability research. Angry and repeated condemnations of the science will not help.

What scholars of mental ability know, but have never successfully gotten the media to understand[ED], is that a scientific consensus, based on an extensive and consistent literature, has long been reached on many of the questions that still seem controversial to journalists.
Here is where I think he starts to go wrong. Richwine seems to be running on the assumption that science hasn't done enough to convince journalists about the truth of their claims, or, that there is an onus on scientists to convince journalists. Richwine doesn't seem to realise that the role of journalists has changed. Whilst the traditional role of journalists was to objectively report the facts, the role of the modern journalist is to police "approved" culture. He seems to be running on the assumption that "more convincing" or communication is required by the scientists. This a typical victim response. Most good natured people, when involved unexpectedly in a conflict, tend to rationalise the event by blaming themselves, in someway, for the events. He doesn't seem to realise that he is up against a malevolent beast.
Snyderman and Rothman then systematically analyzed television, newspaper, and magazine coverage of IQ issues. They were alarmed to find that the media were presenting a much different picture than what the expert survey showed. Based on media portrayals, it would seem that most experts think IQ scores have little meaning, that genes have no influence on IQ, and that the tests are hopelessly biased. “Our work demonstrates that, by any reasonable standard, media coverage of the IQ controversy has been quite inaccurate,” the authors concluded.
Now, most of the people that I know who became journalists weren't the sharpest tools in the shed, and given their limited cognitive powers it's to be expected that some of them would get things wrong. However, the systemic nature of their misrepresentation is not an act of isolated stupidity but of systemic disinformation. i.e. they're lying. The same could be said for discussion on issues such as gay marriage, immigration and crime. 
For too many people confronted with IQ issues, emotion trumps reason. Some are even angry that I never apologized for my work. I find that sentiment baffling. Apologize for stating empirical facts relevant to public policy? I could never be so craven. And apologize to whom — people who don’t like those facts? The demands for an apology illustrate the emotionalism that often governs our political discourse.
Here we come to the crux of the matter. As Ortega y Gasset argued most professionals are really noting more than mass-men, i.e cognitive misers. The liberal cognitive miser has a mind hermetically sealed to facts or opinions which contradicts their world view.[Ed: As does the conservative cognitive miser] Emotion, rather than logic, is the method of discourse amongst the hive mind. Nice and good are conflated as are uncomfortable and evil.  
What causes so many in the media to react emotionally when it comes to IQ? Snyderman and Rothman believe it is a naturally uncomfortable topic in modern liberal democracies. The possibility of intractable differences among people does not fit easily into the worldview of journalists and other members of the intellectual class who have an aversion to inequality. The unfortunate — but all too human — reaction is to avoid seriously grappling with inconvenient truths. And I suspect the people who lash out in anger are the ones who are most internally conflicted.

But I see little value in speculating further about causes. Change is what’s needed. And the first thing for reporters, commentators, and non-experts to do is to stop demonizing public discussion of IQ differences. Stop calling names. Stop trying to get people fired. Most of all, stop making pronouncements about research without first reading the literature or consulting people who have.
The role of The Cathedral is to police the prevailing culture and punish dissent, particularly through putting pressure on employers to rid themselves of those who upset the culture.  Given the moral cowardice that comes part and parcel with modern corporate and academic culture employment for influential academics who buck the system becomes impossible. They become culturally neurtralised.

The internet is the enemy of the media. Traditional media structures involved a centralised collecting agency, filtration of the news and dissemination to a public which had no other sources of information. A man's weltanshcauung was thus powerfully shaped by the titans of media. The internet  bypasses the Cathedral's power.  Cue Washington Post.

It's interesting the Richwine recognises this as well.
Not all the media coverage was divorced from real science. Journalists such as Robert VerBruggen and Michael Barone wrote insightful reaction pieces. And the science-oriented blogosphere, which is increasingly the go-to place for expert commentary[Ed], provided some of the best coverage.
I suppose that the most important take home message from Richwine's post is that engagement with the media is going to be counterproductive, especially to those of the right.  Some blog commentator seem keen for media attention but I think that this desire is unwise.  I think its important for the nascent New Right/ Dark Enlightenment/Neo Reactionaries not to worry about sudden media exposure and the publicity it brings. The movement needs to establish roots which are deep, wide and strong. Just like undergound movements in occupied countries, we need to establish our bona fides by personal contact through person to person spread. Anyone who embraces the media is likely to end up as its lunch.

