studiodekadent

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    Individualist Renegade Objectivist Cybergoth-Freak type. Economist, Philosopher and Musician. Economics: Misesian/Hayekian/Evolutionary Philosophy: Open-System Objectivism Myers-Briggs Type: INTP Enneagram Type: 8w7 with a strong connection to 5 Favorite Song: "Joy" by VNV Nation Favorite Computer Game: System Shock 2 Favorite Quote: "Thought Does Not Bow To Authority" - Ayn Rand
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  1. studiodekadent

    "Leftianity"

    Tony, Great argument but I need to make some points. First, there are plenty of atheist humanist secularists whom are anti-religious and against the left in its current form. Ayn Rand was one even if she existed before the labels were coined. She agreed with all the necessary premises. Hell, Christopher Hitchens was a literal Marxist but hated the SJW crap that ended up taking over the atheist movement (or at least parts of it). And the Christians are hardly refuge. You think that Christianity is a refuge from victim politics? Take one read of the Sermon On The Mount. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are those who suffer. Blessed are the victims. Blessed are the oppressed. And some people wonder why Christianity ended up producing Mother Theresa, who had a case of Munchausens By Proxy By Catholicism and practically Jilled Off over witnessing the suffering of the dying. Your assertion that conservative Christians believe in and/or care about personal virtues breaks down when you discuss the Calvinists. They don't believe personal virtue really exists... they think God creates virtue. Which means it isn't human goodness. Their theology is sick and evil. Seriously... Nietzsche's assessment of the idea of hell is entirely, undoubtedly, absolutely correct when we're discussing Calvinist Christians. They love the idea of hell because they are mentally masturbating over the fantasy of sending their enemies to hell. That is why the idea exists. It has no positive basis. It isn't about discouraging bad behavior. It is about hating and condemning the outgroup, scourging them, and fantasizing about torturing them. IT is not something to sneeze at either. Its a technological revolution on par with electricity and the steam engine. Perhaps even greater.
  2. Explanatory Note: In my country, the Coca-Cola Company is running a campaign to raise money for The Salvation Army's Christmas appeals. They are covering their packaging with Salvos logos, etc. As I think that The Salvation Army is a misanthropic, anti-freedom organization that opposes everything I love, I have refused to purchase any vessels containing No Sugar Coke (the product of theirs which I do by) that contain any Salvos branding, logos etc. My reasons for this boycott have been outlined in the following letter which I sent to their consumer feedback service. Given the Objectivist criticisms of religion and devotion to freedom, I believe this letter is relevant to this forum's interests. I should also add that I hope any Objectivist who reads this will consider refusing to associate with any Salvation Army initiatives in the future; I do not believe that organization is worthy of support, for reasons my letter goes into. ________ To Whom It May Concern, Please note, this is an open letter and I shall place it on the internet for others to read. As a consumer of your products, and in particular No Sugar Coke, I am distressed by the fact that your organization is engaged in a charity promotion with The Salvation Army. Benevolence and care for those who suffer is of course laudable, but The Salvation Army is not a harmless organization devoted purely to human benevolence. Rather, The Salvation Army is an abominably evil, misanthropic, fundamentally illiberal organization opposed to human greatness, happiness, and liberty. As an anti-theist atheist and a classical liberal, as a devotee of the values of the Enlightenment and a consumer of your product, I ask you to reconsider your involvement with The Salvation Army and instead that you entrust your benevolence to an organization that is not anti-human or anti-freedom. For the record, I shall not buy a single vessel of your product that indicates your involvement with The Salvation Army. Allow me to explain why I have such a vehement disgust towards The Salvation Army. I hope that my reasons will encourage your organization to reconsider this promotion. Let me begin with the first charge of The Salvation Army being "anti-human." The Salvos believe in a theological position known as "Total Depravity," which means that human nature itself is completely and absolutely evil (see point 5, here: https://salvos.org.au/our-faith/our-beliefs/). The basic implication of Total Depravity is that any act of virtue engaged in by a person only occurred because God made it happen. Therefore, no good act engaged in by a person deserves credit, for it wasn't really an act of that person but rather God working through that person. In brief, there is no such thing as human goodness. Goodness is a property exclusively of the divine, human nature is evil, and should a human being act virtuously that act occurred in spite of their human nature and only because of divine will. This belief is deeply, disgustingly, atrociously offensive. It denies basic moral agency and therefore moral responsibility. It denies free will. If this belief were applied to any subgroup of humanity, such as any particular race or gender, it would be considered the height of bigotry, but apparently the application of such hatred across all of the human species is tolerable. I don't see why general misanthropy is more acceptable than racism. According to Salvos doctrine, we are all scum, we deserve no credit for benevolence, we all righteously deserve to be tortured forever, and to speak of the moral character of individual human beings is nonsensical. Salvos doctrine quite literally insults every single one of your customers by declaring their moral character to be nothing but a sewer. Do you really want to associate with such an organization? I can understand, however, if The Coca-Cola Company does not wish to be seen as making any statements about theological matters. Such issues are hot-button to say the least, and I can respect a desire to not be seen as advocating or criticizing any particular theological position. But The Salvation Army is not a purely religious organization; instead, it holds a set of political positions as well, and these political positions constitute something much more significant. When someone advocates a political position that restricts, controls, regulates or forbids certain activities, that someone is by necessity advocating the use of violence against people who act in certain ways. Is there really any substantial difference between being personally willing to maim or kill someone who engages in a certain kind of conduct one disapproves of, and merely advocating that third-party agents (the government) do so? I honestly don't think so.Advocacy of laws which prevent same-sex civil marriage, therefore, constitute the incitement of violence against those who wish to enter into such marriages (typically members of sexual minorities). Advocacy of laws which control/regulate/forbid pornography is the advocacy of violence against pornography users and producers. And so on. The Salvos openly proclaim, in their positional statements (see https://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/positionalstatements), that their mission is not merely religious but political. In "The Salvation Army and the State" it is said that "The Salvation Army will constantly