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My first edict as global overlord would be to impose the following rule on pundits: No one may bemoan a decay, decline, or degeneration without providing (1) a measure of the way the world is today; (2) a measure of the way the world was at some point in the past; (3) a demonstration that (1) is worse than (2).

TL;DR: the world actually is getting better.

Posted via email from danielmiessler.com | posterous

Everyone who knows Lois Weisberg has a story about meeting Lois Weisberg, and although she has done thousands of things in her life and met thousands of people, all the stories are pretty much the same. Lois (everyone calls her Lois) is invariably smoking a cigarette and drinking one of her dozen or so daily cups of coffee. She will have been up until two or three the previous morning, and up again at seven or seven-thirty, because she hardly seems to sleep. In some accounts — particularly if the meeting took place in the winter — she’ll be wearing her white, fur-topped Dr. Zhivago boots with gold tights; but she may have on her platform tennis shoes, or the leather jacket with the little studs on it, or maybe an outrageous piece of costume jewelry, and, always, those huge, rhinestone-studded glasses that make her big eyes look positively enormous.

Posted via email from danielmiessler.com | posterous

Everyone who knows Lois Weisberg has a story about meeting Lois Weisberg, and although she has done thousands of things in her life and met thousands of people, all the stories are pretty much the same. Lois (everyone calls her Lois) is invariably smoking a cigarette and drinking one of her dozen or so daily cups of coffee. She will have been up until two or three the previous morning, and up again at seven or seven-thirty, because she hardly seems to sleep. In some accounts — particularly if the meeting took place in the winter — she’ll be wearing her white, fur-topped Dr. Zhivago boots with gold tights; but she may have on her platform tennis shoes, or the leather jacket with the little studs on it, or maybe an outrageous piece of costume jewelry, and, always, those huge, rhinestone-studded glasses that make her big eyes look positively enormous.

Posted via email from danielmiessler.com | posterous

First off, if you’re not reading Overcoming Bias, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I’d say it’s one of the best, if not the best blog on the Internet. Most blogs–my own included–have a relatively low “wow” ratio; they might be solid overall, with lots of stuff to enjoy if you like the creator, but there is often much that falls into the noise category–even if it’s decent noise.

That’s not the case with Overcoming Bias. It’s basically good…all the time. You should read it.

Right then, with that out of the way, here’s a case in point on why you should:

[ Near and Far Thinking (A Tale of Two Tradeoffs) | overcomingbias.com ]

This isn’t me asking; this is a question asked on the GSS, which, according to the website:

The General Social Survey (GSS) conducts basic scientific research on the structure and development of American society with a data-collection program designed to both monitor social change within the United States and to compare the United States to other nations.

Basically, this is the largest and highest quality dataset we have on how Americans feel about things, combined with other information about those answering the questions. What this provides us is the ability to learn from correlations that exist between various data points.

So, for the question at hand–whether you think there should be a law against interracial marriage between blacks and whites–a few things jump out immediately. Here’s the chart for age of the interviewee.

irmage

Old people are stuck in the past, basically, and I look forward to their viewpoints losing hold of public discourse.

Then we have education:

iredu

It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Next we look at the breakdown by belief in the Bible:

irbib

Startling. No, just kidding.

Here’s another education/intelligence correlation: this time based on number of correct vocabulary words:

irvoc

And then here’s by region, with this being the breakdown:

gssmap

irreg

Again, not surprising. The south leads the pack, followed by the midwest and northeast. So basically, all the stereotypes are correct: people who oppose white/black marriage tend to be old, religious, uneducated/unintelligent, and from the south.

What I’d really like to see is this same survey asking the question: “Can a black man do as good of a job as president as a white man?” I predict that this would yield almost identical results to the current question, and I think this explains the 2008 election more than any data we’ve seen previously.

