Lots more on authority

There’s been some serious blogging on authority going on in my favorite corner of the blogosphere. I’m going to try to react to all of it in one post – we’ll see how this goes – but if you only have the stomach for one response, read Devin’s and Why I am Not’s not mine. AMcGuinn also makes the point that I’m going to try to make below – our government has solved the same problems in particularly bad ways.

Aretae responds to my post. I’ll re-state and address his arguments below:

First, he argues that authority is unnatural:

Life in hunter-gatherer tribes is profoundly anti-authoritarian, and violently so. The closest picture we have to our Evolutionarily Stable Environment (modern hunter-gatherers) is one in which a tribesman attempting to take authority is a worse evil than patricide.

He always makes this argument and I don’t understand it. Life in hunter-gather tribes was also totally devoid of privacy, filled with murder, filled with rape, short, chaotic, violent, characterized by zero economic growth, etc. If it’s true that authority was absent in these societies, I would count that as a positive for authority. Also, I’m not sure there was no authority in these societies. I’ve been parts of lots of small groups and they all develop unofficial leaders. I’m prepared to state that no group of people throughout the history of time has every worked together completely equally. Nor do I see why it would be good if they had.

Second, he lists two big problems for the pro-authority side:

  1. Advocating more independence for group (a) that I belong to, and less independence for group (b) that I don’t belong to is properly seen as self-delusion 99% of the time, such that a rational person may well stop listening once he hears the conclusion…because the time to figure out how someone is convincing himself of why he should get preferential rules is just not worth it.
  2. It’s worth noting that in the near future (10 years?), it is likely that automation will catch the middle of the bell curve, just as it’s caught the left. Once that happens, all the arguments currently made for lack of authority for the lower IQ types also apply to the vast majority of the population. (Quick calc…Middle 2/3 + left 1/6 of the curve…about 83%). Arguing to free men that folks should be obedient only works when you’re talking about other people.

I don’t understand why an authority couldn’t treat different people differently. It’s really only in the last 40 or 50 years that anyone has seriously believed that government should treat everyone absolutely equally and even during this time it has specifically not do so (see affirmative action, for example). It’s not hard at all to treat different groups differently. Again, I would be willing to go to the other extreme and argue that no actual historical authority has ever treated all groups of people over whom it has authority absolutely equally.

This concept of "free men" has stopped making sense to me. People – as a mass – don’t really want to be free. There are exceptions here and there, but generally men want to be obedient to those they perceive as their betters. You can wish this isn’t so all day long, but if you can’t account for it in your theory of government, you’re theory will remain theory forever.

Why I am Not also responds. I agree with all of his post expect the beginning:

An authoritarian policy of crushing dissent is a weakness, not a strength, because it means that if visible dissent does occur, the regime’s legitimacy is threatened. Whereas by allowing dissent, liberal democracy defangs it, and normalises discontent. The anti-cuts protests in London would have brought down most governments in the Arab world; here in England, they are a blip on the radar.

If you want to have an authoritarian state, like the formalists and reactionaries, then you have to be willing to do more than just crush all obstruction to the smooth working of the state – you have to crush all visible expressions of dissent. This is where the costs are huge. That is why authoritarian states tend to be either brittle (succumbing to coup or revolution in times of trouble) or backwards (the huge costs of suppressing all dissent stifling all growth).

First, not all Authorities crush dissent. We think of modern America as a place in which dissent is tolerated, but we delude ourselves. You can’t criticize minorities while attending a university or holding most jobs. You don’t get shipped to the gulag if you speak "inappropriately" but I think it’s a stretch to argue James Watson or Larry Summers didn’t have their dissent crushed. I think a strong case can be made that all stable societies need to believe certain lies. Lies give rise to dissidents. Stable societies much crush the dissidents. The only tolerant societies are dead societies.

Again, I don’t think this problem is unique to reactionary or formalist societies. Think of the enemies of progressivism. In three wars, the Civil War, WWI and WWII the enemies of progressivism were destroyed at massive costs. Apparently, the costs of maintaining a "tolerant" society are also huge.

Aretae then responds to Devin by trying to draw a distinction between authority (which I guess he limits to the situation in which a government passes a rule) and something else which happens outside of government. So apparently, a boss has no authority over his subordinates because everyone can sever the employment agreement. I don’t get the distinction, to be honest.

Aretae then responds to Why I am Not by arguing that there in the modern system, it is not possible to exercise authority over rich people in very liberal places. As a rich person in a very liberal, I can assure you that this is not true (if only!). In fact, in the context of DC, he’s almost perfectly wrong, when he says: "90-99% of laws in NYC have no impact whatsoever on a rich liberal." The poor in DC are totally unaffected by laws, while the rich have to put up with schools that go from being decent to shitty, onerous historical preservation laws to contend with, crime, etc.