seek to be a positive influence on individual States, their respective agencies and institutions, and international bodies such as the United Nations. Its goal in all of these relationships will be the promotion of Biblical values" (point 4, page 2). In other words, they will lobby the government to institute laws consistent with their religious convictions about morality. They want to force people to live by their values, not merely persuade, but to use the government (i.e. institutionalized violence) to make people comply with the demands of their faith. What are these Biblical values? Let us begin with their statement entitled "Pornography," in which they affirm that "The Salvation Army abhors the prevalence of and easy accessibility to all forms of pornography, and will make every reasonable effort to stop its production, distribution and use" (page 1). The Salvos openly state that they do not believe pornography to be "simply an issue of private morality" (page 2) and instead that "The Salvation Army will support public legislation which justly regulates the production of and access to pornographic material" (page 3, point 1) and demands that sex education for youth must be "in accorance with biblical ideals." As their position paper "Abortion" states, these are the "ideals of chastity before marriage and fidelity within the marriage relationship" (page 3, point 1). Of course, such ideals are incompatible with same-sex sexual activity; The Salvation Army believes that "marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman" and that Soldiers of The Salvation Army must maintain "Christian ideals in their relationships" and uphold "the sanctity of marriage and family life" (see https://salvos.org.au/our-faith/our-beliefs/dedications-marriages-and-funerals/ and https://salvos.org.au/our-faith/our-beliefs/officers-soldiers-and-adherents/). Now, this seems at first to be nothing more than a private moral position, one which they are perfectly welcome to take, however in view of the obviously political nature of many of the Salvos position statements as well as the fact that they encouraged Australians to vote against extending civil marriage rights to same-sex couples (see https://www.eternitynews.com.au/in-depth/fact-check-what-do-christian-churches-really-think-about-same-sex-marriage/), it is obvious that The Salvation Army is not merely morally opposed to homosexuality (which, again, is a religious position they have a right to hold) but engages in advocating the violation of the rights of the sexual minority community. They go beyond religious endorsement of traditional lifestyles, and instead cross the threshold of political advocacy of ultimately using violence to punish the noncompliant. We see this consistent pattern on political advocacy across Salvation Army position statements on multiple issues. For one, in "Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide" the Salvos state that "euthanasia and assisted suicide should be illegal" (page 1). This is a political statement, not primarily a religious one; they are not saying that such acts are merely immoral and justly punished in the afterlife, they are saying that violence should be used against those who assist suicides. Indeed, they even state that "human beings do not have the right to death by their own act" (page 2); the question of what rights human beings have is an inherently political one. The Salvation Army also believe in the use of policy to restrict and, at least arguably, prohibit alcohol. Again, they go beyond the point of mere religious advocacy of a specific lifestyle and instead want the State to enforce their beliefs (as detailed in their position statement "Alcohol In Society"). "The Salvation Army will encourage national, state and local governments to provide appropriate legislation around the sale, marketing and production of alcohol" (page 3, point 5) it is said, but at no point do they disavow prohibitionism and there is no evidence that they believe individual adults have a right to consume liquor should they choose to do so. "The Salvation Army will campaign against alcohol industry practices which could lead to an increase in the consumption of alcohol. For example, pricing mechanisms which increase the cost of alcohol have been shown to be an effective instrument for reducing alcohol consumption" (page 3, point 6) is a statement that clearly suggests their preferred policy orientation is one of incrementalist prohibition, where less alcohol consumption is always better than more, and any policy that raises the cost of alcohol consumption is positive. They aren't merely interested in helping addicts or convincing people to give up drinking, they aim to fundamentally eliminate drinking and will use national armies, not merely The Salvation Army, to do it. Gambling, too, is a lifestyle choice that The Salvation Army believes to not merely be morally wrong but worthy of being outlawed (see their position paper "Gambling"). Of course the harms of problem gambling are real, and no one would contest that, but The Salvation Army states that gambling "should not be a means of income generation or economic development, whether by government agencies, charitable organizations, churches or commercial interests." According to The Salvation Army, commercial gambling simply should not exist. This is prohibitionism. At no time does The Salvation Army affirm a right of individuals to participate voluntarily in gambling activity. Their political goals cannot be interpreted merely as the advocacy of harm reduction. The Salvation Army wants to use the State to punish sinners. As a classical liberal, I believe in religious freedom and freedom of conscience. The Salvation Army is entitled to believe whatever it wants about the morality of non-traditional sex acts or relationships, promiscuity, gambling, alcohol, and pornography. But religious freedom and freedom of conscience are rights held by individuals, which permit them to believe what they wish and govern their own lives according to those beliefs. Religious freedom or the freedom of conscience do not permit an individual to use violence in order to make others live according to their own beliefs. To advocate the use of government policy to prohibit or regulate conduct that the individual in question is morally opposed to constitutes nothing more than the incitement of proxy violence against those who dissent. Just as hiring hitmen is a crime against the ultimate victim, advocating governmental violation or revocation of rights is inciting violence against those who's rights are to be violated or revoked. The Salvation Army incites such proxy violence; they are not merely people who hold religious opinions, they are political activists who oppose enlightenment-liberal values. When they go beyond speaking about morality and instead advocate certain laws and policies which violate rights, they cannot merely be thought of as exercising their religious liberties. They become the Christian equivalent of Islamists, relying on the government to wage holy war on their behalf. As a consumer of Coke No Sugar, I feel dismayed that The Coca-Cola Company would associate with a charity that, despite doing benevolent work, holds to an exceptionally misanthropic belief system and advocates the revocation of and/or intensified infringement upon individual self-determination and human rights. I am hopeful that, in the future, The Coca-Cola Company will consider alternative charities with which to partner. Until that time, I shall not be purchasing any vessels of your products which indicate support for The Salvation Army. Yours Faithfully, Andrew Russell
  3. studiodekadent