Anyway…extremely interesting stuff. I found this story, and the images, over at Gene Expression. If you’re not following that blog, you really should be. ::

Links

[ Gene Expression | http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/ ] [ General Social Survey | wikipedia.org ]

This is one of the new propaganda videos that they’re playing before movies now in certain markets. This one is for the Nascar folks; they’ve got another one for Hispanics. It’s shameless and pathetic. No, it’s a fucking disgrace.

Robin Hanson on Groupthink

November 18th, 2008 | Sociology

An interesting post over at Overcoming Bias:

We feel a deep pleasure from realizing that we believe something in common with our friends, and different from most people. We feel an even deeper pleasure letting everyone know of this fact.

This feeling is EVIL.

Learn to see it in yourself, and then learn to be horrified by how thoroughly it can poison your mind. Yes evidence may at times force you to disagree with a majority, and your friends may have correlated exposure to that evidence, but take no pleasure when you and your associates disagree with others; that is the road to rationality ruin.

brain_tree
Image from weber.edu

As I sit here at my allergist waiting on the all-clear after my shots, I’m thinking about something that’s been bothering me for a while.

It’s called Confirmation Bias, and it essentially means that once you’re in a camp, you tend to take inputs that agree with that camp. And as you do so you become more and more convinced that your camp is right. You essentially isolate yourself from information that might change your opinion, and as time goes on you become more and more convinced that you are correct.

This is bad.

It severely limits the ability for logical people to intelligently discuss the issues. Each participant is subscribed to his own reality, and each is convinced that he is the logical one. It becomes a futile endeavor to even debate, as each is already convinced based on belief rather than fact.

I’m worried about this with myself. I read Reddit quite a bit, and there is zero pro-McCain content on the site. None. This troubles me greatly, as the odds of him not being right about something are very low. It says to me that even if he were to be right it would be squelched. At this point I have to doubt the non-biased integrity of the medium.

So here’s a question in point: are the Democrats/Liberals not significantly to blame for the sub-prime problem due to their insistence on “everyone” being able to own a home? Doesn’t that directly lead to pressure to loan to those who are unqualified? And don’t they stand to gain politically from the appreciation of those with sub-prime mortgages?

This seems quite logical to me, yet it’s not the type of thing you’d ever see on Reddit. Why? Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s stupid, and if that’s the case then great. But there’s a more sinister possibility, i.e. that it is logical, but that it points to a flaw in the liberal narrative. That option is what troubles me.

Don’t get me wrong–I already voted for Obama and I’m rather sure that McCain is even more dangerous than Bush, but I’m uncomfortable with the fact that so few intelligent people disagree with me within the circles I frequent.

Quite simply, I need to expand my inputs. I need to seek out those who can find problems in my understanding, not simply reinforce it. If you have any suggestions for logical, right-leaning content, please let me know. I’m all over the Ron Paul economic theory stuff already; what I’m looking for is intelligent pro-McCain commentary.

If it doesn’t exist, that’s fine. But I’m damn sure going to look. I refuse to succumb to the bias of groupthink.:

Free Hugs

January 21st, 2008 | Culture | Philosophy | Sociology

I dislike the song, but the video, and the concept, are awesome.

First off I’ll just say that I’m really bad at this. I seem to fail to take into account the most important variables while latching on to the most inconsequential. That being said I’m going to have a go anyway. I’m seeing a number of trends that I want to try and hash out.

Be aware: this is me thinking out loud. An academic paper this is not.

