Lysenkoism by social choice

The worst fate a civilization can face is to cut itself off from reality.

Sealed away from harmful facts, it swims in its own mind, nourished by wealth created in its past. Over time, the poisons build up and the delusion comes into collision — SMASH! — with reality and its unrelenting consistency. Then the civilization dies.

We like to think that with our technology and open society, we play by a different set of rules than people used in the past. We want to think this collision cannot happen to us.

To justify this, we create a mythos: the past was bad and brutal, but now we’re enlightened, and through the equality of all people, we are making as close to a Utopia as we can. And that’s what matters; everyone thinks they are taken care of.

No matter how “free” a society thinks it is, debunking its mythos will get you ostracized if not outright thrown in jail. There are practical taboos, and then there are taboos against attacking the core assumptions of that civilization.

In the modern west, our core assumption is equality:

  • All people are politically equal. This requires we assume they are all of equal abilities, because otherwise we’re letting incompetents vote and demand air time for their beliefs.
  • People are distinguished only by hard work and moral goodness (HW/MG). Since all people are assumed to be equal in ability, we must have some way to explain why some are promoted over others. So we invent the mythos of “hard work” and “moral goodness,” which generally translate into social factors like time spent at the office and socializing with others.
  • Anyone who has something not earned through “hard work” and “moral goodness” must have stolen it. If we’re all equal, and someone rises by some means other than HW/MG, then they must have done it by cheating.
  • In order to achieve moral goodness, we must remove those who do not have HW/MG. Since we are all already equal, the only anomalies are those who are evil, and we must destroy them.

In order to keep this mythos, we deny evolution. To read Darwinism correctly, all species are constantly struggling to reach a greater degree of adaptivity to their environment. That means that at every level, inequality exists.

If inequality does not exist, according to the laws of thermodynamics at least, then any sense of forward evolution stops. With all things equal, there is no need for change.

Our current mythos/taboo pair has us desiring that form of entropy: we want total equality, an end of history, and no further development (except our nifty technology, of course). No striving, and thus none of us have to ever feel like we came up short, at least in public.

This is why our taboo structure becomes so pervasive, and resembles other taboos from dying regimes:

It was due to Lysenko’s efforts that many real scientists, those who were geneticists or who rejected Lamarckism in favor of natural selection, were sent to the gulags or simply disappeared from the USSR. Lysenko rose to dominance at a 1948 conference in Russia where he delivered a passionate address denouncing Mendelian thought as “reactionary and decadent” and declared such thinkers to be “enemies of the Soviet people” (Gardner 1957). He also announced that his speech had been approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Scientists either groveled, writing public letters confessing the errors of their way and the righteousness of the wisdom of the Party, or they were dismissed. Some were sent to labor camps. Some were never heard from again.

Under Lysenko’s guidance, science was guided not by the most likely theories, backed by appropriately controlled experiments, but by the desired ideology. Science was practiced in the service of the State, or more precisely, in the service of ideology. The results were predictable: the steady deterioration of Soviet biology. Lysenko’s methods were not condemned by the Soviet scientific community until 1965, more than a decade after Stalin’s death. – Skeptic’s Dictionary

Modern humans like to think that the world is a series of external options. They don’t occur within us; they’re outside, and if we just demand the right one, we eliminate conflict and live without fear.

Part of that illusion is that idea that the past was brutal because it was externally brutal. Something happened to us that forced brutality on us, we reason, and so we’re just now escaping that brutal age.

We like to think we beat the brutality like an opponent in an arm wrestling match, like we beat the kings, Hitler, and Enron. After all, an external enemy is one you can fight once and defeat with force. An internal enemy is one you must constantly push back against with discipline.

Our Western Lysenkoism is that we deny any suspicion that equality is not a state of nature. We want to force everyone to be equal, and if that means we sacrifice our best, so be it! At least we’ll finally have peace.