    "Leftianity"

    Jordan Peterson did a study, saying that there were two separate kinds of politically correct types. One of them, the "PC Authoritarians" as he put them, was psychologically very similar to religious rightists. There's also Jonathan Haidt's hypothesis, that the left see morality entirely in terms of care/harm, fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression, neglecting the authority/subversion, loyalty/betrayal and purity/contamination dynamics, however the SJW left (and other parts of the left) show a substantial streak of the three "neglected" foundations as well. It might be that SJWs are what happens when the same "type" of person who is typically predisposed to conservatism embraces left-wing ideology instead (which seems broadly in alignment with Peterson's argument), but it doesn't really explain why the SJW style of leftism only became exceptionally prominent and culturally influential in recent years. There's the Haidt-Skenazy-Campbell-Manning hypothesis as well, which argues that protective and smothering and controlling parenting styles have encouraged the development of a "victimhood culture" where children ended up emotionally fragile and hypersensitive, and became used to using social-media-lynch-mobs and/or appeals-to-higher-powers to resolve their grievances. Again, the problem with this argument is it doesn't explain why SJW norms ended up being embraced by the kids. The likely reality is that we're dealing with a multi-causal phenomenon. Another factor that is often pointed towards is social media, which creates a peer-pressure-panopticon effect that habituates kids to constant social surveillance, twitter lynch mobs, and other things that essentially damage children's capacity to develop individuality. This is compounded by how protective parenting is generating more regimented children's activities, so the result is children are spending more time than ever being institutionalized and controlled and managed within hierarchical social-politics-from-hell environments (see this article I wrote here: https://libertyworks.org.au/hey-shorten-leave-those-kids-alone/). There are obvious answers, like leftist ideology being "cool" and all the arbiters of "coolness" being somewhat leftish. There's the simple university indoctrination argument but again it doesn't explain why PC metastasized now but not in the late 80s/early 90s.
  4. studiodekadent

    "Leftianity"

    I'm not sure if its fair to put this in the epistemology forum considering that its more a question about politics and psychology than epistemology. But you certainly aren't wrong when you observe parallels between fundamentalist Christianity and the SJW Left. Many people have seen commonalities. Original Sin becomes Privilege. Self-flagellation and penance is encouraged through public apologies. Public shaming is used to both police the ingroup and separate the ingroup from the outgroup. "Saved" becomes "woke," and the "woke" are part of an elite "Elect." There's even a parallel with Prosperity Theology; Middle America's economic woes and opioid addictions are seen as the just consequences of their sin (their "racism" typically), and the concentration of wealth in coastal cities is seen as a reward for the virtuous wokeness of said metropolises. Matters of lifestyle which seem to have no connection to politics or even ethics become viewed through a semi-politicized but ultimately religious lens of purity/sanctity vs. defilement/contamination. "Organic" and "natural" and "local" and "artisanal" and "vegan" and "cruelty-free" and "ethically raised" and "Fair Trade" labels form their kashrut, with mass-produced food seen as emblematic of modern western industrial capitalism and thus icky, nasty and full of pollutants. Male sexuality (when actively exercised upon women) is seen as degrading and a spreader of spiritual contamination (hence why it has to be constrained, shamed and kept in check by complex social norms and legal norms that abolish the presumption of innocence). Heresy is not mere disagreement, but fundamentally a betrayal. Minorities that don't share their viewpoints are betrayers as well. Criticism of certain people (especially if they're trans, women or black) is a betrayal, and a product of impure motives. Loyalty to principles is package-dealt with loyalty to principals, and uniformity is required within the ingroup. An hierarchy of authority exists, where those whom are "more holy/more oppressed" are elevated above those who lack that same sainted stature. There are many other similarities, both doctrinally and culturally.
  5. studiodekadent

