2016 April 24 Sunday
Hypersensitive Colleges, Safe Spaces, High School Students

We are moving into an era where many colleges enforce ridiculous rules aimed at preventing assorted privileged groups from feeling offended by anything they see or hear. Piling on, the US Department of Education is shoving an interpretation of Title IX down the throats of colleges which makes the colleges throw out due process for accused students. So what about the realists who want to go to college to learn about and discuss reality in a legally fair environment?

Here is my modest proposal: Encourage non-leftist students to avoid the craziest colleges and go to the most rational colleges. We need groups to measure the extent of politically correct nonsense and due process violations at various colleges and universities and publish this info as scores. Then high school students looking to choose a college could consult such a list, avoid the most politically correct, places, and apply at the best places.

This will tend to make the most left-leaning colleges even nuttier than they already are. But rational-minded students would benefit from flocking together and creating intellectual environments where the truth and reason are highly valued.

By Randall Parker 2016 April 24 11:02 PM 
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2016 April 23 Saturday
Ross Douthat On Neoreaction

The pessimists about human nature get some things right.

Reactionary assumptions about human nature — the intractability of tribe and culture, the fragility of order, the evils that come in with capital-P Progress, the inevitable return of hierarchy, the ease of intellectual and aesthetic decline, the poverty of modern substitutes for family and patria and religion — are not always vindicated. But sometimes? Yes, sometimes. Often? Maybe even often.

Agreed. Turn away from Panglossian rah rah for your faction and you can understand and do a better job of predicting. A quick Google search confirms that Ross is familiar with Philip Tetlock's research on superforecasters. Wondering if reactionaries are overrepresented in the ranks of superforecasters.

Yes, both factions have far too much optimism about how the spread of their beliefs could make the world a better place. I think libertarians are especially guilty of this. They have a hard time realizing just how unnatural libertarian thinking is to most people.

Both liberalism and conservatism can incorporate some of these insights. But both have an optimism that blinds them to inconvenient truths. The liberal sees that conservatives were foolish to imagine Iraq remade as a democracy;

Really? Before the Iraq invasion major liberal commentators were saying that tribal Iraq with high rates consanguineous marriage and splits between Sunni and Shia and Arab and Kurd was not fertile ground for liberal democracy? I missed that commentary. Where is it? Since President Wilson the progressives have argued that liberal democracy is suitable and inevitable for a gradually enlargening fraction of the human race. At this point Hillary Clinton is hardly alone on the Left in holding a belief that the purpose of US foreign policy is to overthrow more regimes and democratize more countries. This has led to liberal support for the Iraq invasion, intervention in Syria, and the overthrow of the Libyan Colonel with many last name spellings.

Even today, what tabula rasa liberal is going to admit out loud that Iraq can't become a liberal democracy? Global liberal manifest destiny seems to be a core belief of Democratic Party POTUS candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Perhaps Ross hears more skepticism from liberals who trust he won't publicly reveal their heretical beliefs about human nature.

By Randall Parker 2016 April 23 08:25 PM 
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2016 April 22 Friday
Western Left Hates Ayaan Hirsi Ali For Islam Criticisms

Western liberals are angry at Ayaan Hirsi Ali for saying mainstream Islam is misogynistic and hostile to non-believers. A very well funded Saudi lobby agrees wtih the Western liberals.

She notes that Congressional hearings held since September 11, 2001 have repeatedly cited the role of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in spreading an ideology that praises misogyny in particular and retaliation against non-believers in general, and yet there has been no discernible change in U.S. policy toward these nations. “It has gotten worse,” Ms. Hirsi Ali says of the Saudis’ role in fomenting fundamentalist Islam. “The Saudi lobby is so strong.”

Read the whole article.

Also read When Pieties Collide: Feminism and multiculturalism in Western Europe by Heather Mac Donald. She addresses the sexual violence by Muslim men in Europe and the Left's response to it.

When feminists were cornered into addressing the violence, they tied themselves into knots trying to change the subject back to their favorite topic: Western white-male patriarchy. “The problem of sexualized violence has already existed here for some time and can’t simply be ‘deported,’” said German feminist Anne Wizorek to Der Spiegel. “It cannot be allowed to become the standard in gender debates that only male migrants are considered to be those responsible [for sexual violence].” In other words, the New Year’s assaults were continuous with the routine terror inflicted by German men on German women. Actually, there was no precedent in Germany or the rest of Europe for mass peacetime sexual assaults, much less ones where the police merely look on. “I have never experienced such a thing in any German city,” a victim told the New York Times. But people who did name the attacks for what they were—a manifestation of Muslim misogyny and an alarm bell regarding mass immigration—were vilified as racists.

We need more populist rebellions. The establishment is rotten.

By Randall Parker 2016 April 22 03:02 PM 
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Saudi Arabia Economy In A Nutshell

Heavily dependent on oil and this is true:

The state still employs two-thirds of Saudi workers, while foreigners account for nearly 80 percent of the private-sector payroll.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to reform the economy of Saudi Arabia because of the financial crisis caused by cheap oil. The state is bleeding money at a fast rate.