The problem with Western Lysenkoism is that it denies evolution and Darwin as thoroughly as a religious fundamentalist. It manifests itself in the following ways:

  • It denies inherent differences between social classes.
  • It denies evolutionary differences between racial, ethnic and geographically isolated populations.
  • It denies the differences in ability and character between individuals, insisting instead that we’re all “equal.”
  • It denies our need to keep evolving by testing ourselves against our environment and finding optimal survival strategies.

We can see the results of Lysenkoism when we understand that our press is every bit as controlled as Soviet press during the Cold War.

Except that where the Soviets relied on centralized control, we rely on social pressures and media memes (passed down by entertainers from the social elites with whom they consort) to shame people into denying the taboo and accepting our mythos:

The problem is that there is no longer any source of objective and trusted information. In previous generations, Americans could turn to reliable sources of information, for example, reportage from newspapers, television, and radio news departments.

Too much information these days is tainted with an agenda, whether political, religious, economic, or some other. The influence of this information is so powerful that some people are believing and supporting policies that are not in their best interests. – “The (Mis) Information Age,” by Dr. Jim Taylor, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 13, 2010

When you think about it, the notion of “equality” means that we reverse direction in society: instead of finding a suitable target and working toward it, we turn to our people and poll them to see what they desire.

Since fear is stronger than a sense of desire for adventure, what most people want — and therefore what wins out — is escape from fear, material comforts, and a lack of accountability (which translates into a lack of social standards).

Our inverted society thinks backward. Instead of thinking what we should do, we think about what will be popular with other humans. By so doing, we deny the consequences of our actions as well as the biological and power-related origins of our desires.

  • Products reflect what the masses want to buy, and corporations do whatever is required to deliver those products at the lowest cost and highest margin.
  • Politicians promise whatever makes the most voters agree to put them into office, and only later think about whether that’s practical, which means that ideological hot buttons trump real issues.
  • Ideas that make people want to like the speaker become popular, and therefore drown out what may be scientifically or logically correct, because if people like your idea you prosper in wealth and friends.

We like to — in our mythos/taboo pair — blame large corporations, kings, governments and religions for our problems. One look at our media confirms that.

But as the list above illustrates, these social institutions are just doing the will of the people. With democracy and equality, the number of votes prevails.

That means that if you have 5 dumb people for every 1 smart one, the dumb people are going to win; this gives rise to very cynical people who pander to the dumb and make themselves rich, passing on the cost to the rest of us.

The notion the dumb people like is that we’re all equal. But the cost multiplies.

A small but influential group of economists and educators is pushing another pathway: for some students, no college at all. It’s time, they say, to develop credible alternatives for students unlikely to be successful pursuing a higher degree, or who may not be ready to do so.

“It is true that we need more nanosurgeons than we did 10 to 15 years ago,” said Professor Vedder, founder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a research nonprofit in Washington. “But the numbers are still relatively small compared to the numbers of nurses’ aides we’re going to need. We will need hundreds of thousands of them over the next decade.” – “Plan B: Skip College,” by Jacques Steinberg, The New York Times, May 14, 2010

What is the cost to you if too many people go to college? After all, we like to think that the choices others make do not effect us, unless they directly change our course through life. What they do in their bedroom, on their computer, or at college shouldn’t affect us, right?

Except:

  1. High school degrees are now worthless. To get everyone to go to college, you need to dumb the material down so that more can do well at it. Your HS diploma now says: “Bill showed up for four years.”
  2. Affirmative action. In order to boost people found in smaller percentages on our campuses, we dumb down the entry requirements. “Even though Jake got a 950 on his SAT, he can go to Harvard.”
  3. Grade inflation. Once they get to college, you can’t have 2/3 of them fail, so you need to dumb down the coursework to the point where a college degree is only marginally more useful than an HS degree. “We wanted Suzy to feel on par with her classmates, so the lowest anyone can get is a B.”
  4. Politicization. Because grades are now mostly arbitrary, the process invites abuse. “If you want an A in English Literature with Dr. McGillicuddy, you’d better write about feminist theories of hermeneutics.”
  5. Lack of real world skills and context. To make people pass, they drop out the hard stuff, like broad surveys and specific abilities. “The staff decided it’s too hard to code up a parser on a 64k Apple II, so we’re going to start you off on Logo for Windows 7.”