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61 Responses to Lots more on authority

  1. Gian says:

    It might be better to understand the abstract word “Authority” by making sentences of the sort

    1) Prof A is an Authority on Shakespeare.
    2) Parents have Authority over children
    3) Husbands have Authority over wives.
    4) The Director has Authority over hiring and firing.
    5) Congress has Authority on passing laws in US

    I dont get the link with low-IQs. Are you trying to make a case that low-IQs should be subject to higher-IQs?

    • Foseti says:

      Foisting everything on IQ is too simple. But I cannot separate it from governance. Until recently, political philosophers thought of government as an extension of the family. It shouldn’t be hard to go from “Parents have Authority over children” to (over-simplified) people who are good at governance should have authority over governing.

  2. aretae says:

    2 (or more) disagreements:

    1. The consensus(?) from my read of archeology/anthropology is that ~everyone is that life in hunter gatherer tribes was better for all players on most relevant dimensions than anything since, until sometime between 1900 and 1950.

    Sure…sometime near 1925, life in the West was more pleasant for its practitioners than life for a hunter gatherer in pre-history. It’s just the intervening 10,000 years that sucked for the 99.9% who weren’t born rich.

    2. It’s not inconceivable that two groups could rationally be treated differently. However, somehow, nowhere in the history of mankind has it ever been true that group 1 has advocated that group 2 be treated BETTER than group 1. Always, group 1 argues that group 1 be treated better than group 2. Hence…the natural supposition is that ALL such arguments are ingroup-related, not reality-related.

    3. My claim about authority is simple. Folks who have been socialized since birth (via school) to accept leaders learn to do so, because they’re beaten (or equivalent) if they don’t…And it takes ~18 years. Adults who have not been socialized since birth to obey their superiors simply don’t find the concept to make sense. This via lots of direct observation of both schooled and unschooled or deschooled kids. You say all groups you’ve seen have authority. I say that simply doesn’t seem to be true for the unschooled. School creates the culture of obedience that you see. I HATE it. Cross-posting this discussion to my blog.

    • Foseti says:

      1. I suppose it’s hard to have authority over anyone if you all watch each other take shits, but I just can’t get behind the notion that that is a good way to live. Sorry to be crass, but . . .

      2. I would suggest that currently, white liberals advocate that black be treated better than white liberals.

      3. I disagree. All children grow up in a family – an authority structure. School is more tribal than family.

      • aretae says:

        1. I ain’t saying I’d rather live as a hunter gatherer than now in the US. Would I rather live as a hunter-gatherer than as a normal guy in Egypt/Rome? For sure, almost no questions.

        3. How much time have you spent around the unschooled? It’s very different. Also, IRL, parental authority runs up HARD against the fact that parents haven interest in their kids happiness, and so nominal authority and game theory don’t line up. Game theory wins. School has no such constraint.

      • Foseti says:

        1. I don’t see how Egypt or Rome is the relevant comparison.

        3. The unschooled that I have experience with have all been highly religious. They leave school for better authority structures – family and religion. School – especially in the inner city – is characterized by an almost complete lack of authority.

      • aretae says:

        As is my wont, I try to present arguments as fairly as their side would present them.

        2. White liberals say that blacks are currently treated poorly. Because they are treated poorly (by at least unfair historical wealth distribution, and ongoing discrimination), it would be unfair to treat them equally given the already existing large structural inequality. Is that isomorphic to what you said? And of course, you think it’s reasonable to treat different folks differently, so you don’t have a strong theoretical disagreement either?

      • Foseti says:

        All you asked was a situation in which group A wanted to treat group B better than group A. I think there are lots of examples – especially among religious societies. Affirmative action is another one.

      • aretae says:

        2. I completely missed what we were talking about with this point. But again…that aligns at least decently with my point. If White liberals think that Blacks are generally treated worse than whites, then it’s an equalization issue, not a bettering issue. I suspect that you’d find this in religious situations too. Group A is happy, and due to A’s thugs enforcing A’s rules on B, group B is unhappy. Group A often wants to somewhat mitigate the badness for group B, on fairness concerns…but it generally works ONLY until Group B threatens A’s position.

      • aretae says:

        1. Egypt/Rome are relevant at the margin. The choice for hunter-gatherer was NOT hunter-gatherer or modern US…it was relatively rich, happy, leisure-ful, independent, hunter-gatherer or dirt-poor Egyptian slave. Or Chinese peasant, or English serf c. 1650 AD. Same basic quality of life, all substantially lower than that of the hunter-gatherer.

        Roughly, the best measure of wealth that we have come in (a) expected life-hours, and (b) hours per day of work necessary to live.
        Hunter gatherers were at least equal to c. 1650 English peasants on (a), and on (b), were winning by a factor of 4.