  • A massive move toward social division along class lines. And yes, this divide has always existed; I’m saying it’s about to get a whole lot more pronounced. This is coming not so much from the rich getting richer, but more from larger and larger groups of people becoming poorer. The key there is that this already large group is reproducing at a very fast pace. This is going to introduce extreme pressure on our already faltering system.
  • I see crime in 5-10 years becoming extremely rampant and increasingly violent, with the only counter being an overt militarization of our police forces. I envision a major upsurge in large-scale riots — many of which will be race/class related. I see a culture of revolt rising up in the lower classes, essentially, with this being exacerbated by the fact that much of the middle class is going to be pealing down into the lower class.
  • One manifestation of this will be large areas of our country that are simply not safe to be in. This is already the case now to some extent, but I see this becoming dramatically magnified. I see entire halves of cities being partitioned off as hostile — complete with increased security at the boundaries, etc. This of course will add to feelings of isolation and preference. The perception (and reality) will be that the paramilitary police forces will be protecting the rich people from the poor people. And since this will largely be divided down race lines in addition to class lines, that will lead to additional unrest.
  • I essentially see dramatic social separation in our future — to the point of the constant threat of riot-level violence. The rich people will isolate themselves off in certain communities and gain the rights to protect themselves with handguns. There will be many more shootings — many justified, many not — all adding to the perception that the rich are able to kill the poor and get away with it.
  • Further out we’ll start to see new drugs enter the markets. Drugs that will magnify the differences between the classes even more. Some drugs will be used mostly by the lower classes and will keep them there, i.e. gentle drugs that give a feeling of well-being and still allow you to function. Other drugs will enhance mental abilities such as memory and intelligence. These will largely be too expensive for the lower classes and as a result only the upper class will have them.
  • These things will all be accompanied by increased disparities between the groups receiving education. Even fewer of the lower income levels will go to school, and even more of the upper level will. And the ability to gather information will be GREATLY enhanced for the privileged. Not only due to improved technology but because of the cognitive supplements as well. In short, the ignorant will become more ignorant while the smart become smarter.
  • What this ultimately leads to is revolution. It leads to civil war. It leads to the massive numbers of the weak revolting against the strong — only to be massacred by the army/police that are wielded by the rich.

So what’s the solution? The solution is one that we don’t have the ability to implement. We, as a society are too encumbered by liberal-minded weakness. We lack the strength to make uncomfortable decisions that will benefit our society as whole.

The solution is to maintain standards for the citizens of our republic. The solution is to temporarily stop bringing more people into this country. To raise everyone who’s on the bottom up to the middle. To say to them that they are American and that we expect much from them. To synchronize our country on a single vision. We need to re-inject the concept of personal responsibility into our discourse. We need to shun those who act like children when they are adults.

We need to stop encouraging children to have children. We need to chastise those who would complain on one hand about not having enough in life, and then go to the club and make a baby. These people need to be humiliated. Don’t pass laws. Don’t punish them legally. Make them feel shame for the disservice they are doing to this country. We must put a stop to it.

Kids raising kids leads to poor parenting. Poor parenting leads to poor education because the teachers fear the parents’ ability to sue. This erodes the entire educational system. It essentially means that our entire country is being filled full of absolute morons. Morons who are easy to manipulate and stir into a frenzy.

A country full of morons who are easy to manipulate means that our political system is useless. Our system is based on informed, intelligent, responsible citizens who think for themselves. Without this democracy is a sad joke. Without an educated and independent voting base politicians will become unable to make REAL decisions that hinge on complexity. They’ll be forced to placate the masses via deception and trickery. Oh wait, that’s already happening.

Essentially the country is becoming a giant shit hole. We’ve relaxed our standards. We don’t demand excellence. We don’t have an identity. And if someone doesn’t figure this out very soon our precious America is going to devolve into a class-divided police state full of illiterate masses managed by a hyper-elite upper class with an eye for extermination.

Sad times are upon us.:

mconsent

In other words, Iran is involved in killing Americans. That gives us permission.

This is so obvious it’s painful to look at. Fortunately for the government the American public is too stupid to even notice they’re being manipulated.

This article argues that Facebook is where the upper, more-educated classes are, and that the lower classes are still using MySpace. I’ve seen anecdotal evidence of this as well.

Another interesting fact the article pointed out was the fact that most U.S. Military officers use FaceBook while the enlisted troops use MySpace. Again, no surprise there.

I personally have both and don’t use either.

[ Link: MySpace and FaceBook ]