We are the new rebels.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Biological Vote.

As mentioned in our previous post, most people tend to be Cognitive Misers. i.e. System 1 thinkers. It's important to point out, however, that it's a mistake however to think that System 1 responses  constitute actual thought.  Rather, they're pre-established cognitive solutions (heuristics)--both genetic and learned--which are summoned under the appropriate circumstances.  It's more a higher order reflex than actual cognition. The thing about System 1 thinking, though, is that it is not only a response mechanism but also an interpretive one; the brain tries to fit novel stimuli into "best fit" patterns that correspond to previous experience.

It is this type of thinking is also the cognitive basis for stereotypes. When President Obama bemoaned the fact that women would clutch their handbags when he entered a lift, he really was arguing against human nature. Women, who had previously had negative experiences with black males, will upon meeting an unfamiliar black man, take a defensive posture. It's not racism it's System 1 thought.  System 1 judges a book by its cover.

The whole thing about System 1 is that its operations tend to be pragmatic and its solutions "good enough". Understanding is less valued than just simply getting by. The problem is, though, that getting by is not good enough when you actually have to understand what is going on.

Take, for example, the phenomenon of stalling in flight.  The natural instinct of a pilot, in response to a failure of lift by the wings, is to pull the nose of the aircraft up. This, however, is precisely the wrong thing to do and pilots are therefore trained to act counter-intuitively (against System 1) and push the nose down in order to regain lift. System 1 thinking can thus lead to tragic situations where it is inappropriately applied and is inadequate in complex situations

Which brings us back to democracy and its constituent element; the voter. There is convincing sociological research to show that the average voter is factually clueless when it comes to being informed about politics.There is also  convincing evidence that he is a cognitive miser. So, how then does our basic unit of enlighten democracy make his decisions on the great questions of the day?

Emotion is the overriding influence in System 1 thought Action and interpretation is orientated around emotional congruence. If it feels intuitively right, it is right.  The party, or policy, that most aligns with the emotional state is the one that earns our miser's vote. The neuroscience of emotion is thus fundamental in understanding mass political orientation.

For instance, there is convincing evidence that political orientation has a strong heritable component.
Lots of studies have consistently demonstrated differences in personality between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives being more anxious prone and order focused whilst liberals tend to be more carefree and threat ignorant. Conservative cognitive misers will therefore find emotional congruence with strong definitive leaders with definite goals and plans, i.e authoritarian figures, liberals on the other hand, will find congruence in those whose policies push their neurobiological buttons.

For the cognitive miser, it is the superficial emotional appeal that determines his vote, not an analysis of the content of party policy and its long term effects. If we take a look at German voting patterns between the wars.

Chart Reichstag Election Returns, 1919-1933

NSDAP = National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei); the Nazis
DNVP = German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei); the nationalists
DVP = German People's Party (Deutsche Volkspartei); an increasingly right-wing bourgeois party
BVP = Bavarian People's Party (Bayerische Volkspartei); a center-right party of Bavarian regional interests
Z = Center Party (Zentrumspartei); the party of Roman Catholics
DDP = German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei); a center-left liberal party
SPD = Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands); the majority socialist party
USPD = Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (Unabhängoge Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands); the independent socialists
KPD = Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands

A huge amount of the Nazi vote is gained by taking it away from the conservative parties in Germany. Hitler, despite a manifestly left-wing political ideology, was able to dress up his policy in a convincingly right-wing cover. The cognitive misers who were "biologically wired conservatives" joined his party in droves. (Part of Hitler's success can also be attributed to the effects of the economic depression. Cognitive misers, when placed in stressful situations tend to adopt clear cut positions. Notice the rise in the communist vote --Left wing cognitive misers.)

When I put up my post on alpha socialism, some people may have thought that it was an interpretation of politics through the lens of "Game". It was nothing of the sort. Rather, the political phenomenon of Nazism ( and communism) could be be better explained by recognising it as being an ideology in biological synchronicity with the alpha cognitive miser. Note, even being a Nobel Laureate (paging Johannes Stark ) protected one from embracing its stupidity.  But it needs to be remembered for every Rudolf Hess there was an Alger Hiss Nazism appealed to conservative instinct just a communism appeals to the liberal, and the American liberals spying for Stalin were just as contemptible as their Nazi contemporaries.