    • Bill says:

      The consensus(?) from my read of archeology/anthropology

      Anthropologists are the same people who feted the comical liar Margaret Mead for decades on end, right? The same people who took Boas entirely to heart. The same people who enthusiastically promote the Marxist theory of history.

      nowhere in the history of mankind has it ever been true that group 1 has advocated that group 2 be treated BETTER than group 1

      I always wondered why affirmative action doesn’t exist. Thanks for explaining!

      • Gian says:

        Frankly this statement of Aretae that
        <>

        says that his notion of Authority is more like Tyranny.

      • aretae says:

        Answered this for Foseti already in this comment thread.

        Affirmative action is the claim that Blacks (insert protected class) are being treated worse than Whites on MANY dimensions. In order to attempt to make them treated NOT so poorly…in order to make it less unfair, we should attempt to adjust.

        If you’re playing football on a playing field on a hill, is it treating the teams unequally if the team going uphill gets 5 downs? How steep does the hill have to be before it’s just an equalizer?

    • Gian says:

      Males sponteously organize themselves into parties and teams and elect and follow leaders.

      Example, gangs, sports teams, and so on.
      infact obidience comes more easily to men than women

      • aretae says:

        Males spontaneously organize themselves into teams for competition? Sure.

        Males follow leaders? When they have to, and there aren’t any other choices. For any given team…males almost universally have a rank order preference for how it should work

        1. Be a leader
        2. have no leaders, but only co-equal teams.
        47. Be a follower.

        Leaders are a feature of force and imposition, not natural agreed upon phenomena.

  3. aretae says:

    4. Rich folks don’t have to put up with schools. They have to whine about not getting good schools, while putting their kids in private schools, or pulling them out and homeschooling, or buying rich houses in rich districts where poor folks can’t afford to live. Rich folks (like us) don’t have to deal with drug laws…Rich folks and historical preservation raises costs moderately, while for the poor it really screws them (by raising the costs of housing substantially). Mostly, the effect of the laws is to make it illegal to be poor where rich folks live. Top liberal city in the country (Portland) has turned it into a science. Nominal restrictions on the liberal rich. Massive real restrictions on the actual poor. Many middle class folks screwed in the middle as well.

    • Foseti says:

      Poor folks don’t care about schools (I’m generalizing, and there are exceptions, but so are you). In general, in my experience, they’re happy for the free day care. Drug laws have basically stopped being enforced in the poorest areas of the city. While laws can be designed to make it tough for poor people to live near rich people, the only reason the poor have a shot (at least around me) is because of transfers of wealth from rich to poor.

      • aretae says:

        I acknowledge/accept everything you say here, and find it irrelevant to my claim.

        Laws are designed by the rich for the rich, and then some of the rich feel bad and try to mitigate the (unintended of course *cough*) consequences on the poor by making more laws.

  4. spandrell says:

    The notion that inferiors don’t like being obedient may be true. It doesn’t make it right though. Kids have been socialized to be obedient way before modern schooling.

    Honestly Western Civ. is being overwhelmed with third world migrants, welfare is causing a disgenic catastrophe, and Aretae finds it a priority to defend the weak? To give them autonomy? To do what?

  5. Bill says:

    The closest picture we have to our Evolutionarily Stable Environment (modern hunter-gatherers) is one in which a tribesman attempting to take authority is a worse evil than patricide.

    Agriculture has been around for something like 10K years (or more). That’s something like 400 generations (more). Anyone who thinks that 400 generations is not long enough for evolution to do anything is mind-numbingly stupid. Anyone who thinks that the invention of agriculture and related cultural innovations did not have large effects on selection pressures is eye-bleedingly stupid.

  6. T M Colon says:

    I have not studied the workings of hunter-gatherer societies to know how authority works in them. But I will speculate all the same.

    Such a society is more like a large family. Families are authoritarian and socialistic in nature. Children, the weak and the aged are provided for by more productive adults who are in charge. This works for reasons that do not exist in large modern societies. They are small and self-contained. Everybody knows everybody else. They know who is capable and who is not. They know who’s a slacker or a good producer. Blood bonds create a sense of obligation.

    I don’t think anything about these societies is very meaningful to larger modern societies and governance. The two are so different comparisons are rather meaningless.

  7. Handle says:

    I wish someone would exercise some authority over this whole conversation so it would be less challenging to follow everyone’s positions and logic.

    As it is, I think Gian is correct, semantic over-abstraction of the very word “authority” is linguistically confusing the issue.

  8. RS says:

    > Life in hunter-gather tribes was also totally devoid of privacy, filled with murder, filled with rape, short, chaotic, violent, characterized by zero economic growth, etc. If it’s true that authority was absent in these societies, I would count that as a positive for authority.

    Well, classical Greece wasn’t so different on any of those points, assuming growth means per capita growth. More culture though.

    > Also, I’m not sure there was no authority in these societies.