    Nancy MacLean, Libertarians and Autism

    Michael, Thanks for your response. I should be clear that I am not arguing that all libertarians are autists (although I've seen this argument be made about libertarians). What I am suggesting is that the kind of cognitive style which one typically sees in libertarians is much more likely to be practiced or adopted by people with SOME LEVEL of Asperger's-like traits. To an extent, what I am arguing is that libertarians tend to be disproportionately "nerdy" (for lack of a better term... a temperament that is high-intelligence, very abstract, and relatively low conformity), and that the "nerd brain" is kind of like "diet aspergers." In my own experience the correlations are pretty apparent... the INTP/INTJ thing simply cannot be an accident. I think Ayn Rand was spot on when she explained the mechanism by which this kind of cognitive style mitigates against social conformity; in essence, people who think this way are more likely to stick to their guns, to trust in the judgment of their own mind, and not buckle to the demands of the many. I've seen this pattern too often to dismiss it. Subcultures full of highly intellectual social misfits are always hard to organize (as Christopher Hitchens said about the atheist movement, "it's like herding cats", and we all know how libertarians divide up into little groups and treat the other libertarians as heretics etc...). As I see it, Asperger's Syndrome is just a stronger variant of these same underlying traits. I'm going to be a bit critical when you bring up "economic man." The kind of economics I practice IS NOT incompatible with behavioral economics (the psychological stuff you're talking about). This was shown by Bryan Caplan in his article "Rational Irrationality," where he points out that many psychological quirks or even outright epistemic irrationality can be economically rational (i.e. they are actions in accordance with a person's preferences). Also, you bring up the Mises Institute etc, but Mises actually made LESS strict assumptions about individual behavior than what we see in Econ 101 (where highly specific assumptions are made and mathematically modeled). Finally, I think it should be emphasized that we economists KNOW the Econ 101 assumptions are statistical abstractions at best. They're just useful and elegant ways to demonstrate an underlying point that tends to be generally right. There's also a lot of research that goes into what happens when some of these assumptions are removed or softened (indeed, what I'm doing right now deals with the issue of asymmetric information). You do raise a very good point with the prevalence of classical rationalism (the "deduce everything from the theory/assumptions" method) amongst libertarians. Its very common. Objectivists can fall into it, the Rothbardian types are even more vulnerable to doing so. Of course you're right that it happened with Marxism too, and it happens with classical 20s/30s/40s Progressivism (which goes back to Auguste Comte really)... indeed, Hayek's critique of constructivist rationalism is very much a rebuke to both Marxism and classical Progressivism, but is also a useful corrective to the tendency towards rationalism amongst libertarians. As for Alex Jones, I don't know enough about him. Frankly I don't listen to him, even if he is a libertarian. I've listened to Paul Joseph Watson who at least was once InfoWars editor at large (and PJW is a classical liberal/libertarian himself), and of course I have some disagreements and plenty of agreements with him, but I can't comment on Alex Jones.
  6. studiodekadent

    Nancy MacLean, Libertarians and Autism

    I agree with this. There is certainly something quite sinister in the idea that cognitive empathy is inferior to a "feels"-based empathy. I also agree that as the shrill demands for "empathy" have increased, people have gotten less civil... I know it sounds cynical but I think a lot of the people who demand "more empathy" really mean "more people need to be more empathetic towards me"... Its a demand for others to perform emotional labor for them, basically. Its a demand for narcissistic supply. It should also be pointed out that this skepticism towards rationality and the like was also prominent in the work of Auguste Comte... who constantly connected rationality with egoism and viewed "personal calculations" as the enemy of an altruism driven by all the feels stuff. So I am sympathetic towards your suggestion that demanding a non-cognitive, reflexive empathy can inflict guilt on people (especially when, as even the British Empiricists and Moral Sentimentalists (Hume and Smith in particular) noted, this kind of empathy needs to be economized upon and we don't have an infinite capacity for it).
  7. studiodekadent