This is the price you pay: over two generations, a college degree becomes next-to-worthless.

What’s another cost to our Western Lysenkoism? We can’t talk about certain topics honestly, which then infects our science with “politically correct” (more accurately: socially correct) memes and illusions:

What Eia had done, was to first interview the Norwegian social scientists on issues like sexual orientation, gender roles, violence, education and race, which are heavily politicized in the Norwegian science community. Then he translated the interviews into English and took them to well-known British and American scientists like Robert Plomin, Steven Pinker, Anne Campbell, Simon Baron-Cohen, Richard Lippa, David Buss, and others, and got their comments. To say that the American and British scientists were surprised by what they heard, is an understatement.

In Norway, the social sciences have been more dominated by ideology and fear of biology than in perhaps any other country.

But science started to suffer. With so much easy money, few wanted to study the hard sciences. And the social sciences suffered in another way: The ties with the government became too tight, and created a culture where controversial issues, and tough discussions were avoided. Too critical, and you could risk getting no more money. – “Norway: Brainwashed Science on TV Creates Storm,” by Bjorn Vassnes, European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, April 26, 2010

Science is corrupted the same way governments, corporations, kings and religions are: through the will of the people.

If the majority wants to buy into an illusion, scientists get grant money for supporting that illusion. They come up with research that cherry-picks data, considers some of the factors, tweaks definitions, etc. to disguise the truth and instead promote this happy idea that lots of people want to buy into. And then those scientists can send their kids to college.

As modern people, we are in denial of the corrupting force of Western Lysenkoism.

When we cannot talk honestly about a topic, we have no hope of fixing problems associated with it.

Even more, we corrupt our own standards of communication to work around socially-inconvenient truths and replace them with lies. This lowers the standard of our communication as a whole, leading us to become a society of simplistic thinkers.

Our Western Lysenkoism originates in our history: in 1789 with the French Revolution, our states decided that it was time to leave the “organic state” behind. The organic state was ruled by aristocracy, or a group of its wisest people, and was united by heritage, language, customs, culture and values.

We threw all that out, and replaced it with the “nation-state,” or a geographically-convenient grouping formed for the purposes of retaining political power. The nation-state is a “proposition nation,” meaning that it is united by a political concept such as equality.

This is why we say liberalism is organized around a single clear principle (equality) where conservatism is an aggregate, formed of all things that believe in a single type of result (the organic state) without being as specific about it. Conservatism is a direction to explore, liberalism is a demand for a certain principle to rule over all others.

But what are the problems of the proposition nation?

Why did ethnic groups need their own states? Mainly because the ethnic group that captures the state favors its own and disfavors others, even if the state’s rhetoric declares the theoretical equality under the law of all ethnic groups. That an ethnic group that captures the state will favor its own seems blatantly obvious, but is worth emphasizing in this age of phony equality.

The classic example of a multi-ethnic state run by one ethnic group that favored itself is Austria-Hungary. It is no accident that nationalist agitators were prominent in this state. The Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, etc., saw themselves as discriminated against by the ruling German-speakers, their languages relegated to second- or third-class status, and state positions reserved for the ruling ethnic group. Zionism arose in Austria-Hungary as well, with rising nationalist sentiment convincing Herzl that the solution to the “Jewish problem” lay in statehood, so that the Jews could become a nation like any other.

Besides ethnic groups favoring their own through the machinery of the state, some groups will almost always prosper more than others; here again Austria-Hungary exemplifies this, as the Germans were arguably smarter and harder working than most of the other ethnic groups in the empire, another factor in their domination. Human biodiversity, along with geography and demography, predict that this will happen. For these reasons, it would have been impossible for, say, the Croatians ever to dominate Austria-Hungary.