    Right. Of course there was authority. Want to marry a healthy and fit girl? You better be in with the right people. Even if they’re your relatives, you still need to please them.

    As he squatted on his haunches, drinking the soup, he was approached from behind by Mamikininiwä, who is described by the anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon as “a mature man of about forty, whose decisions few would challenge”, and who carried an axe whose worn steel head had been traded over the course of years in from the coast. He smashed it into the visitor’s head without any warning, and the man died almost at once.

    Now that’s authority – admittedly, Chagnon obtained this story 30 years after the fact, but he spent at least 5 years with Yanomamo, mostly uncontacted ones.

    I’m sure power rested ultimately on violence. The game is not over with one murder – there is also the possibility for retribution, which will demonstrate the brothers of the deceased as men of valor. The chiefest of several fierce men who are close kin, then, is going to be authoritative. They form a bloc – side with him, them, who are a de facto goverment, and you won’t get murdered, because of the threat of retribution.

    I don’t recall reading anything about intra-group murder in the Yanomamo (I’m not counting dueling), but I’m pretty sure it happens. It certainly happens in Bushmen a lot. In any case the Yanomamo village is not really a complete polity – it forms a bloc with other villages, though the block also cannot be considered to be the unit of polity, because one is more loyal to one’s own village than the others in the bloc.

    • Foseti says:

      My initial point was that *if* it’s true that hunter-gatherer societies really were characterized by the complete absence of authority (a notion which I dispute) it would still be irrelevant to the question of whether authority is good or bad, given that so many other aspects of h/g societies are clearly bad.

    • RS says:

      > Well, classical Greece wasn’t so different on any of those points, assuming growth means per capita growth. More culture though.

      On second thought nevermind, that’s not really true at all.

      • Gian says:

        I think that Authority has nothing to do with violence (that would be Tyranny) but has to do with human nature. Man is made to be obedient to his superiors, either a when we bow to a superior intelligence or artist or more mystically, when a woman binds herself in a vow of obedience to her husband or free men vow to obey a monarch.

        These are plain historical facts not speculations about prehistorical men.

      • aretae says:

        Gian,

        Yes, yours is the conservative assumption. I am arguing that it is false with respect to human males. Authority is (a) imposed, not chosen, and (b) a large cost to the folks subject to the authority.

      • aretae says:

        Gian,

        Question here….what happens when Person A thinks he has (rightful) authority over person B, and person B disagrees. Either Person A doesn’t have authority, or they use violence to establish authority (or threat thereof). Is there another option for disputes over authority?

      • Gian says:

        Aretae,
        (rightful) authority is an oxymoron. All authority is rightful by definition.
        However, the claims for Authority are subject to be disputed and thus quarreled or fought over. Pls note that quarrel is not the same as fight.

        Only men can quarrel since this word denotes argumentation.

        Also given the historical fact that European males have freely chosen monarchs to rule over them, how can you say tat Authority is alien to males.

      • aretae says:

        Gian,

        Only humans can hold forth opinions…so all disputes are between 2 humans. We should talk first about claimed authority…and then find a test (in human knowledge, cuz that’s all I’ve got access to) for whether it said claimed authority is rightful. My inclination is that you can’t find one that is sane.

        Your read of history and mine are a bit different. I read the history of Europe as thugs conquering, and putting anyone to the sword who didn’t kneel at all the right places. Does that count as choosing a monarch? Is it choosing a monarch when there’s 2 competing thugs, and you decide that one is safer than the other?

      • Gian says:

        They were no thugs but tribal leaders. And there was no life outside the tribe.

  9. RS says:

    > This via lots of direct observation of both schooled and unschooled or deschooled kids.

    Well, my reaction is that that sounds like tendentious data. Maybe that’s a function of my bias, but how ought we evaluate whether it is tendentious?

    You also don’t note that deschooled and unschooled kids must certainly be the progeny of unusual, very anti-authoritarian people. All these traits are going to be ~50% heritable – simply because, every single other trait studied is.

    • RS says:

      > Would I rather live as a hunter-gatherer than as a normal guy in Egypt/Rome? For sure, almost no questions.

      I see no free lunch there. You won’t have to suffer hunger pains or grueling labor. But men will sneak up and try to kill you more than once a year, in order to group-rape your daughter before assigning her a marriage, with no choice by her or those who care about her. So you might feel a little bit nervous at times.

      Incidentally, this means that ‘extraordinary evidence’ is required when it comes to claims of common human diseases being caused by long, slow psychological stress, or a snappish mother (as opposed to psychotrauma from serious violence). Humans are designed to thrive under the threat of sudden concerted murder, torture, and the torture of their mothers, wives, daughters. The serious threat of those things – they were extremely common. I don’t know what percentage of Yanomamo women were abducted – a wild guess might be five percent, because it certainly was a routine concomitant of the raids in which 30% of men met their end (it was almost certainly the primary non-recursive purpose, along with the recursive one of eliminating and intimidating those who might raid you). I do know that they were all gang-raped before forced marriage, 100% or close.