    Nancy MacLean, Libertarians and Autism

    Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.
  8. studiodekadent

    Nancy MacLean, Libertarians and Autism

    INTRODUCTORY NOTE: Wow, I haven't posted here in a long time. Unfortunately I've been preoccupied with working on my PhD. Another point I want to make is that, unfortunately, I've been finding that many conversations in the Objecto-sphere have become rather monotonous and rarely are new ideas or new topics being addressed, and thus the discussion has become less interesting for me in recent years. I'm still an Objectivist, I just haven't seen too much novelty in the Objectivist world, which is another reason I've been less than present on this forum. However, I am back with an article I wrote. I couldn't get it published at more general libertarian-outreach-activism places so I thought here would be a good choice. All comments are appreciated! NANCY MACLEAN, LIBERTARIANS AND AUTISM Introduction Criticism of Duke University history professor Nancy MacLean has become a cottage industry ever since she published her demented smear job against Public Choice Theory "Democracy In Chains." Indeed, MacLean's work is full of absurd distortions, misrepresentative quoting, and obvious untruths. Her entire thesis is that Public Choice Theory is racist; frankly I wonder if Nancy is attempting to continue Duke University's proud tradition of racially charged false accusations. Public choice scholars and economists like Michael Munger (see http://www.independent.org/issues/article.asp?id=9115 ) and Steven Horwitz (see https://www.cato.org/cato-journal/fall-2017/democracy-chains-deep-history-radical-rights-stealth-plan-america-nancy ) have done an admirable job in effectively shredding MacLean's thesis, but MacLean knew, just like Mike Nifong and Crystal Mangum, that women's tears are almost always believed and as such she decided to play victim (https://www.chronicle.com/article/Nancy-MacLean-Responds-to-Her/240699). It is no surprise Oprah shilled her book; I'm sure that soon enough Lifetime will be producing a telemovie about the trauma she suffered at being critiqued. But the point of this article isn't to channel my inner Christopher Hitchens and say nasty things about MacLean's screed. Plenty of far better commentators have done this. Rather, I am going to make a qualified defense of something she did say whilst criticizing what she seemed to be attempting to imply with what she said. We all know how utterly frustrating it is when people deal with their political enemies through the use of diagnosis as a substitute for dialectic. The Soviet Union took this to its logical extreme through claiming that political dissidents were mentally ill, because clearly no sane person could disagree with Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism; more recent entries in this category include the so-called "Republican Brain Hypothesis" (see https://www.abbeys.com.au/book/republican-brain-the-science-of-why-they-deny-science-and-reality.do ) that was proposed during the culture wars against the Religious Right during the George W. Bush administration. MacLean decided to add to this genre of political pseudoargument through arguing that there is indeed a libertarian brain, and that libertarian brain is characterized by being on the autism spectrum (see https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/13/democracy-in-chains-author-nancy-maclean/print ). Katherine Timpf at National Review fumed (https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/nancy-maclean-libertarians-seem-autism-spectrum/). Like several other critics pointed out (see https://psmag.com/news/on-libertarians-autism-and-empathy and https://anintenseworld.com/2018/02/10/duke-historian-nancy-maclean-identifies-autism-as-the-source-of-a-malevolent-ideology/ ), MacLean's understanding of autism primarily in terms of lacking empathy and not feeling solidarity with others is based on an outdated portrait of being on the autistic spectrum rooted primarily in the "Mind Blindness" concept of Simon Baron-Cohen; more recent research has greatly questioned whether "Mind Blindness" is a correct portrait in the first place. But so far, the responses to MacLean have focused on the fact she equates libertarianism with a lack of empathy and solidarity with others, and the fact that she equates being on the autistic spectrum with lacking said empathy and solidarity. These are all valid critiques to make of her position, but so far there has been little attempt to wrestle with the question of whether or not MacLean is correct that there might be a link between libertarianism and being on the autistic spectrum. Not only that, but no one to my knowledge has questioned the unstated premise of MacLean's argument, which is that libertarian economics (and Public Choice in particular) is wrong because the brains which formulated these economics are arguably on the autistic spectrum. MacLean's argument is simply not an argument unless one accepts that having autism or Asperger's Syndrome introduces systematic error into one's economic reasoning. Indeed, for MacLean to be correct, having a brain that is positively drenched in "empathy" and "solidarity with others" is necessary to be a good economist. My argument is simple; yes, it is in fact likely that libertarians are disproportionately likely to be either on the austistic spectrum or have subclinical levels of symptoms typically thought of as indicating Asperger's Syndrome. Libertarian thought and philosophy often is characterized by the kind of cognitive style which, in its extreme form, is characteristic of austists and in particular the high-functioning autists commonly described as having Asperger's Syndrome. This is where MacLean is right. However, the implication that this kind of cognitive style makes you bad at doing economics is precisely the opposite of the truth. Indeed, having a degree of autistic symptoms can plausibly be thought of as an advantage for an economist, and that it is the caring-feeling-empathy-solidarity normie-brain which could represent a disadvantage for someone trying to perform economic analysis. On a personal note, I am not just a libertarian with Bachelors and Masters degrees in economics (and in the process of working on a Doctorate in the field), but I also have Asperger's Syndrome. Nancy MacLean's statements therefore constitute an allegation that my very brain is less capable at economic reasoning than it would be if I were neurotypical (i.e. not someone with Asperger's Syndrome). Of course, one must wonder why I would develop an interest in and devote substantial amounts of time and effort to the field of economics if I were mentally impaired at comprehending it! 1. Libertarians: More 'spergy Than Average How someone thinks, their "cognitive style" or what Ayn Rand called their "psycho-epistemology," is partially determined by biology. Of course anyone of any neurology can grasp that 2 + 2 = 4, but research has shown that the biology of the brain influences how people think. Dr. Helen Fisher, for example, researches how brain chemistry impacts things like people's love life and people's politics (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lOPtTbFCMY ). Neurobiology has political correlates, as Fisher points out; she characterizes libertarians as having brains highly influenced by natal testosterone. Jonathan Haidt and several co-researchers also, in a study of libertarian morality, point out that biological factors can predispose one (albeit often indirectly) to different political ideologies (see http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0042366&type=printable ). An interesting thing which Haidt et al. point out is that libertarians rely on reason more, and emotion less, than leftists or conservatives; this