Should the race go to the swift? Or should there be no race?

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

Some read this, and think:

  • The race should be to the swift.
  • The battle should be to the strong.
  • The wise should receive food.
  • The brilliant should be rich.
  • The learned should draw favor.

But others think:

  • There should be no swift and no sluggish; there should be no race.
  • There should be no strong and no weak; there should be no battle.
  • There should be no wise and no foolish; food should be given to all.
  • There should be no brilliant and no dull; all should be rich.
  • There should be no learned and no ignorant; all should draw favor.

The first is a cry against the vicissitudes of life. The second is a cry against reality itself.

Are people with very high IQs generally happy?

When someone is excluded from a group, ousted or ostracized, it makes him or her unhappy. Loneliness and exclusion is the most common reason for anomie – losing the reason for life and will to live and to commit suicide.

And overtly high IQ is the most certain way to get excluded and ousted. The reason is the communication range. It makes you different and not fitting in.

The concept of communication range was established by Leta Hollingworth. It is +/- 2 standard deviations (roughly 30 points) up or down on one’s own IQ. It denotes the range where meaningful interaction (communication, discussion, conversation and socializing) is possible. If the IQ difference between two persons is more than 30 points, the communication breaks up. The higher IQ person will look like an incomprehensible nerd and the lower IQ as a moronic dullard – and they will not find anything common.

+/- 30 points does not sound much, but once the IQ is past 135, the downsides are imminent. When someone has a perfectly mediocre IQ (100 for Caucasian average), his communication range is from IQ 70 to IQ 130, which covers some 98% of the whole population. But when it is 135, it is from 105 to 165, which is approximately 36% of population. And it gets worse: if it is 162, your whole meaningful set of human interactions is restricted to Mensa qualifying people only (2% of whole population). Good luck for finding friends, acquaintances, colleagues – or spouse.

And it gets worse.

When the average IQ of a group is lower than the lower end of your communication range, the group will see you as a hostile outsider. They will do anything to bully you out of their presence. They will ostracize, excommunicate and oust you amongst themselves.

Source: Susanna Viljanen’s answer to Are people with very high IQs generally happy? – Quora

Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell

If you “criticize” society by telling it to keep doing exactly what it’s doing only much much more so, society recognizes you as an ally and rewards you for being a “bold iconoclast” or “having brave and revolutionary new ideas” or whatever. It’s only when you tell them something they actually don’t want to hear that you get in trouble.

Western society has been moving gradually further to the left for the past several hundred years at least. It went from divine right of kings to constutitional monarchy to libertarian democracy to federal democracy to New Deal democracy through the civil rights movement to social democracy to ???. If you catch up to society as it’s pushing leftward and say “Hey guys, I think we should go leftward even faster! Two times faster! No, fifty times faster!”, society will call you a bold revolutionary iconoclast and give you a professorship.

If you start suggesting maybe it should switch directions and move the direction opposite the one the engine is pointed, then you might have a bad time.

Source: Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell | Slate Star Codex

Murder Is An Urban, Not Nationwide, Problem

In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54 percent of counties (with 11 percent of the population) had no murders. 69 percent of counties had no more than one murder, and about 20 percent of the population and only 4 percent of all murders in the country.

The worst 1 percent of counties have 19 percent of the population and 37 percent of the murders in 2014. The worst 2 percent of counties contain 47 percent of the population and accounted for 51 percent of the murders. 68 percent of the murders occurred in only 5 percent of counties.

… To put it simply, murder isn’t a nationwide problem; it’s a problem in a very small set of urban areas.

Source: Murder Isn’t a Nationwide Problem | RealClearPolicy

The Narrowing Effect Of Diversity

Imagine, then, Culture A, with 10,000 enumerable cultural features. Because they are broadly shared by all, nobody is much offended by any of them, and so all of these features can be expressed as naturally in the public square as in the privacy of the home.

Now add a second culture, B, to the Venn diagram. The overlap is close, but not perfect; of the set of 10,000 properties in the first culture’s circle, the second culture shares 9,000 of them. However, because public expression is to be limited to the intersection of the two cultures’ properties, we have now, from the perspective of Culture A, reduced its freedom of public cultural expression by ten percent — from its full set of 10,000 properties down to 9,000.

Now add a third culture to the mix (and a third circle to the diagram). Because the third culture is distinct from each of the other two, it will, necessarily, further shrink the number of properties common to all three sets — and thus will further reduce the collection of common beliefs and behaviors that are available for public expression.

This means two things: first, that the more cultures you add to a society the narrower, not broader, the range of public expression becomes; and second, that there will be an ever-increasing disparity between private life (which is now the only place where the full range of cultural life is possible) and public intercourse (which necessarily grows more and more restricted).

Source: The Narrowing Effect Of Diversity – waka waka waka

The Morality of Patriotism

The simplest form of moral behavior occurs when a man fights for his own survival. Of course it is selfish … but selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child … and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for a group larger than the unit family – an extended family, a herd, a tribe. (The traits of duty and loyalty.)

The next level in moral behavior higher is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called ‘patriotism.’

Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind. As a direct result of what they did, it is now possible that the human race will NEVER die.

(Pacifists may contend that THEIR actions are on this highest moral level. They want to put a stop to war; they say so. They live in a world of fantasy. If the human race managed its affairs sensibly, we could do without war. Yes – and if pigs had wings, they could fly. I don’t know what planet those pious pacifists are talking about but it can’t be the third one out from the Sun. The seeds of war are everywhere; the conflicts of interest are real and deep, and will not be abolished by pious platitudes. The best we can hope for is a precarious balance of power among the nations capable of waging total war – while endless lesser wars break out here and there.)

Excerpted, and edited to condense. (Note: Heinlein is speaking of a Nation, not a State. The two might not be interchangeable.) Via The Pragmatics of Patriotism (by Robert Heinlein)

Why I think xkcd is wrong about Free Speech

The xkcd cartoon conflates the particular and narrow protections of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution with the older, broader, more general (and, if we’re honest, somewhat nebulous) principle of freedom of speech.

It is a great mistake to imagine that these things are the same. Doing so ignores the existence of non-governmental forms of censorship, including corporate censorship (e.g. internet filtering), and popular censorship via the tyranny of the majority — or, for that matter, the tyranny of powerful minorities!

In an open society, you personally are supposed to recognize the freedom of others to speak. Via Why I think xkcd is wrong about Free Speech – Pat Kerr – Medium