Okay, lets do some math on the Saudi labor market. The third of Saudis who are in the private sector are one fifth of the private sector. The Saudis employed by the state are another two fifths. So we have something like 80:60 ratio of foreigners to Saudis total overall in the Saudi workforce. Is there a viable way to transform this situation into a healthy economy?

It comes down to what the Saudi citizens are willing and able to do in the labor market. If they aren't all that willing or able then what? The government could go with a plan B that, at least in Saudi Arabia, might be viable: import even more workers but of very high skill. Create an economy of foreigners in some portion of the Kingdom that has high earning power and high productivity.

In theory this could be done while still maintaining an overwhelmingly Islamic populace since India has the most Muslims in the world and Saudi Arabia could try to skim the intellectual cream off the top of India, Indonesia, and a few other countries with large Muslim populations.

United Arab Emirates has a largely migrant labor force with natives in government and defense.

In 2013, the UAE had the fifth-largest international migrant stock in the world with 7.8 million migrants (out of a total population of 9.2 million), according to United Nations (UN) estimates.

It is amazing how far the UAE has gone with this strategy. Natives make up only 10-15% of the UAE workforce. The imported labor is overwhelmingly male and so doesn't reproduce much.

To make this sort of situation work you need a ruthless government with natives in the military and police very ready to crack down and do mass deportations of any protesting imported labor. You also need some viable industries that would get staffed by all the imported labor. But I'm not clear how, say, a manufacturing industry with an export focus could do better in Saudi Arabia than competing companies in, say, low labor cost India. How could Saudi Arabia make use of all that imported (and harshly treated) labor in a way that is competitive with companies in other countries producing the same sorts of goods and services?

I think the Saudi government is going to need to lower the living standards of natives because it is not going to find sources of wealth that can replace oil. But disappointments from declining living standards could easily lead to revolution. So can the Saudis maintain political stability over the coming decades?

By Randall Parker 2016 April 22 11:48 AM 
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2016 April 09 Saturday
Norwegian Leftist Feels Guilty About Deportation Of His Rapist

See: After Anal Rape, Left Wing Activist Felt 'Guilt And Responsibility' His Migrant Attacker Was Deported.

The Left's tendency to see each group as a whole as either oppressors or oppressed makes them opposed to punishment of individuals who are in supposedly oppressed groups. Those who most intensely embrace this model of the world really should be collected together into their own countries separate from the rest of us so that the rest of us do not have to deal with the consequences of their views. Seriously, we need a divorce.

I'm reminded of Stephen Fry on political correctness. But I do not get the sense that he understands the root causes of the problem.

Who has a firmer grasp of what's going on? NYU moral psychology researcher Jonathan Haidt. Listen to this podcast interview by a Spiked editor: Jonathan Haidt talks Safe Spaces, microaggressions and campus fragility. Haidt said many humanities fields lost their ability to have meaningful debates in the 1990s and now social sciences are going thru the same process. Progress is not inevitable. In a different interview with Tyler Cowen Haidt looks at what we are seeing in the Republican presidential primary:

JONATHAN HAIDT: You have to see politics as occurring at multiple levels simultaneously. Just as at a university we’ve got psychologists studying individual experiences, we’ve got neurologists studying neurons, we’ve got political scientists and sociologists studying emergent phenomena, that’s what you have to do to study politics.

If you look at the history, if you look at the higher‑level constructs, yeah, it’s bizarre what’s happening. It’s unprecedented, and people expected the past to predict the future.

But what if the emerging social constructs of the Republican Party have been getting progressively out of tune with the moral intuitions and the psychology of the voters? I think that’s what we have seen happening.

The Big Sort (see Bill Bishop's book with this title) is one of the factors responsible for the decay of academia. The loss of intellectual diversity in academia allows a certain kind of moral sentiment to dominate with ridiculous effects. I do not see how this is going to reverse. The demographic changes driving it are still driving academia deeper into absurdity and away from truth-seeking.

What I think would help: if some small number of colleges signaled that they wanted moderate and conservative students (or conservatives just chose some colleges and overwhelmed applications for them) then some places in academia would exist that are not crazy. I think this is best started by people in the Right talking up a small number of colleges (preferably schools with good engineering programs so useful skills can be acquired too). For example, the right wing elite could flock to Dartmouth or CMU. Does another school come to mind as a good candidate to target?

By Randall Parker 2016 April 09 03:22 PM 
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2016 April 02 Saturday
How Salon Reacts To Terrorist Bombings

We brought this on ourselves, and we are the terrorists, too. This is status signaling of a destructive sort. It is a shame the Western civilization is suicidal. But it is likely to remain that way unless something extremely bad happens.

Salon's response was presaged by Douglas Murray's essay: A terrorist attack has happened in Europe. Let the standard response begin…

I think Westerners who are sane need to think about how to form a Western country of only sane people and separate themselves from the fools. Of course this proposed country should have excellent border barriers.

By Randall Parker 2016 April 02 10:16 AM 
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