is tested using Simon Baron-Cohen's Empathizer-Systemizer scale (see p12-13). This scale is interesting in that it is linked both to being on the autism spectrum and also gender; "libertarians score the lowest of any group on empathizing, and the highest on systemizing. In fact, libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than empathizing... relatively high systemizing and low empathizing scores are characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating autism. We might say that liberals have the most 'feminine' cognitive style, and libertarians the most 'masculine'" (p13). In spite of Baron-Cohen's contested contention that people on the autism spectrum are less capable of empathy, the point remains that there is clearly correspondence between Haidt, Fisher and Baron-Cohen here; persons whom are on the autism spectrum can be described as having an atypically "masculinized" (i.e. shaped by prenatal testosterone) brain. Libertarians (on average) have brains which are more testosterone-influenced than the general population. It stands to reason, therefore, that brains-predisposed-to-libertarianism are more likely to also either be on the autistic spectrum or at least have more autistic-spectrum-traits than the average brain. This also provides a theoretical explanation for why libertarian communities are disproportionately male; strongly masculinized brain development is more likely to happen to natally male individuals. This "systemizer-brain" orientation is evidenced all over libertarian culture, as evidenced by the emphasis we tend to place on logical consistency and reason in general (to the point where our biggest magazine is literally named Reason). As Ayn Rand made clear, she was not primarily an advocate of markets, liberty and egoism, but rather of reason, and if one embraced reason all the rest would follow; agree or disagree with Rand as much as you like, but she serves as evidence of how libertarianism has deep cognitive roots. The fact that libertarian advocacy is ultimately rooted in the Enlightenment, which championed human reason, is further evidence of this. Whilst the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has fallen out of favor with academic psychology research, I distinctly remember discussions in libertarian communities about how libertarians are about 80% xNTx (it is even more extreme amongst Randians/Objectivists, whom are about 85% xNTx and particularly biased towards INTx individuals; indeed MBTI enthusiasts often characterize Howard Roark as an INTP, and Rand herself as an INTJ); this is massively disproportionate relative to the general population, which is about 12% xNTx. The xNTx style of cognition is the "rational temperament" focused on thinking rather than feeling, and high level abstractions over immediate sensory information. To the extent that cognitive style is biological, the implications are depressing for libertarians. The libertarian mindset is strongly correlated with a brain that is heavily influenced by prenatal testosterone, moreso than the average brain. Libertarianism appeals to an atypical style of mind, one that is likely to exhibit more characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome or the autism spectrum generally; libertarianism appeals to a mind which is more emotionally detached, more introverted, more abstract, and less invested in social relationships than the norm (Haidt et al.'s paper substantiates this; libertarians are less likely to define or describe themselves in terms of their relationships to other people). This is consistent with the fact that libertarianism is not a mass movement, and implies that most people will find libertarianism counterintuitive at least initially. 2. Good Economics Is Counterintuitive Too It has been noticed by many that even very mainstream economics requires thinking that goes "against the grain." As Bryan Caplan demonstrated in The Myth of the Rational Voter, the average American diverges substantially from the economic beliefs of the average economist, and diverges in systematic and predictable ways (in particular, the average American is less pro-market than the average economist). The economists in the survey are a general cross-section of economists, and not "just the staff of the Cato Institute," so it cannot be claimed that there is bias in the selection of experts; the experts are consistently to the economic 'right' (if by 'right wing' one means pro-market) of the average American citizen. Even economists generally associated with the left, such as Paul Krugman, are surprisingly pro-market relative to the average (Krugman, for example, is more pro-free-trade than Steve Bannon). Not all libertarians are economists and not all economists are libertarians, but the presence of libertarians within economics is unquestionably disproportionate relative to the general population. The point to emphasize, however, is that according to the experts, average people are (on average) systematically wrong about the benefits of markets. Caplan notices that even first year economics students come into the classroom bearing the imprints of multiple economic errors which need to be eliminated from their thought. In other words, even non-controversial neoclassical economics goes against the intellectual grain for many, many people. This should not be a surprise. After all, economics is the field that suggests (and this is anything but a controversial argument in economics) people who act selfishly in the commercial realm will make life better for other people alongside themselves; this is hardly the first thing that comes to the mind of most people when they're asked to picture a "selfish" person. Rather, they imagine some bloodsucking brute, not the local shopkeeper. Many people who run various local governments believe that rent control is still a good policy, even if it is literally textbook bad economics. Many people believe that cheap goods from overseas somehow are "exploitation." Many people don't grasp the fundamental insight that voluntary trade where parties have all the relevant information will always make both parties better off by definition. Even non-controversial, non-extreme, standard-issue economic reasoning does not come naturally to most people. Economists in general, not merely libertarian economists, don't think typically. This does not mean all economists have Asperger's Syndrome (economic reasoning can be taught, after all); it means that economic reasoning has to fight an uphill battle against the conventional mindset. 3. Neurology And Systematic Error What I have shown is that libertarians are defined by a cognitive style which overlaps neurologically with certain symptoms of being on the autism spectrum. This is what Nancy McLean is correct about. I have also shown that economists in general (across the political spectrum) are more pro-market than average people, so the "norm" (which presumably includes and is defined by the majority of neurotypical persons) is systematically wrong. What I have not shown yet is that the characteristics of the neurotypical cognitive style (higher levels of empathizing than systemizing, "solidarity with other people" as MacLean claims, that kind of thing) can systematically bias someone towards incorrect economic conclusions. This is what I will now attempt to do. I should clarify that I do not intend to claim someone must have Asperger's Syndrome or substantial levels of autistic-spectrum-traits in order to be a good economist; economic reasoning is a skill which can be taught. All I am claiming is that having at least some level of autistic-spectrum-traits helps avoid systematic error. The first argument that needs to be made is that economics, as a field, is focused entirely on systemizing and has literally no room for empathizing. In