      Of course Roma, Thebes, Bavaria got attacked too, in 100 BC or 1200 AD. But it was a lot less. Classical Greece may have had an amount significantly above average for civilized life.

      • RS says:

        Here’s hard numbers on Yanomamo abductions, from Chagnon:

        The percentage of females in the lowland villages who have been abducted is significantly higher: 17% compared to 11.7% in the highland villages”

        Of course, some of these women wound up being – after a certain point in time – just as happy as they otherwise would have been. Quite possibly a majority of them were. But they were all gang raped, and I’m sure plenty of them were less happy than they would have been un-abducted.

        I don’t know if those figures are a point prevalence of abduction, or what. If it is a point prevlance – and it does kinda sound like it – then the lifetime prevalence would actually be a good deal higher, perhaps about 50% higher. Reason being, they haven’t finished living yet, so some of the never-abducteds are going to be converted to abducteds in time, while abducteds obviously do not convert to never-abducteds.

  10. aretae says:

    Changnon is an interesting writer, for sure. But he’s not the last word on hunter-gatherers. Last I heard, he was the last word on the Yanomamo, but they are the most violent group of hunter gatherers we’ve ever seen. You at least ought to hit a survey of different hunter gatherer tribes.

    Or, if we’re using extra-murderous peoples, shall we compare the Yanomamo to some of the more murderous states? Communist China 1920-1960 seems better at killing its own folks than the Yanomamo. The Khmer Rouge certainly was. Or…do we try only ancient civilizations? The Aztec empire, or the Toltecs before them seem awfully bloodthirsty. Gengis Khan?

  11. aretae says:

    RS,

    well said on the genetic component of de-schooled kids.
    On the other hand…the de-schooled kids are, by observation, almost universally BETTER at being independent of authority than are their parents. Could it be observation bias? I suppose.

    However, we also know that malnutrition can take a kid who’s perfectly genetically healthy, with an expected height of 6′ and make him come out to be only 5’6″. It seems no less plausible that the stunting of a human’s natural autonomy by schooling over 13+ years can damage that in him as well.

  12. aretae says:

    Spandrell,

    most disagreements come down to disagreements over what is important. I find the conservative/Reactionary/HBD position that immigrants and welfare are the problem as silly as you find my concern with the poor/weak. It is only after it is acknowledged that rational people disagree about what the problem is that we get in finding solutions.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t really understand what you mean. We all seem to agree that crappy government is the problem – though I believe you go further to suggest that government is necessarily crappy.

      If you believe that government mis-treats the poor, it would seem to me that it would still be a good idea (not a “silly” one) to stop importing more poor people to be mis-treated.

      • aretae says:

        That depends on other options. If the choices are being killed for being the wrong tribe in Nigeria, eating mud-cakes 2x a day to keep off the hunger pangs in Haiti, being imprisoned for 30 years for having said that maybe Kim Jong Il can’t walk on water (or that Chavez’s crappy policies are responsible for Venezuala’s crappy economy)…or being mildly mistreated by the American government?

      • Foseti says:

        I don’t really understand your theory works with respect to the rich feasting on the poor via government, but it would seem that feeding the rich with more poor unsuspecting victims wouldn’t solve the problems.

      • aretae says:

        Theory:

        In a world with a real night-watchman state, the poor are far richer (wealth + autonomy) than they are now.

        Roughly, every law/regulation passed marginally increases the difficulty of making a living as a poor person, and marginally increases the
        percentage of the pie captured by the politically connected.

        Licensing of professions decreases quality, increases costs, and prevents poor people from doing the job. IP Law decreases innovation (the primary engine of growth). Financial regulation transfers money from the smaller players to the larger ones. Minimum wage laws hurt the poorer poor, to the benefit of the richer poor. So do most of the rest of labor regulations. Rent controls benefit the politically connected at the expense of everyone else.

        Government action here sucks…but that doesn’t mean I have to go Chomsky-/Rothbard- insane, and pretend it’s better anywhere else.

        Though, it’s not clear that it’s not better in several SMALL countries. Nordics, Canada, NZ, the Asian city-states.

      • Foseti says:

        We have wildly different conceptions of who the poor are how they interact with the government.

        Your theories seem applicable to the poor in Minnesota in the ’50s, but they bore no resemble to the poor in DC today.

        The poor in my area aren’t entrepreneurial, they exist almost entirely through government handouts.

      • aretae says:

        Maybe, maybe not.