The idea of a proposition nation, namely that a people or peoples will be unified in a nation without regard to ethnicity, using either a shared history, or geography, or adherence to some abstract principle, turns the notion of a traditional nation-state on its head. Real nationalism arose out of historical circumstances and was based on the historical experience of clashing ethnic groups, whereas propositional nationalism shares more in common with doctrines like socialism or fascism, in which some abstract principle, whether state ownership of “the means of production” (a quaint relic from the age of factories) or corporatism are given excessive importance, to the exclusion of all other social factors. – “The Proposition Nation is No Nation”, Dennis Mangan, May 14, 2010

The healthiest societies have the highest degree of consensus, and so require the least amount of enforcement.

If we want a healthy nation, the people should be of similar intelligence, ethnic background, religious or philosophical ideals, and through years of natural selection while the civilization was forming, similar outlook and abilities.

That’s how to have a happy society. You can, instead, choose to take the moral superiority path and jam everyone in together, then ignore widespread misery as is the case in the USA and Europe.

The Times’s story includes a graphic breakdown of police stops by race: blacks made up 55 percent of all stops in 2009, though they’re only 23 percent of the city’s population; whites accounted for 10 percent of all stops, though they’re 35 percent of the city’s population; Hispanics made up 32 percent of all stops, though 28 percent of the population, and Asians, 3 percent of all stops and 12 percent of the population. The article details a host of other police actions by specific racial numbers, including arrests, frisks, and use of force.

Here are the crime data that the Times doesn’t want its readers to know: blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009 (though they were only 55 percent of all stops and only 23 percent of the city’s population). Blacks committed 80 percent of all shootings in the first half of 2009. Together, blacks and Hispanics committed 98 percent of all shootings. Blacks committed nearly 70 percent of all robberies. Whites, by contrast, committed 5 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009, though they are 35 percent of the city’s population (and were 10 percent of all stops). They committed 1.8 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies. The face of violent crime in New York, in other words, like in every other large American city, is almost exclusively black and brown. Any given violent crime is 13 times more likely to be committed by a black than by a white perpetrator—a fact that would have been useful to include in the Times’s lead, which stated that “Blacks and Latinos were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped.” These crime data are not some artifact that the police devise out of their skewed racial mindset. They are what the victims of those crimes—the vast majority of whom are minority themselves—report to the police. – “Distorting the Truth About Crime and Race,” by Heather Macdonald, City Journal, May 14, 2010

The system isn’t working.

The system isn’t working for blacks. They’re still mostly poor, and white people don’t talk to them honestly for fear of government or social retribution. Even more, the denial of racial differences or the simple fact that each ethnic group wants to rule itself rings hollow, and spreads discontent.

This discontent doesn’t voice itself clearly. It’s snide, like people saying “diversity is our strength” after another interracial crime incident. It’s smug, like millions of people voting for Barack Obama to have a black guy in an office previously held only by white guys.

The system isn’t working for whites.

  • They feel targeted for having wealth and power, yet when they try to share, they get only resentment because sharing power from a superior position affirms that position and makes the lower sharer resentful.
  • They must deny the reality of crime and race.
  • They can’t talk about many topics in public and their science, to curry votes and purchases, turns against truth.
  • They lose a society where a standard could be upheld as “this is how we do things.” Who’s we, white woman? We is an open category, so there’s no standard, which translates into standards plummeting to a lowest common denominator.
  • Creation of a political elite based on racial pity and having the “right” political views.
  • The aforementioned dumbing down of education, science and the professions.

The system is not working for blacks, or for whites. And as it decays, it’s not working for anyone else, either.

We have developed an insidious Lysenkoism that denies biological differences, in the name of preserving equality, and so we alienate ourselves from reality.

President Obama is not helping bring this nation together. In fact, he seems to be doing everything he can to further divide this country. Every time he speaks, he divides us by race, by class, by occupation, and by income. He constantly refers to people in certain occupations–all private industry occupations–as greedy, corrupt, and un-American. His favorite targets right now are bankers and insurance company executives. But if he hasn’t gotten to your industry yet, he will. Unless you’re a government bureaucrat. The president has never met a bureaucrat he didn’t like.