The problem for the right, as illustrated by the Nazi experience, is that the many of the "biological righties" can be won over to the left through an appeal to their instinct rather than reason. Nice agreeable white people, embracing the sexual and political revolution slowly, still embrace the sexual and political revolution in the end. Biological conservatism is not conservatism, and in the end the only thing that stops us sliding towards Gommorah is faith, logic and fact---not feelings.

Friday, August 02, 2013


Gasset wasn't the first to notice the phenomenon of mass-man. Marx recognised his type in the lumpen-proletariat and Mencken saw his middle class equivalent in the booboise. Jesus called them his sheep. Orwell, in talking about the proles, his idea of mass-man, probably gave the best description of them:
Inner and Outer Party members are under constant telescreen surveillance in both private and public; by contrast, proles' quarters are generally free of telescreens, since they are not expected to understand their exploitation as cheap labour by the Party, and thereby unable or unwilling to organize resistance. Their functions are simple: work and breed. They care little about anything but home and family, neighbour quarrels, films, football, beer, lottery tickets, and other such bread and circuses. They are not required to express support for the Party beyond mild patriotism; the Party creates meaningless entertainment, songs, novels and even pornography for the proles—all written by machines except for pornography, which is compiled by members of the Outer Party and accessible only by workers in Pornosec. Proles do not wear uniforms, may use cosmetics, and have a relatively free internal market economy. Proles also have liberal sex lives, uninterrupted by the Party, and divorce and prostitution are permitted. Despite these personal freedoms, the Thought Police plant agents among the proles to spread false rumours and mark down and/or eliminate any individuals deemed capable of causing trouble. Prole quarters consist of rundown apartment buildings, shops and pubs. Though trade between Outer Party members and proles is nominally prohibited, all Party members participate, as proles are the only source for certain minor necessities
Unlike the others, Gasset recgonised--rightly in my opinion--that the prole mind had infected all strata of society. For Gasset, much of what made up the society's governing technocratic class; such as doctors, lawyers, professors were nothing more than highly skilled proles.

Gasset and the others were easily dismissed as elitist, but unfortunately for their detractors, cognitive science has verified their understanding of humanity.  The mind of mass-man is the mind of the cognitive miser.

To understand what cognitive miserliness is, it's first important to understand the Dual Process Theory of human cognition.* Briefly, human cognition can be considered as two separate types of thinking.  Type 1 thinking; which is instinctive, reflexic and emotionally influenced and Type 2: which is slower, deliberate, effortful and analytic.

Now it's important to recognise that many people live most of their lives in the type 1 zone. It's best to think of type one thinking as our habitual thoughts and manners and our innate preferences. It's surprising just how successful people are by just working in this zone. Think of a high level function such as driving a car. Once proficiency in the task is mastered most people run on "autopilot" afterward. Likewise, navigating our modern comfortable and non-challenging life means that for many people life is just simply "going through the motions" i.e habitual and pre-learned responses.

Life for the cognitive miser is less about thinking and reflection but more about doing "what works" to get by in life. Short term solutions which deliver results but which are  ultimately destructive are favoured over long term ones in which reward is delayed. Practical issues dominate over the abstract and things which are emotionally congruent with beliefs are reinforced. Responding more than understanding is the order of the day.  What works now is more important than what will keep on working indefinitely.

But this same type of automatic thinking can also influence our higher order intellectual functions.
For example, most experienced doctors are able to diagnose a disease not due to complex reasoning but simple pattern recognition due to habituation.  Rare diseases which are similar to common ones are frequently missed for this reason. What's saved my hide more than once is strict adherence to diagnostic protocol instead of going with "my gut".  You're quite capable of appearing professional whilst operating on autopilot, professional qualification being no guarantee of deliberative thought. This is also why Hi-IQ is no absolute protection against outstanding stupidity.  The Hi-IQ may do better in life because their solutions may be relatively better than the solutions of others but they may not be the solutions which are optimal.

The other facet of the cognitive miser is of the importance of emotion on their "thought". Cognitive misers are strongly influenced by their emotional states and the rationalisation hamster is strong in these individuals. But more on this in another post.

The problem, as Gasset recognised, is that when these cognitive misers are given control of a complex system--Modern American Styled Democracy--is the system falls apart simply because the governing element lacks the cognitive capability to maintain it. The slouch toward Gomorrah ensures.

*Note, Stanovich convincingly describes a tripartite model of cognition which I think is more functionally rather than biologically relevant.