        Can a poor black woman in DC get 10 customers a week, each paying $50/week to do their hair (less than minimum wage for 10-hour hair-weaves), then get a small business loan to open a salon? No…it’s illegal to work from home, and it’s illegal to braid hair without 2000 hours of education. Can a poor black guy offer to work for $5/hr moving boxes, because it pays better than drugs? No…it costs the employer $15/hr to hire him, and the employer, not the offerer gets in trouble if someone finds out. Can 12 poor people live in one apartment, so they can afford it, under market prices? No, zoning makes it illegal. Can 2 poor folks get married? Well, if they’re willing to pay $5000/year for the privilege…you don’t get the same benefits if they do.

        I see the government screwing the poor up down and sideways in order for the rich folks to maintain privilege. And then creating a permanent dependent class as reparations, once they’ve removed all the other opportunities.

        Is that really that different from how you see it?

      • Foseti says:

        In the Section 8 housing by my home, there are plenty of “businesses” being operated from peoples’ “homes.” Most of them happen to relate to prostitution and drugs, not hair-cutting (alas!).

        No employers are lined up to hire these people to move boxes – plenty of less-shady people will do it off the books for less. My block has it’s own Mexican guy (Victor), who has a group of guys who handle all this sort of work for us. Everybody wins!

        There’s no reason to cram more people into an apartment when the housing is free.

        None of the people in the subsidized housing are suffering due to their inability to afford to get married (alas!). Plus, the marriage penalty only applies to couples that actually make money and pay income taxes (about 50% of people in the US don’t pay income taxes).

      • aretae says:

        1. Marriage penalty applies also (and harder) to folks on public assistance.

        2. There’s a lot of interaction here. If it’s illegal to run a legal business from your home, and it’s subject to confiscation both by authorities and by gang leadership…what additional cost does it incur for you to switch to an illegal, potentially more profitable business. My understanding from Sudhir Venkatesh is that prostitution pays ~6x better than minimum wage. Also, that drug dealing has much less frequent submission to authority than does working at McD.

        3. Housing isn’t free if you can’t get into one. Heck, you can get 10 acres and a house near small towns in Texas for $30K. Why don’t you just go there? Price differences between there and DC might well be more than your (or my) salary. Location matters. Even which block matters.

      • Foseti says:

        1. That argument doesn’t make sense. It’s not a “penalty” of $1 for me to give you $2 and then take $1 back.

        2. I’m not sure I follow your argument here, but if it’s that government is making them sell drugs and prostitute themselves then I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

        3. The location of this particular public housing (which isn’t that hard to get into) is in the middle of one of DC’s nicer neighborhoods. If you throw a rock from the front door, you’ll hit houses in the $500k-$800k range.

      • aretae says:

        1. It’s a penalty in terms of my deciding what to do. If I get $10000/year for being a single mom, but only $5000/year if I get married, or look married…any sane person dodges marriage or it’s semblance. Name it something else, but it’s a pretty hardcore incentive.

        2. If A pays higher, and A and B are both illegal…why should I choose B? There’s a bunch of economics of crime literature on marginal crime. It’s very important when attempting to keep folks safe to make a robber punished less than a murderer…else robbers shoot folks to prevent witnesses. Same model.

  13. aretae says:

    Bill,

    We agree that 400 generations can make a difference in evolution. Heck, 100 years can. I’ve seen what Russia looks like after they killed everyone who knew how to disagree with the rulers. And the Khmer Rouge were pretty efficient in shifting evolution in 10.

    As opposed to, say, Australia or America where only people who did disagree with the rulers moved to (voluntarily or not).

  14. RS says:

    > Last I heard, he was the last word on the Yanomamo, but they are the most violent group of hunter gatherers we’ve ever seen. You at least ought to hit a survey of different hunter gatherer tribes.

    I read Keely’s “War before civilization”, it has figures for various groups. 30% of men killed by homicide is pretty typical, you see figures like 18, 30, 40%. The extreme appears to be highland New Guinea where it’s more like 60%.

    Of course, I have no wish to obscure the fact that more than one scholar radically disagrees (also, more than one agrees) – some say these things are an artifact of exogenous disturbances introduced by Westerners. Brian Ferguson of Rutgers for example. He says the same thing about chimpanzee violence, it is caused by human encroachment. (Certainly many chimps die in group v group hostilities, and chimps do capture females from enemy groups at least sometimes, but I’m not sure of the prevalence for either event. The nastiest thing is that victim chimps are often left alive, but too savaged and maimed to forage efficiently.)

    There’s no certainty, and I haven’t made any detailed study (there are detailed arguments back and forth), but I consider Ferguson’s claims implausible. One has to be careful of Boasism and Meadeism – which started early and started strong.

    Even in Yanomamo studies, there are plenty who disagree passionately with Chagnon. In fact, a Cornell anthro prof in conjunction with other profs accused him of racist mass violence – of active work in an experiment that infected people with measles. He characterized it as worse than anything imagined by Joseph Conrad, and more commensureate with Josef Mengele. It appears unlikely to be true.