economics, society and individuals are dealt with impersonally, as either collections of logical rules or utility functions or value-scales. Every person is merely one item in a far larger picture. Economists think in terms of optimizing systems, not caring for particular individuals (this does not mean they do not care, merely that this isn't the focus of economics). Standard-issue general equilibrium economics is built from mathematical models borrowed from field theory in physics. Individual happiness is just a matter of "utility" - a simple quantity of pleasure/satisfaction. The economy is invariably conceptualized as a system... be it a physical system, a biological system, a network, a machine, but it is still a system. Not only that, but economists are addressing one of the most painful and difficult facets of the human condition - specifically poverty - and how to ameliorate it. We have to deal with difficult tradeoffs that may sacrifice ten lives to save twenty five other lives. This simply is not a field suited to mindsets that focus on things like "feelings" and "empathy" and "solidarity" and "caretaking" and the other things which Nancy MacLean associates with the neurotypical mindset; it is a field which requires cold calculation, and often literal calculation since at times economics is like physics or mathematics. In this situation, a systemizing-oriented brain is exactly what one wants to have solving the problems. It is easier to speak of temporary frictional unemployment than to be confronted with the day-to-day minutiae of someone without any marketable skills trying to secure a job interview. A second, and in my opinion stronger, argument could be made however. Let us look at several "textbook bad economics" policies. How are these policies sold to the polity? How are they justified? Rent control is a fantastic example: "to ensure affordable housing for the poor." The motive here is compassion, solidarity, empathy, a concern for the plight of the poor. And it isn't controversial to say it doesn't work. Welfare states are consistently justified in terms of compassion for the suffering and solidarity between human beings. But, pray tell, why are these welfare states almost always full of massive bureaucracies rather than policies which handle welfare through simple income transfers (for example via a negative income tax or basic income guarantee)? Given the many problems and flaws that bureaucracy and its associated incentives have, one would think that a genuine motive of compassion doesn't necessarily mean one will pick the least costly, most effective means of being compassionate. Of course some environmental protections are easily defensible on the basis of economic reasoning. But what about environmentalist attacks on genetically modified organisms (a proven-safe technology) or nuclear power (which is incredibly safe and efficient if modern technology is used)? Environmentalists consistently appeal to the emotions, to empathizing, to feelings and fluffiness in their campaigns to cast GMOs as "impure" and all nuclear power plants as Chernobyls-In-Waiting. Nordhaus and Schellenberger, both economists, campaign (through their think-tank the Breakthrough Institute, see https://thebreakthrough.org/about/mission/ ) for technological solutions to environmental problems, yet the environmental establishment still demands wind, solar, organic and biodynamic (the latter of which is based on a semi-spiritual framework rather than a purely scientific one). Environmentalism appeals to compassion, feelings, oneness with the earth and all of that emotionalistic illogical bilge, yet consistently avoids the policy proposals actual economists can demonstrate would be effective means to environmentalists' declared ends. Let us also look at the monster example: socialism. Socialism was motivated in many cases by compassion for the poor, by the desire to reduce poverty, by the desire to spread prosperity as widely as possible. Every attempt to try it failed miserably, and to the extent that any socialist system worked it only worked to the extent it preserved property rights and market incentives (for example Titoism, which avoided famine, yet did so through preserving property rights over farmland). It strikes some as counterintuitive to suggest that letting people keep things for themselves (i.e. property rights) can result in a larger and broader distribution of goods than forcibly taking those goods and collectivizing ownership, but the historical record makes it clear that property rights and markets are essential conditions to wide-scale prosperity. Again, not even left-leaning economists contest this; the Economic Calculation Problem is a fact, which is why contemporary economists on the left are Social Democrats rather than old-school Socialists. There is a systematic pattern; advocacy of bad economics is constantly rooted in the same motives Nancy MacLean accuses libertarians and persons on the autistic spectrum as lacking. Compassion and solidarity and empathy are certainly positive traits, yet they seem to be the driving force behind some atrociously bad policy preferences. This certainly doesn't mean that good intentions always result in bad policy, but it suggests a possible theory that I will summarize as follows: "Neurotypical drives towards compassion, empathy, solidarity and other associated feelsy-niceness override rational consideration of what means are actually effective at generating the desired positive outcomes. Because people with at least some level of austistic-spectrum-traits can detach themselves from the compulsive cries of 'feelings' more easily, they may be better judges of what is practically effective." Conclusion Nancy MacLean's book on Public Choice is frankly so bad the only use I can see for it is toilet paper, even though I generally prefer pages of Abrahamic religious texts for that particular purpose. However, she isn't wrong to suggest libertarians may be more likely to have Asperger's Syndrome or at least an atypically high level of autistic-spectrum-traits relative to the general population. But that doesn't make us wrong about the economics. Indeed, the opposite is likely to be true. Highly empathizing brains without much systemizing capability are not the brains you want to have evaluating different economic policies. Frankly awful economics is typically justified on the basis of empathetic, caring, emotionalistic rationales. The more people feel and the less people think (i.e. the more they empathize and the less they systemize), the worse their economic reasoning gets. Even by the relatively moderate (compared to libertarians) standards of the economics profession, the general population is deeply misguided about economic fact. Neurotypical cognitive biases towards "solidarity" and "empathy" can lead away from economic truth, not towards it. Even non-libertarian economists use cold, impersonal reasoning to justify intervention rather than appeals to emotion and fluffy-wuffy-snuggliness. Good economics goes against every instinct of the neurotypical brain, which is why it is so counterintuitive and so many prejudices need to be weeded out. Libertarians, on the other hand, are disproportionately likely to have the kind of brain able to overcome these cognitive biases and see where the policy which appeals to "empathy" and "solidarity" will be counterproductive to these ends. This overlaps (although is not identical) with the kind of brain that is often described as "on the autism spectrum" and in particular the higher functioning regions thereof. Whilst MacLean is justified in suspecting a lot of us are "on the spectrum" at least to some degree, her implication that this is a reason to dismiss libertarian economics is arguably the opposite of the truth.
  9. studiodekadent