Obama and his minions openly mock hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Americans by calling them names, describing them as racists, bigots, homophobes, extremists, hate-mongers, and teabaggers (the name for a sexual act that Obama himself used to smear Tea Party protestors). – “Splitting America at its seams,” by Chuck Hustmyre, The Hayride, May 13, 2010

We can’t blame this on Obama. He has no choice but to split because the historical onus is upon him to acknowledge what is inherently split: this country is divided between conservatives and liberals because we desire different kinds of societies.

Liberals want the Western Lysenkoism of equality.

Conservatives want an organic society, with different degrees of acknowledgment of this fact.

Instead of trying to compromise these incompatible views, we should recognize where we are incompatible and come up with a way for each group to have its own place.

Conservatives and liberals clash most clearly on the idea of who defines the social order both share. Liberals want an inclusive order, meaning that all behaviors are tolerated. Conservatives want an exclusive order in which standards are set, and those who meet or exceed them are guaranteed reward.

These are mutually incompatible.

Liberal: Why do you oppose legalizing gay marriage, drug use, Wikileaks and miscegenation?

Conservative: Those violate the standards of the community I want to live in. I’m wiling to cede certain rights in exchange for a guarantee of stable, productive behavior. I know what I need to do in life, and I don’t want it interrupted by social decay.

Liberal: But now you’re oppressing me, by telling me that I can’t do these things.

Conservative: But if we legalize those things, you’ll be oppressing me, by denying me the society I want to live in.

Liberals tend to use a passive aggressive argument, which is to assume that everything should be okay, and then to attack anyone who wants to ban anything, calling them “intolerant”, “elitist” or “racist.”

But the fact is that the two groups want different types of civilizations, and to give either group the upper hand violates the needs of the other.

Right now, the liberals have the upper hand, as they have for the most party since 1789. We fought several huge wars over this debacle, including WWI and WWII. Liberals won all of them.

The problem for liberals is that conservatives are not born, they are made. A child grows up innocent of all things until about fourth grade, when they start paying attention to the opinions others have of them. This “social consciousness” becomes increasingly important through college, and then vanishes as they have to face the world on their own. As they head into their late 20s, most of them are becoming far more conservative.

First, they’ve observed how sensible it is to group with people like you in most ways. When you seek a mate, you want someone roughly like you for maximum compatibility and if you have kids, their health. When you seek a house, you want people around you who share your standards, and have a similar way of thinking so they can appreciate why those standards are important.

Finally, the newly-minted conservative starts noticing how most of the problems in the world are caused by a single factor: human incompetence.

Not government, not religion, not kings, not corporations; the incompetence of individuals. The daily bungling, inability to defer desires until after the work is done, refusal to save money or stop drinking, or whatever. The entropy of humanity is its lack of self-discipline and planning for the future.

At this point, the conservative starts seeing herself as under assault from a large group of people who will without being productive demand more resources, siphoning them away from being put to good use generating more wealth, knowledge or stability. Humanity can become a cancer on itself.

This is why conservatives, even those who are unaware they are conservative, start adopting a new strategy — we might call this a counterpart or opposite to the Western Lysenkoism, which is denial of inherent inequality. The conservative strategy is not recognition of inequality, but demand for the ability for the exceptional to exist.

Here it is, in meme form:

Not in our town here.

Gay marriage, drugs, incest, casual sex, miscegenation, wife beating? Great, legalize it in California. But not here. We don’t presume to tell you what to do, but in return, you must not presume to tell us what to do, here in our town.

Although this strategy has been present for years, it’s time we start articulating it clealry and loudly: you can do what you want over there, but don’t make rules for me here. We are incompatible.

If conservatives start doing this, we can begin to erode the chaos wrought on our society by the Western Lysenkoism that denies the inherent inequality of nature.

2 Comments

  1. [...] Brett Stevens – “Lysenkoism by Social Choice” [...]

  2. Spectrum says:

    This post was nothing short of intellectually badass. I’d say it cuddles up to reality quite nicely. Well done.

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