    > Or, if we’re using extra-murderous peoples, shall we compare the Yanomamo to some of the more murderous states? Communist China 1920-1960 seems better at killing its own folks than the Yanomamo. The Khmer Rouge certainly was. Or…do we try only ancient civilizations? The Aztec empire, or the Toltecs before them seem awfully bloodthirsty. Gengis Khan?

    I don’t know much about the Amerinds, or Ghengis Khan. But, the average Chinese pop for the 20th century is around one billion, very roughly. There were four generations in the century, so four billion were born in total. Of these, communism murdered maybe 24 million (precision doesn’t matter much), which is 6 / 1,000 = 0.6% of the four billion.

    Or, maybe the arithmetic mean of the population over the 20th is really 500,000,000 not one billion. In that case Mao killed 1.2% instead of 0.6% — but this twofold distinction makes little impression when we are comparing to the Yanomamo 30% or the highland New Guinea 60%. If it were /our/ ass, the twofold distinction would matter to us a whole lot, but we are just scholars looking at ancient stories in peace and plenty.

    As for the Chinese Civil War, total civvie and military casualties were one million, or maybe eleven million – not sure how to interpret what I’ve googled up. I’m sure the large majority of both civvies and soldiers were killed by infectious disease, as in the US Civil War, but they should still be considered deaths due to human conflict. In any case it’s nothing that will make much difference to 1.2% vs 30% or 60%. We can also add in all apolitical homocides in the 20th in China, by individuals or mafias – probably what, 200,000?

    I think one would get a picture very like China’s, probably 2x or 3x worse, by looking at USSR’s 20th century (or just 1917-1989)……… or just Russia’s……. including the 23 million killed in the Great Patriotic War, plus the political crimes (10 million?), plus the Red & White war, plus WWI.

    And this will probably be Russia’s worst century ever, despite her rather rowdy 800ish-year history.

  15. RS says:

    > I’ve seen what Russia looks like after they killed everyone who knew how to disagree with the rulers… As opposed to, say, Australia or America where only people who did disagree with the rulers moved to (voluntarily or not).

    Yet those Americans assent to a speech code backed by severe penalties (you could end up jobless and thus homeless), and under this aegis they are halfway through being totally politically disinherited. Both would be impossible in Russia, where demographic problems are now being treated in large part by birth incentives at the market rate, instead of by immigration alone.

    Russians are pretty seriously rowdy, brave, and aggressive on average, and apparently they murder each other about 10x more than Norse-Dutch-English. But Stalinist terror would make any population clam up, bar none (and actually Stalin’s brilliant successes in defeating Hitler also contributed to this silence somewhat – he is a legitimate hero to some degree in addition to being a sick monster). Yet, Russians started gradually sacking CCCP power about 30 years after the old man croaked, and 30 years after the severe repression of the Hungarian uprising. And just a few years after USSR had willingly treated Afghanistan quite brutally. On the whole Russians didn’t like the CCCP very much, and they were obedient primarily from fear of mass terror, which in 1985 was still remembered in perfect clarity by ten-millions of them.

    (Of course, we shouldn’t give Stalin too much credit. Hitler would have walked all over USSR in an instant if Stalin had not industrialized it in the 30s. However, I wonder if he didn’t sacrifice some of the millions who starved to his industrialization. Think about it: he could have autioned all the industrial machinery, shipped it out, and bought food. On the other hand, one must realize that this would not necessarily have created a net good for Russians – as I say, without the industrialization they might have wound up even more massively murdered by Germans later on.)

  16. RS says:

    > I’m not sure I follow your argument here, but if it’s that government is making them sell drugs and prostitute themselves then I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    Well, you and I (don’t know about Aretae) agree that the people in question have very low C and IQ. That’s certainly a huge cause of what happens. But don’t you think at least say 7% of them would behave rather better if they could open a home business as Aretae describes? I kind of do.

    In the long run, what’s much more important is that Blacks are probably undergoing rather robust dysgenesis for both IQ and C, about 2x as bad as Whites – and it’s not even beginning to be discussed. This is likely to make a palpable difference in say 55 years. In 90 years it’s likely to be a total disaster that makes present day Detroit look rather nice.

    • aretae says:

      RS,

      I think the evidence is pretty strong (as good as anything in social science) that there’s actually 4.5 big, partly independent players in the inherited success (wealth) model.

      1. IQ
      2. Big-5 Personality (not just Conscientiousness)
      3. Patience (ability to wait) — <.5 correlation with IQ
      4. Self-Efficacy (knowledge that I can be successful)
      5. Money-making aptitude — this appears to be <.5 correlated with IQ. Uncertain about correlation with Big-5, Patience, Self-Efficacy.

      Do these impact one another? Yes (Though IQ and conscientiousness appear to have a mild negative correlation)
      Are they heritable? Very.