    New Article: The Anti-PC Case For Same Sex Marriage

    Well I agree with them but they weren't really related to the arguments I advanced in the article (like you said, the article didn't open on your computer right?). I agree with the classical liberal case for legalizing same sex marriage. But that isn't the same thing as the specifically anti-PC case for same sex marriage.
  10. studiodekadent

    Proposition: The Regulatory State Is The Greatest Evil In Economics

    Could you perhaps give some more detailed discussion/critique?
  11. studiodekadent

    Proposition: The Regulatory State Is The Greatest Evil In Economics

    Interesting point but please, you're dropping context. My initial post was about economic policy and everyone knows what "the regulatory state" means in an economic context. So perhaps we could look at that particular subject rather than talk about road rules.
  12. studiodekadent

    New Article: The Anti-PC Case For Same Sex Marriage

    William, From what I know, the Sessions memo merely restates existing law. Maybe I'm thinking of another memo, but gay rights aren't the same thing as trans rights, and the idea that rescinding the contraception mandate is an attack on gay people is ridiculous. No one has a right to state-subsidized contraception. The mandate's rescinding impacts everyone equally, and condoms/dental dams are cheap. There are also principled libertarian arguments against the expansion of anti-discrimination laws. As for speaking at a summit, politicians pander. This is what they do. They're whores. You can't expect them to speak in front of an interest group only because they agree with the entire ideology of that interest group... Paul Ryan spoke at an Objectivist conference once but he still hasn't aborted a fetus and smeared the resultant blood over a statue of the Virgin Mary yet, now has he? A representative of the NRA is speaking at this conference too, but the NRA defends firearms in a sexuality-neutral fashion (the 2nd Amendment is for everyone) so can hardly be described as an anti-gay organization. Merely speaking at the Values Voter Summit doesn't constitute support for the entire religious right agenda. Personally I wouldn't want to speak at such an event, but politicians need to pander. If a politician could only speak to "respectable" organizations... they'd give like... 5% of the public appearances they currently do.
  13. studiodekadent

    Proposition: The Regulatory State Is The Greatest Evil In Economics

    No, its an acknowledgement of the fact there won't be a giant Objectivist revolution which changes society in the course of a week or less.
  14. studiodekadent

    Proposition: The Regulatory State Is The Greatest Evil In Economics

    And that doesn't engage with my central argument. I'm not saying that nothing should be prohibited. I'm saying that prohibitions BEYOND "thou shalt not initiate force/fraud/coercion" necessarily violate rights.
  15. I wrote this article in response to the Australian marriage law postal survey currently underway, and it has been published by an Australian think-tank. I think that voting in favor of permitting same sex marriage would actually be a blow to the PC narrative. My case is made here: https://libertyworks.org.au/anti-pc-case-sex-marriage/ All thoughts appreciated!