      I am suspicious that it's as dysgenic as you say. If you look at stuff like Sudhir Venkatesh's books…you might find that what's happened is that black kids who could go to college end up instead towards the top of the drug trade, and the Sexual Market Value thing…making at least selection on IQ still positive.

      • Gian says:

        I have a doubt regarding the IQ-wealth correlation (where wealth is GDP per capita) and one shows that GDP per capita is nicely correlated with IQ despite the counter-example of China (high IQ, low wealth).

        My doubt is whether this correlation is population-weighted or not?. Are you giving equal weight to China and to Trinidad?

      • aretae says:

        Gian,

        My information is individual correlations, not national correlations. In a given society, wealth has strong positive correlations with all 5 factors.

      • RS says:

        Arguably it ought not be population weighted. And I’m pretty certain Lynn didn’t do so.

        But, weighting it by population would not make much difference – provided you fill in $30k for China. You can see that it’s growing at 10%, and the historical reason for that is clear.

        It is also obviously justified not to list mineral-derived income at its real value. We are concerned with value added, after all. Obviously Saudi Arabia et al add value to their oil by pumping it up and collecting it in barrels, but they don’t add very much, and actually they may let foreigners do it. Russian value-add is also a good deal less than the actual income because of minerals. A few countries have low value-add but are rather wealthy because of the intrinsic value of the land for tourism, ie island nations in the Caribbean. And Botswana and South Africa add fairly little value to diamonds and gold by digging them up. But most countries have nothing that is of significant value (per capita), except for human resources. USA certainly has some oil, but little of it per capita. It has a good deal of coal. It has some crackling good (ie profitable) farmland, but so do half the countries in the world. Other than that I don’t think it has much of notable value, just humans. Iron ore is not that valuable, probably neither is coal, really. Commodities such as metals and staple foods used to be expensive, but now most of em ain’t.

  17. RS says:

    > However, we also know that malnutrition can take a kid who’s perfectly genetically healthy, with an expected height of 6′ and make him come out to be only 5’6″. It seems no less plausible that the stunting of a human’s natural autonomy by schooling over 13+ years can damage that in him as well.

    I accept this point of omnes dubitandum, of course, in principle. I just don’t consider schools all that rigorous. So many people just blow it off 75%. Personally I blew it off, fairly hard, from the 7th grade. It seemed like a huge drag, suffered in exchange for nothing much, relative to doing whatever I felt like (athletics, walking the woods and meadows, whatever books I was transiently in a mood for).

    I admit, on schools not being so rough, it’s hard to find something to appeal to that doesn’t lean heavily on intuition.

  18. RS says:

    > I am suspicious that it’s as dysgenic as you say. If you look at stuff like Sudhir Venkatesh’s books…you might find that what’s happened is that black kids who could go to college end up instead towards the top of the drug trade, and the Sexual Market Value thing…making at least selection on IQ still positive.

    Hmm, great point – I wonder whether such underworld figures are sampled representitively by the studies. I little doubt that they are strong in most desirable traits.

    I definitely endeavor to take these limitations seriously, and eclipse with logos my innate fascination for apocalyptic visions. Israeli Water Engineer pointed out to me that the studies probably don’t account well for false paternity – which is surely eugenic in sign, though the magnitude may or may not be worth troubling about; hard to know. We ‘know’ with decent confidence, from theory and informal observation, that if a girl in LTR/marriage lays a guy transiently, he is fitter on average than the LTR partner.

    I admit, I’ve never been over a big chunk of this literature with a fine toothed comb. A discouraging factor is that Richard Lynn’s “Dysgenics” is almost totally unavailable – not found in Uni’s I can daytrip to, and costs $500. I could probably get it by inter-library loan, but I am kind of on the outs with the Uni library on account of my very low C!

    • Foseti says:

      I can understand that a reasonably smart kid in public housing in Detroit has no opportunities, but the same is not the case for a kid living in the middle of DC . . .

      • Handle says:

        This is precisely the notion behind the “alternative affirmative action” (since it was seen as a substitute mechanism to ensure “diversity”) “top 10% uniform state-college admission policy” as practices (though recently reformed) in Texas since 1997.

        Think of a really crappy Texas High School. Still, if you’re the kind of kid who can make it to graduation and be in the top 10% of your class, obviously, you’ve got some combination of natural talent, family support, and personal work-ethic going for you.

        This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the smarts and/or inclination for college, and you’re probably woefully inadequately prepared for it even if you do, but it does mean that every bright kid (relative to his peers) does have this particular opportunity to move up and out.

        Then again, you’ve just brain-drained the ghetto by skimming the cream from the top. The kids that leave won’t be going back. The neighborhood’s next generation’s top 10% will be of lower quality, and they too will get skimmed off. If you think we’ve got rigid castes, isolated by geographic territory now, well just wait and see what’s next.

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